Fin systems are commonly used in a number of different construction techniques. There is a lot of critical information that helps simplify understanding how the system is meant to be utilized. Presented here are all of the the primary install methodologies, as well as some general extra install information. The information is divided up into a series of separate sections that cover each of the different topics.

Standard

INSTALLATION

This section will guide you through the standard installation process for the GEARBOX system.


Step-by-step installation instructions.

The Standard Install should be used for any polyurethane or EPS install where the EPS is 1.5# density or greater. As a time saver the EPS Install can be used as it requires less routing, but it is slightly more expensive due to the increased cost for the HD foam block!

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Router Bit Setup

To adjust the router bit to the correct depth, place the router upside down on a table, place the base router jig on the bottom of the router base, now adjust the router bit so that 16.5mm (21/32”) of the cutter is protruding above the rubber non-slip pad on the bottom of the jig. This results in the tip of the cutter being 1/32" (1mm) above the lip of the load bearing collar.

Router Bit Setup
Router Bit Setup

Alternatively, a box can be placed on the bottom of the jig, then adjust the bit until it is slightly above the top of the upper surface of the load beam collar.

It is a good idea to do a test run on a scrap of foam to ensure that everything is correct before proceeding.

NOTE: for installation into deep double concaves it is advisable to set the bit a little deeper in order to allow the box to be fully below the bottom surface, at the lowest point of the concave. A measurement of roughly 31.75mm (1 1/4” ) from the base of the router to the tip of the cutters on the router bit can be used as a starting point! This results in a cavity that is slightly deeper than the depth of the box when installed in a deep concave.

Preparation

A GEARBOX install is very simple and only requires our routing system, hex key, die cut tape, boxes, and a router that you provide.

Install Parts
Install Parts

A trim router is strongly recommended as these are easier to handle and fit better on the jigs, but any router will work! See the general sections for router bit setup, details about the routing system, glossary, box details, and more.

Routing will most commonly be performed on the shaped surfboard blank. But an installation can be performed after the bottom has been laminated, but the boxes will still need to be capped with glass.

Setup

As part of the setup the blank needs to have the shapers fin layout lines, for the desired fin setup.

Setup
Setup

To ease the process there should be a line drawn connecting the two dots that mark the fin location, if these are not already present.

These lines will help with the positioning of the jigs, and are typically placed on the blank by the shaper to their desired fin layout.

Base Jig Placement

Place the base router jig on the blank oriented with the rail marker pointing towards the rail.

Base Jig Placement
Base Jig Placement

Place the back shapers mark window on the back shapers mark, then use either the centerline for a center box, or the side centerline for a side box to align the jig between the marks. Use the shapers mark crosshatch to position the mark within the window.

Typically, the jig does not need to be anchored to the blank as the weight of the jig and the rubber pad on the bottom keep the jig in place.

Rout Top Cavity

Place the top router jig on top of the base jig, once again with the rail marker matching that of the base jig. The top jig has a built in locater on each end that locks it into position on top of the base jig.

Rout Top Cavity
Rout Top Cavity

The router bit depth DOES NOT need to be adjusted to rout this cavity as the jig correctly raises the bit to the correct depth.

Rout Bottom Cavity
Rout Bottom Cavity

Proceed with the routing of the cavity that forms the shelf onto which the box load beam collar will rest.

Rout Bottom Cavity

Remove the top router jig and place the bottom router jig inside the base jig. The bottom jig fits precisely in the inner opening. Ensure that the rail marker is oriented the same as the base jig. The jig will not drop into the previously routed cavity as there is a slight reveal all the way around the interior.

Rout Bottom Cavity
Rout Bottom Cavity

Router bit depth does not need to be adjusted for this cut. Be careful inserting the router bit into the jig as there is not a lot of room. Start up the router and then insert the router bit into the surfboard foam. Holding firmly onto the router move it in a clockwise direction around the inside of the jig. Resulting cut is always a 1/16” away from the jig.

Install Boxes
Install Boxes

Be very careful when routing a center box as the stringer can cause the router to jump. It is safer to create a starter hole in the stringer to make it easier to start the router while inserted into this opening. The hole can be made by using the router before adding the bottom router jig, or a Forstner Bit can be used to made a starter hole in the string. If there is a lot of vee in the board some tape might be needed to hold the base jig.

When finished routing always wait for the router to stop spinning before removing it from the jig, this prevents accidentally nicking the jig. After routing the bottom cavity, remove both the bottom jig and the base jig from the blank. Cavity routing is now complete!

Install Boxes
Install Boxes

WARNING: When routing a stringer, hold the router firmly while slowly plunging into the center of the stringer, then remove small amounts of the stringer at a time to minimize the risk of the router bit catching! Once the stringer has been removed run the router clockwise around the perimeter of the jig to finish the hole. A drill can also be used to remove some of the excess wood to simplify the routing process!

Install Boxes

Before starting the installation the boxes need to be prepared. Start by using the provided hex key to make sure the grub screws are well down into the box so that they cannot be touched when sanding the board. Next cover the dams on the boxes with the die cut tape we provide, or masking tape cut to fit the dam. Make sure the tape is pressed down tight to prevent resin from leaking into the slot.

Install Boxes
Install Boxes

To install a box, pour some laminating resin into the routed cavity. Make sure all of the inner surfaces of the cavity are covered with resin. Press the box down onto the cavity, resin should squeeze up around the edges of the box and cover. Make sure the box is fully pressed into the cavity, the upper surface of the load beam collar flange should be slightly below the lip of the cavity.

WARNING: SIDE BOXES MUST BE ORIENTED WITH THE SCREW SIDE FACING TOWARDS THE STRINGER!

Boxes Installed

Spread the excess resin around the top of the cover ensuring that all cavities are filled with resin.

Boxes Installed
Boxes Installed

Now the box can be covered with fiberglass and the lamination process can proceed. An additional reinforcement patch should finally be applied over the boxes. But if a 6-oz or heavier cloth is being used it might be easier to place it underneath the bottom lamination. In this case it should always be a layer of 4-oz in order to get it to drape as tight to the dam of the box as possible.

After lamination, before the resin gels, check for air around the boxes and rub in extra resin, if needed, to remove any air, or use a pin or scratch awl to pop the air bubbles.

NOTE: there should always be at least two layers of fiberglass over the boxes. The additional layer should always be placed on top of the bottom lamination. Ideally, the second layer should be added after the bottom has cured, but it can be applied with the bottom laminate.

Finish

During the lamination process the box is capped with layers of glass, some of which is designed to be removed during the sanding process.

Finish
Finish

Once the board has been hot coated and has cured it is time to sand the board and boxes. The shape of the dam on the box creates a raised area that needs to be sanded down flush with the bottom surface of the board.

Sand down the protruding dam on the boxes until it is completely flush with the bottom of the board. This will expose the slot of the box, and the grub screw holes.

If the board is going to be glossed and polished another die cut tape, or masking tape, will need to be applied to the top of the box to cover the exposed slot and screw holes. Now the glossing process can be completed. Once the gloss coat has cured the board can be polished as with any other fin system. Remove the cover at the end of the process to keep the box slot clean.}}

1ROUT / EPS

INSTALLATION

This section will guide you through the 1ROUT or EPS installation process for the GEARBOX system.


Step-by-step installation instructions.

The EPS or 1Rout Install should be used for any EPS boards with a foam density of less than 1.5#. The process is actually simpler than the standard install because it utilizes an HD foam block. This means the routing operation is just a single cavity! This install can also optionally be used for polyester installs if the HD foam blocks are purchased.

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Router Bit Setup

To adjust the router bit to the correct depth, place the router upside down on a table, place the base router jig on the bottom of the router base, now adjust the router bit so that 16.5mm (21/32”) of the cutter is protruding above the rubber non-slip pad on the bottom of the jig. This results in the tip of the cutter being 1/32" (1mm) above the lip of the load bearing collar.

Router Bit Setup
Router Bit Setup

Alternatively, a box can be placed on the bottom of the jig, then adjust the bit until it is slightly above the top of the upper surface of the load beam collar.

It is a good idea to do a test run on a scrap of foam to ensure that everything is correct before proceeding.

NOTE: for installation into deep double concaves it is advisable to set the bit a little deeper in order to allow the box to be fully below the bottom surface, at the lowest point of the concave. A measurement of roughly 31.75mm (1 1/4” ) from the base of the router to the tip of the cutters on the router bit can be used as a starting point! This results in a cavity that is slightly deeper than the depth of the box when installed in a deep concave.

Preparation

A GEARBOX install is very simple and only requires our 1rout system, hex key, die cut tape, HD foam blocks, boxes, and a router that you provide.

Install Parts
Install Parts

A trim router is strongly recommended as these are easier to handle and fit better on the jigs, but any router will work!

Routing will most commonly be performed on the shaped surfboard blank. The major difference with this type of installation is the fact that we will end up installing a high density foam block into the routed cavity. This provides a more stable support platform for the box, especially in a low density foam.

The 1Rout installation technique utilizes a single jig and HD foam blocks to house the box within the routed cavity. This technique is the simplest and is always used for low density EPS foam installations. It requires that the HD foam blocks be purchased separately for the installation.

Setup

As part of the setup the blank needs to have the shapers fin layout lines, for the desired fin setup.

Setup
Setup

To ease the process there should be a line drawn connecting the two dots that mark the fin location, if these are not already present.

These lines will help with the positioning of the jigs, and are typically placed on the blank by the shaper to their desired fin layout.

Base Jig Placement

Place the base router jig on the blank oriented with the rail marker pointing towards the rail.

Base Jig Placement
Base Jig Placement

Place the back shapers mark window on the back shapers mark, then use either the centerline for a center box, or the side centerline for a side box to align the jig between the marks. Use the shapers mark crosshatch to position the mark within the window.

Typically, the jig does not need to be anchored to the blank as the weight of the jig and the rubber pad on the bottom keep the jig in place.

Once the base jig is in place on the blank, the routing process can proceed. For this type of installation we are going to rout a single cavity the shape of the box and the full depth using the standard router bit depth setting.

Single Rout Cavity

Start the routing by plunging the router carefully into the foam away from the jig. Start removing foam from the center of the cavity first. Then finish off by moving the router in a clockwise direction around the perimeter of the jig. This will protect the outer edge of the cavity from debris flying around inside the cavity. Resulting cut is always a 1/16” away from the jig.

Rout Cavity
Rout Cavity

Be very careful when routing a center box as the stringer can cause the router to jump. If there is a lot of vee in the board some tape might be needed to hold the base jig.

When finished wait for the router to stop spinning before removing it from the jig, this prevents accidentally nicking the jig. Remove the base jig from the board.

Single Rout Cavity
Single Rout Cavity

There is now a single cavity routed into the blank into which the HD foam block and box will be installed.

WARNING: When routing a stringer, hold the router firmly while slowly plunging into the center of the stringer, then remove small amounts of the stringer at a time to minimize the risk of the router bit catching! Once the stringer has been removed run the router clockwise around the perimeter of the jig to finish the hole. A drill can also be used to remove some of the excess wood to simplify the routing process!

Install HD Foam & Box

Before starting the installation, the boxes need to be prepared. Use the provided hex key to make sure the grub screws are well down into the box so that they cannot be touched when sanding the board. Cover the dams on the boxes with the provided die cut tape, or masking tape cut to fit the dam. Make sure the tape is pressed down tight to prevent resin from leaking into the slot.

The HD foam block and the box will be installed into the board at the same time in two steps.

Install HD Foam Block
Install HD Foam Block

First the HD foam block will be installed. Start by coating the bottom and lower sides of the routed cavity with a light coat of resin. Push the foam block down into the cavity making sure it is flush with the bottom, it should look like the photo in the next step.

Installed HD Foam Block
Installed HD Foam Block

Now that the HD foam block has been inserted into the cavity, proceed with the installation of the box. To install a box, pour some resin into the narrow cavity in the HD foam block. Make sure all of the inner surfaces of the cavity are covered with resin and that there is enough resin in the bottom cavity to almost fill it.

Install Box
Install Box

Press the box down into the HD foam block and cavity, resin should squeeze up around the edges of the box and cover. Make sure the box is fully pressed into the cavity, the upper surface of the load beam collar flange should be slightly below the lip of the cavity when installed correctly.

Box Installed

Spread the excess resin around the top of the cover ensuring that all cavities are filled with resin.

Box Installed
Box Installed

Now the box can be covered with fiberglass and the lamination process can proceed. An additional reinforcement patch should finally be applied over the boxes. But if a 6-oz or heavier cloth is being used it might be easier to place it underneath the bottom lamination. In this case it should always be a layer of 4-oz in order to get it to drape as tight to the dam of the box as possible.

After lamination, before the resin gels, check for air around the boxes and rub in extra resin, if needed, to remove any air, or use a pin or scratch awl to pop the air bubbles.

WARNING: SIDE BOXES MUST BE ORIENTED WITH THE SCREW SIDE FACING TOWARDS THE STRINGER!

NOTE: there should always be at least two layers of fiberglass over the boxes. The additional layer should always be placed on top of the bottom lamination. Ideally, the second layer should be added after the bottom has cured, but it can be applied with the bottom laminate.

Finish

During the lamination process the box is capped with layers of glass, some of which is designed to be removed during the sanding process.

Finished
Finished

Once the board has been hot coated and has cured it is time to sand the board and boxes. The shape of the dam on the box creates a raised area that needs to be sanded down flush with the bottom surface of the board.

Sand down the protruding dam on the boxes until it is completely flush with the bottom of the board. This will expose the slot of the box, and the grub screw holes.

If the board is going to be glossed and polished another die cut tape, or masking tape, will need to be applied to the top of the box to cover the exposed slot and screw holes. Now the glossing process can be completed. Once the gloss coat has cured the board can be polished as with any other fin system. Remove the cover at the end of the process to keep the box slot clean.}}

Post-lam

INSTALLATION

A post-lam install, where the boxes are installed after bottom lamination. Makes for a little less stressful install process.


Step-by-step installation instructions.

Both of the primary install processes can also be done as a post-lam install, where the boxes are installed after the bottom of the board has been laminated. This makes for a stronger install and is a little less stressful as you do not have to deal with the boxes during the lamination process.

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Preparation

In addition to the two installation options described in the previously, another option is available.

Post lamination installation where the boxes are installed after the board has been laminated, but before the hot coats are applied.

The advantages of this approach are an increase in strength. More time to complete the installation, without the pressure of laminating the entire bottom of the board. Improvement in the strength of the bottom lamination as it is not interrupted by the box installation so the fiberglass can be laid down more symmetrically.

The additional strength for this install technique comes from the fact that the side of the box is bearing onto the edge of the lamination once installed. This helps dissipate loads into the laminate making it stronger.

The process is identical for either the standard or EPS installation techniques with the exception that the board is first laminated before performing the installation.

NOTE: due to the lamination on the bottom of the board, the base jig may be more inclined to want to move on the board. This can be countered in one of three ways.

  1. order a base jig with no bottom pad and then use double sided carpet tape to anchor the jig to the board
  2. apply a few pieces of adhesive backed (PSA) sandpaper to the bottom of the board and then place the base jig with its pad on the sand paper, this will help prevent the jig from sliding
  3. apply double-sided carpet tape to the board on either side of the box location, then place the base jig on the tape to lock it in place, peel off the tape when done

Steps

STEP 1

Laminate the board, as normal.

STEP 2

Proceed with the installation, by following one of the install guides already described previously. The only difference in the process is that the routing will be also going through the bottom lamination.

Boxes will still need to be capped with two layers of glass, as with the standard approach.

STEP 3

On completion of the installation, apply the hot coats as per any normal lamination.

GENERAL

The appearance of the installation will change if this approach is used on a board with a colored bottom. In this case there will be no color over the cover, so it will show as WHITE in the install, unless there is a custom or color cover, in which case the color or material will be visible!

This installation technique is also easier for anyone wanting to check the cant angle of the box. The box can first be glued into the board with a fin in the slot. This allows the fin cant angle to be checked before applying the caps of glass over the boxes.

Finished Install
Finished Install

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Install

EXTRAS

Information presented in this article is ancillary to the install process. It is presented to provide additional useful information.


Information presented in this section is ancillary to the install process. It is presented to provide additional useful information.

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Routing System

The GEARBOX routing system is made up of five pieces - three routing jigs, router bit, and a hex key.

Routing System
Routing System

The base router jig is the primary positioning jig and serves as the host for the two working jigs (it is also utilized on some of the other installation options, see the 1ROUT Install Guide). It has a rubber pad on the bottom to prevent slippage and to protect the bottom of the board. The bottom router jig is used to rout the cavity for the bottom of the box. Finally, the top router jig is used to rout the shelf onto which the box rests during installation. All jigs have markings on them to help with orientation and placement.

The router bit features a bearing that is larger than the 3/8” diameter cutter, so there is a small offset from the edge of the jig during the routing operation.

Cant Angle Adjustment

While the system provides a large range of cant angles, there might be situations where other angles are required.

Routing System
Routing System

This is possible by using an alternative installation process. Instead of putting the box in during the lamination process it can be bonded into the blank before lamination. This allows a fin to be placed in the box so that the installer can adjust the box to a specific angle. In order to do this the cavity for the box has to made slightly deeper in order to allow the adjusted box to still sit below the lip of the cavity.

It is critical with this type of installation to ensure that there is sufficient resin in the cavity during the install. This is due to the fact that the box will no longer be seated flat on the shelf created by the cavity. So there needs to be enough resin to fill in the space below the tilted collar of the box.

For the more precise installer it is also possible to adjust the base router jig to the desired angle. This allows the cavity to still function as intended, allowing the collar to be fully seated on the shelf. It is also possible in certain circumstances to shave down the flange of the collar in order to better accommodate a change in angle, but this should only be done in extreme situations. When adjusting the cant angle to something other than those provided it is advisable to use some sort of guide to ensure that they are installed precisely.

Once the boxes have all be set the lamination process can proceed as normal.

Shaper's Mark Adjustment

This shows the standard layout method we recommend using, this is a standard used by many in the surfboard industry. We highly recommend using the G Square that GEARBOX SURF sells, as this layout tool makes the process extremely easy.

Shapers Mark Layout
Shapers Mark Layout

G Square

The G Square has a width that is the standard 4 1/2", once the back mark has been placed it is extremely easy to layout the front mark with the appropriate amount of toe-in, just use the back mark measurement, then subtract the amount of toe-in to find the front mark. The square has a centerline that can be used to line it up with the stringer on the surfboard.

G Square
G Square

NOTE: the G Square can also be purchased directly from Greenlight Surf Supply online.}}

Offices

We have two primary office locations for GEARBOX and Hanalei Fins, Australia and the USA. Contact info is provided below but the preferred contact method is through the CONTACT form on this site.

GEARBOX CORP Logo

+61 417 243 592

GEARBOX HAWAII Logo

+1 808 639 5303


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