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Sectional Docks

How to determine the appropriate dock for your needs....

Floating Dock Features

Floating docks are used in lakeshore situations where sectional and roll-in systems are not practical. It should be mentioned at this point, however, that a floating dock will work in any area where a roll in or sectional will.  Examples of areas where a floating docks features are sought after are:

In muck or muddy bottoms. When there is two feet or more of muck, the tires on roll in docks will not provide the needed flotation to ride up onto the soft material. If pulled hard enough, there may be enough resistance to damage or bend the uprights, and possibly,  the frame.  On sectional docks, the legs and pads can settle so far down into the muck that they cannot be removed without being pulled out by jacks or jet action.

Floating docks are used in areas with major water depth fluctuation.  For our area, the definition of water depth change is anything over 2 ft. in the course of one season.  The reason for using the floating in these areas is to eliminate the need to readjust the dock height for getting in and out of a boat or pontoon.  A  2’ depth change can make for a large step down, if the dock was previously set at a typical height of 18” off the water surface.

Deep water is another area suited for the floating.  When water depth measures over ten feet, roll-in docks and sectional docks can become difficult or very impractical to work with.  A floating dock is then the most appropriate option, as water depth is really not an issue.  We vary the anchoring systems used to hold it into place.

Application change.  There are situations where the dock design may need to be changed, or reconfigured.   Our primary floating dock is EZ Dock.  It has modular design features, thus allowing for easy reconfiguration.  In marinas or home owner associations,  many different styles of boats may come and go as the years go by.   The EZ Dock allows for these changes by changing slip width or length with no structural changes.

Marine Dock and Lift sells 3 styles of floating dock. As mentioned,  EZ Dock is the largest seller for us. It is modular in design with 40”,60”, and 80” width choices. All sections are 10’ long. They have several anchoring choices and a strong 8 year manufacturing warranty. Primary construction is of linear lo density polyethylene. The unique rubber coupler system offers a strong yet flexible design to withstand the many punishments the marine environment can dish out.  The EZ Dock system was designed to be a commercial grade product. It has found wide spread acceptance from marinas, home owners associations, resorts, and also from the general public.  As the general public searches for products that offer no maintenance characteristics, the EZ Dock has seen it’s popularity grow in the private sector market.

Shoremaster offers a similar floating design to the EZ Dock.  It is also made of polyethylene, with the indented pylon design on the bottom side.  The top is an attractive brick pattern,  the sections are then foam filled.  The coupler system is of a more ridgid design. The ridgid design offers a firm feel when walking on the dock. This sacrifices the flexibility that may be needed in very rough or storm situations. One section size is offered, 48” x 10’.

The third system used is by starting with a sectional or roll in style frame and decking, and then adapting the frame to accept floats under it.  The disadvantage to this is that it can be labor intensive to set up, and can be more costly than using a dedicated style of floating.   Flotation needs may also change the cost.  A similar dock layout could use 6 floats in one application, or 9 in another.  A floating dock of this style is generally a solidly bolted system,  and would be used in areas where the wave and wind action is minimal.  

A reason to purchase this style is when there is a need for taller freeboard, or the desire for a certain type of decking or looks.  As we can use different frames and decking choices, there is greater option for aesthetic preference.  With taller or shorter float heights available, we can vary the distance from top of dock to top of water.  The floats used are built with a poly exterior and then foam filled.  The top edges have indentations and bolt hole mounting bosses that allows flexibility in set up. The foam is a closed cell style that starts as small beads and expands when steam is applied. This fills all inside cavities and corners of the float and adds rigidity to the float.   The foam also acts as secondary flotation in case the exterior poly shell should become damaged.

A note about commercial floating.  Shoremaster produces a commercially rated product that is a concrete floating system.  The way the dock is set up is by taking foam blocks and applying concrete to it’s outsides.   These blocks are as tall as 6’.   The sections can run as long as 40 to 50’.  They are used as breakwaters also.  The system is held in place by heavy cable tensioned through the upper portion of the sections.  Rubber blocks are used between the sections to keep water out and away from the cable, and to allow slight flex between the sections.  It can seem unusual to mix concrete with floating docks,  but the system works well.

Anchoring a floating dock into place is accomplished by several methods.  The use of pipes or poles to keep the dock from floating away is a effective and common method.  Pipe size is varied depending on the conditions where it is to be used.  2-1/2” pipe will serve the purpose well in up to twelve feet of water.  After that, larger diameter pipe or pilings need to be used.  Pilings up to 2 feet in diameter can be used in very deep water or in areas where major wave action is frequent.  Another method employs chain and dead weights.  Chain is typical on floating docks where water depth runs 30 to 50 feet.  Large cement or cast iron weights are attached to the chain; this keeps the dock from floating away.  Weights are sometimes added in the middle of the chain to act as an “adjustment” system to accommodate water fluctuation, so that the chain does not have to be pulled in or let out so frequently.  For some deep water docks located on river banks, the docks are set up parallel to shore and within 20’of  it’s edge.  In this case, “stiff-arm” brackets are employed.  Pipe is attached to a bracket on the dock and to a bracket on the shore.  The dock is then held securely in place by attachments to the shore rather than to the lake or river bottom.  Boats or pontoons can be tied  up to the dock with their bow facing upstream, allowing debris carried by the current to pass by with little resistance.

FLOATING DOCKS AND STABILITY

Customers have come to us with concern about a  floating docks stability.  Floaters are designed to move up and down with the water’s fluctuation.  So no matter the system,  someplace in the design is the ability of the floater to move.    Stability varies greatly.  If one would speak of the commercial Shoremaster concrete system, the feel would be the same as if walking on your sidewalk at home.  The width and size and mass make it extremely stable.

If the system is built with floats under a sectional or roll in frame, and the freeboard is high, there can be considerable movement, or a feeling of the dock being top heavy, and wanting to roll.  This feeling can be unsettling.

The popular EZ Dock system drafts 2” of water.  Rather than floats spaced every so often, the entire section is sitting in the water. As the freeboard is approx. 12” from the top of water,  the dock feels  stable.   The other advantage is the indentations built into the bottom of the section.

These indentations create a bell jar effect.  An upside down glass in the water.  There is suction that helps hold the sections in place.  The other advantage is the coupler system. Being that the sections are locked together,  what happens with section 1 is transferred to section 2.

The best way I have been able to describe the feeling, is to mention a large pontoon boat.   If one is comfortable walking on a large pontoon boat,  you would be comfortable on the Floating EZ Dock, or the Shoremaster residential poly dock.   The motion is gradual, and not a shimmy or a shake.  It can be a slow, slightly rocking feel, not uncomfortable to the general population.

The discomfort felt is with the older floating docks on barrels or sparsely spaced floats.  These systems had taller freeboard, and would rock back and forth so easily because the floats were rounded and designed solely for displacement.  Think about it.  The floats had no indentations on the bottom and are made to push the load of the dock upwards.  with the rounded sides, there is no suction or draw to hold them down into place.  Therefore the rocking or side to side movement. 

Properly set up,  a floating dock can be the dock of choice and provide  many positive advantages when used in the right environment.  Be sure to plan for the intended usage, and set up the sections for needed stability.

410 Grand Ave. (Hwy 8) • Box 308 • Center City, MN 55012 • (651) 257-4265
Email us at: info@marinedocklift.com

Call Toll Free: 800-314-3625
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