by Erik Jernberg and Dan Green
Questions or about this How-to document?
When extended pylons became commonplace on tournament inboards, everyone from Wakeboarding magazine to my Dad said “That can’t be good for the structural integrity of the boat”. This may be true, but what is one to say about bolting a 4-footed cage to the top deck of an expensive inboard? I would say it is worse for the boat, but what do I know. While the anguish about extended pylons was short lived, and the wakeboard tower had an even shorter acceptance period – now they are understood to be, when carefully installed and used responsibly, one of the first and best ways to equip a boat for wakeboarding.
With many aftermarket towers available, it comes down to price, marketing and materials that help people make their choice. Personally I wanted a tower that accentuated the lines of the older Ski Nautiques in a favorable way. The Joystick Universal tower was first introduced to me two years ago when my friend Dan researched towers for use on his 1986 Ski Nautique (I have the exact same boat, same year, but in red). When I got ready to put a tower on mine – the choice was clear. I briefly looked into getting a Flight Control Tower, but opted for a Joystick Universal tower instead due to the reasonable price of the Joystick model line. This was also due to the nearly perfect installation and 2 summers we had already logged on his Joystick-equipped boat.
The quality of materials used in this tower is excellent, utilizing large oversized tubing and aluminum support brackets. The kit came with plenty of extra bolts and stainless hardware just incase - and lucky for us when we tweaked one of the main anchors. Joystick also custom painted mine to match the ivory tone of my boat's hull. The materials used for this tower are excellent.
The problems we had with the installation of the Joystick Universal tower on my boat were not what I would call "tower specific" to this product, but rather specific to tower installation on old boats in general. The problems involved spacing the feet around stringers, removal of foam, and alignment/symmetry. Anyone installing a tower on a boat with a closed bow, and even some open bow boats, should clear as much insulating foam from the area where the Tower’s feet will be located. This is very important on older, narrower boats where inconsistencies in the stringers and fiberglass are prevalent.
Overall the tower installed and operates the way most two piece towers without a horizontal stabilization bar. The first thing we did was to attach the four “feet” to the deck of the boat, and cinched them down tightly. Each foot required 5 holes, one for the main support bolt and 4 for each corner. The aluminum support brackets then clasp the deck, with a ¼ inch thick layer of rubber on the top and bottom to minimize scratching and lateral movement.
Once the feet were installed, we simply assembled the 4 arms to the top of the tower, measured, drilled, and then fastened the 10 stainless steel bolts together. The Joystick universal tower comes without predrilled holes, so that you can have a slight lean or pitch to the tower if you want. Mine leans back slightly, whereas Dan’s is upright. Both look excellent, classy and it is a matter of personal preference which you decide to use.
The tower is solid as a rock. In 3 summers, Dan's has not made a single sound to concern us - neither has the newer version of the same tower on my boat. This was a big concern for us, as we’d heard stories of rattly towers, and lightweight construction used in some companies products. The Joystick is solidly built, very clean looking, and reasonably priced.
See the full installation image gallery
Thank You to Pat and the Wakeboarder.com crew.