Current Designs Solstice ST rudder cable replacement

Swatts

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May 15, 2021
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Hi…. I have a 1994 fiberglass Current Designs Solstice ST that needs a new rudder cable. Last year the opposite side was replaced and required a lot of twisting and poking to get through but after a few painful hours it was completed. I am using 1/16” marine grade SS cable as required and can’t get the cable threaded from either direction. It feels like it is hitting an impenetrable wall on the inside of the channel. Experienced friends and I have spent countless hours trying to fix it to no avail. I am located in Los Angeles and am having a hard time finding a shop/person to work on it. I would really appreciate any tips/advise or recommendations for someone in my area to repair. I have a feeling the outer strip along the sides (Gunnel… I think) is going to need to be removed for access.

Thanks!!!
 

JohnAbercrombie

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I haven't replaced a cable on a boat like yours, but... a few thoughts and questions:
The cable is threaded through the black vinyl strip at the joint between the hull and deck? Sometimes those strips are
'H' channels that can't be removed easily.

Can you figure out where the problem/blockage is? It sounds like it's mid-way? If the problem is near one end, I've had success by chucking a piece of cable in an electric drill and spinning it into the tube, making sure to spin in the direction that tightens the twist of the cable. This can act like a bit of a reamer to smooth the edges of the tube. If you have some slightly larger 1 x 19 cable, that works best, in my experience.

Have you tried flushing out the 'tube' with water or blowing air through it?

How smooth is the end of the new cable? On thicker skeg cables (and bike cables) I've sometimes put CA adhesive (aka Crazy Glue) on the end of the cable, let it penetrate between the strands, and set hard. Then I could use sandpaper to smooth the end of the cable a bit to round the end. The CA also stiffens up the end of the cable so it doesn't get pushed to the side so easily.

When threading skeg control lines or Spectra rudder lines through tubing, I've used a 'leader' of 22ga or 24ga stranded insulated electrical/electronic wire. Once that is threaded through, I use CA to fasten the line to the end of the 'leader. I don't know if this would work with your thin SS cable, though. (I use Spectra line (Q-Powerline) for rudder cables now, like the surfskis use.)
 

Swatts

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Hi John. Thanks so much for your reply. The blockage is approximately 2‘ from the rear (stern) entry. We have tried an electric drill, flushing out the channel with water and air (used a bike pump), using WD-40 and running a coat hanger through. None of these methods have worked. One thing we haven’t tried yet is to use an air compressor to try to clear it out. When we used the water and bike pump the water was able to exit and it seemed like there was quite a bit of pressure flowing through the channel. I am thinking maybe there is a jog along the channel that is prohibiting passage. It has been super frustrating.

I will try the super glue on the tip once we use the compressor. Thanks for that!
 

red kite

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comox valley
How easy did the old cable come out?
When CD installed those H-channels (with double horizontal bar) the glued in a 2" or so piece of tubing, with just slightly bigger ID than the cable, on either end to make it look like actual cable housing. If that piece has been worked into the H-channel over time and is stuck in there, I'd try not to push it in any further.

I have not encountered it this bad, so don't have the magic solution, but I think my thinnest 12" long drill bit might be high on my options list (long drill bits aren't cheap, but they allow me to use my drill for very shallow angles...)
If I'd fail to remove the blockage in a reasonable time I'd likely plug those rear holes and put in actual cable housing in. If you pay for the time, the cost would probably be quite similar.

Personally I find the fishing part of cable replacements on those old boats time consuming too - you'd thought that they'd plugged the forward and rear section of those H-channels to provide sealed off cable housing and allow for easy-ish field repair. Another instance of "I don't care what happens after QC", I guess.
 
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Swatts

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Thanks for the reply! The old cable came out super easy…. No problem whatsoever.

The two pieces of tubing are still present on both ends. I would like to see a cross section of the boat so I could better understand how the H-seam works. Perhaps another call to CD.

Would drilling a small hole/slot from the interior rear bulkhead at the point of blockage be unwise? Was thinking this would be an easier fix to patch the interior rather than exterior.

I definitely do not understand why these weren’t engineered for easier replacement of the cables….
 

mick_allen

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As you know what end is near the obstruction, some options:

1) from that end, what about inserting stiff SS hobby wire at max size that fits [obviously > 1/16"] with inserted end flattened with a file or stone like a tiny pointed spade bit and chucked in an elec drill. The SS wire [wire not cable] is stiff so the 'drill' will be aligned for an inch or two of drilling. Maybe can free it up that way.​
2) The other possbility is as you say, Measure w/ the cable or wire or whatever exactly where the obstruction is and if accessible, mark the location and beyond with a marker and insert the cable you have back into the tube from the other end, mark the cable, retract and measure how long the obstruction is. If short, maybe the above idea would work or at least be worth checking out.​
3) If long and accessible from the interior, gouge out the double-H seam section's centre along the obstruction and use needlenose pliers to keep the cable aligned to continue past.​
Then put clear glass over for the interior seam so you can check later. If exterior access is necessary, do the same with shaped blackened glass just at the seam, as the last not as perfect approach​
 

red kite

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I would like to see a cross section of the boat so I could better understand how the H-seam works.
Very crude and likely misproportioned drawing (sorry, this is all I have available right now):
CD Hchannel.jpeg


Cutting a slot into that center part from the inside probably depends on how accessible the point of the obstruction is - and how steady of a hand you have. Jagged edges at the channel could, hypothetically, bring challenges with the cable tip catching while it's threaded in.

After the 2010 redesign, CD kayaks are done the "standard" way: The seam is fiberglassed together on both sides, the ruder cable runs in its own tube / cable housing.
 

Swatts

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Red Kite… Thanks so much for the section. That is super helpful. Your point about jagged edges is noted. Thanks!!!
 

Swatts

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As you know what end is near the obsruction, some options:

1) from that end, what about inserting stiff SS hobby wire at max size that fits [obviously > 1/16"] with inserted end flattened with a file or stone like a tiny pointed spade bit and chucked in an elec drill. The SS wire [wire not cable] is stiff so the 'drill' will be aligned for an inch or two of drilling. Maybe can free it up that way.​
2) The other possbility is as you say, Measure w/ the cable or wire or whatever exactly where the obstruction is and if accessible, mark the location and beyond with a marker and insert the cable you have back into the tube from the other end, mark the cable, retract and measure how long the obstruction is. If short, maybe the above idea would work or at least be worth checking out.​
3) If long and accessible from the interior, gouge out the double-H seam section's centre along the obstruction and use needlenose pliers to keep the cable aligned to continue past.​
Then put clear glass over for the interior seam so you can check later. If exterior access is necessary, do the same with shaped blackened glass just at the seam, as the last not as perfect approach​
Thanks so much for the tips. We are going to try blow out the channel with an air compressor then try another stiff wire with a pointed end as you mentioned. If that doesn’t work then we will probably try to do a minor surgery from the interior. Fingers crossed…
 

JKA

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If I'd fail to remove the blockage in a reasonable time I'd likely plug those rear holes and put in actual cable housing in.
This seems like a logical step. Do away with the channel and run tubing inside the hull, using glassed loops to hold it in place.

Repairs in the field would be much easier as well.
 

Mac50L

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Use 2 mm Spectra for the rudder lines. I've never had it break on any of my kayaks in 3 decades. I have had SS 3+ mm break. I also tie a sacrificial bit of polyester string between the end of the Spectra and the rudder, from just after it comes out of the tubing to the rudder fitting, not much more than about 10 cm.
 

Swatts

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This seems like a logical step. Do away with the channel and run tubing inside the hull, using glassed loops to hold it in place.

Repairs in the field would be much easier as well.
I agree. That seems like them best long term solution. I am going to give it one last shot with the air compressor. If that doesn’t work, I will have figure out how to go about running a cable housing through. Thanks for taking time to reply!
 

Swatts

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Use 2 mm Spectra for the rudder lines. I've never had it break on any of my kayaks in 3 decades. I have had SS 3+ mm break. I also tie a sacrificial bit of polyester string between the end of the Spectra and the rudder, from just after it comes out of the tubing to the rudder fitting, not much more than about 10 cm.
Thanks for the recommendation. I will check out the Spectra.
 

Swatts

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Thanks to everyone for your help!!!! My boat is fixed and water-ready. We made a cut with a right angle Dremel into the H-channel from the interior of the rear bulkhead and were able to clear the obstructions…. 2 separate strands of cable had snapped and were stuck in the channel. Once the strands were out, the new cable went in easily. Patched up the cut with gaffer tape (sticky side covered over cut opening) , fiberglass tape, and resin.
 

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JohnAbercrombie

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Good work!
:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
You did exactly the right thing - nothing else would have found (and removed) those wire strands.

Another argument for Powerline or similar Spectra with a slippery sheath, I guess. I've never had a lot of affection for stainless rudder cables anyway.
 

Swatts

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Good work!
:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
You did exactly the right thing - nothing else would have found (and removed) those wire strands.

Another argument for Powerline or similar Spectra with a slippery sheath, I guess. I've never had a lot of affection for stainless rudder cables anyway.
Thank you John! I will keep the spectra line with sheath in mind for future use. Appreciate your input. Happy kayaking!
 

Mac50L

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How do you fasten the ends of the SS cable lines? Crimped loops for shackles? Just crimped or with a thimble? Cost? Someone else does it for you?

Spectra, you simply tie a loop. Have a bit extra in the cockpit and the aft end can be renewed any time it looks like it needs it. It can be done by you on a trip, not in a workshop. And if it broke by exceeding 1/2 tonne (that would break the kayak first anyway) it won't leave bits blocking the channel or tubing.
 
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