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  • Fully automated Surf Gate for 2003

    • Year: 2003 Brand: Malibu Model / Trim: LSV Device Type : Hinged Gate Style Surf Device Material: Fiberglass / gelcoat Control: Powered with Automated Controller Cost: $1000-$1499 Platform Type: Teak

    This project was a 2003 Malibu 23LSV.   I created my first surf gate setup in late summer of 2012, right after I saw ads for the concept and before I could see stock versions at my local dealer.   My setup evolved multiple times over the last few years, from concepts to a final version.   There were plenty of other project guys creating mockups and systems as well -- so it was cool to feed off of each other's ideas over on the Malibu Crew.



    My first setup involved manual gates.  I had leftover composite material from my previous boat projects; the same stuff Malibu uses for its flooring.  I threw a few primitive rectangle shapes on a hinge and then added aluminum bimini poles instead of actuators.  This actually worked quite well, I used a thumb push button and slid the gate open or closed with a locking point I drilled into the poles.   I tried 3 positions, partially open, more open and all the way out.  I don't remember which setting worked best, they all seemed to do the job. 

    This was a few years ago so I couldn't find up close pictures.   But here's what the composite looked like:


    I just ran it like that in the water.  Ugly for even a concept gate, but at least it was waterproof.  

    Once we saw how well SG was working, I made semi-final gates for my boat.  I reshaped the gate and then added fiberglass and blue gel coat that matched my Malibu blue.   

    photo 5-2.JPG


    Here's a shot of that bimini pole I mentioned that worked so well for a while, as a manual option.

    photo 2-3.JPG

    The idea was I could swap in actuators one day without redoing the system. 

    The biggest issue I ran into on this boat was the transom has a step in it.  So it's not flat on the back like most modern v-drives.  This made it very difficult to attach hinges where I needed to.  So my solution was to make stainless steel bracket and bolt them to the underside of the transom, and use the bracket as the hinge point.  Otherwise I would have a funky shaped gate that wasn't really working well when I mocked it up.  Many Nautiques and Centurions have a similar shape in the transom, as do Malibu 23LSVs from 2000-2003, as well as the LXI models I believe.  

    Here's a shot of that step in the transom, and the bracket:photo 1-5.JPG

    And here is where the top of the bracket bolted, I was able to access the bolts through the rear compartment.  I decided to use a stainless backing plate so that everything was super strong:

    photo 3-2.JPG


    The gates worked well, it was manual, but at least I could open and close them easily.  

    photo 2 copy.JPG


    Here's my first shot of the gates at work in 2012.  Was still trying to figure out how big of a gate to make.  This one was smaller, all under water, yet worked great:

    SG underwater.jpg


    So fast forward to the summer of 2013 .   I never like the blue gel coat, I should have done white.  My manual bimini style poles broke, and when I went to add power actuators, I realized my brackets would not just allow me to bolt on the actuator the way I originally designed.   So I decided to start all over, at least knowing this time the concept already worked  well.

    As for the gates, I wanted the new ones to look stock.  Like before, I built them out of fiberglass and composite material, then bought color matched Spectrum gelcoat from iBoats online.   Decided to add a little dovetail to the top of the gates to give them a little style and tuck nicely to the modified swim platform.  I also countersunk the bolts for the hinges and actuator mounts (did this the first time too).  I thought it gave it more of a polished, factory look.   This was easy, I drilled larger holes and sunk the bolt heads in the gate and surrounded them with West Systems epoxy for a super strong hold:


    I also created newer, improved stainless steel brackets, similar to before but better designed for the actuators.  Bolted them up right near the same place as before, and again I used backing plates.  I went straight for the actuators this time and boy was it nice to have powered gates.   There's a whole conversation about this... but I hate manual gates because they don't allow the same control of the boat.







    I did not yet have a controller (was waiting for MartinArcher to finish his system design, must have bugged him 100 times, but it wasn't done yet), so I hooked the actuators up to simple switches on the dash for a while.  That worked ok, and was still better than a manual set up.

    But by the early winter MartinArcher had the Wake Logic controller ready to test.  Even though it was freezing outside, and the water even colder, I was dying to try out the automated controller.  It worked great from the first time we used it.  That was 2013, and it still hasn't had a problem. 

    There are write-ups on Wake Garage specifically for the Wake Logic controller, but briefly the controller allows us to press the button as to which side we want to surf, and then when the boat gets up to the set speed (about 7 mph using its built in GPS), then the gate on the opposite side deploys.  When you stop to pickup a rider, or speed past about 15 mph, it also closes so you have full control of the boat.  Automatically!  Its like adding PerfectPass to your boat that doesn't have it -- it makes is so nice.  

    Here's the original "prototype" version of the Wake Logic.  I still have to dig up pics of it installed, but I ended up screwing it in under the dash.   This pic shows me taking the top lid off of the controller, so that we can access the microSD card to change the timing and other settings.   When you mount this in the boat, you need to make sure you can still remove the lid to make adjustments. 

    photo 2-4.JPG

    So for the controller switch, I wanted it to look stock.  So I chose the Carling Contura switch because it matches the others on my dash.   I then painted arrows on a blank one and found a spot in the plastic bezel to mount it.  I also had to create a cool "surf control" decal so that it looked OEM (at least I think it did).  Domed numbers hooked me up for that.  The sticker matched the lettering and metallic ink of my steering wheel Malibu decal. 




    The Wake Logic controller mounted right under my dash.  I mounted the GPS under my dash and all the wiring for the Lenco actuators ran down the gunnels, neatly tied up.  Originally I didn't want the LCD, but MartinArcher sent a test prototype, and I quickly changed my mind.    It's nice to have, but I didn't know where to put it.  So my best option ended up being in the lower right corner, just below the dash.  

    The picture shows my final installation of the dash.   The LCD in the picture is his shipping production version, not the prototype.   




    Fast forward again a few years to 2016.   I am still super happy with the setup.  The only problem is I just sold my boat... so now I get to do this all over again in my next project boat.  


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    16 hours ago, TotaledLSV said:

    Do you have any pictures of the wake? How did it surf? I have the same hull trying to dial in. 

    Yes -- but to be honest I think most wake pics are worthless because there are too many variables with timing, speed, push, and board choice and skill level.  Overall the boat surfed pretty well...   We had a lot of fun with it and it's the boat my kids learned to surf with.   If I remember, it didn't like a lot of bow ballast... we used most weight in the rear and used a ballast bag in the walkway.




    SG mock sbside2.jpg

    SG mock2.jpg

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    Looks good! I’m about to resign the tabs I built. I have a write of them in the surf device section. I’m going to cut them down smaller and angle the fins outward. I really didn’t understand the impact of this when I built them. If I don’t have good results then I may do a setup similar to yours. Only difference I was thinking of doing is just to hinge them at the transom bottom and then just notching the tab itself. 

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