Stab Magazine | How To: Properly Deal With A Stripped Fin Box

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How To: Properly Deal With A Stripped Fin Box

…And/or fin screw (yes, they’re different)!

hardware // Aug 30, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Once upon a time the great minds of Stab convened and realized that, sadly, not one of us knew how to fix a stripped fin box and/or screw.

And it’s happened to everyone, right?

A board that you loved for all conditions. The swell peaking at your local. Said board thrown in the car. Offshores pluming on arrival. Wetsuit haphazardly applied. All of this made moot when realizing that *gasp*, a solitary fin screw has become stripped, meaning you can’t swap your small wave fins for large fiberglass cutters. Dread. 

Or, worse yet:

Your magic step-up. A strike mission to Cloudbreak, six-to-eight foot. Said step-up thrown in the boat. Tower in sight, clearly pumping. Sunscreen haphazardly applied. All of this made moot when realizing that *gasp*, you can’t ride that board because a fin box has (weirdly) become stripped during the board’s long hibernation. More dread.

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What’s that, you want to trade tubes with the GOAT? Not gonna happen, all thanks to a stupid piece of plastic. Photo: Seth de Roulet

But after eight of surfing’s greatest* minds had said their piece, it was clear none of us had solutions for these ubiquitous surfing problems.

Or at least, good solutions.

“This one time my middle fin box was completely stripped, so I just rode that board as a twin fin until Alan Sarlo ran it over at the Bu,” stated a weirdly proud-of-himself Ashton Goggans.

“Due to a stripped screw I couldn’t get my quad trailer out when transitioning back to a thruster, so I just cut one corner off my tail, chopped the nose into a V and told everyone it was a Burch,” said the inventive Morgan Williamson.

“Oi, that’s why I just ride the boog!” said the skeg-averse Jake Embrey. “You don’t need rudders when you’ve got your prong dragging behind.”

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The only fins Embrey needs. (Look at how happy he is!)

These terrible solutions made me realize that if we don’t know how to (properly) deal with a stripped box or screw, chances are a large chunk of the general surfing populace is equally ignorant.

So I set out to discover answers to this age-old query, and discover answers I did!

Typing “How to fix a stripped fin box” into my search bar birthed a bevy of web pages who claimed to hold the answers I so desperately sought, but one in particular caught my eye:

“How to Fix Stripped Fin Screws and Fin Boxes” by a brand called Live to Surf.

So I clicked and I read and I learned and learned and learned.

Would you like to learn too?

From LTS:

How do you fix a stripped fin screw if the plastic box is stripped?

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Can’t do a turn like this without all your rudders. Photo: Matt Paul Catalano

Option A:

Step 1: Clean the box in question with a little fresh water to remove any sand or grit and make sure the screw hole and work area are clean and dry.

Step 2: When dry, use masking tape to cover the screw hole on the inside cavity of the box so the resin doesn’t run out the bottom of the hole.

Step 3: Prepare the epoxy by following the instructions on the back of the package. Fill the screw hole with the Where 3. five minute epoxy. NOTE: Leave a little void at the top of the screw hole, to allow the drill to be started easier. Allow the epoxy to dry for a few hours.

Step 4: Use the #21 drill bit to drill a hole through the epoxy following angle of the original screw hole.

Step 5: Now use the (10/32) tap for Futures or (10-24 x 5/16) tap for FCS to re-tap the drilled hole following the angle of the original screw hole.

Step 6: Screw in screw and check for tightness, then go for a surf!

Option B:

Step 1: Clean the box in question with a little fresh water to remove any sand or grit and make sure the screw hole and work area are clean and dry.

Step 2: When dry, use masking tape to cover the screw hole on the inside cavity of the box so the resin doesn’t run out the bottom of the hole.

Step 3: Mix up some 5 min. epoxy and apply a sufficient amount onto the original screw (spray some PAM onto the screw before applying the glue).

Step 4: Now put it back in the hole and wait for it to dry.

Step 5: When it dries completely, remove /un-screw in normal fashion and sand off any remains on the top of the plug, then go for a surf!

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A sight so gruesome it makes cockroaches scatter back to the walls. Photo: Reddit

How do you fix a stripped fin screw if the Stainless Steel set screw is stripped?

Option A:

Step 1: Get a set screw removal tool like Datool or an easy out reverse thread extractor. Datool can be found here.

Step 2: Follow instructions that came with the tool. (It works like a screw with backwards thread)

Option B:

Step 1: Clean the screw hole.

Step 2: Take a fin key and dab some super glue or epoxy on the end of the key and set it in the screw hole. Wait til it hardens.

Step 3: Now you should be able to unscrew it.

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Free at last! Photo: WSL

And that was all very helpful (plus incredibly thorough), but I also don’t have a #21 drill bit, a 10/32 tap, or a roll of fucking masking tape for that matter.

So I reached out to Brian Robbins, Futures Fins surf team manager, to see if he had any tips for surfers either ill-prepared (like me) or on-the-go (pros!).

“Nope, unfortunately those [Live to Surf] instructions are pretty much the easiest ways to do it,” was the gist of Brian’s thoughtful response.

Not exactly what I or any traveling/ill-equipped surfer wanted to hear, but sometimes the truth hurts – not quite as bad as missing that Cloudbreak session, though. You really should have brought a backup board.

*Every actual great surfing mind (plus Dirk Ziff, Zoltan Torkos, and Laird) excluded.

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