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Shell Maintenance – Show it Some Love!

Shell Maintenance – Show it Some Love!

What kind of state are your rowing shells in? When did you last grease the tracks or tighten the nuts on your wing riggers? Chances are they could probably use some love, right?

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s worth spending some time to catch up on the less glamorous job of shell maintenance – one that can be neglected during crew/rowing season.

Simple Tips for Looking after your Rowing Shells

Daily Maintenance Jobs

These tasks include what you should do before you get into the boat to row, as well as what you should do after you row before putting your shell away.

Before you row:

  • Check your outrigger, all four (or 5 on a wing rigger) mounting bolts, top nut, and proper spacers (poppers)
  • Check you shoes and foot stretcher (three wing nuts and all bolts holding the shoes to the foot board)
  • Check the wheels on your seat (and if you are in the stroke seat, or bow in a four, make sure you have a magnet)
  • Check the nut or bolt for tightness by trying to loosen it with your bare fingers. Your fingers should not be strong enough to loosen a properly tightened nut or bolt. If it turns when you try to loosen, obtain a wrench from your coxswain and tighten appropriately.
  • Check the wing nuts by trying to tighten them as much as possible (without going crazy) with your bare fingers.
  • Check the wheels by trying to wiggle them with your fingers, they should remain rigid on the seat while rotating freely, if not, it may be time to replace them. Also, if the wheel makes a lot of noise while rolling with weight on it, it may also be time to replace.
    Note: Properly lubricating the wheels frequently will make them last forever, if nothing is done to them, they may only last a year.

After you row:

  • In salt water wash the inside and outside of the hull thoroughly, scrubbing the tracks and seat inside, and using a separate sponge to do the same on the outside of the hull. Rinse thoroughly with lots of fresh water, and DRY COMPLETELY! (a boat that is put away while wet will get hard water deposits (water marks) on the hull and make it noticeably slower).
  • In fresh water you should do everything above, and if unable, then simply dry VERY WELL inside and out and put back onto the racks.
  • No matter what kind of water you row in, all vent caps should be opened and left open overnight to allow the boat to thoroughly dry everywhere.
  • Be careful not to spray the speakers or where the wiring harness connects to the speakers as most wiring and speakers in boats are not very well waterproofed.

Urgency: Do Before/After Each Session

Weekly Maintenance Jobs

Doing this preventative maintenance once a week will help keep your boat like new!

  • Spray the seat wheels on the front and back with PB Blaster or other penetrating grease
  • Clean tracks with Simple Green degreaser. Scrub hard to remove all black dirt and grease and also, use the rag covered in simple green to wipe each wheel individually.
  • Spray the center of the wheel so the grease soaks into the bearing. Spin the wheel to help it sink in.
  • Spray or dab Simple Green degreaser onto a rag or shop towel and scrub the tracks and outer parts of the wheels well.

Urgency: Do Once a Week

Long Term Maintenance Jobs

Once a month you should consider doing the below maintenance items (if you row in clean freshwater that is not polluted with fertilizer, etc. you may be able to get away with doing this maintenance every three months)

  • Remove all fasteners (from tracks, rigger bolts, foot stretcher, etc.) and apply thin coat of marine grease, LPS 3, or Lanocote. Wipe off the excess grease and re-assemble.
  • Remove all of the aluminum parts where they meet carbon fiber and apply a thin layer of grease (or LPS 3, or Lanocote) to protect the aluminum from corrosion.

You can use the video below as a guide on how to remove the screws holding your shoes onto the foot stretcher.

Urgency: Do Monthly or Quarterly

Thanks to Jon Kotwicki from RowINTEL for another great article!

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