Two kayaks from our fleet needed some tlc this weekend. My Explorer had suffered a reverse skeg inversion, otherwise known as a drag across the beach backwards which pulled the skeg out of it’s box and tore the cable out. The Tahe Greenland was suffering from droopy skeg syndrome, the inability to retract the skeg fully into the skeg box. A trip to the local hardware store demonstrated that the US was still fiercely clinging to their independence and not selling metric stainless steel rope wire, so I purchased the closest approximations I could find….On the advice of the old sage (aka Dad) I learned how to cut the stainless steel without it fraying. A process that uses a smear of 5-Minute epoxy over a one inch section, a brief pause, followed by a swift chop with some sharp cutters, or a whack with a masonry chisel – both methods worked. I also found that by not letting the epoxy get fully set I was able to reform the circular shape of the wire immediately after the cutting.Removing the cable from the explorer was harder than I expected. The cable was frayed at the aft end and unusable, I unscrewed the slider set screw, nut found that the cable did not want to pull through, so I unscrewed the entire front section of the slider and found that the cable had experienced some damage presumably from a kink and was considerable thicker at the damaged section rendering it unable to pull backwards. One swift chop with the cutters fixed that and the cable pulled through. I cut the new cable two feet too long (using the epoxy method) and then fixed it back into the skeg. I then attempted to slide the new cable into the tube, it was unhappy and I discovered I had applied epoxy to too long a section of the cable rending it inflexible. I reduced the epoxy section to just half an inch and this then was able to freely slide into the tube. I removed the cable and squished a large quantity of silicon lubricant down the tube using a long straw, and coated the cable liberally. I then slide the wire through the tube until it appeared out at the forward slider. I pulled all the slack through and fitted the skeg box back into the slot.I dry assembled the slider and identified the length the cable needed to be to allow the skeg to be fully retracted without the slider needing to be pressed all the way forward, as Dad had noted earlier it is a good idea to be able to get a finger in front of the slide for those days when everything is a but stiff. I repeated the epoxy method of cutting the wires and then screwed the slider back together again. The Explorers skeg now operates smoothly with little resistance, a good repair completed.The Tahe Greenland uses a skeg system from KajakSport in Finland, it has a stainless cable bonded into the skeg rendering it impractical for many repairs, the skeg and cable simply need to be replaced as one. I was lucky though, my problem was the cable was too long, the one possible repair you can undertake with these systems. I unscrewed the slider box, finding the hidden set screw holding the cable in place which I then released and then pulled the cable out as far as it would go. I removed 30mm frm the end and refitted the slider, now the skeg completely retracts into the skeg box when I need it to (and I have finger room on the slider). The Tahe skeg is so large I was not worried about loosing a little depth to obtain the finger room, I have yet to ever need the full depth of skeg.
by Christopher Crowhurst | Jul 3, 2011