row2k Features
Rowing Hack: Magnet-Equipped Wrenches
September 10, 2020
John FX Flynn

One great thing about rebooting the Rowing Hack column over the past few months has been the chance to dust off the archives, revisiting not just great classic hacks, but also finding a few gems that never made it to the light of day the first time around.

This one is of the latter variety: a reader-submitted idea that failed to launch itself out of the draft file, but is a clever and unique take on a simple daily necessity in a sport full of hardware that always needs a bit of tightening. When you always seem to need a wrench handy, then the Magnet Wrench is a pretty slick hack.

Truth be told, while this one was sent in by a row2k reader—and those are our favorite hacks—the original photo and email got lost along the way, so we can't give full credit, but the gist of the idea was: if you've got a wing-rigged boat and you never want to want for a wrench, slap some magnets on your spanners, and you can keep them handy at all times, by sticking them on the underside of the rigger itself.

Adding a twist to a simple tool to make a great hack? Those are our favorite kinds of tricks - see Ways to use Electrical Tape, the Wrench Carabiner, the the Boat Strap Bucket, etc. - and this idea fits nicely in that sweet spot. Plus you know we love magnets.

Our enterprising reader made the trick work back in the day by gluing little magnets to the side of the wrenches, and we recreated it for a Hack Test Run (and this week's photo) with some magnetic tape that we could secure - and color code! - along the length of the spanner.

Now it is true that, as more and more wings go aluminum--and even carbon--this Hack may not have much, well, sticking power. Still we still like it for its simplicity and, for single scullers car-topping or otherwise rowing as far from a well-stocked tool-box as they are from their teammates, we can see a lot of reasons why keeping a wrench handy in the boat on a daily basis, slapped to the underside of the rigger, might be useful enough to consider attaching a magnet-ready bit of metal to your aluminum or carbon rigger just to take advantage of this idea.

We also like this idea simply for its genius as a way to actually keep your wrenches both customized and together: a bunch of magnet-equipped wrenches would be a way to take the two (or three) sizes that a coxswain - or very conscientious bow-man - really needs and make them a tight bundle that is easy to have handy in the boat. As an added bonus, with the wrenches 'magnet-ed' together, that compact clump of emergency tools won't clatter as you row along--and that clattering, 'Ghost of Marley' vibe is, admittedly, the one failing of our Wrench Carabiner hack.

Going the magnet route could also be a way to ensure there is always an emergency wrench or two secured to the side of a metal coaching launch - in the absence of a Launch Box, say - and, if you do have metal riggers to work with, then we bet getting your athletes into the habit of putting the wrenches onto the rigger this way will keep them from winding up even temporarily lost in the bottom of the boat (you know those wrenches, the ones lurking and waiting to hit someone on the head when they pick the boat up). It might even keep wrenches out of the pockets and lycra of your athletes, where lots of wrenches seem to disappear on rigging days.

Have you figured out a way to keep wrenches handy and things tightened up at your place? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

Have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion here? Send it to us! (and we promise not to sit on it for quite as long next time around)

During these unprecendented times, row2k is working hard to keep rowing coming to you; please help us keeping it coming by supporting our work!


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