This past week I was engaged in a discussion on Qajaq USA’s Greenland forum about paddle flexibility. This inspired me to start work on documenting the flexibility of my paddle collection. I determined that I would attempt to mimic the two paddler’s hands and apply load to the blade in a consistent manner and then measure the loom and blade flexibility. In order to maintain consistency I set the two “hands”, otherwise known as pivot points, 20 inches apart, and then applied the load vertically 35 inches from the center of the paddle.
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My initial experiments showed that 20 lbs of load created a large variation in paddle flex amongst the first few paddles I measured. I am waiting to receive a larger range dial gauge for the tip measurement as the one inch range of the gauge I currently have is insufficient for some of the more flexible paddles I have in my collection. I adapted the pivot points to include a set of screws on each side to prevent the paddle from moving sideways and put a pair of self tapping screws on the tube used to apply the load to maintain the blade in a horizontal plane.
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I am sure I will be blogging a lot more about this jig and the data I am able to obtain from it. I think this is the first time this type of measurement of Greenland Paddles has been attempted. Let me know if you have any suggestions to improve upon the jig, as this is very much a work in progress. The data shown below (x axis load in lbs, y axis deflection in one thousandths of an inch) shows the first three paddles I attempted to measure. More work is needed to increase the reproducibility of these measurements but the clear differentiation between the line graphs make me believe I am onto something here.
flex

Gearlab Oyashio – Composite Greenland Paddle
Lumpy paddling

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