The official water test of my DIY pylon was a success. The pylon cost me about $25 in materials I didn’t already have but probably would cost a lot more if I had to go out and buy everything myself. I had been considering building a pylon for a while that had the following requirements:
1. No permanent modifications to the boat.
2. No drilling metal.
3. No cutting metal.
4. No welding.
I was able to meet all of these goals, but requirement #2 made this a 6’ pole instead of a 7’ or 8’ pole. Do not try this at home. If you do, you are operating at your own risk. I cannot endorse actually using this product.
-Drill (If cordless, make sure you have spare batteries. You’ll need them.)
-Block (small 6” 2x4 block or similar)
-2 ½” Hole Saw bit
-Circular saw (You could get by with a hand saw.)
- Floor Jack 2-piece 7’-11’ (or somewhere in that vicinity) NOT an automotive jack. I got mine at Home Depot for $25. It was in the cement section. Lowe’s oddly enough didn’t have them. See image below.
-4 ratchet straps ($25 at Sam’s Club).
-Pressure treated 4’ 4x6. You may be able to get away with something smaller but I happened to have one of these lying around and wanted something deeper than the typical 2x4.
-Pressure treated ¼” 2’x4’ sheet of plywood. (Had it lying around.)
-A box of 16p 3 ½” Galvanized rink shank nails ($2.50 a box)
The basic idea is that the jack is acting as the actual pylon, the pylon will rest in a hole we cut in the 4x6, the plywood will extend the base of the 4x6, and the ratchet straps will hold the pylon in place at the front around the bow and the rear at the lift rings.
1. First we need to build our base. Using the hole saw, drill a hole right in the middle of the 4’x5 ½” face of the 4x6. That 4x6 is deeper than your hole saw so you’ll need to chisel out the wood as you get as deep as the hole saw can cut. This gets harder as you get deeper. I did this with my cordless drill and went through 3 14.4V batteries!
2. Now we need to attach the plywood. I didn’t have 2’ of clearance front to back where I wanted to put it so I had to cut the plywood down to 1’18”. Measure where you’ll be putting it to make sure you have 2’ front to back. If you don’t have 4’ side to side, you’ll need to cut both the plywood and the 4x6. Make sure to keep the hole centered on the 4x6 if you need to do that. Once everything is cut to size, center the 4x6 on the plywood and nail through the plywood into the 4x6. Make sure to miss your hole. Use plenty of nails and realize that while rink shanks hold better, they have a tendency to bend as you hammer. You could probably use screws instead or regular nails and glue.
3. Our base is built so now we need to assemble the pole. The floor jack comes with several pieces but the ones we are concerned with are the two pole segments and the two bolts that connect the segments. You can throw away the base plates and adjustment screw. You can see how the smaller piece with a lot of holes in it slides into the larger piece with only a few holes in it. For its intended use, you align the holes and use the bolts to hold the pieces together. We’re going to do the same thing except we are going to turn the upper pole upside down so all the holes are at the top. This ensures we follow rule #2 listed above. If you want to drill your own holes, you can gain a foot or two on the height of the pylon. Bolt the poles pieces together to give you the maximum height while leaving all the holes at the top of the two-piece unit.
5. Now take you block and use it to hammer the pole into the base. You hit the block instead of the pole to prevent damage to the pole. Don’t skip this step. Unless you’re really good or really lucky, the hole won’t be perfect so you’ll need to hammer the pole to get it to rest on the plywood.
6. Once this is done you have a pole stuck into a very sturdy base. Go ahead and position it in your boat. I put mine just behind the ski locker. Make sure to center the pole now.
7. Now take those 4 ratchet straps and use them to secure the pole to the boat.
7a. I reserve the top pair of holes for the ski rope. Below that I use the next forward facing hole to connect the strap for the bow. The bow strap is a two-piece unit. I got the idea from another DIY pylon project. One strap goes to the bow and the other strap wraps around the bow in a circle and the first bow hooks into it. Use the front cleats to keep the strap from slipping off.
7b. The rear straps will hook into the pole and then wrap around to the lift rings on the rear of the boat. Those things are supposed to be able to handle the weight of the boat so they should hold up just fine.
7c. When ratcheting everything tight, remember to apply even ratcheting to keep the pole from leaning. I usually snug the front and then take turns giving a ratchet or two to each side until everything is very tight. You’ll probably want to tie up all the loose webbing. I tie it all around the pole.
8. Now thread your ski rope through the top holes and you are ready to go. Check the pole for tightness between falls at least once or twice. I assume it could shift slightly as pressure is placed on it.
BE CAREFUL when disassembling. Disconnect all straps and then remove the base.
My digital camera batteries died before I got to the lake (D'OH!) so I’ll take some pics in my driveway and post shortly.
Floor jack image: