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PaddleWise Discussions on a Stuck Frame and Assembly (Feathercraft K1)

The following discussion occurred on the PaddleWise mailing list. All original comments are presented in their entirety. Some quoting of previous posts copied into subsequent replies are excluded from those replies to improve readability and reduce redundancy. Full archives may be retrieved by PaddleWise members from the PaddleWise digest by sending a message to with the word "index" included in the body of the message. These posts may not be reproduced or redistributed without the author's permission.

Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 11:31:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: Dave Gutierrez
Subject: [Paddlewise] Help with foldable!!!

Alright.  I am in a bind here so I really need some
help from all of you with foldables out there.  I am
finally getting ready to leave Bahrain and get back to
the States so I am packing things up.  Well, today I
went to work on my K-1 and I happened to notice, while
taking it apart, that two of the pipe segments would
not seperate from one another!!!!  The water out here
is VERY SALTY and I know that I am supposed to rinse
my kayak out.  To be honest with you, I have been away
from my home quite  abit lately due to the problems
over here in the Middle East.  Well, while I have been
away the salt has taken over that one "join" in my
boat.  Everything else came apart just fine except for
this one.  Any suggestions on how to fix it?  I pray
that there is a tried and tested way of getting these
two parts apart again.  Arghhhh!  Please give me your
guidance.  This is driving me nuts because my boat is
a close friend of mine and I feel like I have let it

Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 18:55:14 -0700 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Help with foldable!!! 1.Most likely you will have to sacrifice the segments and request replacements from Feathercraft. 2. One method to try: Saturate the joint with penetrant (WD-40, CRC, Boeshield, or equivalent) overnight. Tap gently on the outside of the joint with a soft-faced hammer (wood or plastic or rubber -- not metal) while two strong and dumb buddies (Bruno and Ahhnold) pull and twist on the two segments. Increase severity of tapping (put joint on a solid surface) and allow Bruno and Ahhnold to twist and pull with more force. If it works, feed B and A some steak and put them back on leash. If it does not work, go back to 1. -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR
From: "John and Donna Looze" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Help with foldable!!! Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 23:16:01 -0600 Dave; Mark's WD 40, or other penetrating oil is a the best place to start. If it does not work, a variation is to heat the joints, and then apply the oil and twist. If all else fails there is one way left to try. It will be hard on the aluminum, and you MUST exercise great care. Muriatic acid, a/k/a hydrochloric acid dissolves minerals, skin, and metals FAST. You should to dilute it. How much will depend on how diluted it is when you buy it. Safety includes rubber gloves, goggles or face mask and a bucket of cold water standing by. I would apply it with an eye dropper or a similar device (eg, large I.V. syringe, sans needle). I know it works because I use this technique for the plumbing in my old house. Joints that defy the largest wrench will open as if brand new. JKL
From: "Kevin Stevens" Subject: RE: [Paddlewise] Help with foldable!!! Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 01:25:17 -0800 You might try this technique used by fisherman on persistent yet fragile two-piece rods: Put the rods behind your knees with the joint in the middle. Reach down and take hold of each rod in a fist with your hands just outside your knees. Hold on and force your knees apart. Gives a straight pull with more force than you can get by hand. KeS
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 02:50:41 -0800 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Help with foldable!!! John and Donna Looze wrote: > [] WD 40, or other penetrating oil is a the best place to start. If > it does not work, a variation is to heat the joints, and then apply the oil > and twist. > If all else fails there is one way left to try. It will be hard on the > aluminum, and you MUST exercise great care. Muriatic acid, a/k/a > hydrochloric acid dissolves minerals, skin, and metals FAST. You should to > dilute it. How much will depend on how diluted it is when you buy it. > Safety includes rubber gloves, goggles or face mask and a bucket of cold > water standing by. I would apply it with an eye dropper or a similar device > (eg, large I.V. syringe, sans needle). > I know it works because I use this technique for the plumbing in my old > house. Joints that defy the largest wrench will open as if brand new. Well, muriatic acid is a very powerful acid, and works well on iron pipes, or copper pipes, but I am skeptical that it is a good idea on an aluminum frame such as the Feathercraft has. Aluminum will react pretty fast with it, unlike iron. I do not recommend using muriatic acid on aluminum. -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR chemist
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 11:42:35 -0800 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Help with foldable!!! Hi Dave, I have covered this several times in my newsletter. Further below is from the May/June 1997 issue. I have done some more stuff regarding this but can't find it but will paraphrase some advice to try before resorting to what appeared in that 1997 article. It comes from Doug Simpson owner of the company. Fill the boat with fresh water about half way and swish it around in the boat. Empty and repeat the process with somewhat less water, not so much that you and an assistant or two can't pick it up and begin twisting the boat some; then empty. Next fill the boat just a bit with water and go paddle it preferably over some swells. All of these actions will tend to get water into the tube ends, perhaps enough to then take the boat apart. (BTW, If you insist on keeping the boat assembled, it is best to do so upside down which will move bilge water away from the tubes, especially the keel which is the most likely spot to seize up. Also do rinse it out regularly. And let air out of the sponsons (the sponsons pressing against the frame help give a curve to the boat, which is fine for paddling but in storage will also curve the frame and possibly stick connections together.) Now the advice from Folding Kayaker three years ago. It is mainly aimed at the K-Light but applicable to the K-1: HOW TO UNSSTICK A STUCK FRAME It happens every spring. No, not just the birds and the bees. Paddlers who have left their Feathercrafts assembled in some nice snug storage spot, go out for a paddle with the boat. Then decide to knock it down for travel somewhere and, well, it won't knock down! This also happens during the course of the normal summer months paddling season. Feathercrafts left assembled from early in the season, get certain of their parts stuck or frozen together. This is not an indictment of what are fine boats especially the K-Light. It is just that the model is so ubiquitous that more cases of freeze up of them are being reported than of any other model of folding kayak. I'm hearing of cases all the time. Usually the K-Light has been left assembled for a year or more. I know someone on the West Coast who is extremely happy about the problem. She called me before buying a demo from a West Coast dealer and I suggested she see if the boat would knock down. The dealer, much to his chagrin, couldn't (it had been left assembled for two years!) and had to hacksaw a piece or two. The already low demo price was knocked down even more and new pieces ordered at the expense of the dealer. Our new owner of the K-Light was delighted! What to do if you have a frozen K-Light? Well, the first thing or things obviously is preventative: Don't leave the boat assembled too long, let's say not beyond about two months. Also, make certain that all the connection points are lubricated whenever you are assembling the boat and plan to leave it that way for a period. The boat simply will not stick in ordinary use or if left assembled for trips and vacations. Step-by-Step But, OK, you didn't do those things and your boat will not knock down. What do you do now? Before you reach for that hacksaw as did the dealer mentioned above, Here are a number of tips. They mainly come from Randy Henriksen of New York Kayaking Company in the heart of Manhattan (601 W. 26th St, 12th fl. NY, NY , phone/fax 212-924-1327) plus other measures I have seen elsewhere. 1. If the problem is a seized or stuck chine bar, make certain to first try to straighten out the bar. Both the chine and gunwale bars on a K-Light take on a slight curve where they meet in the middle of the boat and connect with a slider bar. (The chine bars are the more likely of the two to stick since they may be lying in bilge water and wet sand part of the time; the gunwale bars generally don't give any difficulty because they are above it all.) So part of the problem is that the tubes are under sideward tension (as they should be for a good tight frame when the boat is in use). Very often, even in boats that seem stuck, by working on lining up the tubes in a straight line and then trying to twist or rotate the sliding bar, the adhesion is broken. 2. While doing the above, squirt some lubricant generously around the ends of the slider. People have tried WD-40 and other such products. Check out blister packages at auto supply shops for what might work to deal with seized or frozen bolts and nuts. Don't worry about damage to the skin. Hypalon is used for all sorts of industrial applications including conveyor belts to carry corrosive materials. If you wish slip some plastic or cardboard behind the area to protect the hypalon although it really doesn't need it. Another product that could work is Boeshield T-9, which is an excellent lubricant to use on the parts regularly as a preventative measure and is useful for working with parts when they are already stuck. 3. If the slider and tubes are still stuck bang on them. The purpose of this step is to break adhesion and really does work wonders the majority of the time. But you don't want to break or bend the tubes in the process. Randy recommends that you use a small block of aluminum to protect the tubes and slider. The aluminum block or plate should be about a quarter inch thick and the profile of a pack of cigarettes. This size of aluminum is the right thickness to transfer a lot of vibrating force from a hammer's blow to the stuck area but also soft enough to be sacrificial, i.e. take all the dents while sparing the tubes any damage. Take the plate and move it along the area. First on one of the tubes just before it enters the slider area, then the slider itself and then the other adjoining tube. Be patient and do give it more than just love taps. The protective aluminum will allow some forceful hammering blows but not of the forging iron on an anvil level. 4. Try twisting the slider and tubes in opposite directions. You have to be careful here. A pair of ordinary wrenches will damage the tubing. I haven't tried this but some of the strap type pipe wrenches on the market (which use a band of heavy fabric strapping instead of chain) might work to do this. Also a smooth faced set of wrenches and some rubber strips may also be able to get the necessary amount of opposite direction rotation to loosen the adhesion. Try this only after you have done steps #2 and #3 first, and remembering to use the principle mentioned in step #1, i.e. make certain all the connections are in a straight line. 5. If the problem is in the keel extension bar. This is also an area that gets stuck but seems less problematic. This counter-intuitive because the keelbar is most definitely sitting in bilge water and sand more often than the chine bars. There is so much length to the keelbar as opposed to the relatively shorter chine slider that you do have more of a chance to get a grip here for twisting and forcing the device open. Basically follow all the steps above, especially the banging with a hammer and aluminum sacrificial plate. Other Remedies I have heard of a case where a blowtorch was used to sweat the tubes and expand them enough to start rotating them, etc. This, however, has worked with the K-1 which has a different grade and thickness of aluminum from that in the K-Light. So it most likely won't work without doing damage. And in any case when using such a radical device as a blowtorch you have to take all sorts of precautions to protect the skin. If none of the steps above work, then it is time for surgery. In order to reduce the chance of damaging the skin it is best to just make one cut in the stuck area. There are different arguments on which tube to cut. But it seems that the best option would be to cut on the tube end against whose rivet stopper the slider is abutting. Cut just behind that rivet stopper. Once the frame half has been removed from the boat, you could work on the end still holding the slider using a vise and workbench; with greater leverage you may be able to loosen it. This would mean you only have to replace the end that was cut. By the way, if you have several stuck stringers, don't set out to cut at them all at once. Getting one stringer free by cutting may loosen up the frame enough that another frozen area may be loosened using the less radical steps covered earlier.
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 01:49:43 -0800 (PST) From: Dave Gutierrez Subject: [Paddlewise] Foldable again!!!! Hey there fellow paddlers!! I just want to let you all know that I was able to un-stick the two sections of my K-1 today with the help of two vise grips and a great deal of lubricant. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am! I want to thank all of you that sent me your suggestions for how to take care of the problem. Times like these make me very thankful that I am a member of PaddleWise because I know that I can draw on all of the experience that you all have to offer. Anyway, I will be back in the States in two weeks now with my wonderful kayak paddling in new waters. Take care and thanks again, Dave

From: "Robert Woodard" Subject: [Paddlewise] K1 assembly Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 13:36:18 -0500 Hi, Does anyone have any tips on getting the frame centered inside the hull of a Feathercraft K1 during assembly? I end up spending a good deal of time fidgeting with trying to get the keel bar and deck bar centered on the fabric, only to have it nowhere close when I do the final spreading of the bars in the cockpit. This results in having to loosen the bars again and fidget for another 10-15+ minutes trying to get it centered again. The entire boat goes together effortlessly except for this one issue, which I'm spending a good 20+ minutes on in construction time. Any tips/tricks from the expert folder community is most appreciated! TIA, Woody
From: "ralph diaz" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] K1 assembly Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 15:39:06 -0500 I believe what you are saying is that the frame halves go in okay, i.e. well-centered when just the halves are finally in. But that in the process of extending the keel and side bars, the frame twists inside the hull to an off center position. If this is not the case, skip the next few paragraphs and go to one that starts with the words COME HERE. A couple of thoughts, one quite unorthodox: 1. I believe there are velcro ties to tie down the frame at the keel; they are located out of sight about 18 inches or so underdeck; this is in addition to a velcro tie dead center in the cockpit. I can't remember if that is true of the K-1 but it is of the Kahuna and K-Light. Have you closed those velcro loops to hold the frame halves in position? 2. Have you tried to do the extension in the pattern suggested by Feathercraft ( I think it is first extend the keel then the gunwales, then the chines) i.e. don't do all the extensions on the port or starboard sides all at once. If you have done the sequence as suggested by Feathercraft, try doing the sequence in another order say extend keel, then chines, then gunwales. Often when people are having trouble with a specific boat, if they switch the assembly sequence it can help. Now to my unorthodox suggestion: when the frame halves are in the boat, partly inflate the sponsons. The idea is to tighten the skin enough to keep the frame halves from twisting when you do the extensions. Inflating the sponsons may hinder extension some, so do it in some increments starting say from half inflated sponsons to less inflated sponsons. This may help. I have never tried this suggestion but I have not had that twisting problem. COME HERE. If you are having problems getting the frame halves to go in straight as you shove each one in, you may want to try the motion in which one uses a handsaw, i.e. go in and out a few inches at a time. Some models of folding kayaks absolutely demand that you put the frame halves in this way, most specifically the Nautiraids as they have external sponsons and the fit of frame to skin is tighter than on an internal sponsoned folding kayak. Also if this is the case (that frame halves are not going in straight) you may want to do it from the other side of the boat, i.e. switch your position from starboard to port or vice versa. People definitely have different strength in their right and left arm as well as different finesse and touch with each arm. Normally it shouldn't matter but in some case it can especially with stronger individuals. Try with your weaker arm. Oh, one last thought: when you shove the frame halves in are they really all the way in, i.e. can you feel that the frame is fully inserted into both ends. You may want to assure yourself of this not only by feeling the skin at the bow and stern but also by getting into the cockpit and pushing the frame halves further in with your feet. This was once a necessity with the older hulls with cordura decks that shrunk (worked also on the Feathercraft Klondike double). The fuller the frame halves are in, the less tendency for the frame to twist as you do the extending. best, ralph diaz
From: "David W. Quist" Subject: [Paddlewise] Fw: K1 assembly Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 16:08:35 -0500 Ralph, as always, struck again. The sponson thing is something I'll have to try, although the shifting problem has settled down over time. At most, it shifts less than an inch off-center of the keel strips, instead of at the edge (or off) as it seemed to do earlier. Also, I notice that cartopping doesn't exactly help in keeping everything aligned. Bob - is your boat new? The shifting seemed to be less of a problem towards the end of the first season. It was a wicked problem the first several times I assembled it, though. Here's a question of my own - any great tricks for re-aligning one of the spring buttons? Fortunately, it's just one of the five buttons holding the crossrib in place, but still. I'm starting to think about some way of looping dental floss around it, but....
From: "Robert Woodard" Subject: RE: [Paddlewise] K1 assembly Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 19:07:17 -0500 > Ralph, as always, struck again. The sponson thing is something > I'll have to try, although the shifting problem has settled down > over time. This is good to know, and it is a new boat. So far, if I get the keel lined up, it seems the deck bar isn't. And if I get the deck bar lined up... A whole lot of time spent getting this right, as I know until the skin gets it's final shape getting it lined up is very important. I may play with the tension order of the extension bars as Ralph suggested. I've been doing it according to the video, but a slight variation might help. > the end of the first season. It was a wicked problem the first several > times I assembled it, though. So far it is a wicked problem. But I've only assembled it 3 times so far. I'll keep plugging at it. Thanks for the help! Woody
From: HTERVORT@ Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 04:46:56 EST Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] K1 assembly Woody, Ralph and David both had some very good suggestions. Since it is a new boat, I'm not at all surprised you're having trouble. The new welded skins are very slippery, so I have had the same problem with all models with urethane skins -- much more than the older fabrics. But only when the boat is new. The good news is that they are much easier to assemble than the older boats once the skin gets some shape to it. I find that carefully twisting the frame sections into alignment and then sitting in the skin while pushing with the feet helps a lot. Balanced foot work is the secret. You must do both ends and then recheck alignment before and in-between each bar expansion for the first few assemblies. The real helper is to leave the boat assembled with the sponsons fully inflated for a week or so after making certain the boat is aligned properly. The ends of the skin will take a set and become more self-aligning after a while. It probably helps to leave the boat in a warm place during this time. Another thing -- when inflating the sponsons, start with one big breath in one side, two in the other, three in the first, then back and forth, trying not to get one side ahead of the other. Check alignment during this process and, if the skin is off center, blow one side up more than the other to use the pressure of the sponson to pull the skin back on-center. Good luck and congrats on the new K1. Harold Khats pilot
From: "Robert Woodard" Subject: [Paddlewise] K1 Assembly revisited Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2001 18:11:28 -0500 First, thanks to all the suggestions on getting my K1 skin lined up with the frame. Here's what worked for me: I decided rather than go for time, I'd take it easy and try and understand why the frame was not lining up on the skin. Harold suggested I place the frame in the skin, and then sit in cockpit and evenly push the frame into the ends with my feet. What I did was to *loosely* insert the frame to get the Velcro keel tabs just past the second and fifth crossribs. I then fastened the Velcro tightly around the keel ensuring this portion would stay in the center. Next I sat in the cockpit and pushed against the # 2&5 crossribs until the frame was entirely in the end. As I'm pushing with my feet I leaned back slightly and had an excellent view of the deck bar and keel bar and very easily kept them centered on the skin as the frame moved towards the ends. Put the expansion bars in per the video and screwed up a few other minor steps that cost me some time but I still got the boat from bag to the top of my truck in 45 minutes. 15 minutes below my best time so far and this is only my 4th assembly. Without the screw ups (forgot to put in the seat sling and got the rudder cable caught between the crossribs and the skin) I'm sure I can shave off another 5 minutes. Thanks again for the help! Woody
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