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  • Custom-Fabricated Wedge for 80s Direct Drive

    • Year: 1987 Brand: Malibu Model / Trim: Sunsetter Cost: $500-$999 Ballast Modifications: Other DIY or Professional Install: I installed it

    This project was one of my favorites because I love creating modifications that boats were never intended for.   Pretty sure in 1987 nobody could foresee a wedge device to create a BIGGER wake on a ski boat.   Needless to say, the transom simply wasn't designed for it.

    But this Sunsetter was sweet, and very capable at wake boarding, and now wake surfing.  It needed a wedge because there was less room for ballast as well.   I made the decision to build one after the boat was rebuilt (due to wood rot).   While replacing the stringers, transom and floor, I decided to make the transom roughly 3x stronger.  I doubled the transom thickness, and used extra biaxial fiberglass with vinyl ester resin to help tie the stringers and transom together in a way that made the transom stronger than ever intended.   "Overbuilt" is a favorable term on Wake Garage and applies here.

    So keep in mind, even though the project is about the wedge, it was made possible because of a stronger transom.  I would not put this wedge on another boat of this era without additional reinforcement brackets.

    The Challenge:

    As for the wedge, I decided to use similar dimensions as Malibu's Stainless Manual, AKA "Floating" wedge, but the exhaust ports were closer together to the OEM bracket system would not work.  So the bracket itself had to be narrower in between the exhaust ports, and then spread out above the ports to help spread the load on the transom.   The wedge foil was the same size as OEM, but the arms had to be narrower because of the exhaust locations.   I needed the downforce to be spread throughout the transom, stringers and hull as one unit.


    All of the stainless was purchased from a simple metal fabrication supply store, and I used 3/16" for the bracket, 1/4"for the wedge foil, and 1.5" bar stock for the arms.  I used cardboard/posterboard to make the templates, then had a CNC machine place cut out the general shapes.   Stainless is very difficult to cut.

    photo.jpgphoto 2-5.jpgphoto 3-3.jpg

    Luckily, my brother had a TIG welder, which saved time and money.  So assembling the bracket was fairly easy.  The bolts between the bracket and the transom were 1/2" stainless.  But I used a pin instead of bolts to affix the arms to the bracket.  I liked the way that worked better, and also made it easier to remove.

    Once the wedge was completed, it needed to be polished.  This was a serious of sanding from low to high, then polishing using a heavy polisher.  Took hours and hours but eventually became shiny!

    photo-2.jpgphoto 4-2.jpg


    In addition to the reinforced transom, I wanted the downforce to be shared between transom, stringers and hull as a single unit.   So I created an extra bracket on the inside that stretched across and bolted to the stringers.  For the stringers (which are wood), I epoxied stainless connecting nuts inside and used anti-seize paste before screwing the new brackets down, so the wood would never be exposed.

    photo-3.jpgphoto 3-5.jpgphoto 4-3.jpg

    Also, I added a stainless position sensor to the wedge with an indicator light on the dash.  Even though we know the boat drives differently with the wedge deployed, it's nice having an indicator on the dash to know its down before shooting back to the marine.    

    And finally, I drilled a few extra stop points in the wedge bracket (not pictured).  The "floating" wedge does not float, it simply pushes down to the farthest point allowed, which is where the stop bolts lie.  So by adding holes, you can move the stop points up, using a pin to adjust it.  This give it sort of a manual "adjusting" wedge so that it stops at a more aggressive angle.   Of course this yields mixed results depending on ballast and usage.

    fresh from the lake.jpg


    Loved having the wedge on this boat.  Same results as Malibu's OEM wedge, however I always felt that the narrower beam and hull design of the retro Sunsetter meant that the wedge had an even greater effect on the wake.  Same concept as a wide body 24' boat requiring even more ballast to sink, this one displaces significant water with mild ballast and in this case, wedge. 

    Still one of my all time favorite projects for a sweet classic boat.  Read some of the projects by MartinArcher to see how much further this boat has been built.  It's become famous in the Malibu community, largely due to MartinArcher's Wake Logic surf system and "TeakGate".

    photo 4-4.jpgDSC00756.JPGDSC00758.JPGDSC00754.JPG



    User Feedback

    No one can ever guess the year of this boat when asked.  The wedge always throws people for a loop who do know Malibu's.  lol  The wedge sure works and makes a huge difference for our surf wave. :) 

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    Just read this. That is great work!!! 

    Cant believe the polish job on the stainless!!! I need some lessons from you!

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    1 hour ago, Jeffo said:

    Just read this. That is great work!!! 

    Cant believe the polish job on the stainless!!! I need some lessons from you!


    @Jeffo --  Thanks for the comments!   I posted a polishing link in Shop Talk forum (below).  Lots of techniques out there but I swear the zephyr system is great.   I learned a lot from that wedge project, but I think I could have started with a better metal finish.  Or at least got the flat pieces to a better point before welding.... would have been easier. You get what you pay for in terms of finish but you probably know a lot more about metal than me.  That wedge took a lot of sanding until the actual polishing began.   It did come out great though.  One of my favorite projects for sure, especially because everyone said you can't put a wedge on an '87.


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    good job ! can i get the patent of the wedge ?  du you have size on how far down the wage goes and the rest ?

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    7 hours ago, andreas said:

    good job ! can i get the patent of the wedge ?  du you have size on how far down the wage goes and the rest ?

    Sorry I do not have dimensions of this project anymore.   The foil was approximately the same as a stock wedge, but the brackets were much narrower to fit in between the 87 exhaust ports / transom.    The final angle (how far down) was adjustable based on changing positions of the stopping points (moving that bottom bolt into one of 3 holes on the bracket).

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