Oarlock technical question - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-31-2019   #1
Commo
 
Asheville, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1982
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Oarlock technical question

Relative newb here; lots of miles with a canoe paddle, not so many with oars....


I'll try to make this make sense: We picked up a used raft and frame last year, everything worked great on the river except....every few strokes the left oar/oarlock would 'catch' or grab while pushing the oar forward. This could be on a power stroke on just recovering while rowing backwards.

It didn't seem to matter how high you carried the oar during the stroke, or if the blade was feathered; just sometimes it would catch. You could break through the catch by quickly pushing down or pulling up on the oar handle, or jerking on it one way or the other.

Couldn't see anything obvious watching the oarlock, the wrap wasn't binding, oarlock doesn't appear bent.



Anyone experienced this? Are we out of adjustment somehow? Maybe a weak weld somewhere allowing flex? Or just bad technique? Didn't do us any harm, but it was a bit disconcerting to have the oar stick as you about to drop into a hole.



Thanks.


dc

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Old 12-31-2019   #2
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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Do some troubleshooting:

Is the oar shaft grabbing a d-ring or something protruding on the outside of your raft?

Trade left and right oars. Does it still happen or did it move to the right side?

Pull the oar and spin the left oarlock 180 and see if it still grabs--or if it grabs 180 out.

Swap left and right oarlocks--does the right one grab now? (is it an oarlock issue or an oar socket/frame issue?)

Is there corrosion or a burr on the oarlock shaft?

lube the oarlock to socket hole with wax or Dr. bronner's.

My guess is that with it being a used rig, you may have some corrosion between the oarlock shaft and socket and you're getting some "bind" when you load the oar. Pull the oarlock out and polish the shaft with some 300+ grit sandpaper. roll the sandpaper into a tube and smooth up inside the bore of the socket. Use some wax.
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Old 12-31-2019   #3
 
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C. Springs, Colorado
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I had the keeper ring that is on the bottom of the oar lock yoke do something similar to what you describe. I had put too large of a key ring on it and it bent it and would randomly hang up.
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Old 12-31-2019   #4
 
Littleton, Colorado
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I had a similar issue once.

Changed up my oarlock springs and washers to be according to this diagram and the right size so the split ring didn't hang up on any of the oar tower.

https://www.nrs.com/frames/stainless...nd_washers.asp

Also gave them a good cleaning and lube.

Good luck,
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Old 12-31-2019   #5
 
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Wow, why didn't I think of that. It is a common problem of DRE towers. Something I'm well aware of and have pointed out many times and many times I've recommended that the solution and a much better option anyway is the threaded Sawyer oar lock with lock nut. I know that this is just my opinion

Anyway, the DRE cast aluminum tower head in my opinion leans the wrong way and causes this problem when using a large split ring. And a small split ring is small enough to slip up into oar tower. The AAA tower leans the other direction providing proper clearance.

If I remember correctly, which at my age is sometimes a problem, the NRS spring is too tall for some oar towers which is why I have some over there in that drawer. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old 12-31-2019   #6
 
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East Wenatchee, Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterdog View Post
I had a similar issue once.

Changed up my oarlock springs and washers to be according to this diagram and the right size so the split ring didn't hang up on any of the oar tower.

https://www.nrs.com/frames/stainless...nd_washers.asp

Also gave them a good cleaning and lube.

Good luck,
I threw away all of my split rings (large) due to a proven fact that with enough force they will get sucked right thru the oarlock tube. For some reason during the heat of battle getting set up for the MF this past June, the split rings made it onto my oarlock instead of my pins w/washers. The result of a bad spin the oar blade was "sucked under" the side and it catapulted the oar and lock out which also snapped the 200LB rated oar strap. Oar retrieved but oarlock lost - mayhem with 1-1/4 oar power at the top of Hell's Half Mile.

The split rings are not strong enough since they always rotate to to the single wire point. To make matters worse, most locks taper down at the pin hole and this allows the start of mis-forming the round ring to get sucked thru easily.

Here are some photo's of what I use and nylon washers to smooth things out top and bottom. Also I use a small nylon bushing to even out any pressure side to side on the lynch pin.
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Old 01-01-2020   #7
 
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoRon View Post
Wow, why didn't I think of that. It is a common problem of DRE towers. Something I'm well aware of and have pointed out many times and many times I've recommended that the solution and a much better option anyway is the threaded Sawyer oar lock with lock nut. I know that this is just my opinion

Anyway, the DRE cast aluminum tower head in my opinion leans the wrong way and causes this problem when using a large split ring. And a small split ring is small enough to slip up into oar tower. The AAA tower leans the other direction providing proper clearance.

If I remember correctly, which at my age is sometimes a problem, the NRS spring is too tall for some oar towers which is why I have some over there in that drawer. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Stop bad mouthing Downriver Ron... that is MNichols job

I do agree though...I like the Geometry of the AAA towers but I have the DRE ones (and a Welfelt custom made setup that comes with the frame with my Cat that is great). I seem to be in the minority...but AAA treated me in a way that lost my patronage completely...so DRE it is. I haven't had a problem with the split ring get fouled up...but if you go too steep of an angle outward with the angle on the tower, the oar rights and stoppers can rub on the oar tower.

I've seen a few guys make their own fabricated version of that style tower and I may get around to that eventually too. Sounds like a good "learn to weld aluminum" project after I make a few more sand stakes. I think if I make it...I'll keep the angle but maybe have the rotation point closer to the center of the tower instead of being offset so far to the outside like it is with the DRE tower.

I've had a similar thing happen to what the OP stated when an oarlock shaft gets bent. This can happen if you get shoved into a wall or the oar pops out the wrong way. For that trip (Salt River at medium high flows) I just pulled it out of the tower and used a hammer to make it straight. If you have the standard DRE tower without the bushing...its not a perfectly concentric hole especially after some use...so the bent oarlock rotates ok in direction but might not in another and can get stuck. Pulling up or down might just be moving it into a different spot in the oar tower which would free it. Not 100% that its that...just a possibility to check. The split ring clearance thing sounds like a possibility too....maybe a combo.
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Old 01-01-2020   #8
 
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Yea, I didn't think my DRE statement would go unnoticed.

DRE are good towers except that large split rings and clevis pins like chiefstilh20 can be a problem due to a lack of clearance. In fact, I think, they are great towers with bushing option and with threaded lock nut oarlocks. But that is just my opinion.
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Old 01-01-2020   #9
 
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Golden, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterdog View Post
I had a similar issue once.

Changed up my oarlock springs and washers to be according to this diagram and the right size so the split ring didn't hang up on any of the oar tower.

https://www.nrs.com/frames/stainless...nd_washers.asp



Chiefstilh20 has photos of a tower that is a case illustrating that NRS springs are not compatible with all towers. You need perhaps over 1.25 inch of exposed oar lock shaft to consider them.
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Old 01-01-2020   #10
My name isn't Will
 
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Willamette Valley, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoRon View Post
If I remember correctly, which at my age is sometimes a problem, the NRS spring is too tall for some oar towers which is why I have some over there in that drawer. Please correct me if I'm wrong.



Age didn't get you this time. You are correct. I ordered a set of springs and gave them away. My frame is either a Cambridge or a copy of one. The oarlock hole is too long to allow the use of the springs. My neighbor is using them now.
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