Pulling An Inflatable With A Tower

Don’t blow us off immediately. Let us explain.
We know it happens. You see people out on the lake pulling inflatables with their tower all the time. Yes, most towers CAN do it, but let us inform you why you shouldn’t.

The biggest problem with towing tubes, or other inflatables, with a wakeboard tower is the multi directional forces that are applied to a towers tow point that just aren’t as rough when used with a wakeboarder. Its not a question of “will it rip the tower off of a boat?” If the tower is installed correctly and the proper backing is applied (if needed) you won’t have a problem with that.

THE NO.1 REASON why tower manufacturers stipulate not to tow an inflatable with the tower is not so much the integrity of the tower, but the hull of your boat. Most wakeboard towers are thoroughly engineered for the forces that come from a wakeboarder, not for an inflatable.

Sure, you might not notice much the first time, or even several after, but you will.
Often when you see gel coats cracking it is not from a bad install (some are, don’t get us wrong) but from misuse of the tower.

Wakeboards, skis, kneeboards, etc. almost always create less line load than a tube, especially a muti-rider tube. Wakeboarders like to play in the wake, so they typically don’t create large side loads.

4 Person Tube Rope

Let’s take this 4-person Tube rope from Overtons. The breaking point on this rope is 4,100 pounds.

ProLine Wake Rope

Most wakeboard ropes don’t generally give a rating for a breaking point, but do state the rope is intended only for towing a single person on water skis, wake/kneeboards, or barefooting. Any other use may cause rope failure.

This Proline Wakeboard Rope from Overtons shows that is provides 2,000 pounds tensile strength. That is less than half of an inflatable rope.

So, lets take a moment to think about that.
Your out having fun, whipping the tube from side to side. Hit a good wake and the tube takes a nose-dive! BOOM! Rope busted! You just transferred 4,100 pounds (or more) to the tower, which in turn was transferred to the hull of your boat. NOT GOOD! That is a lot of stress that was created just in that one moment.

Let’s do a little math…if a submerged tube can create enough load to break a rope at let’s say a conservative number of 2,000 lbs and say the tower is 5 ft tall above the hull.  A simple torque calculation shows that 2,000 lbs x 5ft would create a torque moment of 10,000 ft-lbs on your boat hull.  Yes..that’s right 10,000 ft-lbs!!!  Even if we disperse that load over each tower mount by 4 , we still see a load of 2,500 ft-lbs.    Now do that same math for a wakeboarder.  A max load would likely be 200 lbs… thus creating a max torque load of 1,000 ft-lbs.  Then divide that by 4 and you get a reasonable torque load of 250 ft-lbs…much better!!

You will find that YOU as the driver have a lot more control on how the tube reacts anyway when sticking with the intended rope connection point on the back of the boat. This spot is MADE for tubes or other inflatables.

Anodized Aluminum Finish

To help determine if an anodized finish is your best choice, we should start with a little research…

  • What is anodizing?

According to anodizing.org, anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface into a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish. Aluminum is ideally suited to anodizing, although other nonferrous metals, such as magnesium and titanium, also can be anodized.

Let’s put that in terms us normal beings can understand… Anodizing covers the aluminum surface with a durable finish. This finish bonds to the aluminum and will not chip or flake off.

  • What is the anodizing process?

Anodizing is accomplished by immersing the completely polished piece of aluminum into an acid electrolyte bath and passing an electric current through the medium. A cathode is mounted to the inside of the anodizing tank; the aluminum acts as an anode, so that oxygen ions are released from the electrolyte to combine with the aluminum atoms at the surface of the part being anodized. Anodizing is, therefore, a matter of highly controlled oxidation—the enhancement of a naturally occurring phenomenon.

  • Why should I choose an anodized aluminum wakeboard tower?

The main benefit we see from the anodized finish for our aluminum towers isits ability to withstand harsher elements, such as salt-water. Aluminum has a tendency to oxidize over time. The anodized finish is a chemical coating over the aluminum that protects it from the oxidation process.

Another great benefit is durability. You can touch, grab, flick, or climb on an anodized tower and it will not be easy to see. This also creates a more “maintenance-free” appeal. The same cannot be easily said about a nice chrome-like polished finish.

So to bundle all of this up into a short sentence…
Anodized finish means a longer lasting finish and less maintenance cleaning it up!

Current towers available in an anodized finish are:
Ice tower, Vapor tower, Torrent Tower, X Tower, Predator Tower, Cuda tower, and the Haus Tower.

 

Tips to Choose Your New Wakeboard Tower!

Some of the best compliments that we get from customers is when they tell us, “it (wakeboard tower) totally changed the look of my boat” , “adding the tower to my boat took years off of it” or “the new tower definitely turns heads!”


Finding the right wakeboard tower for your boat can seem like a task, we understand. There are so many to choose from and many options with each model.

If you are still deciding on a purchase, or know someone who is we are here to help.

First things first – PRICE!
Determine your price range and let us know what it is. Does that price range include accessories too? We can find a tower in your price range that you’ll love.

Next – DESIGN!
If you have a certain style or design you like, let us know. We can work with that.
Some prefer a standard windshield mount style like a stainless steel H2O tower or an aluminum Vapor tower, while others like the more modern look of aluminum billet plating shown on the Torrent and Wave towers. With over 10 different models to choose from, we are sure to find a wakeboard tower style you like.

Finally – BOAT
Our towers are extremely universal. This means that almost every wakeboard tower will accommodate almost every boat. We do not make one certain tower for one style of boat. We make several styles for all boats!

Best of all, we urge you to research.

With several different manufacturers out there, we try to maintain the best record. With over 20 years under our belts, we have set the bar high and expect you to expect that from us.

Here is hoping that the new year brings you much joy and many blessings, on and off the water!

Highlights of the Vapor Wake Tower

vapor-wake-tower-highlightsThe Vapor Tower carried by Big Air is one of the most attractive and sturdy wake towers available on the market today. If you need the reliability of a rigid pull in order to practice your most difficult tricks, the Vapor Tower may be exactly what you are looking for. Here are a few product highlights:

Appearance

The Vapor Tower is a very stylish wake tower, thanks to its swooped design and factory-polished finish. Made from high-quality polished flex-reducing aluminum, this is one tower that will definitely add to the overall style of your boat. The tubing is rigid and thick, which gives The Vapor Tower a strong and impressive appearance. The tower is available in polished anodized, polished, or black powder coat finishes, depending on your preference.

Design

The Vapor Tower is designed to fit any boat that is between 72” and 108” wide. This means that almost any boat on the market will be able to accommodate the versatile Vapor Tower. Product design highlights include:

• Very easy installation (normally two or three hours for installation)
• A telescoping top section makes it easy to install The Vapor Tower on any boat
• Secure design does not moan, rattle, or creek in choppy water
• Tower is fully collapsible and can lay down flat within 60 seconds for low clearance areas or for storage
• From mounting points, the tower stands approximately five feet, with an inward taper of 12 degrees
• Swivel rope head design boasts free rope movement
• Pre-drilled for wiring installation ease
• 70” front-to-back stance
• Tower flexure is reduced with the help of finite element analysis structures
• Capability of accommodating the Big Air Bimini, Collapsible Bimini, and Super Shadow Bimini
• Backing plates and mounting hardware included
• Accessories and wakeboard racks are sold separately

Warranty

The Vapor Tower offers an impressive 5-year warranty, so you do not need to worry about receiving a poor-quality tower that will not withstand heavy and frequent use. If something happens to your Vapor Tower within the 5-year warranty time-frame, you will be taken care of.

Optional Tow Point Navigation Light

Big Air offers a tow point navigation light for those who are interested in improving visibility while on the water. The light boasts a 2-mile nautical radius and is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is compatible with towers that are 2013 or newer.

Learn More

If you are ready to increase your ability to perform wakeboard tricks with ease, contact Big Air to find out more about the Vapor Tower today.

Can I mount a tower on my boat?

can-i-mount-a-tower-on-my-boatA classic question we get asked at Big Air is “Can I mount a tower on my boat”.

Fair question!

Here are a few simple guidelines/questions  we suggest for making that decision.

1. Is my boat large enough?

Our recommendation is that your boat be a minimum of 16 ft long and have a beam of at least 6 ft.  The reason for this is to give your boat stability when pulling with a tower.

2. Is my fiberglass hull strong enough to have a tower installed on it?

We recommend a minimum of 3/8″ of thickenss for fiberglass hulls for tower                          installation.  If your hull is thinner than this, then reinforcement can be done by                    laying additional fiberglass on the interior of the hull or installing aluminum or                        treated plywood reinforcement.

3.  My boat hull is radiused, how can I attach a tower mount that is flat to the curved surface.

Some towers come with radiused rubber inserts to help conform to the shape of your            hull.   If this is not the case, then you can often use a belt sander on the supplied                    rubber insert to shape it to fit your hull.  Extra inserts can often be supplied by                      dealers upon request.

4.  My boat is an aluminum boat..can I still mount a tower?

The answer is yes you can mount to aluminum boat gunnels.  It is recommended                   that you place extra aluminum sheet or plywood on the interior of the mount                          location to help spread the load out across the aluminum hull.

5.  There is restricted access to the interior of my hull.

This is not an uncommon situation.  Many of today’s boats use interior panels to hide any of the hull.  Typically you can remove many of the panels on modern boats by lifting upward on the panel, which will un-hook it from the hull.  Sometimes there maybe screws buried deep into the interior cushion..check closely for these.  Occasionally there will be no open access once these panels are removed.  In these cases you can use a large diameter hole saw to cut a hole in the area that the panel covers.   (Note: make sure you aren’t cutting in a critical support area or through wires or cables).

Pylons to Towers

For all those curious how this industry developed here is a short description.  Ski pylons had been on tournament inboard boats for decades.  In the ’90s pylon extenders for tournament boats came on to the market to enable boarders and skiers to get more air for tricks.  However at that time only tournament boats had this option, standard run-about or inboard/outboard boats had no option.

Universal Slip-on Pylon

Slip-on Pylon for Inboard Ski Boat

 

 

Then a couple companies realized that it wasn’t only tournament boat owners who desired bigger air when boarding.  Thus in the mid ’90s came the introduction of universal pylons that allowed users to put extended pylons in their I/O boats.  Big Air Pylons was incorporated in 1996 and began production of pylons in a single car garage in Duncan, OK.

Universal Pylon

Universal Pylon

One of the issues of a pylon is that it is in the center walk way of your boat and it was not easy to store boards or hang speakers on.

In the late ’90s the industry began to make the shift to wakeboard towers which allowed users to hang biminis, board racks, speakers and other accessories.   Once again the tournament boats had towers that were pre-fabricated and had to be shipped by freight truck.  In 1999 Big Air developed its UPS ship friendly tower that would fit virtually any boat.  The tower was made using stainless steel tubing to offer extreme strength and corrosion protection for harsh environments.

Today the market has gravitated towards towers nearly completely.  We see new designs and accessories continue to be created to work with and on towers.H20 Tower

Who knows what the future holds for towers…but it looks to be an exciting future.