How to counter-balance Carlisle oars - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-31-2016   #1
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How to counter-balance Carlisle oars

Ever wonder how? Not too complicated to do after hours of pondering last winter. Measure twice, cut once right? I've always hated those bulky external bolt-on NRS oar weights so I've done this two different ways with similar success on both. I hope you find the post useful. Sorry no photos but I can post some later if I've done a poor job in my write-up.

The first way is to drill one 1/4" hole in the side of each of your shafts. The distance up from each handle depends on how much counter weight you want, and a little math is in order after you make that decision. Just drill slightly higher to allow for a hot-glue plug & dowel to be inserted after you trickle the shot into the hole using a small funnel. Keep shaking to assure the shot settles all the way down into the handle. Allow the glue to set over night, repeat with second oar, and you're off.

The second method is to remove the blade from the shaft and carefully pull out the black plastic baffle/plug from the end of each shaft. I've used a long drill bit and then fished it out using a coat hangar. Once this is done you simply pour one (of two equal) measured amounts of lead shot down each oar shaft. Shake it to make sure it's settled into the handle, and then carefully dribble hot crafting glue down the very center of each shaft to generously coat & cover the shot. The glue will penetrate down a little into the shot which helps create a good solid plug. It will self-level and cool to harden within a several minutes, but I always keep absolutely leveled & upright for 24 hours minimum. One option during this method (while you have the black plug out) is to also backfill the entire shaft with expanding spray foam from home depot. You'll need to quickly place the black plug back into the hole and re-attach the blades before the foam expands too much.

A word of caution is if you get greedy and use too much shot in the shaft, the oar won't float anymore just like using the store bought counter-weights. Be smart about it. If that happens, affix good tethers to your oars and realize you may lose them during a yard-sale situation. Don't fret too much because you've been safe and carried a spare or two, and most importantly they are only cheapo (poverty boat) Carlisle's right?

Cheers!

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Old 01-04-2017   #2
 
Willimina, Willimina, OR
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Counter-balancing Oars

The reason we counter-balance oars is to aid their free acceleration to the bottom of the river. If you have a counter-balanced oar, throw it away now.
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Choose an oarlock / tower / oar arrangement to balance the outboard and inboard masses (including weight of forearm). The downward force at the handle counteracting gravity should be 1-3 #.
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Adding steel, lead or other high mass weight to the handle merely adds inertia to the mechanism..... and inertia ........you don't need.
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Old 01-04-2017   #3
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Gary, thank you. I just went out to the garage and grabbed them up and threw them (somewhat) in the can just before the truck went by. They are not a worry to me anymore. You really saved me some trouble here, so thanks! My only concern is getting the word out to others to save them too. You must help us more...

Let me guess, you can hook me up with a quality fix, once I purchase new sticks?

While I don't disagree with some of your physics points, it hardly warrants those currently with a counterbalanced oar to "throw it away now". This is my setup for now, and you being a "skilled craftsman" hardly affects my self-worth or my oar-stroke.

Your credibility continues to slip sir - maybe, pompous comes to mind, for me at least.

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Old 01-04-2017   #4
 
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Is the handle on those things a separate chamber from the rest of the shaft?
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Old 01-04-2017   #5
 
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Great ideas Kilroy. I've done something similar to cataracts years ago. I put lead shot (buckshot) into a 6" piece of bicycle inner tube, zip tied the ends (not necessarily in that order) and dropped that down to the handle after removing the plug (foam or cork). I then measure the length of space from inner tube to blade lug hole and cut a piece of pipe insulation that length. I then cram (this can be a bit of work) the pipe insulation into the oar. Once you put in the blade the insulation in the oar holds the counter balance up against the handle. It also acts as flotation if the oar fills with water.


If you were solid on the amount of balance or fine with a permanent adjustment then the hot glue sounds perfect. If you're not sure something more easily removeable might be good too. The key to all this is getting the right amount of balance. The 5lb cataract weights are rediculous. If you need 5 lbs of balance something is way wrong - contact Gary. Ususally it's just a pound or two. Velcro ankle weights can be great to figure this out. Or just tape your lead filled inner tube to the outside of the oar for a day or two and fine tune. Once dialed in, stuff it inside...

As for Gary; classic "my way is the only way" mentality. The one thing I know for sure is there are exceptions to every rule and while it's great advice to balance the oars with geometry it's simply not always possible. Some folks may WANT a longer stroke (more outboard oar) than is possible with a geometric balance... That's my case. I want my locks closer together for non rowing reasons. In order to get the stroke I want I need a bit of counter balance in each oar. My oars float flat, over night - I've tested them. They have between 1.5 and 2 lbs of lead in each and are filled with pipe insulation. For my sawyers I just remove the handles, and screw lead billets to the handles then add the pipe insulation from the handle end.

Square tops would work on my rig and if you'd like Gary you can send me some. Other than that upgrade I'm perfectly happy with my rig, I've never rowed another that was more to my liking.

Edit to add one more thing - I do not like them perfectly balanced - I'm probably pretty close to a pound of hold down force, maybe a little less...that's personal preference.

Good luck to all - oh and yes, counterbalancing saves mariages.
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Old 01-04-2017   #6
 
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could you drill a small hole in the top of the handle, add shot and epoxy to the handle, and then glue in a little plug on the top of the handle?
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Old 01-04-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markhusbands View Post
Is the handle on those things a separate chamber from the rest of the shaft?
With the Carlisle oars the handle is just a riveted or epoxied cap shaped like a foam-coated handle, and yes when they affixed it to the shaft it makes one hollow chamber as part of the shaft, not two.

I had thought about drilling and filling just the handle, but no joy there... 3.5lbs works just perfect for me with my SOTAR 4 bay frame, and makes for much less arm fatigue on those frog water stretches. I just have to be keen that when I flip the boat the oars are about neutral in the water. You know what this means... Still much better than buying a new frame with wider oar towers. The fixed (arched) towers SOTAR use in their manufacturing process are the bomb (solid), and allow for a little shorter oar & stroke, which I like.

I hope this helps. I can't speak for the other brands - remember, I'm in the military and right now & choose not to shell out their askiing price for them so, they don't earn my business. Oh, and I'm a proud poverty rafter.

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Old 01-04-2017   #8
 
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Thanks for the ideas! I recently purchased the aforementioned bulky, heavy, and ugly counterbalances that screw onto the outside of the oar shaft. I've found that they work well, and have had no issues with sliding them up and down the shaft. Though I foresee the need to replace the nylon screws after a half-dozen adjustments of them or so. Shouldn't be a big deal.

One thing I do like about the counterweights I have is that they are adjustable. Not only can I transfer them to another set of oars, but I can adjust the effect of the counterbalance by sliding them up and down the oar shaft.

For those who decry the use of counterbalances at all, I would suggest that some boats require ridiculously short oars to achieve the optimum setup (or very wide oar towers). For example, I have a 14' Aire SDP which has a frame width of only 70". To get even an 8.5' oar to 'balance' on its own, one would need to have the oar handles touching one another. Not only does this create potential for offending the kids ears when my thumb is pinched between the oars; but also it means that any forward stroke would have my hands in an awkward position in the middle of my body instead of pushing from a natural position at my side.

Yes, my oars will sink like a rock once they wiggle free from the locks. Hopefully my tethers will hold (so far they have). If not, at least its only a Carlisle!

There are many ways to achieve a workable setup, and I really appreciate these ideas other guys throw out.
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Old 01-04-2017   #9
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Originally Posted by elkhaven View Post
Great ideas Kilroy. I've done something similar to cataracts years ago. I put lead shot (buckshot) into a 6" piece of bicycle inner tube, zip tied the ends (not necessarily in that order) and dropped that down to the handle after removing the plug (foam or cork). I then measure the length of space from inner tube to blade lug hole and cut a piece of pipe insulation that length. I then cram (this can be a bit of work) the pipe insulation into the oar. Once you put in the blade the insulation in the oar holds the counter balance up against the handle. It also acts as flotation if the oar fills with water.

(Snipped by Kilroy)
Great information, thanks for adding to the topic. That would definitely work, maybe even better... and yes, makes marriage better with our expensive hobbies.

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Old 01-04-2017   #10
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could you drill a small hole in the top of the handle, add shot and epoxy to the handle, and then glue in a little plug on the top of the handle?
-------------------
Yup. 5/8 hole seems to work best. I push a dowel down through the handle a ways to make sure there is enough space for the shot, and then add a pre-weighed shot/slow epoxy glop in there with a funnel. Duct tape over the hole, and then a rubber banded plastic bag over that, for good measure, turn the shaft upside down and tamp it thoroughly and let set. I admit I haven't gone to the trouble to find a plug to put back in the drill hole, though.
Shot runs about $40 for 25# at cabelas....
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