Glossary of Terms


The descriptions and explanations are skewed to relate to the marine dock industry and is our opinion only. Not necessarily to be used as the alternate answer.


Glossary

Anchors

This is usually used on floating docks in a criss-cross fashion at the outer corners. If the floating dock is being left in for the winter, then a chain at all four corners would be required. The chains are to be loosened off so that when the water level rises the weights are not pulled over from their proper anchoring position. The weight needed is generally relevant to the amount of holding power required. For most residential systems about 250lbs per corner is usually sufficient. In rougher areas more weight may be required. An anchor shock absorber (see ASA) is a smart way to cushion the blow from waves in a rough area.  All docks can have extra anchoring if required. A form of anchoring can also be achieved by the connection of the ramp to a solid shore mount if the ramp has enough torsional rigidity. In some cases the ramp is used to hold the dock in place. As a rule the chain should be at a 45 degree angle going to the lake bottom in a criss-cross configuration. The weight of the chain can actually help maintain the position in light wave conditions. If the water is very deep than a chain anchoring method loses its effectiveness for anchoring. For example a 4 foot dock in 20 feet of water with chains put only slightly out to the sides will give marginal anchoring. An 8 foot dock in 10 feet of water should have the chains almost at a 45 degree angle. It is important to note we only use stainless steel bars in our concrete so that rusting does not become an issue. The concrete DockinaBox® uses will not crack and is designed to be frozen in the ice. It is a bridge type concrete that is reinforced. 

More Information

Ballast

Ballasts are generally used to improve the vessels stability. It adds considerable weight and pushes the hull deeper in the water. A vessel with the ballast tanks full will produce a larger wake when traveling and is less affected by wave action when traveling.

Beam

A beam is usually referring to the width of a P.W.C. or boat at its widest point. This is important to know when purchasing a boat lift. Generally P.W.C.’s are 47 to 48 inches wide. 20 foot boats around 96 inches wide and 22 to 24 foot boats are about 96 inches wide

Boat Wake

This is what follows a boat after it passes by. The size of the wake is usually relative to the size and speed of the boat in which it travels. Although you might be in a quiet bay and feel comfortable with your pipe dock being a foot above the water. If a bigger boat goes by not quite up on plane or if a wakeboard boat goes by with the ballast tank full, then look out. Waves up to 2 feet can be generated by this situation.

Bottom Conditions

Firm Bottom-The type of Lake Bottom helps to determine what kind of dock is required. Sand or hard bottom, and rocky, can support loads or structures such as pipe docks or boat lifts. If when stepping onto the lake bottom, your foot sinks less than 6 inches then this is considered a firm bottom or a mud pad could be used to help stabilize the dock.

Sinking Bottom- This is muddy, silty, or where vegetation sediment is present. When walking in these conditions, you would sink excessively (more than 6”) and if stabilizing of the lake bottom is not possible with the use of a mud pad. A Floating structure would then be required.

Buoyancy

This is generally termed as the amount of weight a floating dock can support. If a floating dock sinks under the water when a load is applied, then the size or quantity of floats are less than required. A general rule of thumb for a residential floating dock is 30 pounds per square inch. Note:  If the materials used to build a floating dock are very heavy, 30 pounds per square foot may be insufficient.

Centre of Balance

When a floating dock is made, careful consideration in material used and height of floats should be considered. A narrow dock section with a heavy wood or composite decking placed on higher floats of 16 inches or more, can make for a very unstable floating dock. If a floating dock is to have a high freeboard then it must be compensated by the width and length of the dock. In this application the width shouldn’t be any less than 6 feet.

Cleats

Cleats are used to hold a boat to the dock. There are generally two types of cleats. Ones that sit flat when not in use  and are safer as it can help prevent stubbing toes. Then there are the types that stick up permanently. Most people prefer the flat profile version. DockinaBox® has cleats in 4, 5, and 7 inch sizes and also three colours beige, gray, and sand. With the method of attaching a DockinaBox® cleat is unique as they can be put on any time through the decking. We supply a backing plate which when the cleat is pulled up won’t allow it to come out of the dock. The cleat is integrated into the decking panel. This is unlike other dock systems where the cleat is not designed to go through the decking and the only thing that holds the decking panels in place are clips or screws.

More Information

Decking Support

This is the structure that runs parallel to the sides of the dock and supports the walking surface (decking). 18 inches apart is the most common, but 16 inches offers far better support. The closer the supports are, the stronger the structure. For example Dockinabox® builds its 6 foot docks with 14 inch decking support spacing to offer a better built and stronger dock. A well-built dock should offer full length supports under the decking. Some manufacturers turn the decking around and lay it right on top of the mid supports; this saves the manufacturer money, but can reduce structural integrity. They then usually weld it to the frame so the decking is running parallel to the side rails. This makes the dock very heavy and contradicts the popular style of having the decking running across the dock from side to side. Transverse decking also provides better traction than running decking panels parallel to the sides.  

DeckWave® Decking

Is a proprietary signature plastic decking product that has been bullet proof for over 9 years. It carries next to zero warranty cases among customers. It is attractive, stays cool to the touch, non-slip, and is available in solid or vented panels. It comes in 3 colours Gray, Beige, and Sand. The vented option also seems to be an aid in deterring birds as they do not enjoy sitting on the vented pattern. The vented panels also helps promote the production capacity of aquatic species under your dock by allowing more sunlight to penetrate through to the lake bottom.

More Information

Floatation

Floatation is usually referred to as the floats under a floating dock. These can be anything from a 2 litre empty pop bottles tied together, to Styrofoam billets. What is most widely used for production of residential floating docks is foam filled polyethylene floats. These can be square or rectangular and available in a variety of sizes. There are also large diameter extruded polyethylene pipes. These tend to come in 12 to 18 inch diameters, with the larger being the better choice for stability and buoyancy.

These may be capped off at the ends and placed in rows or bridged together. They may be filled with air or some type of foam. Foam filled is usually the better choice. For commercial applications steel tubes that are capped at the ends is a popular choice. The volume of the float is what holds the dock above the water. Generally 20-24lbs per square foot is not really recommended. Better built residential floating docks use 30 pounds per square foot as a guide and commercial grade can be 40Lbs or more.

Floating Docks1

This is referred to as any dock system which has some form of floating device underneath. They can range in size and layouts. Floating docks must be anchored or they will float away. In order for a floating dock to be enjoyable it must be stable. Stability is a combination of many factors such as length, width, height, low centre of gravity, weight, and a stiff structurally rigid frame. We usually recommend a width of at least 6 feet and length of 14 feet at minimum. Extremely heavy docks that are made of wood and float on long polyethylene plastic tubes can also be stable, but does not give you the ability to take them out for the winter. In some areas and as of lately, the winter conditions into spring are causing more damage. So having the ability to remove the docks for the winter season is becoming more and more popular. DockinaBox® has designed their floating docks with physical manageability in mind. This is done through the removable decking feature. Because floating docks always stay at the same height above the water, a ramp that can articulate (angled down to the floater) when the water drops is important. The ramp length (see ramp length in FAQ) can become a factor. If rough wave action is constant, then being on a floating dock may not be enjoyable. Also the forces of nature can take its toll even on a well-built system. The general protocol is to remove the ramp for the winter and loosen up the chains that anchor the dock.

More Information

Foot Pads

This is the plate at the bottom of the pipes used on pipe docks. Sub sized foot pads tend to sink into the bottom. There are foot pads that the pipes can go through the bottom of the pad to give better anchoring. The ideal foot pad should be large enough to avoid sinking in the mud. Usually 10x10 inches is enough. It is also beneficial if the corners are turned down. This also helps to grip or anchor into the lake bottom. The bolt used to hold the foot pad in place should be larger than 5/16 of an inch and threaded through a minimum of ½ inch thick aluminum and 3/8 inch thick steel. The foot pads DockinaBox® has designed are the largest in the industry and we use a 3/8 inch bolt 1 ½ inches long because we are threaded through ¾ inch of solid aluminum. Aluminum is the preferred choice although steel may be cheaper, after a few years the rusted threads can become a cause for concern. The weight of the foot pad is also a concern if made of steel.

More Information

Freeboard

This term is generally describing the height of the dock above the water. A floating dock that is 8-10 inches is popular for Kayaks, S.U.P., and rowing shells. They do make entry easier and are fine for low wake areas as well as calm bodies of water. Most production floating dock systems for residential use are 14-16 inches above the water. Commercial systems may be significantly higher depending upon application. Pipe docks can be placed at almost any height as long as the legs/pipe are not too long and the wave action is not high when placing the dock low to the water.

Grade 30 Chain

Generally this a medium strength chain used for anchoring floating docks. The most popular size is 5/16 inches. 3/8 inches chain is more popular in commercial applications. There is also a grade 80 chain available, but not usually requested or required.

Gussets

This is usually a solid structure, such as a tube, angle, or heavy plate that is welded into the corners of a dock or placed between dock section to increase strength and help stop frames from deforming. Gussets are also referred to as stiffeners. Frames with this feature are usually considered the better choice.

Marine Grade Alloys

Generally there are 2 main alloys used in the marine industry the first of these being 5052 alloy. The 5052 is a softer alloy therefore bends easily, but is the weaker of the 2 main marine alloys. 5052 alloy has less strength by about 25%, this means it does not respond well heat treating and also does not machine very well either. 6061 is the second alloy and is used in just about all extruded dock systems. 6061 is the generally the standard for structures which require higher strength. As of late the term Marine Grade Aluminum is usually 6061. It is best to avoid dock systems made with 5052 alloy as this is generally the punched DIY type in the market.

Mid Supports or Transverse Support

This is the frame component that is welded in between the sides of the frame which the decking supports are then welded to. A good design has more mid supports, hence less deflection. Generally they are placed every 4 feet or less.

Pipe

Although galvanized steel pipe is still used in the industry and in some cases provides a slight savings. The weight can be unbearable as the steel pipe is generally 3 times heavier than aluminum pipe. Also after a few years the steel pipes can rust and take away from the visual appearance of the dock. Most dock companies sell a typical 1.5 inch schedule 40 tube pipe. This has an outside diameter of 1.90 inches, but is called a 2 inch pipe for general purposes. It is also available in schedule 80 which has a considerably thicker wall. This is usually used when the height of the dock is 7 feet or more above the lake bottom. We also have an exclusive extrusion called Tri-Rib and it is exactly how it sounds, a very heavy walled pipe with three large ribs which protrude inside the pipe to increase resistance to flexing and is incredibly strong. We sell it mostly in lengths of 7, 8, and 9 feet long. Although Pipe docks can handle waves better than floating, if your water varies more than 3 feet throughout the boating season, a floating dock may be a better choice.

Pipe Dock

This refers to as a dock which is on pipe legs. It is considerably more stable than a floating dock and is preferred most often. The benefits are they are more cost effective and have more flexibility in selecting design layouts. Pipe docks systems are usually lighter and designed to be removed for the winter. DockinaBox® carries three different levels of pipe dock relative to their application. One of the downfalls of a pipe dock system is that it is generally limited to where the water is less than 8 feet deep and the lake bottom is solid. If the bottom is soft and allows you to sink when walking more than 6 inches, then a mud pad may be required. If the sinking is substantial or water depth is over 8 feet, then a floating dock would be the alternative. Sometimes a pile dock can be called a pipe dock. This is usually when a very long, heavy and larger diameter pipe or I-beam 4 to 10 inches is mechanically driven into the lake bottom and the dock system is placed on top. These are designed to be left in for the winter. Proper care and application is required as they too can get pushed over with ice upon the spring break-up.

More Information

Ramp

A ramp is often misunderstood if it is part of the dock system? And yes it is an important part of any dock system. The ramp is also considered part of the dock systems total length. The ramp can also be called a gangway, bridge, walkway, plank, or starter piece. As far as we are concerned the ramp is the transition piece going from land to the first section in the water. Ramps are used on both pipe docks and floating docks. In the case of floating docks a hinge at both ends of the ramp is used for articulation as the water level drops.

Rough Water Hold Down

This is usually referred to as a combination of a concrete weight (over 200 pounds), a shackle, chain and mounting bracket which bolt to the underside of the dock. Its purpose is to hold down the dock in rough water conditions. This also improves stability when placed in the middle of the dock; especially in angled leg designs. The centered weight and angled legs work together and keep the dock from tipping as well as lifting. This technique does not work effectively with a straight leg design. In a straight leg design the weight moves toward the pivot point and in some cases can actually pull the dock over.

More Information

Shackle

A metal “U” shaped connection that is used to connect the end of the chain to a weight or anchor. A threaded pin goes through one hole then through a link in the chain and is threaded into the receiving side. This can usually be tightened with pliers or vise grips.

Shore Mount

This is generally a bracket, hinge, hook, or some type of method of attachment that holds the dock to shore. If the dock was floating a hinge bracket would be used. If a Pipe dock is used a fixed bracket is best.

Shore Mounting Bracket

This is a specially made bracket used to hold pipe docks to the shore. This bracket can be mounted to just about any flat vertical surface and allows the first dock section be angled up or down and still be secure.

Side Bumpers

These are usually a PVC extruded  shape that are either screwed to the dock, or made to slide down a groove on the side of the dock. Very rarely does the bumper line up with the right spot on the boat and in many cases the boat can get wedged under the dock. A more preferred bumper design is one that can be placed vertically anywhere along the dock and is also adjustable up and down to move with your water variation through the season. A vertical side bumper offers far better protection for your boat, especially in wavy conditions. DockinaBox® has designed their corner bumpers  so that they wrap around the underside of the dock. This is a safety feature. When people are swimming near the dock it cushions the underside corner and prevents injuries if someone were to pop out of the water and hit their head on the corner.

Stiff Arms

This is generally a solid pipe that is used to connect a floating section of dock to land. It is usually on the same axis as the hinge of the ramp if the ramp is attached to the floating section. If the ramp is not attached and rides on top of the floating section of dock, then the arms are not critical as to their mounting position. In between the arms are usually a set of cables criss-crossed from corner to corner. This design is very good at holding the dock system out from shore and from moving either left or right.

Torsional Rigidity

This generally references to the stiffness of the dock. If the dock is well designed with lots of reinforcement and gussets it will tend to be more solid. If bolted together, the torsional rigidity is usually poor. Bolted together designs do not have the same rigidity as welded frames in cases such as rough wave Conditions. Bolted together designs also suffer from bolted hole fatigue over time. This is when you find the holes have gone through a slotting effect. This typically happens with lawnmowers, snow blowers, wagons, etc. Bolted together frames are more of a mass market design made for the DIY crowd. The preferred frame type in the industry is fully welded frames. This eliminates any potential errors when assembling the dock sections.

Water Variation

For our purposes we are more concerned with the difference from when the boating season starts to when it ends. If water overflows the banks in March and April or when logs in dams are removed in October or November for the winter, the range may be substantial. As a rule the main part of the boating season in the northern region is from the end of May to the end of September. Therefore if the range is towards 30 inches a floating system may be best.

Wave Height

When you see a wave you usually think of it from the trough to the peek. Therefore 4 foot waves may only have the upper part 2 foot above the average water level when calm. This is important to know in order to determine the dock series and height to be placed above the water. If consistently 3-4 foot waves are present, a floating dock would get bounced around and be potentially destroyed over time. A pipe dock placed 30-36 inches above the water would work better in these conditions, provided water depth is under approximately 8 feet.

More Info