Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Boat Modification: Tuna Grab-Loops

Ever since I posted my follow-up review of Bliss-Stick’s newest creeker, the Tuna, I’ve been asked how exactly I made the modified grab-loops, which are oh so comfy! First off, let’s start with what hardware you’ll need:
  • 1” webbing
  • ½” diameter flexible PVC tubing (1/2” rope would also work)
  • Stainless Steel Fender Washers
The hardeware

Step 1 - Cut 1” webbing to length:
I cut mine to 9”, which would give me ~1” of fold over at each end.

Determining the length of the new loops (note the old grab-loop)

I cut mine to ~9"

Step 2 – Insert tubing into webbing:
Cut tubing to desired length (mine was cut to 3-3/4"), then pinch the webbing so the hollow center opens up. Next, feed in the tubing (or rope) until it is centered lengthwise within the webbing.

Cut the tubing to desired length

Feeding the tubing into the webbing

Step 3 – Burn the ends of the webbing:
To prevent fraying of the webbing, burn the ends using a lighter.

Burn the ends to prevent fray

Both grab-loop -- getting close.

Step 4 – Bore the primary mounting holes:
First you’ll need to determine the O.C. spacing of the holes, which depends a little bit on how far you want the grab-loop to stick up. For me, I wanted enough room for my hand to be comfortable, but not too much where it would be prone to catching on things (e.g. my paddle). This meant that my holes would be ~5-1/2" O.C. Next, I marked the location with a sharpie, and cut the holes using a sharp point soldering iron – you can use a drill, but the hole won’t come out nearly as clean.

Boring the holes with a soldering iron

The newly formed hole

Step 5 – Bore the secondary mounting holes:
For these holes you’ll need to fold over the webbing (which makes the attachment point stronger), and mark there location through the primary holes, using a sharpie. Once the holes are marked, use the same method for cutting them as you did for the others.

Fold over the end of the grab-loop

Mark location of secondary mounting holes

The marked secondary mounting hole

Boring the secondary mounting hole

Ready to install!

Step 6 – attach the new grab-loops to the boat:
With all the fabrication of the grab-loops complete, replace the existing ones with your fancy new ones. Make sure to add stainless steel fender washers between the bolt head and the webbing, this will help distribute the force while under load.

The newly installed grab-loop

The finished product

Step 7 – Grab hold of that sucker and go boatin'!

Please note that this mod will reduce the holding power of the loops (metal plate vs. webbing only), and by modifying the grab loops, you'll be taking on the liability for any negative performance issues with doing so. My personal feelings are that unless you plan to use it as a point for Z-dragging the boat out of a pin, they'll be plenty strong enough.

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