Cusfab - Your Plastics Repair Wizards! - Wayne Petherick, YHQLD

What Can You do When Your Yak Gets a Crack?

I hadn't long had my Old Town Top Water after getting it for my birthday in 2019.  My wife called it my "forever boat" because it wasn't cheap and she said "that's the only one you're getting so look after it" (little did she know!)

I treated this thing like a baby.  Soft launches on sand, scuff pads on hard ground, and I smoothed out every little scratch after every little trip.  I know now I went overboard but at the time I thought I had better look after my forever boat like it was the only one I was getting, because I thought that it was.  Coming in from a trip into a ramp with a steep drop off, a well meaning fellow yakker  said "I've got you mate!" and grabbed the bow handle raking my whole yak up and across the jagged stones.  My stomach turned and I said "it's ok mate I've got it!".  But it was too late.  The grinding noise still rings in my ears and my stomach still turns a little.  I'd taken such good care of my yak and now all I could picture was the scrapes and gouges across the bottom.

When I got home I bought a small gas torch and a scraper and set about checking out the damage.  I flipped the yak on its side and lost control of it and it landed top down.  I heard an audible CRACK!  Panicking I checked her over but couldn't find any damage.  Musn't have been anything major.  I set about repairing the scracthes that were much smaller in reality than they were in my mind.  Satisified I flipped her upright and put her away ready to head out the next day.

I got on the water and deployed the pedal drive and the rudder from the handle to the right side of my seat.  I gave the pedals a few good cranks to get the water churning over the rudder to give me some bite.  Reaching down with my left hand I gave the steering knob a right turn and CRACK!  The "trucker's knob" came free in my hand.  Looking down I saw a jagged tear in the plastic at a 45 degree angle and now knew exactly what the crack from the previous day was.  The trucker's knob hit the ground and with the weight of the yak on top, the 10mm clearance between the gunwhale and the ground was the only place to flex, and flex it did!

I searched around for a replacement and contacted Old Town in the USA who said I had to go through the importer who said such a small part wasn't worth importing.  All the companies I found who sold them in the USA wouldn't ship to Australia and I was stuck to get a replacement.  I went into the "fab lab" at work who I knew had a 3D printer and they offered to print me one up.  Evenutally they did but the size was never quite right.  In the meantime they used some industrial superglue to hold it together which it did for a time until I decided to refit the knob part to the handle.  The added vertical flex was obviously too much for the glue and it gave way again.

As luck would have it I found myself in Brisbane and gave David Swindly from Cusfab a call.  He said to drop the part around and he would fix it up for me.  The bream comp was coming up and having this back to its former glory would certainly make a huge difference in the sometimes unforgiving Brisbane River.

In between times my rudder lift cable had stretched a little and jumped out of the cam rotor causing some burring along one surface also decommissioning the rudder lift.  I dropped both parts off and was blown away by not only the turnaround time but also the quality of the repair.

In the above image the trucker's knob (left) and tension knob (right) are fitted after the repair making the assembly like new.

In this image both knobs are removed with the arrow showing the area of the break and the repair.
Over time as the para cord stretched this allowed the cord to jump up out of the rotor and with use caused burring across the lip of the rotor.  This not only damaged the cam but killed the rudder retrieve.
And just like that it was repaired and stronger than ever!
While it looks good the proof as they say is in the pudding!  Owing to circumstances beyond my control I couldn't take part in the bream comp but had the chance to test out the fixed rudder lift and steerage this week in the canals at Broadbeach.  As I was always a bit cautious of the superglue repair. I never fitted the trucker handle to it.  In fact when I did the extra flex caused the assembly to break again.  I can say without reservation that I had no such caution with this repair.  The current around the canals can be punishing and you often have to give the pedals a good turn to get flow over the rudder which causes extra resistance against the steering handle.  I felt every confidence giving it a really good hard crank to get me facing gthe right way and there wasn't so much as a creak or groan from the fix.  It just feels solid as, and honestly it feels like it did the first time I took her out as a new yak.  When I picked the part up David said to be "it will be stronger than new" and I'll admit I was dubious.  But not any more, this is one rock solid repair!  I finally found someone in the USA who will ship the replacement part to Australia but it will sit in a drawer and unless user error again plays a role I can't see myself needing it.

David doesn't just do repairs on broken or damaged parts like mine.  There is pretty mjuch nothing he can't fix.  Scupper holes, seat mounts, cracks, and gouges he does it all.  And he stands by his work product.

If you have an idea for a preventative mod, David can fix you up there too.  From scuff plates on the bow or keel to plates to prevent storage damage there is no limit to what he can do for you.  If you want to talk about a mod or repair, head on over to the Cusfab Facebook page here.

In the mean time check out a few of the repairs and mods Cusfab have rolled out!
Gouges and Scratches 
These are an unavoidable part of use with a vessel made from relatively soft materials. Apart from being unsightly, if deep enough they could graduate to a crack if left unattended so it is worth getting them fixed before they get out of control
Mods for Storage
This yak is stored on its side and so an extra scuff plate was made up to avoid damage to the actual hull.  What a top idea!
Scupper Repairs
Talk to Dave and he will tell you scupper repairs are probably one of the most common.  In some more expensive kayaks the scuppers are internally reinforced allowing for the use of scupper trolleys (Hobies are one such example).  However, others especially less expensive kayaks, are not moulded this way and as a result the scupper pillar can be quite weak and not resistant to much flex.  So if you put a scupper trolley up through the holes, with the whole weight of the kayak and load on board as you bounce along across rock and road the trolley arms will cause flexing in the hull.  Eventually this will give, especially along weak points such as joins and corners.  In fact, many scupper trolleys will say "do not use with kayaks weighing more than XXkg" on the box.  This is why.
Keel Guards
Keels are particularly prone to damage as they are often the first part of the kayak to beach or to hit submerged objects.  It is not uncommon to find your nose banged up regardles of the care you take when launching, beaching, and retrieving.  Sometimes either by accident or on purpose our kayaks may get dragged across different surfaces causing damage.  While we may attempt some home repairs on these, they often don't hold because the subtances aren't bonded properly.  This is why the experts are best placed to make these repairs.
Copyright ©2019 Yak Hunters Australia, All Rights Reserved.