top vs side mount oarlocks

As the winter months continue, I continue to overthink how to finish out my dory. What are the advantages of top and side mount oarlocks. This weeks plan ( in my head ) is to use CLC provided risers on top of the outer rail, so I can foresee ease of building with sidemount locks and 5/8 # 8 or 10 screws. This will also allow me to space the inner rail blocks evenly. The chain & bottom of the oarlock can go thru the space without more drilling. Will I be subjecting the sidemount locks to excessive torque and pull out the screws. Top mount locks will be more stable but harder to build in with the risers, especially since I like the seadog locks with the nylon bushing. Not much extra room for the thru hole. I have studied several of the builds on the forum but can't find many opinions pertaining to the difference when it comes to actual rowing. I would rather take the time and effort during the initial build then to have them rip out and redo something after 6 months of use. Thanks for your thoughts.  Dan

I really liked the dicussion on the rollers. That duckworks roller seems better than the large fenders I have and was planning to use at the water. I will look for them at the AC boat show this week.


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RE: top vs side mount oarlocks

Whichever you decide I would strongly recommend using through bolts instead of screws. If you have enough to drill out to ¼ inch use ¼ brass flat head machine bolts with acorn nuts. Loctite the nuts an check periodically to ensure they stay tight. If you do use screws be sure to use a tapered bit for the pilot hole and spread some epoxy on the threads before seating with a screwdriver only. Don’t use a power driver or cordless drill.  



RE: top vs side mount oarlocks

   Hi there...I really over analyzed the same issue you are dealing with and here's what I ended up with:   No risers, top mount oar locks with nylon sleeves (thus a 13/16" hole),  inner rails with longer blocks where the oar locks go, thru bolts to hold the oar lock in with lock nuts, drilled holes for the machine screws to clear after doing drill fill drill, but did not do drill fill drill for the oar lock sleeves..just did 1/8 oversize and a gloved finger to get epoxy in the hole..  Glad I did it that way.

Factors that led me to that choice: Seeing Neil Calore break a risers on his dory, experimenting with oars at extreme high and low angles and they didnt hit either the inside of the inner rail, or the outside of the outer rail, a desire to have the oar lock lower than higher.

I photo journaled the process of that analysis:

Photos 77-80, 98-102, 311-314, 332-336, 341-343

Good luck! 


RE: top vs side mount oarlocks

Sorry, I only indirectly responded to  your question on:

   "difference when it comes to actual rowing"

Others that have done expedition trips have many more hours rowing than I do and some of them might have risers to comment on...maybe they will chime in, but to me not having a riser is oars have never hit the rails, inner or outer and the angle of the oars without risers seems better than what it would be with risers.


RE: top vs side mount oarlocks

   Thanks for the reply Curt, you have been a great resource for this project. I saw the picture of Neil Calore taking off a riser with a very large toothed saw and wondered what it was all about. Also noted that Neil sold his boat.

 What seems to fail - the wooden riser or the oarlock socket screws? If I epoxy then screw the riser down, plug the holes with wooden plugs and keeping everything water tight, I would think everything should stay together. I like JP's  idea of using bolted screws thru the horizontal holes on the sockets. I'm not expecting to subject the boat to expedition loads like Neil, however I will be going into wind, current and chop on a saltwater back bay. Further investigation into the skerry builds only offer me more confusion. I guess I will only figure it out after I finish the bottom, turn it over and start gluing inner rail spacers.  More thoughts are welcome. Dan

RE: top vs side mount oarlocks

Thanks for the kind words...Agreed that whether you use risers or not, if you are doing inner rails top/surface mount oar locks are the way to go, (personally I liked the ones with the nylon sleeves)  and using thru machine screws are a MUST (if I recall I think I used 10/24 S/S oval head phillips with S/S locknuts and a S/S flat washer underneath the inner rail).   

On the risers, I'd like to hear from builders that used risers what their reason was because after I did my mock up tests (and confirmed in actual rowing) that the oars dont hit rails without risers, I just didnt see the need for them.

On the inner rail block length and spacing, that's a whole separate discussion. I was very fortunate to have a multiple builders contributing suggestions on that topic!


RE: top vs side mount oarlocks

   I used the angled sockets here:

Used 4 #10 screws each, seems rock solid, no issues so far.

Dory already has a load of freeboard, risers will make your oar angle to water too great IMO.

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