TopKayaker.Net's Guide To Kayak Customization & Repairs

Yakima RebuildRebuilding the Yakima Rudder

by Tom Holtey

While the Yakima rudder, common on older Perception and Dagger kayaks of the early 21st century, is no longer available, there is a limited and dwindling supply of replacement blades. This article will guide you through a blade replacement, or the replacement of the rudder lifting line, aka rudder rope. If you have a broken rudder body you will have to replace the rudder with the all metal BTS Replacement Rudder Assembly.

Around the turn of the century, the Yakima car-top roof rack company was part of the Watermark family of paddle sport brands, including Perception and Dagger. Yakima made all plastic rudders assemblies for their kayaks at that time.  Perception and Dagger joined with Confluence Watersports, some years later, and Yakima went its separate way, thus ending the need to produce Yakima rudders.
It is recommended that you do not disassemble the rudder housing until you are immediately ready to re-build the rudder. Memorize the assembly so you can reassemble it in the exact same configuration. It is actually very simple.

Untie the rudder lift line and pull it through the line guides. Replace with new rudder rope if needed. It is recommended that you have about 2-3 feet of 3/16 bungee cord, new, on hand to replace the tension line anytime you perform this operation. Disconnect the steel control cables if you feel so inclined. See links to parts below.

Yakima rebuild
Yakima rebuild
yakima rebuild
yakima rebuild

The Yakima Rudder Assembly (shown above is a circa 2003) has four screws side to side, One is large: the central pivot screw. Three are much smaller. All hold the two halves of the rudder hosing together. Other versions of the assembly should be very similar.

The blade is identical in both types of Yakima rudder housing. All four screws need to be removed. The large bolt through the hull does not. If at any point you become aware of damage to the rudder housing stop the repair and exchange the Yakima blade for a complete BTS rudder assembly.

yakima rebuildPhoto right: Yakima Replacement Rudder Blade

The Yakima rudder blade is similar to a machete.

The butt end is much like a pommel. A short strait section (machete grip) with 3 holes leads to the wider and flat blade area.

The top section of the Yakima rudder blade looks like the letter P.

The strait side of the P points forward when the rudder is down in the water. The curved part of the P points aft. This P top is the pommel of the blade.

The center section of the rudder rope is the part in contact with the rudder blade, passing in and out of three holes in the blade. (see images left)

The two long free ends will lead to the cockpit. These two long lift lines run in parallel on the right hand side of the kayak (starboard). One rope is outboard or starboard, the other inboard or port.

When finally assembled, with the rudder blade in the down position, the starboard, or outboard, side of the rudder rope enters the rudder housing through the starboard hole in the leading edge of the assembly.

The starboard side rope then passes over the pommel of the blade, heading aft and downward on the curvature of the P, passing over to the port side of the blade. It then enters the aft most of the 3 holes, back through the center hole, in again through the forward most hole exiting the starboard side of the blade.

Lift lineThe rudder rope exits the port side hole in the leading edge of rudder assembly and becomes the inboard or port side rudder rope. The two free ends of the rudder rope will be joined in a loop with the bungee tensioner, tied with the rudder knot. (When facing forward: Port = Left ~ Starboard = Right)

Once you have the rudder rope passing through the rudder assembly on the correct path you should tighten all four screws immediately. The lift line will pass through several guides on the way to the cockpit. The guides used at the time the Yakima rudder was common are the same used to fasten the rudder tubes. They are called Rudder Tube Clamps.

The rudder knots in the lift line will be tied last. (Applicable TopKayaker products come with rudder knot diagrams.) Reconnect the cables and rudder pin as needed. Test the rudder function, raise and lower, as well as right and left steering. yakima rebuild

At this time it may be wise to replace the rudder hook and bungee. A rudder rest may be molded directly into the deck, or is a separate V shape fitting.

© 2014 TopKayaker - GeoOdyssey Publications LLC
Rudder rest diagram Copyright Watermark aka Confluence Watersports.

Links to commonly needed parts:

Related Articles:

© 2014, Tom Holtey


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