Let's talk rudders

AlphaEcho

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Jan 24, 2010
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Quadra Island, BC
So, you're saying there is nothing new under the sun. Copy that and concur: some problems have a solutions envelope that is well defined. However, this particular design still seems ill-considered to me. Quick and dirty indeed.

We're 8 pages / 13 years into this discussion. I will scan again. Perhaps I missed the post which lays out the compelling case for the superiority of this implementation.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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Victoria, BC
I will scan again. Perhaps I missed the post which lays out the compelling case for the superiority of this implementation.
One thing about the Smart Track rudders - you will never see their blades dragging along behind a kayak at 30-40 degrees to the water surface - unlike the vast majority of Current Designs, Seaward, and Nimbus kayaks I see. That coil spring in the blade does a great job- keeps the blade vertical and lets it ride up over kelp (or rocks!) and snap back down.
 

AlphaEcho

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Jan 24, 2010
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I see your point. The spring is contrived such that pointed directly down is its neutral position. Any pressure on the leading edge by kelp or the ground would simply push the blade backwards until released, at which time the spring forces the blade back to neutral. Clever and it addresses one key issue: pilot error in not ensuring the rudder is fully deployed. I have been guilty of it myself.

However, there is nothing preventing this idea from being incorporated in a conventional rudder (such as those employed by "the vast majority of Current Designs, Seaward, and Nimbus kayaks"). I can definitely picture redesigning a Feathercraft rudder to use this.

Ultimately, the spring does not specifically address the issue of binding (as Mick has pointed out previously), wherein the rudder blade is not aligned with the receiving slot when shipping it, or within the slot, when deploying it.

For the binding issue, I propose a method of indexing the cables or some other indicator to the paddler that the rudder is at neutral (aligned with the slot, not binding) and ready to be deployed or shipped. (On a recent trip, a paddling companion was muttering about getting her blasted rudder down. I was trying to pay attention to something else and I snapped out, "Feet off the pegs!" Two seconds later, I heard a delighted, "Ah! Right!")

Similarly, the problem of paddling in ignorance while your rudder is neither in position A (fully shipped) nor position B (fully deployed) has been addressed by indexing the cable/cord that flips your rudder up/down. This is not new. You can see on some boats a dial which you twist left to line up to a mark (up), or right to another mark (down). On others, it's a slider. How it's done isn't as important as knowing what it means, which is the real issue. If your rudder is actually fouled, no marks, indexing, or spring would fix that. You just have to wave your mate over to have a look at it, same as now.

None of the above relieves my scorn over a rudder shipped in a fully vertical position. That's just silly.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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Similarly, the problem of paddling in ignorance while your rudder is neither in position A (fully shipped) nor position B (fully deployed) has been addressed by indexing the cable/cord that flips your rudder up/down. This is not new. You can see on some boats a dial which you twist left to line up to a mark (up), or right to another mark (down). On others, it's a slider. How it's done isn't as important as knowing what it means, which is the real issue.
Most paddlers don't want to be continually checking a 'cord in a loop', and stopping to pull the rudder down into the water again and again and again. Most rudders I see on friends' boats won't stay vertical against the pressure of the moving water, let alone to clear kelp. And some systems - even worse- lock the blade down with cord and have no provision at all for 'kick up' if the rudder hits something.

Anyway, I've ranted about this before, so I should leave this topic to others. :)

Carry on .....

BTW, the SmartTrack 'Race' rudder doesn't even lift to vertical....gasp!! :)
 

Mac50L

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Aug 18, 2014
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South Island, New Zealand
Holding the blade down -

The pull-down string is somewhere about your elbow on the deck when the rudder is up. The end of the string has a short bit of dowel at the end of it. You pull that forward to pull the blade down and at the furthest forward, there is a little hook, two prongs upwards that the dowel drops into. That hook is tied to a length of bungy running forward. If the rudder blade hits something it tensions the pre-tensioned bungy and the blade retracts enough to go over the object and then returns to the down position after it is clear of the object.

To bring the blade up, flick it out of the hook and pull the up line (other side of the cockpit).

Simple. Anyone can make it.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Simple. Anyone can make it.
I agree 100% - it shouldn't be difficult for kayak manufacturers to figure this out. Some kayaks have a clamcleat for the deploy line/bungy. On the ones I've seen, the rigging crew at the 'factory' (some operations are pretty small) didn't arrange the bungy and line properly.
"Experienced paddler" isn't at the top of the list when hiring low-paid staff for boat production shops, I think.
It is a fact that many (most?) people cannot bring themselves to alter their new boats in any way, so these defects don't get corrected.
And most paddlers seem happy to have the rudder trailing at 40-45 degrees - perhaps they think it makes the boat faster?
 

AlphaEcho

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Jan 24, 2010
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Quadra Island, BC
@JohnAbercrombie - all kidding aside, your gripes make sense. They fall under the heading of Things That Simply Should Not Be, and all the more because the issues could be resolved with only modest effort by kayak designers, kayak builders, and paddlers themselves. It rankles because we are still having this discussion and why are we still having this discussion?

@Mac50L - I was thinking along those lines myself. Glad to know I'm not the only nutter on here.

Here I will return to the row of lawn chairs looking on while quietly thinking about how one might tweak their rudder set-up with springs, bungees and such.
 
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CPS

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Oct 27, 2020
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BC
Certainly seems that the marketing department has more away over design then any paddlers on the staff do.
 
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