How to replace a wiring loom


As we get back into our boats for winter training having the best rowing electronics speaker system and one that works reliably is pretty important for coxed boats.

Most of the popular makes are now modular so you can replace one part and also test the whole harness to find out where a break in the wires has occurred.  So it’s cheaper to replace, easy to find faults and cheap and easy to repair yourself.

Rowing boat wiring harness looms

The basic speaker system is designed to wire in series a set of loudspeakers and connect them to the amplifier which the coxswain uses to talk to the crew (or the coach uses a walkie-talkie).

Coxmate rowing boat harness speaker loom
Eight harness with 3 speakers with stroke seat sensor for rating

There are 3 main suppliers of wiring looms for rowing – Coxmate, Nielsen Kellerman and Active Tools.

They use different words, but the products are interchangeable in the main and also based on the same principle.   Pricing at the time of writing for Eights loom with 4 speakers: Active Tools £354; Coxmate £318 and NK Oarsport £336.  All including VAT.

Note Oarsport offers a 3 speaker loom only.  Active Tools includes a mounting cup for the amplifier.
17/10/18 Active Tools got in touch to request we publish this correction.

“Firstly Oarsport don’t do a 4 speaker loom so it is the three speaker version that is £336 our equivalent is £282.”

Recent innovations

  • Four speakers for an eight (this came in about 2011 – gives improved sound distribution)
  • Modular system (around 2013 so you can replace part of the system)
  • Sealing Glands for the bulkheads so it is easy to get the wire in and out.  (Introduced about 2014. You don’t glue in the wire to the hole).
  • 6 Watt Speakers – more powerful (2016 introduced)
  • Bulkhead speakers – before they were on metal brackets which invariably pointed down into the boat instead of up to the athlete.  Putting the speaker vertically into the bulkhead means it is always vertical and takes up less room in the footwell (introduced 2017)

How to replace the wiring loom

Jon Kotwicki gives a great explanation of how to swap out the parts of a harness.  He calls the wire connection to the Cox Amplifier a “Pigtail” which is a nice description of the grouped wires going into the pin plug.


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