Fall 2020 I decided to go ahead with a surf gates retrofit on my 2008 Malibu VTX. The goal was to have these gates as close to factory as possible thus requiring a surf gate style swim platform. Luckily a member on the Malibu Facebook group was selling off his platform from a 2020 MXZ when his flip down step platform arrived. He was willing to wrap it up and ship it up to me in Canada thankfully! I got him to take a ton of measurements of the platform to make sure I could fit it on my boat, he was really helpful with this. All the measurements checked out and a couple weeks later I had the first part to my build.
An interesting issue I ran into when mounting the platform was that the left side of the platform sat lower than the right side. The fiberglass on the underside wasn't laid deep enough and as a result the platform sat crooked. I had to shim up the left side with a 1/4 piece of aluminum on the mounting bracket to make the platform sit level.
Next I moved onto mocking up the gate shape. I just cut a piece of cardboard to a rough shape and went from there. The ending shape I went with is almost identical to the original cardboard cutout. I got the gates CNC cut out of 3/4" HDPE from a HDPE outdoor furniture manufacturer.
Made a wood mock up to make sure the thickness was going to work in relation to the transom width and the swim platform width. The new surf gate swim platform was wider than my stock platform so things are really tight.
From there I tried my hand at CAD to get a file to the HDPE supplier. After a couple hours of messing around I was able to get a nice CAD of the gates. Really pleased with going this route as it makes the finish of the gates really nice around the edges. (as nice as HDPE can be). I have no experience with CAD so this was a bit of a challenge for me.
Received the gates a couple weeks later and they came out just how I had hoped, nice smooth edges and perfect dimensions.
I was able to track down some surf gate dress up plates locally for a really reasonable price. Really like this idea as I'm not crazy about this HDPE finish but this dresses it up makes them look nicer.
For hinges I tracked down some really nice polished stainless hinges with welded pins from Aliexpress. They look identical to the factory hinges Malibu uses. Best of all they were really cheap and lay flat. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000481015618.html?spm=a2g0s.90423184.108.40.206ea04c4dC698iv Definitely can recommend these hinges after a season on them.
Mounting the hinges/gates was a bit tricky because the corners of the transom are slightly curved so the hinges don't sit perfectly straight, but I made it work. I looked at some photos of factory gates on VTX's and the hinges seem to sit the same way as mine. Lining up the gates and hinges is fairly challenging to get them just at the right position. I luckily have this heavy duty friction arm that can be adjusted to any angle and hold the gates where I need them, worked really well for placement.
Tape mounted the actuators to find the correct placement. This takes a lot of trial and error with extending and retracting the actuators to make sure your placement is bang on. Again, because this swim platform is wider than my original, it didn't leave much room for the gates so they're a really tight fit.
I had to get two Lenco 7 Degree mounting shims for the actuator mounts on the transom. This angled the actuators up to sit more level with the surf gates and allowed me to hide the actuator mounting screws on the gates behind the dress up plates like Malibu does from the factory.
On the controller side of things, @Hyperryd was kind enough to make me one of his push button controllers. I wanted something simple that anyone can run with a low probability of problems or failure, and his relay controller seemed to fit the build the best. Really pleased with how it's put together and functions.
I got my hands on a circa 04?-07 helm Malibu stereo controller bracket that I utilized for mounting the control buttons. Where the stereo controller mounts I made an aluminum fill plate with holes for mounting the surf controls. The bracket I got also has 2 rocker switch mounts, one of which powers the surf system and the other is just USB ports/voltmeter for now. I got a custom made rocker switch for powering the surf system from an eBay vendor.
Mounting the bracket on my 08 boat was a little tricky. This stereo bracket was never meant to be used on my year, therefor the fiberglass behind the dash has been cut away from the factory, leaving nothing to mount to. I built an aluminum bracket to span the fiberglass and give the bracket something to mount to.
I also wanted to toy with the idea of a Surf Band. I went with 102F fast lenco actuators so wave transfers are nice and quick. I found a cheap $80(CAD) 433mhz remote relay controller that I am able to wire into the surf control buttons and it controls it perfectly. It has a small waterproof remote that I strapped onto a jetski wrist strap. Push 1 for Left and 2 for Right. Works great after a season of use. Buttons are a little small to push, but it gets the job done for $80!
Had a fantastic season with them and no problems whatsoever. 🤙