A rowlock­ing good idea

PBO editor David Pugh demon­strates how he adapted some chromed brass rowlocks to fit his Zo­diac Zoom dinghy and en­able the use of longer oars

Practical Boat Owner - - Practical Projects -

Zo­diac make great rub­ber dinghies, but on some de­signs the rowlocks leave some­thing to be de­sired. After mov­ing moor­ings and ac­quir­ing a rack space for a dinghy, I de­cided to press my 2.6m Zo­diac Zoom into ser­vice as a ten­der, but there was one prob­lem: an en­thu­si­as­tic bout of row­ing in the past had bro­ken one of the rowlocks.

As de­signed, the rowlocks com­prise a chromed brass pin which lo­cates in a socket on the dinghy. The oar is re­tained with a plas­tic loop at­tached to the pin. The pin lo­cates in the socket and twists to lock it in po­si­tion – a neat idea which keeps the oars se­cure, but also al­lows them to be eas­ily re­moved.

The prob­lem is the plas­tic loop. Re­place­ments are read­ily avail­able, at a price: how­ever, I wanted to be able to use longer oars, as it was more im­por­tant to be able to row strongly than stow the oars eas­ily. My so­lu­tion was to adapt some con­ven­tional U-shaped rowlocks to fit the Zo­diac socket. Mea­sur­ing the re­main­ing Zo­diac rowlock showed that it had a 12mm stem, and an on­line search re­vealed that sev­eral chan­d­leries of­fered a chromed brass rowlock with a stem of suit­able di­am­e­ter. (It’s dis­trib­uted by

Os­cu­lati and has a part num­ber 34.160.10, should you wish to fol­low suit.)

Choos­ing chromed brass in­creased the cost a lit­tle, but brass is nice to ma­chine and would work well on my hobby lathe. Con­sign­ing the sock­ets that came with the rowlocks to my odds and sods stock I set to work, first turn­ing the shaft to re­move any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties from the chroming and en­sure it was the correct di­am­e­ter.

I then cut the slot which re­tains the pin in the socket. As I didn’t have a lathe tool nar­row enough, I cut out the ma­jor­ity of the waste with a V-shaped tool be­fore squar­ing off with a cut-off tool. Fi­nally, I used the cut-off tool to trim the shaft to length. Through­out the process I kept check­ing the di­men­sions against the orig­i­nal with a vernier caliper.

The last step was to cut the ver­ti­cal slot which al­lows the rowlock to en­ter the socket. I used a milling cut­ter, but a file would do just as well. I also eased the ma­chined edges to avoid cut fin­gers.

I now have a set of rowlocks which fit the ten­der per­fectly and al­low me to use proper oars. At a to­tal cost of £27.98 they cost al­most ex­actly the same as the Zo­diac re­place­ments – but I’m con­fi­dent these won’t break, how­ever hard I row.

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