TideRace Kayaks 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.

About the only place the skeg cable is likely to bend on these kayaks is in the first few inches above the skeg blade. Most likely the cable 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.


#1 Philips screwdriver
#1 Spade screwdriver
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
Heat gun

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

The cable can be removed from either inside the cockpit (the forward end) or 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 above the skeg blade and you need to remove the cable but can’t get the cable out from the aft end, cut the cable above the bent portion of the cable and remove the cable by pulling it out the forward end (skip to instructions for “Removing the Skeg Cable from the Forward End”).

Removing the Skeg Cable From the Aft End

Position the control knob in the middle of its range. Make note of where the cable ends relative to the end of the control knob's cable sleeve so you will be able to put the knob back in the same spot. Use a #1 philips screw driver to remove the four screws that hold the end clips to the deck of the kayak. Insert the tip of a #1 spade screwdriver into the slot in the middle of each end clip and twist the screwdriver to pry the end clips out of the kayak. With the two end clips remove, lift the control knob and the guide out away from the control recess and twist these pieces enough to expose the head of a philips screw on the under side of the control knob. Loosen the set screw on the back of the control knob with a #1 philips screwdriver and slide the control knob and its guide off the end of the skeg cable. Note the guide that the knob slides on is closed off at the aft end.

Your goal is to get the cable to slide out the aft end far enough to bring the skeg blade down until you can straighten the cable, or if removing the cable then far enough to unhook the front end of the skeg blade so you can pull the cable all the way out. Once the cable is out of the guide module and skeg control knob at the front end, it will easily pull all the way out of the aft end of the skeg box. 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.

Inspect the skeg control recess for signs of wear. Normally there wouldn't be any wear unless the knob or the control end clips had been misinstalled in which case the head of the knob's set screw can rub on the inside of the recess in the deck causing unwanted friction.

If needed, a heat gun can be used to soften the plastic that holds the cable in the skeg blade.

Removing the cable from the forward end

It is very unlikely you'll need to pull the cable out the forward end of the system, but if so, cut the cable at the skeg blade end above the bent portion of the cable and remove the cable by pulling it out the forward end (after removing the guide module and cable sleeve as described above).

Reassembling Skeg System

Lubricate the skeg cable with paraffin wax before reassembling system. When reinserting the cable into the kayak, keep 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.

If replacing a skeg blade, the cable can either be crimped into the blade by first heating the blade with a heat gun on Low or it can be glued in with 3M 5200 caulk. 5200 takes days to cure though so don't put any force on this bond for at least a couple days. 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.

The skeg cable can be reassembled from either end of the system, but generally you'll feed the cable in from the aft end. When the end of the cable is visible at the control recess, slide the black module over the cable with the skeg knob on the module. Spin the skeg control module so that the control knobs's cable sheath tends to tighten the winding of the strands of the skeg cable. Keep pushing the knob's sheath over the cable until the cable nearly comes out the other end of the sheath. Line up the skeg control knob relative to the end of the skeg cable as it was before and tighten the set screw against the skeg cable with a #2 Philips screw driver. Push the control knob and its module into the control recess in the deck. Press the two end pieces into place and install the screws that hold them.

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 4.0"-4.25" 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 push or pull on the skeg blade while holding the black carbon skeg cable sheath to force the cable to slide inside the black carbon sheath; reset the control knob's set screw and check again.

There should be a hole in the through skeg blade about 3/8" from lower aft corner of the blade. Use this 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.