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Trailer Tricks: The Strap Wheel
by row2k hackers
posted on January 17, 2012

The 'original' Strap-o-Matic, version 2.0
click for full-size image!
A few Strap Wheels in the wild (on right), 2011 IRA
click images for full-size version

contributed by John FX Flynn, row2k

This hack is good enough that you see it all over now: power cord reels (or hose reels) used to store boat straps when they are not in use. No doubt, we could trace this hack down to the exact moment that Home Depot started selling plastic extension cord wheels, but row2k has it on good authority that one of the first examples of this was actually made using a garden hose wheel.

Dubbed the "Strap-o-matic," this early strap wheel it made its regatta debut on the shores of Lake Ononandaga, shortly after being spotted (at a local Home Depot, naturally!) by a coach tired of rolling up straps one by one. A unique feature of this model was that it was fitted with a frame so it could hang on the trailer for easy access during loading and unloading. That original hose reel is long gone, but the "Strap-o-matic 2.0" pictured here--still in use at that same club--sports the original wooden frame that lets it sit on the trailer for easy access during loading and unloading.

"Strap-o-matic 2.0" also features an improvement we've started noticing that makes this hack, well, twice as good: using two of these smaller wheels, originally designed for extension cords, is a great way to separate your 9 foot and 12 foot straps, which saves time hunting down the right length as you tie down your eights after the regatta--assuming that the straps were sorted and "wheeled" correctly.

[Of course, if anyone have a good system for automating that sorting step, THAT would probably be the greatest rowing hack of all time.]

We do miss the original version, though: the huge garden hose reel was perfect for storing lots of straps--and pretty fun to spin around. We once spotted one of those big reels mounted permanently on the front of one midwest college's trailer, just above the spare. Well-hacked!

Are you a Strap-o-matic convert? Or do you have an even better hack for storing (or sorting) straps? Let Rowing Hacks hear all about it in the comments.

Have a great rowing hack for future inclusion here? Send it to us!


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10/16/2013  9:24:54 AM
If anyone knows a way to MacGyver a sound wheel into one of these things, so that it plays "Pop Goes the Weasel" when in use, I would be much obliged.