Sealect Designs hatch covers as Valley replacements

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by Philip.AK, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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    I've paddled Valley boats for about 15 years now. I have had a pretty decent experience with their hatches, though I do seem to get random leaking some days. I seat the covers the same each time, snapping the cover down and then carefully seating the lip into the well between the hull and the recessed coaming flange. I usually give the whole hatch cover a solid twist back and forth to make sure it is seated in its 'lowest energy state' or basically where it seems to be mated the best with the flange. Some rough days not a drop gets in, but on other days punching into a steep wind chop I may get multiple cups of water into the compartment. My Valley hatch covers last for many years since I store them indoors in the winter and I treat them with some UV protectant once or twice a year. The random leaking annoys me though. My stuff is protected in dry bags, but still, a leaking kayak sucks.

    I just ordered some Sealect Designs hatch covers as they are billed as being direct Valley replacements. I got two ovals and one round to replace all my Nordkapp covers. They all pop on very easily and are a joy to remove. The construction looks super. I tried a garden hose spray test on the oval (Sealect #K745170-1) and was really disappointed in the results however. After about 30 seconds of a solid stream of water pointed at the juncture between the cover and the hatch coaming (no spray nozzle, just an open hose emitting a strong stream), I got significant water in the compartment. The hatch cover seems to rotate a few degrees suspiciously easily when I try to spin it when installed. I made sure it seemed to be centered in this range of rotation when I tested it. I put my Valley hatch back on the usual way and did the hose test on that cover too. The boat was dry inside. I tried the Sealect again and got significant amounts of water in once more. The hatch cover is definitely fully seated all the way around, so it's not a matter of incorrect installation.

    Being advertised as a direct Valley replacement I figured the Sealect coamings must use the Valley dimentions, but maybe they are slightly different and the Sealect covers work better with the Sealect coamings. Maybe not. Has anyone had experience with these things? Eddyline boats seem to use these hatch covers as do some other manufacturers, presumably with the Sealect-made coamings. Do they preform better on Eddyline et al boats?

    At this point they seem to be pretty inferior to the stock Valley covers and I may return them unless something improves dramatically.
     
  2. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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  3. benson

    benson Paddler

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    Nice video of the offending hatch cover! I haven't had issues with leakage in my NDK or Valley boats over the years with the exception of a small leak in the cowlling when NDK was still using the bolt/nut to solidify the cowling to the deck. I usually only UV treat (303) the exposed rubber surfaces of the hatch covers and add a bit of sillicone lube along the under side that locks into the lip of the cowling. That may not be enough to prevent a leak if the hatch cover doesn't lock down tight. I would be a bit uneasy with that. I would just make sure the surfaces of the cowling lip and corresponding groove in the hatch cover are in good shape. Leaky hatches like leaky plumbing...a pain in the butt!
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    do you have a depth gauge to check if the new cover hatch slot is deeper/shallower/same as the deck flange depth? (I'm not sure what makes the seal on these - lip width, depth or upstand face)
    What would happen if you wrapped 3 or more rounds of electrician's tape around the upstand (thereby testing out a larger perimeter and snugger fit)?

    thoughts anyway - if you have no alternatives.
     
  5. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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    Some good suggestions, but I think the problem here is pretty fundamental. The inner circumference of the rubber lip on the Sealect hatch cover is simply not small enough to seal tightly over the outer circumference of the coaming rim/lip. The hatch cover has a slight taco-shell bend to it. When you push down on the center of the hatch you 'open' the shell (make it flatter) which allows it to pop onto the coaming. Once it relaxes, however, the sides grip pretty tight but the ends flare out again a touch. The leaks are definitely concentrated on [restricted to] the fore and aft ends of the hatch covers. The hatch rims themselves have absolutely no ridges or nicks from molding or damage, so it is not the boat's fault as far as I can tell. Water is definitely also not getting between the kayak's deck and the glued-in hatch rim. The big and the small of it is that the covers seem properly seated and still just let water either trickle or veritably gush through.

    To give the Sealect covers a full test, I tried both covers on both front and rear hatch coamings. While the results differed slightly in the total amount of water they let in, it basically ranged from "bad" to "are you f**king kidding???". Here are the gruesome results:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/18245139@N00/7792387710/

    I have been in email contact with Sealect and they are interested in my predicament. I will see what they offer as a resolution.

    There are probably some hillbilly engineering fixes I could try like building up the coaming rims with tape or some such material. Or, I could return these and get my money back. They seem pretty defective to me, so I am tending towards the latter, but I will see what Sealect comes up with. I will also try them on another Valley boat just to make sure it isn't simply my Nordkapp that has funny hatch rims. So far it's a bummer since the design and materials seem otherwise thoroughly awesome.

    I will say that the round 8" Sealect cover does NOT seem to let any water through into my day hatch, it is is a joy to pop on and remove. I will definitely keep that one even if I return the oval hatch covers. If all the covers seemed to work as well as the round one, I'd be as happy as a clam at high tide.
     
  6. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Curious...and the results shown in the video are actually quite shocking to the point that I'd be leery of making one of your long solo trips with them in place. Is it possible that the hatches are specifically made for the composite Nordkapp and not the poly version? I'd imagine their hatches would be at least slightly different.

    Very interested to hear the manufacturer's response.
     
  7. rider

    rider Paddler

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    Very cool testing method! Knowing Valley lids, the one for the composite and plastic versions are exactly the same.I can't remember if the plastic has the black ABS rim bonded to the boat or rim molded with the boat...If it is molded with the boat, my hunch is that the original all-rubber Valley lid may be better simply because the extra stretch compared to a plastic-rubber lid is better for plastic boats with their somewhat inconsistent molding dimensions. For hatches a couple mm can make the difference. Sterling kayaks use Sealect and seem good, my plastic Nifty has the small round Sealect lid on the front and so far dry...
     
  8. Holmes375

    Holmes375 Paddler

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    The Valley RM boats have the same hatch rim as the composite boat, r.g., the black rim bonded to the hatch openings. They aren't a molded version as commonly seen with other poly kayaks.

    This report is disheartening as I was getting ready to order a full set of the SEA-LECT lids, primarily for their interior tether attachment points. I have external tethers on my current factory lids and while the modification is sanitary in appearance and functions well, an interior tether is preferred for rough water self-rescue techniques.

    I'll be interested to hear the manufacturer's response to this issue. I've always found SEA-LECT to be a very responsive entity in terms of user feedback.

    Love their foot braces. Sturdy, secure, etc. I use foot boards in my long boats but have their braces in a fishing kayak and a couple of canoes.

    I hope they are able to modify their design in some manner that will alleviate the leakage.
     
  9. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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    I put one of the Sealect hatch covers on my Avocet thermoform. It went on much tighter. It was very hard to rotate at all using the 'steering wheel' method once snapped on. It did not leak using a brief hose test.

    At first this would seem very confounding given the earlier results from my Nordkapp. But here's the rub: the Valley Avocet thermoform is produced under contract by Eddyline! I now suspect that Eddyline used Sealect hatch rims for the thermoform Avocet like they presumably do on their own brand boats. And so the Sealect hatch rims and hatch covers mate very nicely, as you would expect coming from the same company. Despite being made by Eddyline and apparently not using Valley's own hatch rims, the Avocet did ship with Valley hatch covers.

    The clincher is that [what I suspect to be] Sealect hatch rims on the Avocet are in fact slighter bigger than the Valley rims on my Nordkapp. As best I could measure, the outside hatch rim length is 436.5mm (Valley) versus 438mm (Sealect), and the outside width is 250 mm (Valley) versus 252 mm (Sealect). So the total circumference on the Sealect is larger. There is a subtle mold line (where the two halves of the mold were separated after the injected plastic cooled) at the midpoint on the Valley rims, while the mold line on the Sealect is on either end of the rim. On the Valley rim the Sealect hatch cover basically bottoms out against the lower rim flange whereas on the Sealect rim the Sealect hatch cover leaves a ~2mm gap and does not touch the lower rim flange.

    I am obviously not 100% positive on the sources of the various hatch rims on my boats, but the pieces seem to fall into place given the explanation I outlined above. The take-home message right now is that Sealect hatch covers do not seem to work on most Valley boats. Boats made with Sealect's own hatch rims will accept Sealect hatch covers.
     
  10. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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    After laying all this out to Sealect, here is what they believe is going on:

    "Thanks Philip for the detailed response.  We figured it out.  The rims you
    have that leak are what we're calling an "aberration", it's the word of the
    day in the office.  Me and our sales manager did our homework and found that
    the Avocet that you have that fits our hatches so nicely are actually Valley
    rims.  Valley contracts Eddyline to make their thermoform boats and supplies
    them with valley hatches and rims.

    So for some reason the rims you have on your Nordkapp are an aberration, at
    some point during the molding process they either shrank too much or some
    other issue during making of the rims.

    So short story; we don't have a good easy fix for using our hatches on your
    current rims.  The only thing you could change would be to install new rims
    on the boat but that will be a bit of a task depending on how they are
    attached.

    If you need to return them to Rutabaga we will stand behind you and back up
    your story to them (we have a really good relationship with them).  

    If you have any more question feel free to e-mail or call us.  As the
    customer service rep I love to talk on the phone to paddlers and problem
    solve, it pretty much makes my day.

    Jed Hawkes
    Customer Service Rep
    Sea-lect Designs"

    I'm not sure where this leaves folks who own Valleys and are contemplating Sealect hatch covers. How many 'abberrant' Valley rims are out there? There are a few other Valleys here in town and I will take a Sealect hatch around and take a poll on which rims it fits.
     
  11. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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    Ok, I have had a chance to try the Sea-Lect hatch cover on a few other Valley boats here in town.

    We already know they do not fit on my Nordkapp. They were also very loose on my old plastic Valley Skerray RM.

    They did, however, snap on tight (and presumably waterproof-ly) on a 2010 Valley Nordkapp RM, a 2012 Valley Aquanaut LV RM, my old Valley Aquila FG, and of course the Eddyline-made 2011 Valley Avocet thermoform. So most of the Valley boats do take the Sea-lect hatch covers nicely. Unfortunately the one boat I actually did want to use them on, they don't fit, and that does seem to be squarely Valley's fault. I have no idea where Valley dug those undersized hatch rims out from, but they do seem to be pretty rare birds and I have to go back to my mid-90's Skerray to get a similarly poor fit. I think Sea-lect is right that my Nordkapp rims are an 'aberration' and that their covers should fit Valley boats correctly as a rule.

    It is a bummer, because like I stated earlier, the Sea-lect covers appear to be the shizz.

    I apologize if my process in figuring all this out caused confusion. :doh:
     
  12. Holmes375

    Holmes375 Paddler

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    I've found your posts quite interesting and I appreciate your follow-up. My Nordkapp RM is a 2009 model and I think I'll get the lids from Rutabaga, too, as that's where I bought the boat.

    Thanks for your efforts and information.
     
  13. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Yeah, thanks for chasing this issue down and reporting back to everyone. I have a FG Aquila, so based on your research I will definitely look at the Sea-Lect lids when it comes time to replacing my current ones.

    Regards,
    Andrew
     
  14. semdoug

    semdoug Paddler

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    Has Valley been contacted? It would be interesting to hear/read their side and whether replacement correct hatch coamings are possible.
     
  15. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    So if you do end up considering the 'increased flange circumference method', ask them to provide you with a 'rubber band' that is abt 1 mm plus in thickness, the full depth of the web, and is slightly less than the web circumference (or someone could possibly make you a few). Then snap it on and snap the lid over it. If that's too impermanent, then glue it down.

    I would ask them to call it the " Phi 'Lip' " - and ask for royalties , heh heh.
     
  16. Philip.AK

    Philip.AK Paddler

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    I have not contacted Valley and at this point I'm not sure I will pursue it. I imagine they will say the rims are 'within spec' and should work with their own covers (which do also leak). At best I could get replacement rims, wrestle the old ones out and glue new ones in... waaaay too much bother just to swap hatch covers. Modifying the existing rims sounds like a royal pain too. Even if I found the *perfect* adhesive strip to build up the thickness, it would not be a permanent solution.

    I will work with what I have, I think.
     
  17. landsharc

    landsharc New Member

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    my sea-lects on my plastic avocet leak badly also. I wrapped a marine weather strip around the rim. The srtip seals against the under side of the lip on the cover. I don't think the strip will hold. I may use lexel to bond the strip to the rim if it comes off. I can clean the lexel off if i go back to vcp covers. anyway, no leaks with the strip.