First a history of three generations of WS Tempest back bands:
Early model Tempests had very comfortable backbands, and except for their short life span everyone loved them. Backbands take a lot of stress. So it's not uncommon for them to fail after a few years of heavy use. However, on early Tempests there were metal fittings that the ends of the main webbing mounting straps were sewn onto and all these metal end fittings had sharp edges that would saw through the webbing straps after about a year of use. After many years of building Tempests this way, WS finally got the message and deburred (rounded) the edges on these metal fittings. From then on Tempest back bands have lasted as long a most others. These metal end fittings were attached to the aft seat mounting bolts. To adjust the back band you use the sliders on the back side of the back band. Some people can adjust it while seated by leaning forward to take the stress off the system, but this requires flexible shoulders; so most people adjust it before getting in or hop out to do it. And generally once you adjust the back band the way you like it you leave it set that way forever unless someone else uses your kayak.
Unfortunately, not long after WS fixed the durability problem they "improved" the back band by lengthening the main webbing mounting straps so as to run them around the sides of the seat (instead of attaching them to the seat bolts) all the way up to the thigh hook area where there are sliders to adjust the tension. The advantage of this is to make it easier to adjust the back band while seated in the kayak. The down side is all those extra feet of webbing make the back band so springy that it just isn’t very comfortable no matter how you adjust it. It also had the side affect of lowering the support you get from it.
The fix to make the current style Tempest back band comfortable is to replace it with the second generation back band (the one with the smoothed metal end fittings that attach via the aft seat mounting bolts). WS doen't sell this kit per se', but their sister brand, Dagger, does. The Dagger's Stratos back band is the same as the good old Tempest back band except for the color and graphics.
To order the good one from K.A. click here
You’ll need a #3 Philips screw driver, a 7/16” offset box wrench, a big spade tipped screw driver, and something to use as a rig pin (I use a round slightly tapered punch, but you could use a ¼ inch drill bit or a big spike). Also some sticky wax (paddle wax, XC ski grip wax or surf board wax). Optional but saves a lot of time: electric drill with a LONG #3 Philips bit. These seat bolts are about 2” long, so once you get them loose I use an electric drill with a LONG #3 Philips bit to do most of the unscrewing and screwing in later.
All you need to do is remove the existing back band and use the aft bolts on the seat mount to attach the metal end fittings on the replacement back band. The hard part is holding the nut while unscrewing the bolt and later while installing. The nut takes a 7/16” wrench. But the wrench has to be an “offset” (bent) style box wrench in order to get it in place. Put the wrench in through the 2”access hole in the side of the seat. Before the nut falls off the end of the bolt, tip the kayak 90 degrees on it’s side so the nut and washer don’t fall under the seat. Tip the kayak like this while starting to assemble it too.
Once the aft mounting bolts are out, slide the metal end fittings in between the deck and the seat flange (if needed pry the gap wider with the tip of a screwdriver). I can’t remember but you may need to loosen the front seat mount bolts (but not remove them). Once the end fitting is started, you can push it in further with the tip of a spade screwdriver till the bolt hole in the fitting lines up with the hole in the deck and seat flange. If you push it too far just pull back on the webbing strap. Once you can see the hole in the end fitting, run a tapered punch down through the holes and wiggle it around until all three holes are lined up (hole through deck, hole in end fitting, and hole in seat flange). Then insert the bolt (which usually requires turning it with the screwdriver or drill with long screwdriver bit).
To keep from dropping the nut and washer while installing, cut paper thin slices of sticky wax and put a slice between the nut and washer to stick them together and another slice on the end of the nut to get it to stick to the tip of your finger. Wax has to be warm to stick. Once the nut is started just tighten everything up and you’re done.
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