Steel docks have a well-deserved reputation for being strong and incredibly durable. But even a great product can be improved upon, says Philipp Spoerndli, owner of Nordcap Steel Docks.
Philipp is celebrating his company’s 30th anniversary this year. Over three decades, he and his team have refined and innovated, developing ways to ensure that the docks they build will stand for decades, or even for generations.
Nordcap has designed and installed custom solutions for steel docks in a variety of shapes and sizes, including the dock that supports the Discovery Centre boathouse extension that will house the beautiful 93-foot-long Wanda III yacht in Gravenhurst.
“We can customize solutions for your property with our expert team, high installation standards and quality materials.”
Dock strength starts with the foundation
A dock is only as strong as the piles underneath it, says Philipp. That’s why Nordcap structures start with high strength steel piles made from Hollow Structural Steel (HSS). These piles are 1.5 times stronger than commonly used I-beams. And because they are round, they can better withstand the impact from floating ice during the spring break-up.
The piles range in thickness from 0.500-inches to 0.625-inches and in diameter from five inches all the way up to 12 inches, depending on water depth, exposure, and point loads.
The round, epoxy-coated piles are driven or pinned to bedrock, then filled with concrete to displace water and oxygen, thus preventing rust forming on the inside.
Stainless steel components are a necessity
Each connecting piece, along with the foundation piles and beams, is made from stainless steel.
Philipp uses stainless steel fasteners to build the longest-lasting dock possible. He works with a large manufacturer in Toronto to acquire bolts, deck screws, and other fasteners, testing them to ensure they will handle potential flooding conditions.
Number-304 Stainless steel doesn’t rust, and is much more pliable than carbon steel – which can rust and suddenly snap under enough pressure. Stainless steel’s flexibility is an advantage when facing the force of water and ice in Muskoka; and especially flooding conditions.
Sacrificial anodes add more protection
One of Philipp’s most recent innovations is adding optional sacrificial anodes to further protect the structures.
When installed and wired to a steel dock, the anodes are designed to protect portions of the dock that may not be 100% epoxy coated or may have been scratched during installation.
Rustproofing is key to durability
Philipp says rustproofing every part of the structure – from the steel piles through the fasteners and the anodes – is essential to extending the life of your steel dock.
From the early days of building steel docks, he recognized that a submersion-approved, heavy duty industrial coating would be the first line of defence against corrosion. It is applied in two coats over steel that has been sandblasted to a near white finish.
Although, this level of rustproofing and protection is not part of the standard dock-building procedure, it is standard for Nordcap Steel Docks and one of the reasons they last for generations.
“Steel docks only live up to their true potential if you rust-proof your structure,” explains Philipp.
“We want these steel docks to last as long as your family owns the cottage.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS SCOTT TURNBULL & PAUL BENNETT