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Impex Kayak Skeg Cable Repair / Replacement

About 90% of the time a bent skeg cable can be straightened well enough by hand or with pliers that replacement isn't necessary, but it's always nice to have a spare cable in case you can't get the old one to work. A slight waviness in the cable after straightening is okay as long as the cable slides through the poly tube sheath without sticking. Waves in the cable that are less than an inch or so long or still have a tight kink to them will likely stick and bend again, but a cable with long smooth waves usually works as good as new.

There are two places the skeg cable is likely to bend on these kayaks. The most common is at the front end of the system in the area of the skeg control recess in the deck. The other place the cable can kink is in the first few inches above the skeg blade. In either case, the skeg cable can usually be straightened without removing the cable from the kayak, and if this works it will save a lot of time. However, it is easier to straighten the cable if you take it all the way out so the choice depends on where and how badly the cable is bent.

If the cable is bent near the control knob, it most likely happened by pushing too hard on the knob when the skeg was jammed or when the kayak was on land and the skeg couldn't go down. If the skeg is bent at the aft end above the skeg blade, it most likely bent when landing with the skeg down. In that case the beach pushes up on the skeg blade putting the cable in compression - if you are lucky, this may cause the cable to slide and move the skeg control knob at the other end of the cable to the up position while the blade retracts. But trying to move the control knob by pushing up on the blade is like trying to push on a rope. So if you land with the skeg down it is quite likely the cable will bend and kink where it is unsupported between the top of the blade and the hole where the cable enters the skeg box. Sometimes these bends can be straightened without removing the cable from the kayak, and if this works it will save a lot of time. However, it is easier to straighten the cable if you take it all the way out so the choice depends on where and how badly the cable is bent.

Tools

2.5mm hex wrench (Allen wrench)
Needle nose pliers (2 pairs)
Cable cutters – the type sold for cutting sailboat rigging or bike control cables. With a good pair of cable cutters it is easy to make a clean cut so the cable can be reassembled.
WD40 lubricant

Support the kayak right side up on two sawhorses or on vehicle’s roof rack.

The cable can be removed from the skeg box (the aft end). We recommend first trying to straighten the cable without removing it, and to do this follow the steps for pulling the cable out from the aft end but stop as soon as you have access to the kinked portion of the cable. If you are not able to straighten the cable well enough this way, then continue pulling the cable all the way out the aft end. If the cable is bent at the forward end and you need to remove the cable but can’t get the cable out because it jams at the front end, cut the cable either above the skeg blade and remove the cable by pulling the cable out the forward end or cut the cable at the forward end just behind the kink and pull the cable out the aft end.

Straightening the cable at the forward end

Loosen the set screw in the black plastic skeg control knob with a 2.5mm hex wrench. Pull the skeg down until the end of the cable is exposed in the control recess at the forward end. Slide the black skeg control knob off the forward end of the cable. Now pull the cable forward all the way with the end of the cable sticking out of the recess. Straighten the kinks in the cable and if you can't get it completely straight at least be sure that it ends up having a concave bow so when it starts to bend it pushes against the inside of the control recess rather the bowing outward from the recess. Reassemble by reversing the procedure for dismantling. If cable still binds, lubricate the cable with WD40 on either side of the control knob and work the cable back and forth. Also lubricate the stainless steel slide bar that is behind the skeg cable in the control recess. If the slide bar comes loose at the ends, disconnect the front end of the cable as above, then grab the slide bar with needle nose pliers and move the slide bar as far as possible to one end. Apply Supper Glue in the end hole then push the slide bar back into its hole.

We've never seen a case where it was necessary to remove the skeg cable from the forward end on these kayaks, but if you had to do that, follow the above procedure for sliding the control knob off the forward end of the cable and getting the cable to stick out from the control recess, then cut the skeg cable above the skeg blade and pull on the forward end of the cable.

Removing the Skeg Cable From the Aft End

Mark the cable on either side of the control knob so you will be able to put the knob back in the same spot. Use a 2.5mm hex wrench to loosen the set screw in the control knob several turns. Pull down on the skeg blade until you have access to the part of the cable that is bent, then stop and try straightening the cable without pulling it all the way out of the kayak.

If you need to totally remove the cable, then pull the blade down far enough to unhook the front end of the skeg blade so you can pull the cable all the way out. Once the blade is hyper extended, use your fist to tap aft on the end of the blade near the pivot to get the blade unhooked from the pivot pin.

The cable is glued into the skeg blade. If you need to replace the cable, you can get the old cable out of the skeg blade by heating it with a heat gun set to "Low". We recommend using 3M 5200 caulk to bond the new cable into the hole in the skeg blade. We've never had one come apart accidentally when bonded with 5200. However, this caulk takes days to harden. So don't put any stress on it for at least a day or two, and then be gentle for another week.

Reassembling Skeg System

Lubricate the cable with paraffin wax before reassembling. When reinserting the cable into the kayak, spinning the cable in the direction of winding the cable’s twisted fibers tighter (this keeps the cable from fraying and helps the end of the cable slide around corners), especially spin the cable each time the end of the cable meets a fitting or edge of a tube.

To reinstall the skeg blade, hold it nearly perpendicular to the keel and get the end of the grove in the blade lined up with the hinge pin in the kayak’s skeg box. Give the skeg blade a slight forward tap near the hinge end of the blade with your fist so as to make it click into place on the hinge pin.

A new skeg cable can be reassembled from either end of the system, but feeding the cable in from the aft end would be the preferred method unless the cable won't go this way.

If you need to trim the cable either to clean up frayed ends or to shorten it for length adjustment, get a pair of cable cutters sold for cutting sailboat rigging or bike control cables. With a good pair of cable cutters it is easy to make a clean cut so the cable can be reassembled.

Move the control knob back and forth to check the range of motion of the skeg blade and to be sure the system moves freely. The aft tip of the skeg blade should protrude 3.75” - 4.0" below the keel in the full down position and it should be flush or slightly recessed when fully retracted. If the skeg needs adjusting, loosen the set screw on the control knob and move the control knob relative to the cable and re tighten the set screw.

Lower the skeg and drill 1/8" hole through blade about 3/8" from lower aft corner of the blade. Use this new hole in the blade to tie a few inches of cord to the blade so in the future when the skeg gets jammed by a rock you can pull the cord to free the skeg rather than bending the cable.