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Old 08-10-2016   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 8
DIY Rope Wrap for Oars - Looking for Tips

I've used Oar Rights on my Cataract oars for many years, and have recently ditched the Oar Rights in favor of having the ability to feather the oars. The oars have the standard plastic sleeves on them - they are not wrapped with rope (but I would like for them to be).

Now that the Oar Rights are gone, the oars are loose fitting are are kind of clunky inside of my Cobra oarlocks. I'm hoping that rope wrap will fill the gap and make for a firmer and less noisy fit within the oarlocks.

DRE in Denver has a repair guy who can apply/install rope wrap for $50/oar (more than I wanted to spend for four oars...). Or, I can take them to Salt Lake, where the good folks at Cataract can put them back into their production line to apply the rope wrap, and they charge $25/oar (pretty reasonable price...); the only issue is that they need to hold onto them for a few days (which means expensive shipping costs, or an extended stay for me in Salt Lake).

I'm a DIY kind of guy and I don't mind learning new things and getting the job done myself. I've considered how to go about wrapping the oars in rope, but I wanted to ask someone who has done it before in hopes of avoiding mistakes.

DRE sells a rope wrapping kit that is manufactured by Sawyer:
Sawyer Oar Rope Wrapping Kit
In the description it states the following: "-75 feet of 3/16" Braided Nylon Rope -This is enough to wrap one oar 15 to 18 inches (or two oars 7 to 8 inches) -Wrapping Oars is not easy so read the provided instructions carefully."

The description does not mention the inclusion of any glue, and as far as I know, rope wrap is usually glued into place on the oar shaft, and perhaps there is an additional layer of glue that may be applied to the outside of the wrap, I'm not sure. Wow, 75', really? I'm not sure if I should try out the kit, or just buy some cordage and give it a go on my own.

If anyone has any experience with wrapping oars with rope, I would love to hear about the process and learn any tips and tricks that you'd be willing to share, as well as pitfalls to avoid.

Thanks so much!

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Old 08-10-2016   #2
albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1
You're cobra oarlocks are "tuneable" you can tamp them in to hug your oars they way they did with the oar rites. Maybe just try making them narrower with your new setup. If you have your heart set on rope wraps, do that this winter.


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Old 08-10-2016   #3
FlyingDutchman's Avatar
Westfield, Massachusetts
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 178
I agree, try tuning oar locks first.

If not, pay cataract to do it. The quality will be worth the shipping. Maybe just wrap two of four.

I find plastic sleeves to be quieter and smoother than new rope wraps. Once the rope wears out a bit (300 river miles or so) it is cooler looking and nice and smooth. Have fun. I did a rope wrap myself on three oars. My spare oar, which was never used, came unwrapped (sun and constant wet dry plus abuse transporting). I now run rope wraps with gorilla duct tape on the outside to add a little resistance/friction/stickiness, as just the rope was too smooth and slippery in hydraulics.
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Old 08-10-2016   #4
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Lots of information on here about the topic; just do a search. Buy cord and epoxy at the hardware store and do it yourself for $25 total. It's really not hard.
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Old 08-10-2016   #5
zbaird's Avatar
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I am the guy who does all the wraps for DRE. As you know, the sawyer kits are $25, so you are paying $25 for the labor.The sawyer rope is night and day from the cataract rope in durability. Cataract will wrap your oars on top of double sided tape and I will set it in a bed of epoxy. Ask DRE how many cataract shafts with rope wrap I have redone over the years. If you have to drive or ship your oars to salt lake I would think it would be a wash at best and you end up with inferior rope wrapped over tape vs sawyer rope set in epoxy.

The DIY approach is great if you are up for it. Like the sawyer kit says, wrapping isnt easy. That said, several people have successfully wrapped their own. If you do choose to set it in some sort of glue/epoxy there is no way for me to reuse the rope if you blow it, and there goes $25. If you are handy, no reason not to buy a kit from DRE and give one a try. If it goes well, buy three more kits and get'er done. If it seems like its not going well or is going to take more time than you wanted to spend, take them over to DRE, I'll get them done professionally for you and stand behind them. With the amount of beer or favors you are going to owe whatever poor soul you convince to spin all those oars for you, you may come out behind
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Old 08-11-2016   #6
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 8
Thanks everyone for the advice - this gives me some food for thought.

@zbaird, I can see your point of view and I appreciate your wisdom. Based on your experience, is it common for quality rope wraps (yours for instance...) to need to be re-wrapped at some point again down the road, or can one expect that the rope will last roughly for the life of the oars if taken care of?

Thank you!
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Old 08-11-2016   #7
Sam Arnold IV's Avatar
Lexington, Kentucky
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 32
Got a buddy with a cool tutorial...

Shoeless Musings: Search results for oar wrap

This guy has mad skills across the gamut, and does a great job with his blog. Seems doable.
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Old 08-12-2016   #8
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 187
Given properly wrapped, and depending on how your oarlocks are tuned, after the first hundred or so miles the wraps will compress and "mash" together and you'll have something that is pretty close to a solid surface that is where the rub occurs in the horns... helps if you use some paraffin (I use beeswax, available from woodworker's supply stores) to lubricate where they rub.
I have a pair of oars I wrapped 30+ years ago, thousands of miles on them, still going strong with no separation between the rope strands. But you need to REALLY lay the wraps down tight and that's no easy feat... takes a jig or a partner to spin the oar, wet the rope first to achieve maximum stretch, and lots of BEER!
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Old 08-12-2016   #9
zbaird's Avatar
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B4otter has it right on. I havent been wrapping oars for 30 years but I wouldnt be surprised if I have some wraps still going strong then.

I have a set that I wrapped about 7 years ago that is still in great shape. They have tons of miles on them on a fishing rig (so lots of backrowing to slow down) and are still going strong. Wearing out the rope is the only issue with my wraps. I had one set come back with separated wraps but it was the second set I ever wrapped professionally and was done on my gen 1 jig that was hard to control (lucky I didnt get twisted up in the thing) and I am on gen 3 now. I have seen sawyer ropes wear through but there is typically some sort of issue like a burr in the oarlock, a spare oar rubbing on something bad, vehicle wear, etc. I have seen tons of cataracts with the rope separated or worn through. The density of the rope is a huge deal and sawyer custom ordered a run of rope with that in mind, and it ain't cheap. The service life of tightly wrapped, dense rope, on tuned and smooth oarlocks is a hell of a lot of miles. The life of an oar, I don't know, depends on the life I guess. What I do know is that if you wear out one of my wraps and it isnt due to a burr on the oarlock or it rubbing on something other than the oarlock, you have had a hell of a lot of milage with the oars.
zach baird
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Old 08-12-2016   #10
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Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 267
I did my own wrap job a few years back. I loved learning the technique and had fun doing it. If wrapped tightly an adhesive is not necessary. The sawyer rope kit is indeed some dense cordage. I look forward to doing it again.

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