Thigh brace retrofit - ideas wanted!

Discussion in 'Boat and Accessory Building' started by Mark_Schilling, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    OK, I've come to the conclusion that carved up mini-cell foam in the Tern just does not cut it. I need some more substantial thigh braces - ones that will allow me, or anyone else paddling the boat, to really hook my/their thighs to and yet still allow for a comfortable paddling position. The unavoidable fact is that the Pygmy cockpit is just plain too big, which means that any braces placed under the existing cockpit opening will result in legs that are splayed so far apart it makes for a very uncomfortable position after anything longer than an hour or so.

    I paddled a plastic Necky Eliza on the weekend, and was quite impressed with the braces in that boat. They're not adjustable but comfortable and offer a decent amount of support. Basically they bolt to a large cockpit, making it more of a key-hole shape. That's what I'm after.

    The boat is well used - I no longer baby it (it surfed directly into a rock near Long Beach last year - repairs for that will be completed shortly). It's scratched and has more than a few compression blemishes on both the hull and, after the Long Beach incident, the deck as well. So I'm not looking for something that will add to the beauty of the boat. I want them to be functional, #1 - if they look half way decent, that's a bonus. I'd prefer not to have to glass anything in if I can avoid it; I'm not adverse to drilling a few holes (gasp!) and bolting them in place if I'm confident that they'll do what I want.

    I've noticed that the adjustable touring braces are available on Necky's web site (not the same ones as in the Eliza, but I've also paddled an Elaho with them and they seem ok, though not as nice as the new ones in the Eliza). But they're pricey - US$110. I'd prefer something a bit less expensive.

    Anyone have any ideas or experiences with outfitting a boat with aftermarket thigh braces? I'm all ears (and getting desperate!). Thanks in advance!
     
  2. cattail

    cattail Paddler

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    I paddled a Necky Looksha IV and those thigh traps kind of scared me.
    I'm not qualified to give advise but adding some carved wood braces to the inside of your coaming would look wicked.
    Please show us how it turns out.
     
  3. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

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    Mark, I agree, that cockpit is BIG! I kept falling off the boat, and I could not keep my leg spread apart, so the minicell brace become less solid.

    I made the thigh brace out of big PVC pipe( mine is 4" ) cut to the hook shape I like, glued minicell foam to it ( as space filler) to glue this whole piece to glue to the Pygmy's wood plate ( to be between the minicell and coaming). And I glued thin minicell to cushion between my thigh and the hook. It took some time to carve the minicell to fit to the curve of the pipe, but if you use "Dragon Skin" it will be a pice of cake.

    I believe you can use super strong velcro-like thing ( the plasticky one, I think 3M makes it) to make it removable, but you might have to re-glue it every once in a while.
    If the wood plates were not there already glued on ( from the previouse thigh brace, yeah the flubby minicell brace), I would have used bolts so it is removable and adjustable if I needed to move it. Mine are glued so no one bigger than me can fit in there.
    Now my thighs are not so much spread apart, and it holds me very well, very well enough for me to do balance brace in it.
    It has been that way year an a half, and I had to redo it onece last winter, because I used to carry it on my shoulder with the thigh brace on the shoulder. Now I carry it with the brace not touching my shoulder, so it is still glued solid after one year.
    I might be able to post the picture of them soon.
    If I remember I will bring a piece of the same thing to the camp to show it to you. I am taking the other boat so you can't se it, But if you come down to DP, I show it to you.
    Oh, and you were talking about better back support for your Explorer. Have you thought about Minicell foam pillow like back support? Lots of NDK owners use it down here and they love it, it gives you better range of torso rotation and comfort.
     
  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Mark, 3-8ths okume ply, with glass on one surface for rigidity and durability, will be strong enough for what you have in mind. You can attach it to the underside of the existing opening using SS T-nuts inside and 1/4-20 flathead machine screws from above (probably need a plate of 3-8ths ply on the deck to get enough meat to recess the screws). If you make the bolt-ons oversize, you can work them on down to whatever profile works for you and then finish them later. A little wetness on the ply is OK if you dry it out and seal the edges each time you cut it back a bit.

    If I were to do this, I'd make two sets, so the second one could be made larger or smaller to fit others. The Pygmy cockpit is so ginormous, and the deck is so tall I think you should have plenty of adjustment left after the 3-8ths is in there.

    I got 1/4-20 T-nuts from McMaster Carr, in sets of ten, IIRC. The box says they are from Stafast, aka Standard Fastenings of New Bedford, MA. Here is a link: http://www.mcmaster.com/#tee-nuts/=1d82li

    Those deck plates and the metal will make that one gnarly machine up top. Kind of a tin-grin effect, or maybe similar to the look of heavily pierced lips. If you do this, I suggest you start wearing a studded dog collar and some heavy tats on the forehead to complete the ensemble. :wink: :lol: Probably open up avenues to a whole new set of companions!
     
  5. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    i wonder if it would be possible to install the necky thigh braces in your AT. IIRC they bolt on through the coaming riser.

    Daren.........
     
  6. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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  7. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

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    Here are the pics of my home made cheep hooky hooks.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    you can see how much inward the hook hungs out of coaming to make it narrow cockpit.
     
  8. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    Thanks for all the replies so far!

    Daren, thanks for the info - I had looked at Necky's site but US$110 seems a bit steep for a set of thigh braces. I've ruled out that option.

    Sushiy, thanks for the explanation and photos - that looks like a pretty solid and probably reasonably quick way to get some decent braces in there. I think I may try Dave's suggestion though. I'm going to have to mess around with epoxy to fix up the Long Beach damage anyway, so a bit more fiddling with thigh braces may not be too difficult. I suspect the hardest part will be getting all the old contact cement off the underside of the deck where the new braces will go!

    I expect I'll make the new braces quite large to start, and can gradually trim them down to size. Even making a second set to have some adjustability between paddlers would work, since they won't be glued in place.
     
  9. skiffrace

    skiffrace Paddler

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    After looking at pictures posted by sushiy I would like to ask: a) can you paddle efficiently (torso rotation=some leg and hip movement) with this type of setup and b) how do you enter the kayak in less than perfect conditions.
    I have regular knee plates in the front section of the coaming, and even though small, still they interfere somewhat with free entry/exist.
    I'd imagine hip braces like ones in the picture will make entry and exit much more difficult.
    Is this type of setup strictly for "rolling-only" kayak, or am I missing something here?
     
  10. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

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    Hehe, if you are bigger person than me, then answer to your Q. is NO. Every one see my boat the first time react same way, " it looks so scary, Can you exit?) It way easier than entry into ocean cockpit.I customized this to my size. Torso rotation comes from the extended leg against the foot peg and anothe leg bent. I could have raised the brace a bit higher for that bent knee position, but I like the positive contact of my thigh and cockpit, so I am happy with this set up for playing. For longer touring, it is not as comfy as roomy cockpit, but I just have to bring my leggs out of the cockpit every onece in a while ( although I have not have that need so far for my 12-15miles trip).
    My hook is at my thigh, not on my knee, so it very close to my upper thigh, but I have no problem getting in and out, I even do butt-first-leg-later entry, and even it is still rusty, I can do re-enter & roll with a little more struggle than roomier one but once I am in,it's easier to roll up as I am locked in.

    Is my AT14 strictly for rolling? Hell NO!, It is harder to roll than any other kayaks with same beam size and back coaming hight or less I've tried so far. The only thing it makes it easier to roll is this hook. Good practice boat for rolling though 8)
     
  11. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    :lol:

    After a bit of calling around, it doesn't look like I can get much of anything in 3/8", and I can't get anything smaller than a full sheet of Okoume. So, I'm off to the plywood store to sort through scraps or 1/4 sheets of 1/4" stuff instead - hopefully I'll find something that doesn't clash too badly with the Okoume. I'm sure 1/4" ply will suffice - I just may need to use another layer or two of glass cloth to give it some strength.
     
  12. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    An approach that appeals to me with your setup (and similar to what i'll do to one of mine) is to make glass dismountables.
    If the boat fits relatively well (maybe not you or sushi), building the thigh brace slightly higher than the deck allows several fitting and comfort options:
    • -foam can be to added just under the brace so that the underside of the deck and foam are flush - allowing easy transition
      - the thicker foam can more easily cantilever inward so that the supporting brace can be a little smaller - allowing easier panic exits or squeeze entries (heh heh)
      -with thicker foam, can be padded under both deck and brace like the other approaches.
      -because of the variation, can fit wider range of people (using velcroed foam or horrors, for resale)

    here's a quick sketch:

    The idea is to hotglue a (flat or curved) form - could be a pc of scrap ply - on top of the coaming. then mask the underside of form, riser and under the deck with saran wrap or ducttape, etc. Then turn yak upside down and glass in 6 or 8 lyrs of 6 oz. Cure and shape, add mounting bolts thru thick coaming, velcro under deck, and foam to desired fit.
    Leave holes to release the 2 bolts and dismount all when desired, or velcro in the foam and replace with desired sizes for your friends.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    Quite a nice idea, Mick - essentially you're turning the huge cockpit opening into more of a keyhole shape, but with foam. For smaller paddlers like me, we'd still need masses of padding under the 'new' section so probably not the best approach, but I like the idea.

    Now that I've bought a quarter sheet of 1/4" mahogany ply and $90 worth of glass cloth and System 3 resin/hardener, suddenly those US$110 Necky braces don't look so expensive. :oops: But I'll have lots of resin left for other boat repairs for the next time I surf the boat into a rock cliff.
     
  14. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Yeah, that is pretty cool. Even though Maddie's new boat has a keyhole cockpit, I think we may have to add something along this line to get a good fit for her. Thanks Mick.

    *****
     
  15. lance_randy

    lance_randy Paddler

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    Sushiy, those thigh braces look fantastic! I'd love to try that boat. I like to have the thigh braces farther back like that myself. I don't like anything grinding at the tops of my knee caps.
     
  16. DarrenM

    DarrenM Paddler

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    Ill be over at noon tomorrow 8)
     
  17. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Glean away, Darren. I wrote this with you in mind, kind of: [Mark:] Those deck plates and the metal will make that one gnarly machine up top. Kind of a tin-grin effect, or maybe similar to the look of heavily pierced lips. If you do this, I suggest you start wearing a studded dog collar and some heavy tats on the forehead to complete the ensemble.

    I think Mark needs some inspirational artwork to "guide" him in his task. And, you are the guy! :wink: :lol:
     
  18. DarrenM

    DarrenM Paddler

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  19. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    Noon sounds great - might give me time to swing by the Harley dealership on the way home from getting the new tats. :roll:
     
  20. rider

    rider Paddler

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    Hey Mark, here's what I've done to the Necky Gannet I owned some time ago. Made of aluminum, cut to shape and bent to desired 'hookiness'. The underside has a rubber (piece of an old drag slick tire cut to shape) bolted to it and some thin closed cell foam glued over that.
    [​IMG]
    I'd bolt them differently to the Tern14 but you get the general idea.