Probably the simplest oarlock is a single “thole-pin” with a loose lashing around the loom of the oar and the thole-pin as shown below.
|From Small Boats, by Phil Bolger, page 32|
|Tom the Rower's Custom Thole Pin Oarlock|
Tom stated (see Comments in my blog on “gears”,
(http://theoarcruising.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-gears-when-rowing.html) that he could not feather with this arrangements. Since his oar blades are only 3.5” (89mm) wide, he says they don’t present a windage problem.
The oarlocks below are available through Duckworks and are the locks I use on my Ross Lillistone “Flint”. They are pictured in the ‘gears’ blog mentioned above.
|Duckworks “Seadog Premium Brass Ribbed Horn Oarlocks”|
The “Douglas” design oarlocks (below) have two distinct advantages over the ‘horn’ locks above:
1. The front of the oar is directly over the center of the pivot point and therefore the oar does NOT have the tendency to ‘walk’ as you stroke. (However, I have never felt my oars ‘walking’ (toward the center of the boat) using the ‘horn’ oars above as Bolger talks about in his book, Small Boats, on page 32-33).
2. To me, the big advantage of the Douglas lock is the 6 degree angle of the forward (pivot) side of the lock. When used with a square or “D” shaped loom, the oar blade is tipped back 6 degrees which is the ideal angle of the blade during the power portion of the stroke… steep enough to keep the oar in the water, but not so steep that the oar dives.
|Douglas Oarlock diagram and dimensions|
Duckworks “Douglas Oarlocks” http://www.duckworksbbs.com/hardware/oarlocks/douglas/index.htm
Also see an article reviewing the Douglas Oarlock:http://www.duckworksbbs.com/hardware/oarlocks/douglas/Ash%20Breeze%20Article%2011-05.pdf
The oarlocks below are manufactured in Sydney, Australia (http://www.gacooarlocks.com/)
Gaco also sells sleeves to enable the locks to fit in either 1/2” or 7/16” sockets. A visit to the site is well worth your time. It contains a series of articles on boats, rowing, oars, etc.
Sockets can be top mounted, or side mounted. It is critical that the socket be firmly attached to the boat. I’ve found that (even large) screws are not good enough. The screws will work loose over time. They did for me, and I now use a combination of bolts with cap nuts and washers, along with screws, to attach the sockets. Since doing that, I’ve had no issue of the sockets working loose.
Sockets can be purchased with oversized holes for the oarlock pin, but they include a nylon bushing so that the lock pivots in nylon vs. metal to metal… much smoother and quieter… and replaceable.
Leathers and Buttons
Leathers perform two functions:
1. Protect the oar from wear at the oarlock
2. Help to make feathering easier and quieter.
Buttons stop the oar from sliding out (into the water) of the lock. The button can be an integral part of the ‘leather’ or added separately.
Traditionally, leathers have been made of… leather. Shaw and Tenney,
http://www.shawandtenney.com/productdisplay/leather-kit, Duckworks http://www.duckworksbbs.com/hardware/oarlocks/oarleather/index.htm and others sell kits to enable you to apply real leather to your oars.
The photo below is of leathers I applied to a set of oars. The kit came with instructions on how to trim the leather to fit the oar and to sew it on the oar with a ‘herringbone’ stich. The button (supplied in the kit) is cut to the proper length and then, in this case, attached with escutcheon nails (about one inch, brass, with round domed heads).
But leather is not the only option. On these oars below, I used 1/8” Polyester Solid Braid Line from Duckworks (http://www.duckworksbbs.com/line/polyester/sbraid/index.htm). Jim Michalak (jimsboats.com) suggests making a button by creating a “Turk’s Head” out of bungie cord. No matter how tight I made the Turk’s Head, the button slipped. I finally had to glue it to the loom. Now that I’ve installed the gear changer (See “Change Gears When Rowing”, http://theoarcruising.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-gears-when-rowing.html ), the button is really not necessary.
|Oar 'leather' and button made from 1/8" line and bungie cord|
There are other alternatives for ‘leather and button’. Consider the Martinoli Oar Sleeves with Buttons from Duckworks http://www.duckworksbbs.com/hardware/rowing/sleeves-rs/index.htm often paired with Douglas Oarlocks discussed above.
Another option is Seadog Adjustable Oar Collars, http://www.duckworksbbs.com/hardware/oarlocks/sd580101/index.htm My concern with these is that the amount of gearing flexibility is less than 4”.
There are many alternatives for how to connect the oars to your oar cruiser. Make your decision based on the severity of weather conditions you row in, how long you expect your boat/equipment to last and your wallet.
In 'comments' below, let us know what oarlocks, sockets, leathers and buttons you use and what would you change if you were to do it over again.