Installing Gas-Strut Hatch Supports

Properly installed gas struts help save fingers and toes.

1. Weigh the Hatch
It is essential to know the overall weight of the hatch. Rather than guess, unscrew the hatch from the hinges and use an accurate scale to determine the weight. Either a bathroom scale or a digital scale used for weighing fish will work. In this case, our hatch weighed 20 pounds. Reattach the hatch to the hinges before the next step.
2. Determine the Upper Mounting Point
Open the hatch to the point where you want it supported. Mark a point for the gas spring's upper bracket mounting location on the underside of the lid a third to halfway from the hinge to the opposite side of the hatch — in this case, we chose 2 inches from the hinge.
3. Mark the Lower Mounting Point
The lower mounting point is often just below the upper mounting point. Keep in mind that the strut does not need to be perfectly vertical. Before you mark the lower mounting point, make sure it's located in an area with enough room for a mounting bracket or ball stud.
4. Measure for Gas Strut
With the lid open, measure from the upper mounting point to the lower mounting point. This will tell you the length of strut you need when it's extended. For the compressed length, measure at the same angle from the lower mounting point to the rim of the compartment; then measure from the upper mounting point to the lower edge of the lid. Add them up.
5. Calculate Required Strut Force
Use this formula to determine the strut force required: Weight of Lid (pounds) x Distance from
Hinge to Hatch Center Line (inches)
Distance (inches) from Hinge to Strut
Mounting Point on the Hatch The answer equals 30, which means a strut with 30 pounds of force is required to support this hatch when open, yet will also allow it to close easily. Choose from Taylor Made’s selection a strut that matches both the dimensions and force in this formula.
6. Use the Right Brackets to Install
The gas strut Taylor Made Products offers a selection of angled and flat brackets to accommodate a wide range of installation configurations. Each bracket has a 10 mm ball stud to which the gas-strut support (which has a socket on each end) snaps in place. If possible, through-bolt the brackets, but if access is impossible from behind, use at least three No. 10 stainless-steel self-tapping screws to attach each bracket. Always mount the gas strut with the narrow rod end lower than the gas-filled barrel. The strut comes extended, making it easy to install with the lid open.

Many boats come with gas struts to support hinged hatches in the open position while you stow or access items within. This frees up both hands and keeps the hatch lid from slamming shut on your fingers or toes. Yet some older-model boats failed to include these. You can add gas struts (aka gas springs or shocks), but doing so requires a bit of engineering for the strut to perform as intended.

For guidance, we turned to Chris Yarsevich, quality engineer for Taylor Made Products — marine market leader in gas struts — who suggests turning to a professional for heavy hatches such as engine boxes. For this project, we install a single strut on a relatively light 6-by-24-inch hatch hinged on the long side.

Quick Tip: Taylor Made offers struts constructed from 316 stainless steel, as well as models with black-oxidized tubes and nitride-coated steel shafts. Stainless versions can cost 150 percent more but offer superior durability in salt water. Match stainless struts with stainless mounting brackets and fasteners.

Getting Started
Skill Level: 4.5/5
Time to Complete: 2.5 Hours per hatch

Tools and Supplies
*Taylor Made Products gas strut (starting at $72.99 for stainless steel, $28.99 for nonstainless;
*Taylor Made Products gas strut mounting brackets (starting at $9.99 for stainless steel;
*Tape measure
*Marking pencil
*Drill motor and bits
*Screwdriver set
*Box/open-end wrench set
*Stainless-steel fasteners