Ski Tow Eye
on Grant MacLaren's 1981
18' Century Resorter

Ski Tow Eye

(Click on any image for a larger version.)

It appears that this (my) 1981 Resorter was delivered new without a tow eye: Not true, it seems after digging into the boat a bit. I found much evidence of a tow eye having been in the boat. I also discovered that the boat had been reupholstered.

Tow eyes were usually located on the top of the back of the front seats. In earlier years the rings were plain, round rings; later the rings had a "finger" in the middle, with the "hook" of the ring facing aft. The rings were supported by metal posts that were secured at their base by a fitting attached to a cross member spanning the stringers.

Next photo, notice the shadow of the newer version of the toe eye (with finger incorrectly pointed forward.)

Here's a '74 with tow eye with its "finger" missing:

Why is the finger missing on the blue boat? Probably because the user "just hooked the rope over the forward-pointing finger." Lots of the earlier fabricated tow eyes with rings met this fate. The fingers should point aft, and the tow load be carried by the heavier vertical shaft.

One piece eyes like the one below are made to tow with the tow line "just hooked the rope over the forward-pointing finger," but towing from the transom lessens the skipper's control of the boat ... much, much better to have the tow point over the boat's CG.

Even if you're going to tow from aft of the CG, having the finger point aft is a good idea -- for less line wear -- and better load distribution.

Here's a 1959 Arabian:


Do you think the boat left the factory with that tall support?

The following photo shows an angle iron with a 1 inch diameter hole to support the metal tow eye pole -- if a pole had been installed in my '81 Resorter.

Here is a close-up of the "shims" in the seat back. By the looks of the label, the shims were added to 1) support the seat back against the engine's thermostat housing, and to 2) support the tow eye pole (if it had been installed.)

Here is a "later model" toe eye on some other boat, with finger correctly pointing aft.

Here is a "later model" toe eye, with finger pointing forward. (Does this boat need a little attention?)


The next two photos show how the tow eye pole is supported in a friend's 1973 16' Resorter.




Found the above ring at GREAT LAKES SKIPPER and ordered it 1/2/12. I like the way it's made. I'll have to figure out how to trim where it appears above and behind the front seat's back cushion, but with my new idea for supporting the seat's back with a beam, that should be a piece of cake.

1/2" galvanized water pipe fits snugly within the new tow eye's base. I sawed off some of a 1/2" pipe flange and will use what's left it to anchor the tow eye assembly to a strut installed to bridge the stringers. John S. has offered to make me a trim piece for where the new eye mounts above and behind the forward seat's back. (A longer piece of pipe will be used when the correct length is known.)

(2/5/12) Removed nails and routed upper and lower edges of beam. After nail holes are filled, and the beam sanded, it will be sheathed with fiberglass cloth and epoxy.

(2/5/12) Trial fit of tow eye. The home made trim piece now fits perfectly. Angle iron on bench below beam will need some fitting. It is from the original seat back, will be held in place within new beam with those two bolts. (2/5/12) Made the sketch on right.


(2/10/12) Here are the major parts, fitted and ready to install:

Also finished the aluminum channel that will support the base of the new seat back for the front seat. Made the channel from square tube, by removing one wall of tube with band saw. No photos as of today.

(2/12/12) Here are six more photos of the toweye and the beam that will support the front seat's back:

1 -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6

(2/24/12) Well, the mockups exhibited my lack of careful drawings:


The hole for the tow eye is too small, but that's an easy fix. The big problem is shown by the broomstick interfering with the engine's pulley.

Maybe I'll use plumbing pipe to offset the support column:

ski     ski


The lower section will be about 16 inches long, and the horizontal section will be shorter than shown in the above photos. Maybe I'll tack weld them when all pieces are the correct length and tightened.

(2/26/12) The rig is quite sturdy -- much stronger than I thought it would be. A high percentage of the load is carried by the beam and it's very ridged. Turns out the long piece is 18" and I found some oak for the cross member. I like what's happening, and had doubts. Lever arm on the ring end is very short compared to the lower end.

(3/27/12) Here are the primary pieces. There is also a home-made escutcheon. Pipe has been spot welded and painted. It was installed for a few hours. Now removed as part of painting project:



Here is the tow eye as installed in "Meanwhile" and first used at Table Rock Lake in 2012 during the ACBS meet. I sure like the way it looks, and functions.


Here is a tow eye installed "backwards" on a '76 Arabian and posted on facebook. I've sketched in a tow line running forward. It's my opinion that many tow eyes are installed backwards -- explaining why many of the center pins are broken.



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Another pretty good web page by Grant MacLaren