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Free Surf Gates for Sunsetter LXi


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Hey Gang,

Last year I built a set of quickie surf gates to see if a full setup would be worthwhile on my 1999 DD Sunsetter LXi.  I also added an automatic built-in ballast system with 1000 lbs. in the trunk and 550 lbs. in the center locker, and a tower.  Yeah, I know, but we still like to slalom.

During a week-long soiree at Lake Powell, I couldn't believe the surf wake we could make with the ballast, wedge, and gates; the gates made a huge improvement.

So, I decided to install a permanent, automatic system using the Wakelogic controller.  That is now complete and working brilliantly so I'm ready to pass on my proof-of-concept gates -- free -- to the first SSLXi owner who asks.  I'll even pay the shipping.  Just seems silly to toss them.

They simply clamp to the teak platform (I used a paint stir stick to avoid marring the teak) and strap to the rear tow eyes.  They are mirror images of each other; one for the left and one for the right.  Bulky but effective.  It only takes a couple minutes to switch from one side to the other.  They have a hinged flap on the top to increase the surface area, though it creates a lot of spray onto the trunk lid.  

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/26999486984/in/dateposted-public/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/26999481464/in/dateposted-public/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27000020504/in/dateposted-public/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27610087565/in/dateposted-public/

Here's the wave on the goofy side (yes, this is a DD, evenly weighted):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27000253924/in/dateposted-public/

Any takers?


Edited by Interacsol
Fix photo links
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Done!  I'll send them on Monday.

No, the new system is completely underwater when deployed.  They are angled downward from horizontal when extended. Works great, no spray.

I'm going to post a write-up on all my mods later this week after I get some video.

Here is a quick shot from testing them last week:


Edited by Interacsol
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I have been researching the parts needed to do the same thing, on the same hull shape (2000 23' lsv). I have factory installed center locker sack (about 500 lb) I have used additional 500 to 600 sacks in the two rear lockers. The wake has always seamed to have good shape but has never had the push needed. Did the gate really make the difference? You were probably running less weight than I have before, and your wake look great. Your gate design looks a lot narrower than others, but seams to be doing the job. How wide and long did you make them. 

How much are the wakelogic controllers? I've heard a lot of discussion about them, but no one has said how much they cost.

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The gates made a tremendous improvement.  With the ballast and wedge, I have always had enough push (especially for a shallow-hull DD) but the sweet spot was very small and a challenge to stay in.  The gates add maybe a bit of height but have lengthened the sweet spot dramatically.  We can now do 360s and not have the boat get away from us.

The gates are 20" long and 9" high.  The 9" height is a self-imposed restriction to allow stowing completely under the swim platform.  I could add a few more inches if I wanted it to come up to, or above, the platform.  They may be able to be extended downward an inch or two also, but that would put them in the slipstream coming off of the bottom of the hull, which I didn't want to experiment with on the first pass.

I think I paid about $1200 for the Wakelogic computer, GPS, wiring, and remote control.  The servos are about $200 ea.  I probably had another hundred in Starboard plastic, stainless hardware, switches, etc.  The Wakelogic computer is a very nice option because it is completely automated and my wife doesn't have to mess with anything while driving.  You could easily do the same thing without the computer by using just the Lencos and a few relays, but there would be more button-pushing.  The Starboard is super easy to work with.  I made a foam pattern first to get the shape by hand, then I transferred that to plywood to actually attach parts to the boat and test for travel and clearance.  Once that was all good, I transferred it again to the Starboard.  I will run these this year, perhaps trying some different shapes (or not, maybe we'll just surf and ski), then make some foam/fiberglass gates over the winter and have them gelcoated to match my boat.

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I had been planning on shaping around the transom recess and going as high as the swim step, but If yours is doing the job, I like staying under the step. Plus, it sounds like staying lower has eliminated any splashing when it is deployed?

Was there a reason why you went with the hatch hinge rather than a butt hinge?

You said after a week at lake Powell. I live in the Salt Lake City area. Are you close? It would be great to see this up close. 

Edited by Rebbel
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Hi Rebbel,

When the gates broke the surface, they created a lot of spray.  No big deal; boats get wet, right?  But a lot worked its way around the trunk lid and my bilge ran frequently.

With my new gates being completely below the surface, there is no spray at all.  I will have the boat out all weekend and will post some video next week.

I chose the hatch hinge because it removes with pin, which has proven to very desirable. I also like the way they look (not so much like a hardware store door hinge).  Also, the offset works very nicely for the swing geometry.

I live in Boise, but we enjoy going to LP.j

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So, I know you said you are going to do a write-up, but I'm pulling the trigger on getting parts coming so I hope you don't mind me asking a few more questions.

Did you consider using 1" hdpe instead of 3/4"? Just thinking because of the extra length it might be needed.

Did you use the lenco 102 actuators? Were you able to purchase them complete with upper & lower brackets? So far I have only been able find them sold completely separate. 

It looks like you can remove the gate completely, but the actuator doesn't disconnect right?

Any other tips on sourcing parts? Did it take long to get the Wakelogic controller?

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The 3/4" Starboard is PLENTY thick.  The stuff is really tough, and the forces just aren't that great at 9-13 mph, which is what I have the deployment window set for.

Yes, I used Lenco 102 actuators.  They came with the triangular "foot" for each end and the plastic pins or 5/16" bolts.  I used the bolts because the holes are positioned vertically and I didn't want the pins working their way out.  I used a stainless pin on the gate end of the actuator; it has a ball-detent so it just pulls out with a little effort.  The other end has a stainless bolt with a nylock nut.  No point in making that one removable since it is tethered by the cable.  BTW, the transom-end servo "foot" has a rubber "squish grommet" that seals the hole the servo power cable goes through.  Very clever and works great.  Not knowing this, I had ordered some waterproof thru-hull fittings, but I'm returning them because the Lenco method is quite elegant.

I did add a small loop, maybe 1-1.5", to the cable between where it exits the servo and where it goes through the transom to give it room to move without stress or kinking.

I ordered the Wakelogic controller while Matt was still in the design phase so it took awhile, but I wasn't in a hurry for it anyway.

One thing that worked really well for me was to cut a piece of plywood 2" wide and 8" long to use as a spacer to position the Lenco transom-end foot relative to the hinges.  This ensured parallelism and identical spacing on both left and right sides.

Also, the right side took half a day, to shape the gate, mock up the installation, mark the holes, drill, and install.  I started with pink foam board from Home Depot because it is light and simple to work with and could be easily taped in place.  Then I transferred the pattern to 3/4" plywood and mounted the hardware to check the mechanical action.  Once all was working, I transferred the panel again to the Starboard plastic.  The left side took about one hour start to finish.  Once the right side was done, I used a piece of printer paper and did a rubbing with pencil to transfer the holes from one side to the other.  I just poked holes in the paper, flipped it over, aligned with the hull lines, and used a Sharpie to mark them, then spot checked a few measurements against the other side.  To make the gate, I used the right side as a template and just flipped it over.

If you haven't drilled gelcoat before, be sure to run the drill in reverse for a second on each hole before switching to normal and drilling through, then use a large bit, like 3/8" to chamfer the hole.  This will prevent gelcoat cracking and flaking.

Be careful when drilling the holes in the transom because the full tank is RIGHT THERE on the other side.

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