New Backstays on the Alden

I’m procrastinating.  I slept in this morning and didn’t feel like doing the time trial.  I am also feeling a bit worn out.  Over the last 7 days I’ve totalled 9:30 of time rowing, and 99,828m.  That’s a huge increase compared to how the rest of this season has gone so far.  My weekly averages are 54,000m and 4:45.  They have been great sessions and I’m glad I’ve been home to be able to do them, but I am sore all over and feel very low energy.

But truth be told, part of it is being scared of the time trial.  I’ll either go over later today or do it tomorrow morning.

But in the mean time, I finished the project to put new backstays on the Alden.  I broke a backstay a couple weeks ago, as I described here, during my first real outing in the Alden Star.  After that, I tried to find a replacement backstay.  I attempted to contact the folks who sold me the boat (no reply), I attempted to contact Alden (no reply).  I called the folks at Adirondack Rowing.  They were great.  They told me that they did not have the part, and that they were having a lot of trouble getting any merchandise from Alden.  They pointed me to another guy who might have the part.  He did not, but told me that it would be a lot easier to just make them instead of trying to buy them.

I asked him if there was anything special about the material.  He said that most of them were standard aluminum tube.  So, I google my way over to onlinemetals.com, navigated my way to the aluminum tube products and bought:

  • Aluminum 6061-T6 Bare
  •   Drawn Tube
  •   0.5″ x 0.049″ x 0.402″

They had anodized, but not in the dimensions I wanted.  I might eventually paint them, or I might not.

Then, I paid a visit to my Dad, who has an impressive workshop.  He was so excited by the project that he went out and bought himself a new, bigger, better, vise to form the ends.  Using the one backstay that I had as a template, I cut the tubes to length, then flattened the last inch in the vise.  Matched the hole sizes from the previous backstay to a drill and drilled the holes for the ends.  A little work with a file to remove all the burrs and we were done.

Here’s the result.

The only thing that I am not completely happy with is the original was formed on the ends so that the bottom side of the stern end and the top side of the rigger end were flush.  You can see in the picture above, that with available technology (a bench vise), that the flattening is centered on the tube, so there is a slight interference between the round tube and the stern deck.  The problem is entirely cosmetic though.

Well, that’s done now.  On to the next project.  And hopefully, I’ll get myself pumped up enough to go rowing.

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