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Thread: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

  1. #1
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    Default Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    I'm building a Vivier Seil. While I hope to sail at least a bit more than I row, I expect I'll occasionally put in a day under oars. Much of my boating is in remote spots where gear breakage is not easily addressed.
    I currently use and enjoy Duck Trap oarlocks. They are robust and well machined. I was planning to install more of them when I got distracted by some folding Davis pattern options:

    https://www.shawandtenney.com/produc...davis-oarlocks

    https://duckworks.com/seadog-stainle...ck-one-socket/

    I like the idea of the oarlock captive right where I want it, ready to deploy easily at a moment. However I'm concerned that they look a bit thinner and less robust than standard oarlocks. The positive reviews I've seen here have mostly referred to use on tenders, not on heavier, longer-journeying boats. Any experience or thoughts on this application would be appreciated.

    - James

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    I love the Davis pattern. Always got the galvi version (Duckworks also has). All oarlocks rub down and get loose in the socket eventually but the Davis pattern with about half the oarlock's shaft narrower and then that bulb. With a few years use both the bulb and where it lands wear down and the oarlock begins to make a clanking sound.

    When I was living aboard and yet to be retired about 0.6 nm from dory/dinghy storage so a bit over 200 nm for the summer commute and plenty of weekend and winter recreational rowing so I assume about 300 nm per year.

    The bronze locks lasted five years so maybe 1500 nm life span with heavy use. Next set, the galvi iron, lasted 15 years, 4500 nm. And even where the galv eroded no rest problems as I gave the shaft a bit of grease now and then.

    Anyway, the Davis pattern can't be beat.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    Davis pattern were what were used on rental rowboat fleets for a good 80+ years or more on the New Jersey shore. They can take a lot of abuse, last forever and keep on going. Yes they can wear and make the "clunking" sound that Ian referred to, but I don't know that I ever say any that were actually worn out (well, maybe a pair or two).

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    We've had Davis locks for years and they are easiest to deploy. Never had them wear out but having then firmly fastened into substantial blocks inside the planking is important.
    "So we beat on, paddleboats against the wake of a neighbor’s jet ski, born back ceaselessly into the past." The Great Lakes Gatsby

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    Galv iron Davis were (prob still are) used on the boats at the Boy Scout Camp I attended each summer as a kid, and later worked for as Rowing Instructor. I believe the same type of oarlock was (is) used at all BSA camps (that's the way BSA works when it comes to rules on the water). I've never seen an iron Davis oarlock break. I've had a pair of Davis salvaged from a wrecked boat tucked away in my "boat stuff drawer" for decades, just waiting for a boat to put them on. I have a pair of bronze open oarlocks on my CLC Eastport Pram and they are not nearly as handy. The CLC oarlocks required a chain and toggle be added in order for them to not be lost. Davis never get lost; they're ALWAYS right there, ready to be put upright in the socket.

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    Davis pattern were what were used on rental rowboat fleets for a good 80+ years or more on the New Jersey shore. They can take a lot of abuse, last forever and keep on going. Yes they can wear and make the "clunking" sound that Ian referred to, but I don't know that I ever say any that were actually worn out (well, maybe a pair or two).

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    This seems to be a consensus! Thank you all for posting.

    - James

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    There is only one mild disadvantage to the Davis: When the boat's inverted - for putting on the mother ship or for car-topping or for beach storage - they hang ready to slip into the socket.

    To solve this I screwed in a bit of bungee to go across the horns to hold the lock against the hull when the oarlock was hanging.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Hull, QC, Canada
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    I'm considering these for my dory skiff build. Would I just mount the oarlocks directly to my inwale? (3/4 x 1 3/4" tamarack) Should I have some sort of blocking behind the oarlock mount between the inwale and plank?

    inwale.jpg
    Last edited by adamarthurryan; 06-08-2022 at 12:23 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    I recently bought a pair of the £35 per pair (cheaper than the gunmetal @ £150/ pair) galvanised conventional oarlocks and mounting plates from Classic Marine, UK. Purveyors of niceties and a good bunch of chaps. However they aren't anything like the same quality as the gunmetal fittings I've purchased from them in the past. Now they were relatively cheap(er), and I wouldn't want to make 'em for the money...but beyond the galvo being very thin, the castings very (too) rough - I had to sand them smooth so they don't damage the oars and rotate etc, and the hole in the plate massively slack, I was just about willing to forgive and forget.

    Already starting to regret I'd been cheap...carefully rebated the plates in, carefully drilled the hole in my (solid) inwale to match the pin diameter - to avoid the clonking even bought a special drill to size - only to finally find the oarlock binding badly: practically impossible to insert. Putting a straight edge to the pin shows them truely banana shaped quite irregular and not straight (to a Mitutoyo straight edge). Quite how it's possible to make a short piece of steel banana shaped I'm not sure. They are cast not welded so the primary casting must be poor.

    But I never thought to check. Both the same. So I wouldn't buy them again and can't recommend those: the quality seems to have dropped so far in the race to the bottom that functionality has been lost. On reflection I'd cut and drill a piece of bronze flat bar accurately for the pin diameter and rebate that in the gunwale - it's naturally low friction for a metal and its on show/ won't rust etc. The oarlocks, I went with galvanised steel as they won't snap, mines only an emergency rower - the oarlocks will live in the boats bag - but where you find quality steel items I couldn't say. If you buy from a local chandlery, take a small straight edge to look at the pin and your callipers to measure diameters along the pin and the plate hole if you're aiming for quiet set up.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 06-08-2022 at 02:07 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    yea i think ya wanna fill in solid between the wales and ribs for the rollock.
    There is some twisting action happenning while in use .

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    You certainly want to fill in the gunnel to inwale space frame to frame and down to all of the shear strake. You might make a surface pad to raise the oar lock high enough for the oar to angle down to reach the water.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Davis oarlocks for extended use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Scheuer View Post
    Galv iron Davis were (prob still are) used on the boats at the Boy Scout Camp I attended each summer as a kid, and later worked for as Rowing Instructor. I believe the same type of oarlock was (is) used at all BSA camps (that's the way BSA works when it comes to rules on the water). I've never seen an iron Davis oarlock break. I've had a pair of Davis salvaged from a wrecked boat tucked away in my "boat stuff drawer" for decades, just waiting for a boat to put them on. I have a pair of bronze open oarlocks on my CLC Eastport Pram and they are not nearly as handy. The CLC oarlocks required a chain and toggle be added in order for them to not be lost. Davis never get lost; they're ALWAYS right there, ready to be put upright in the socket.
    It's easy to drill a 1/8 hole in the oarlock web carefully and splice in a lanyard, seine twine or 3 strand cotton. I hate chains, I can't do the one handed pull to get them in. Forty years and never lost a lock, but the Davis patterns are pretty handy. Right now have modified a set of Gaaco's to be a semi open horn. They have a lanyard hole which works well and a nice composite bushing to take them from metric to half inch so they are very quiet.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

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