Rudder controls

CPS

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I'm considering upgrading the rudder control of my kayak. I've got an old Necky Looksha IV in poly. The standard rudder control is not great.

One has to move the entire peg to steer the rudder. Given that I'm usually only using the rudder when things get windy and rough, losing my connection with the cockpit as I operate the rudder is a disadvantage that almost negates the benefit of a rudder. In moderate waves it makes me feel uncomfortable and not especially confident.

Additionally, if I'm engaging the rudder for prolonged use I start feeling it in my hips. I'm relatively young, but as I've yet to figure out an alternative, continue to get older every day. As such, I don't imagine this hip pain will suddenly stat to improve. On longer days where I use the rudder on the second half of a paddle and my legs are already a bit stiff this discomfort is crossing from annoying into painful.

I've been looking into the SeaLect Adjustable footbraces with rudder control. These look good enough. The track is shorter than that already installed, so I'll have to plug at least one hole. The track might also need to mount a bit lower.

I also had a chance to look at a Smart Track Toe Pilot foot control. This has a fixed lower portion with a toe section which moves. Seems like a bit nicer design, but I've heard some people commenting on needing to bring a bunch of spare parts for it. The one I looked at seemed pretty decent though, so I'm not sure how much credence to put into that.

Anyone have opinions on these or other options? I have read through some older posts where people fabricated custom foot brace/controls and it seems a bit more involved than I really want to be.
 

drahcir

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Mar 26, 2010
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I put the SeaLect version in my wife's Looksha IV. The SeaLect needed to be lower so I needed to drill 2 new holes for each side. No big deal. She has used this version for maybe 5 years with no problems, but she only does maybe a dozen day trips a year i.e. no heavy usage.
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Another problem with the 'slider' rudder pedals is that when you extend your leg to push on the rudder control, you can't put the kayak on an outside edge to help with the turn. Matt Broz (no rudder fan :) ) has a good explanation of that at the marinerkayaks.com website.

You can buy (or make quite easily) an adapter plate to 'lower' the footpeg rail position, so you can save the trouble of drilling new holes (and the part that is more labour-intensive, plugging the old holes, glassing inside and gelcoat outside). I think most installations will require a height change - the couple I've done did.

Lots of people seem to be happy with the SeaLect and SmartTrack toe controls, but I've also heard bitter comments about both.

Much better than the 'toe control' footpegs is a surfski-style footboard with hinged top, or even a fully-hinged version like the DIY one Mac50L recommends. The 'Bigfoot' foot controls are excellent IMO - I have them in one of my boats, and installed them in a friend's Telkwa. A bit expensive, a bit heavy, but very well designed and easy to install. Shipping from OZ was quick, at a fair price.
Liberating your feet from the side of the boat makes paddling more enjoyable - assuming your boat has the under-deck space to allow any changes in foot position.

CPS: If you are in Victoria or vicinity, contact me if you are interested in the SmartTrack Toe pilot units.
 
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CPS

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Another problem with the 'slider' rudder pedals is that when you extend your leg to push on the rudder control, you can't put the kayak on an outside edge to help with the turn.
Yes! They are just an absolute failure of ergonomics. G̶o̶o̶d̶ tolerable for using the rudder to steer on flat water. Not really useful for any kind of condition that merits dropping the rudder.
I guess they're cheap and unlikely do fail, so they get used.
I'm glad to see some kayaks being produced with 'gas pedal' style controls.

You can buy (or make quite easily) an adapter plate to 'lower' the footpeg rail position
The thought occurred to me after I posted. Definitely the route I'd be inclined to take. Given the likely need to bring holes closer together as well as drop them down, an adapter seems like the best route. That way I can bugger up measurements and reposition things without turning my kayak into a colander.

Lots of people seem to be happy with the SeaLect and SmartTrack toe controls, but I've also heard bitter comments about both.
I figure whatever option I install it is unlikely to be worse than the current situation. I didn't see any glaring weakness in terms of construction on either option.

Liberating your feet from the side of the boat makes paddling more enjoyable - assuming your boat has the under-deck space to allow any changes in foot position.
It's a bit cramped. The foredeck isn't very high and I've mounted an under deck bag.
I also like to take my feet off the pedals and stretch my legs every couple hours. Would be difficult with a system like a Bigfoot I imagine.
 

kayakwriter

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I've used both the SmartTrack and the Sea Dog foot pedals (the Smart Track because I was installing low-drag SmartTrack rudders in kayaks I had fitted with sails.)

The SmartTrack are easier to adjust while in the cockpit - just lift the lever switch and walk the pedal backwards or forwards. Handy while at sea, because in easy conditions you sometimes want to relax with a bit more leg room, then if the sea state gets more sporty, snug in for a tighter fit and better control. The SmartTrack pedals actually come with a pair of plastic plates with holes pre drilled to match the standard spacing for tracks in most kayaks, plus a couple of rows of holes below them so you can mount the tracks/pedals lower in the boat without having to drill new holes in the hull. They're visible in the background of this photo.
waterbag-strapped-on-cockpit-floor.jpg


Should be no problem to duplicate such plates with a couple of sheets of plastic and using the new tracks as a jig.

Sea Dog pedals are more resistant to jamming and breaking but harder to adjust while seated in the cockpit.

Those slider footpegs that adjust by tightening/loosening webbing are great for rental/guided tour boats, as inexperienced paddlers find pushing the entire foot forward more intuitive than tilting just the toes. Plus they're less likely to break slider pegs either while adjusting them or steering with them. And folks on a guided tour are less likely to be paddling "technical" water and/or using braces and leans. But for personal boats, gas pedal pegs rule.
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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I also like to take my feet off the pedals and stretch my legs every couple hours. Would be difficult with a system like a Bigfoot I imagine.
I guess if you like to extend your feet 'beyond' the pedals, that would be true. However, with a footboard or the BigFoot, you can have your feet 'in the middle' or splayed out . Being able to have my knees together makes paddling easier (and perhaps more efficient?)
 
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CPS

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Well I decided to go with the SeaLect pedals, mostly because of availability (we had a set at work).The spacing on them is 14.5" which is a relatively common spacing, I suppose.
My existing holes are just about 17" apart. I used some 3" wide aluminum plates to act as an adapter. The new tracks are mounted to the plate, then that's bolted on using the existing holes in the hull. As a result the pedals are lowered about 2-1/2" without adding any new holes to the boat.

I've tested it and it's not perfect, but it's so much better than the original pedals. I can maintain contact with the thigh braces and use the rudder.
It's going to be relatively easy to take the assembly out to work on it if needed. I'll go for a paddle at some point, and if all looks good I'll get some nyloc nuts in place to make things a bit more permanent.

PXL_20201216_202355768.jpg


There's still enough room to stretch my legs and my under deck bag doesn't interfere.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Looks good! Depending on the boat and the bolt locations (and the length of your arms!), it can be quite a stretch to do that sort of job.
:thumbsup::thumbsup:
Unless you used flat head machine screws (countersunk into the aluminum plate) to attach the rails to the adapter plate, you may want to add some 'padding' between the hull and the fastener heads, or some thin plastic to prevent a hard spot pushing against the hull.
 
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CPS

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Yeah. The farthest screws are about half an inch from the bulkhead. I managed, just, but another set of hands would have made it vastly easier.
 

Mac50L

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The sliding pedals were the worst design possible. I've made lots (dozens) of pedals as per this link -
Note the PDF link in that link too.

NOTE - no holes to be drilled through the hull for the pedals.
NOTE - one single adjustment and that is in front of the seat, easy to access and obvious.
 

CPS

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Did a little paddle today to test out the new pedals.
Wow. They make such a huge difference. Even without rudder deployed the rigidity of the system makes leg drive so much better. Totally worth it.

It will take a bit of getting used to using this style but I can already tell I'm never going back.
 
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