row2k Features
Rigger Trick
Plastic Wing-Nuts
December 17, 2013
row2k hackers

You have to love a hack that solves two or three vexing problems at once, so let's introduce the rowing world to the plastic wing-nut.

That's right, it turns out that all these metal fasteners on our shells may not be the best way to go after all, and a plastic wing nut is in many ways a faster, easier way to perform the really simple, but crucial, job of keeping your rigger tight to your hull.

To be precise, these wonder wing-nuts are not just plastic: to make this hack work, what you are actually looking for is a nylon wing-nut, and any respectable marine shop should have plenty. The great thing about these nylon fasteners apart from, well, the wings, is that they let you skip using washers altogether, so you get to use fewer tools and fewer parts all at the same time.

This is just one of those perfect hacks where the right part fixes a host of "ills" all at once: tired of losing washers every time a boat gets rigged and de-rigged? Or with trying to keep enough wrenches on hand to put all the rowers to work? Or with losing all the wrenches you do hand out? Or with how metal nuts seem to loosen themselves at inopportune times? Well, a plastic wing nut puts an end to all of those problems: it tightens without needing a washer, a wrench, or even that extra from-time-to-time retightening. If you are a salt-water program to boot, you also save yourself a bit in the corrosion department: the plastic doesn't gum up with salt nearly as badly over time.

They are a bit bulky, sure, so they work best on wing riggers. In fact, they will not be much help at all in the tight space you get on some of the bolts on euro-style riggers--though even on those shells, you can replace as many as three metal nuts and washers, leaving just one bolt that still begs for a wrench, and that might just be worth it.

Of course, lots of white plastic may not look terribly sleek on best your racing shell, and maybe that makes this a trick best saved for older workboats, but these wrench-free wing nuts are super convenient, so we wouldn't be surprised to see this hack out on the race course one of these days--if only because it is a trick that is at its most ingenious when it comes time to rig, or re-rig, a whole eight.

So get your rowers--or your boatman--a really useful holiday gift this year: a bucket of plastic wing-nuts (and you can use the money you were going to spend replacing all the wrenches that went missing this fall!)

Do you have a cool trick that makes rigging a snap 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!

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Log in to comment
12/22/2013  4:50:09 PM
Van Dusen has been "your hack" for decades. What *is* the hack? At least give some credit to the guy whom you are borrowing from...

12/22/2013  4:51:16 PM
oops has been *using*

Russ Miller
12/18/2013  1:46:53 PM
I saw the UVA Hudson 8+'s rigged for the 2012 HOCR with the combo of a stainless screw thru a wingnut on the top of the rigger and another nylon nut underneath to tighten it up. Zero tools, no washers, easy to see those white nuts in the grass, and two people de-rigged in maybe 5 minutes. Sweet! McMaster-Carr is a good source in the US and has White or Black 1/4-20 Nylon wingnuts for $7.67 per 50... 

12/18/2013  9:15:12 AM
If programs are inclined to follow this advice, I'd caution against throwing away the old hardware. We have found that nylon wing nuts on standard 1/4-20 bolts work fine, but metric wing nuts seem to work loose. Go figure. There are a number of theories about this (materials, thread pitch, thread count, etc.), but the bottom line is, don't toss your old stuff for a few weeks until you know the wing nuts are for you.

12/18/2013  6:52:10 AM
Love the idea of fewer wrenches to keep track of. Is there a specific size to ask for?

12/17/2013  6:50:38 PM
I can see a use for these on the bolts that secure slide rails to the boat. Our clubbies are forever losing the washers in the bottom of boats when they undo the slide bolt nuts to shift rails.

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