row2k Features
Rigger Trick: The Wing Nut Top Nut
January 14, 2021
John FX Flynn

Looking for a project now that, presumably, you are already way ahead on your handy row2k January To-Do List?

Well, here is a Rowing Hack that could be worth some of your winter downtime: converting the whole fleet to feature this slick rigger's trick: the Wing Nut Top Nut.

To be sure, this is "just" a refinement of a hack you've seen from us once or twice before, but it takes the wing nut idea--cheap, easy to tighten and "floaty"--to a whole new level and, as you'll see, can even help protect your boats from the in-and-out-of-rack scratches that are inevitable in any well-stocked (or overstuffed!) boathouse.

Like all genius Rowing Hacks, this one came care of a pro: Roger Payne, Boatman Emeritus (and Extraordinaire), who sent us the pics of the hack in action at the UVA Boathouse. Ever the smart man, Roger was quick to credit his boss with the suggestion that made it all happen, and that took the wing nut all the way from the gunwhale to the top (nut):

"Nylon wing nuts hold a top brace as well as a bolt and lock washer, and are easy to check and hard to over tighten."

For anyone who has ever had their top nut or bolt work loose--which is likely all of us--and did not have a handy wrench in their single, or on their coxswain--likely, most of us!--that ability to reach out and *actually* re-tighten that top nut by hand would sure be a handy trick, so here's how you make it happen.

For oarlock pins with threads on top, and thus take an actual top nut, all you need to do is go out and buy some nylon wing nuts...assuming you did not already get a bunch as a holiday gift, of course. Replacing nuts on threads is the easiest version of this hack, but be sure to size things correctly (and, since many of this type of pin are metric, the magic "number" is M8).

If your pins have top bolts, then this hack requires an extra step, but is still just a mod of the bolts you already use: thread the nylon wing nut all the way to the end of the bolt, "wings up" as seen here, and then you can use the wing nut to tighten the bolt . . . and to help make sure that none of your athletes can ever OVER tighten those top nuts, even if they tried!

What makes this hack worth turning into a full fleet makeover is the other benefit of the wings themselves: on most boats, the nylon wings will be the highest point on the rigger, meaning that when any rigger taps, or drags, across the boat in the rack below--as we know is bound to happen eventually, if not constantly--you get a no-scratch, no-mess solution that is a perfect way to "novice-proof" your shells so they do not get dinged up before they even leave the building. (And this fix will look a whole lot cleaner than using socks or tennis balls.)

Lastly, we do have to tip our Hacker caps to a real master here: you'll note that UVA's wing nuts (pictured) come in two different colors: black for their metric riggers, and white for the standard sized hardware. Color-coded so that you can easily grab the right size out of the bottom of your tool box? Now, that is some slick tricking, Mr. Payne!

If you have a rigger trick that makes things work slicker in your boathouse, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

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

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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