Winter is the time to give your boats and equipment a good clean and once over for any required maintenance. There are a bunch of things you can do, at very little cost, to extend the life of the gear and save the club dollars down the track.
Here's our top 5 tips for maintaining your gear:
1. Maintenance Plan
Write up a maintenance plan to check all parts, fasteners and potential damage. Plan a thorough check for a boat each weekend between now and your open day. This will avoid blowing the dust off a hull a few hours before you have potential members going on the water only to find something is missing or damaged - not a good look for the club or experience for a newbie.
2. Scrub a dub dub dub
There’s no need to cause a flood in front of your shed but give your boats a thorough clean to help you see condition more easily. Make sure to clean the inside of the boat including the slides and the dust, bird poop and water scum off the outside.
3. Equipment check
Check over all accessories and other equipment too and make sure to check care instructions from manufacturers for oars, cox boxes and any other specialist gear.
4. DIY Maintenance
Riggers and bolts are made of dissimilar metals which will corrode each other over time. It’s good practice to remove the bolts and clean the threads periodically to stop them binding together to a point where you can’t unscrew them.
Add a bit of grease or lubricant to the thread of any aging bolts just below the head. Or better still invest in Nickel Antiseize or Coppercote to save you some grief in the future.
If you are going to launch in and remove bolts that have been in for a few years, be careful the bolts are actually turning and you’re not just winding the head off the bolt!
Remove oar handles to ensure they don’t seize up.
Cycle coxbox batteries to preserve their charging capacity.
5. Proactive Maintenance
If you do discover any holes, damage or missing parts, get it get sorted now before it turns into a bigger repair job. Alternatively, if you want your boat looking like new again, without the price tag, consider a refurbishment that includes repairing minor damage and a full repaint inside and out. The usual suspects to look out for:
Hull damage - any damage to the hull is bad and can potentially let water into the core material and comprise the longevity of the boat.
Foot steering parts - worn out steering plates mean they won’t pivot accurately.
Worn out gates - excessive wear on the working face of the gate won’t allow the sleeve of the oar to ‘lock in’ at the correct position on the drive of the stroke affecting the pitch of the blade in the water.
Seats - wheels and wheel bearings have a limited life. Check for uneven wear of the roller that may be caused from bent axles or slides being incorrectly spaced and any side to side movement in the bearing. If the wear or movement is excessive you may want to replace the wheels now rather than have them seize up or fall apart during the season.
Seat clips - can be damaged when incorrectly removing the seat from the boat and other chassis damage can happen over time due to metal fatigue. Check for cracks in the folds of the aluminium particularly if the boat is one of the old faithfuls in the shed.
Seat bungys - Most rowing seats aren’t made to be taken out and put back into the boat all the time so we recommend you leave them in the boat when in transit and stock up on bungys. Not only does this save you trailer space but means you don’t have to worry about seats disappearing on a State Highway.
Slides - if the seat doesn’t slide smoothly, has become uneven or pitted from dirt/grit getting into them they need to be replaced. New wheels and slides can make a big difference to the feel of a boat.
Missing height washers - If your gate can move up and down during the stroke it will be difficult to balance and row well so make sure to replace the plastic height washers on the pins.
Mild steel/galvanized nuts and bolts - These can look the part initially and will last for a while but rust is inevitable especially when exposed to salt water. Make sure you only fit 316 stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts on your boats.
Damaged nuts, bolts and washers - You may find that some nuts and bolts don’t thread together like they once did. Threads can get damaged for a few different reasons like over tightening or being knocked around on the trailer. These are some of the cheapest parts on a rowing boat but vital to it’s performance so think about replacing some of your stainless if it’s damaged.
If you’d like a free quote for any repairs or refurbishments, get in touch for an assessment. For boats located out of town, you’re welcome to email photos for us to prepare an estimate or we can arrange to meet at a regatta.