TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

User avatar
By Ron Mc
I've broken two rudder cables in two years on my Tarpon 160.
This time, I decided to improve the cable.
from McMaster-Carr, I ordered FEP (teflon) coated cable - the coated cable is 1/16th wire with 0.084" overall diameter, and fits great inside the guide tubing. The coating is thinner and tougher than on 0.080" overall diameter nylon-coated cable, so there's more metal there - and super slick inside the guide tubing.
Instead of the 270-lb. breaking strength of nylon coated cable with 0.080" overall diameter, this cable has 480-lb. breaking strength.
I know overload isn't how these break - it's bending at the rudder connection causing fatigue.
But this cable is so much stiffer, it's not going to crimp there.

My rig is a Smart Track rudder with Sea Dog controller.
I also came up with a way to adjust the cables as they stretch.
Instead of just using a crimp ferrule on the cable end, I brought the cable out the front with a short tag and used a moped throttle cable knarp on each side. If it gets sloppy or not even on the two sides, instead of messing with the thimbles at the rear, I can adjust the length by moving the knarp.


Yes, I paid more for the cable - I'll let you know in a year if it was worth it. Oh, and even though they list available fixed small lengths, they sold me a 30' piece, which gave me lots of room to work. (i.e., I didn't think 25' was safe enough, and 50' was too much)

OK, here's the finished back end - I used knarps here also - they serve several functions, including bump stops to help limit the rudder travel and prevent crimping
(and the boat got its overdue 303 clean/wax after this repair - I also use Boeshield on the fittings)
Last edited by Ron Mc on Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
"Cable stops", "knarps"
I recently re-cabled my bicycle brakes, and had some assorted that I hunted down on ebay. (and cleaned up every cable end in my garage, for that matter - no fraying wire rope around here...)
these will fit a bicycle cable, but are too small for the coated cable
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayI ... 0519401698" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

these are the right ones - just the right hole diameter for the coated cable, and these are made for throttle cable ends on small engines, go-karts, mopeds, riding mowers (while I paid half of this price, a bird in the hand...)
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0372239200" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

you can check with small engine shops, lawnmower repair, etc. Haven't found anything similar at hardware stores (not even NAPA), and the ones at bike shops are smallish.
This is a good size made by Jagwire.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
the question you should be asking is why is the cable breaking? are you putting extra pressure on the controls? i have 6 kayaks and for over 8 years and have only repalced the cable ONCE... and it was due to the rusting of the crimping clasp and my son putting lots of pressure on the turns. some times its best for it to break than ruin other parts that are not cheap.

just my thoughts... as you mentioned you had to repalace the cable twice... i now use teflon coated twine (same as hobie and cobra) for my rudder "cables" have yet to replace them.

best of luck...
User avatar
By Ron Mc
Thanks, I know why they break.
They break because they bend around the outside corner of the yoke.
The greatest damage is probably done when traveling with these since you have to pin up the rudder to keep it from buffeting in the wind, but you can only do so much. Probably the down-side of the Smart Track design. The Wilderness rudder design doesn't share this problem, but the Smart Track rudder is also several inches shallower, which makes a bit more useful on the flats, imo. (I also know you vary the angle of the wilderness rudder)

With that number of boats, you may not have one with the road miles of mine - I log a lot between here and Corpus, Inks Lake, even the San Marcos river is a bit of a drive - and if we go there, we have to go on to Smitty's store for lunch... Also don't know whether you have a Smart Track.

Twine won't suffer that problem, because it can bend around the tight radius. That's a good solution, but will have it's limitations, too. I don't know how easy it might be to thread it down 11' of Tarpon guide tubing.

I believe this stiffer cable has solved the problem.

Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
On the drive home from Estes, my rudder cable broke. Looked back to see how long it lasted - pretty good, 7 years, with 2 cables in each of the two years before that.
The teflon coating was peeling, the stainless rusting, and it fatigued at the cable attachment to the rudder. Hey, it fished the whole trip and didn't break until the drive home.
It's been abraded on the pedals and starting to peel for 2 years, and I've been watching it - decided it was OK for my trip - just barely. Where it broke was not where it was abraded, but at the yoke as described above.

After looking at the spectra cables on Stevo's Hobie, decided to try something different. This time I hunted down spectra, and found 1.9mm speargun line, 550-lb breaking strength.
$12 plus shipping for 30'.
Also the same diameter as the coated 1/16" cable (0.084"), and that's important, so it doesn't slip sideways out of my Sea Dog rudder pedals.

Honestly, it was a booger to work with. but one-third the cost of teflon-coated stainless wire rope.
The spectra (dyneema) plastic cable feels hard as nails when it's tensioned. But as soon as you push on it, the outside braid accordions, and the hard center monocore slides out. Tried pushing it through the tygon cable sleeves - it would go most of the way, gain friction and accordion.

Tried sucking it through with the shop vac, and would sail through the housing until it got to either end, and wouldn't go through (tried going both directions).
Finally I broke out my single strand leader wire, and used up about half of what I had to get this job done (coiled up and bagged what I could save after I was done). Of course slide the single-strand wire all the way through, tie it to the spectra to pull the plastic braided line through.
The work here was getting a small-enough wrap to get through the start on the housing, also without doing the accordion thing when you pull on it (or try pushing it). Between the 2 sides, I cut and retied about 15 times before I got 2 that worked.
Also discovered working with this material, cut ends flare badly with a flame touch - best to use a drop of super glue on the cut ends, and don't flame them until you make the final cuts. Also, wrapping with polyimide tape before making that final cut eliminates the flare when you flame the cut end. Polyimide tape resists heat really well.

That was the only hard part - the line was very easy to double up, slide into the yokes and insert the thimbles - much more limber than coated wire rope.
Also works great with the knarps (a wrap of polyimide tape to be safe), making it easy to adjust rudder trim up front.
If anybody is looking for cable knarps, I recently found them at moped suppliers - 7-8 mm overall diameter is the size for 1/16" cable.

Finally - I'm tired. We'll see how it lasts. I also think it slides better than the teflon-coated wire cable, and hopefully it won't fatigue like braided wire. It definitely won't corrode.

Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
By TexasJim
Ron: I recently did a rehab on my (homemade) rudder system. I had stainless 1/8" cable for my rudder controls. Way too big! I added a set of AliExpress Chinee footpegs with toe steering, and had to change the cables and so forth. I went to Tackle Town and bought some 1/16" teflon-coated 7 x 7 stainless shark leader cable, 460 pound. As you probably know, 7 x 19 cable is the most bendable, 7 x 7 medium flexible and 1 x 19 not bendable at all. For my rear terminations, I use #10 wire terminals with a 3/8" hole. Those rotate on my 1/4" SS bolt and sleeves. No side-loading at all, straight tension. I use cable stops like yours. I bought a package of three pairs of them, small, medium and large at O'Reilly's auto for under $4. I used the mediums, but small would have worked. They're brass, and I replaced the zinc screws with stainless. As they're in the cockpit, they won't get much salt water exposure. My last setup lasted 3 years with no failures, so it'll be interesting to see how long this setup lasts.

It rained steady all night last night, and we're flooded again, for the fourth time since the first of September. I can travel around our RV park in my kayak! I can't even get into SteerBurger. Geez! TexasJim
User avatar
By Ron Mc
The first 2 uncoated stainless cables (slightly smaller diameter) broke in 1-2 years.
The improved stiffness upgrading to 1/16" + teflon coating increased the life to 7 years with the same failure mode, though abrasion and corrosion was on the way.

This time, I went the opposite of stiffness and of course, no corrosion. It will be interesting to see how these last.
Though the spectra is way stiffer than most braided plastic rope, it's not in the stiffness league with wire rope, but then again, it's should be more tolerant of bending than the wire rope.
Though I am concerned about abrasion where it can rub on delrin rudder control bracket and possibly the stainless yokes.

Hobie thinks the world of it - they've gone to it for all their rudder cables. Though their rudder is hand-tiller-controlled and internally routed in the front, Hobie does have the spectra exposed at the stern of the boat to the rudder.
Hobie also has the spectra secured with metal fasteners at the rudder, which is a combination of pinch, bend, and possible abrasion thrown in with the bending.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
The Hobie tiller-controlled rudder is on a continuous loop, so the spectra line never relaxes.

My big concern with this line on my rudder is that it can go slack, slip in the pedal guides, and get abraded - essentially stepped on -
- because the Sea Dog pedals can fold backwards.
This is the same condition that abraded the teflon coating on my last coated stainless cables.
I have a solution to this using a shock cord loop tied to this boss on the back of the pedals, and through the slidetrax bungee guides I'm already using for my deck compass tie downs, which will keep the specta under constant tension.
I'll post the details soon when I get back to it...
User avatar
By Ron Mc
While I still had cable slack to work with, that is, before I put permanent tension on the cables, I did one more smart thing.
3 rudder cables have broken where the loaded cable comes out of the stainless yoke.
I re-did the cable ends, yokes and thimbles, this time with a wrap of polyimide tape on the loaded cable where it contacts the yoke. Should help protect the spectra from abrasion and fatigue here - similar to the way my coated stainless cable out-lasted un-coated stainless by 4-6 times.
The $6 I spent for 6 yards of polyimide tape several months ago from Grainger ebay has sure paid for itself. You can use it anywhere you would masking tape - wrapping bungee or cord before you cut it - but it's heat resistant to 400 degrees, 2 mils thick, has a tenacious acrylic glue film, and has a breaking strength of 28 lbs.
btw, if you go hunting on Grainger for anything you want, their shipping is $10, but if you find the same item on their ebay listings, postage is cheap.
my 1/8" bungee is in today's mail, and I ordered it yesterday. Amazon has proved to be quick and cost effective on many small items.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
ok, this worked great - the rudder cable is now a continuous loop with a couple feet of shock cord
hopefully this is easy to see
I can move either pedal, and the opposite pedal moves in reverse, keeping the spectra rudder cable tight.
It's easy to move, you can't tell it's there.
You can go to the rudder and move it, and both pedals move to take up the slack, back and forth.
You can also move either pedal to any position, and both stay where you set them without trying to move elsewhere.

Here it is fully rigged, and it doesn't get in the way of anything. I've been tying off the deck compass here since I bought it, and it's great. The rudder loop still works fully rigged.
That's my velcro stringer keeper hanging off the compass bungee.
I still have about 6' of spectra leftover - if the bungee goes sloppy on me, I'll change the pedal back loop to use mostly spectra with just a short run of shock cord to keep it tensioned.
Any of you who don't have slidetrax can accomplish the same thing with a pair of pad eyes, one each mounted at the back end of the foredeck in front of each pedal.

btw, putting in a huge plug for tackle direct.
Their prices on small items is usually way lower than anyone else. I placed an order for some trokar swimbait hooks and included some small rigging items (thimbles and crimp sleeves). When I got my shipping confirmation one item I needed wasn't there, so I called them to see if it was backordered. I had just left it off. They sent me the small item separately without an additional shipping charge. They also ship Quickly.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
Worth showing, the next and final step cleaning and slicking up my continuous rudder loop - all finished and adjusted except for cutting and seizing the bungee ends.
There is no friction in this. I've tested it with the deck compass mounted, and this is the keeper.
Used my leftover spectra, Ronstan Shocks for blocks, soft anchor bend to the pedal bosses, and deep-sea nylon thimbles, crimps and crimp covers on the short spectra ends.
Again, the shock cord ends and sheet bend here are not yet cut and seized.
Like all my shock cords, I have them rigged so I can unload the tension for storage, and set for use - this is unloaded.
With these anchor bends to the pedal bosses, the spectra in the pedal bosses has complete freedom to slide in every direction -
- anchor bend not yet cut, siezed and covered
Again, this is shock cords fully relaxed for storage.
To tension for travel and paddling, I slide the wing-nutted tiedowns an inch aft on the slidetrax - I love slidetrax.
With the multiple shock cords, I can fold both pedals all the way back if I need (for turning the boat over), and the tension is just right to put them back in working position with the spectra properly tensioned as soon as I stand them back up.
Push the pedal far enough backwards that the cable on one side is loose, let the pedal go, and it returns to take up the slack.
I tried first attaching the Ronstan shocks to the tie-downs with fasteners, and while it worked, it had more friction than this, and I couldn't fold both pedals all the way back - only one at a time, which is kind of pointless.
The shock cord attachment gives the Ronstan shock the freedom it needs to work as a block (pulley).
This is adjusted for working tension and both pedals folded back to lock - max bungee stretch, and something you'd never do with the boat wet.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:14 am, edited 7 times in total.
User avatar
By TexasJim
Ron: You should change your Forum handle to Professor Gizmo. Nice work and ideas. TexasJim
User avatar
By Ron Mc
thanks Jim, I only re-did this 4 times to get what I finally like.
Lou was teasing me, and I told him I make things to work right and last.
He lives with all kinds of crap on his vintage bicycles that I wouldn't put up with (e.g., keeping his Charrel fully French rather than replacing the Simplex with SunTour, which even the French eventually figured out).

When there's a 25" redfish coming to your kayak, everything has to work from your cockpit. It's even more important than a sailboat - on a sailboat, you can tune your sheets, let go of the tiller, and walk around.

btw, the deep-sea rigging I used on the spectra was cheap - threw it in with a Trokar hook order from Tackle Direct.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
By TexasJim
Ron: The best French export product ever was Brigette Bardot! Ask Lou if he would buy a car that had only three lug nuts per wheel? Only the French did that(almost). Keep tweaking! TexasJim
User avatar
By Ron Mc
all buttoned up and set here for service
I had to change the forward ends on my deck compass tie down to clear the cables close to the shocks
I'm out of projects - guess I'll go fishing.
User avatar
By impulse
Ron Mc wrote:all buttoned up and set here for service

I had to change the forward ends on my deck compass tie down to clear the cables close to the shocks

I'm out of projects - guess I'll go fishing.

Old thread, I know, but interesting to me...

You may want to look for some dual wall adhesive lined heat shrink tube instead of Kapton tape. When shrunk down with the glue melted, it becomes an integral part of the cable. Offers good abrasion resistance, and a clean look.

Here's what it looks like before and after heating it on a shark leader I was putting together.

Not so easy to find, but can be bought on EBay or Amazon. PM me if you'd like to try a little bit of the extra I have laying around.
Shark Leaders 2.jpg
Shark Leader.jpg
User avatar
By Ron Mc
thanks for the heads up, doing a little rigging shopping on and off for the limited rigging I'm planning on my new old Kestrel -
- I'll look for the double-wall shrink, because I have one other application for shrink tube.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
Specific to Smart Track rudders, I went back and found this red rubber grommet lasted 10 years (a black one before that only lasted 2).
No wonder I couldn't find my package of leftovers when I went looking the other day.

Tinkering on my boat, discovered the grommet for my rudder deployment line through the metal guide on the rudder had finally worn through and split.
When it splits, it allows the deployment line to rub on metal.

The rubber grommet is itself annoying, because the line gets traction in it. Also, after a long drive, the rubber deforms around the line, making initial release of the rudder difficult.
Since I couldn't find the package from 10 years ago, I placed a new McMaster order.

Found my correct weathering grommet, and while I was searching McMaster, ran across nylon shaft grommets.
These are high-hardness, slick nylon, and in fact bushings for rotating shafts. They're split along a torsion line, making them easy enough to squeeze and install.
I found the right size to line my rubber grommet.

Now my rudder deployment line is super-slick.
When the rubber grommet splits over time, the $3 nylon part is still there to protect the line.

The white residue in these photos, btw, isn't salt-related, but SailKote teflon spray I use for dry lube on my rudder.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By TexasJim
Ron: Good fix. When I got my Viking, it didn't have a rudder lift line, so I put one on. It's run through a vertical I mounted that keeps it centered over my rudder. I used a piece of PVC cutting board, 3/8" thick, drilled and countersunk on both sides, so even when the rudder turns, the 7 mm cord doesn't try to bind. After a couple of weeks, I was forced to take the guide off and paint it flat black, since it was a very bright white! McGyver strikes again! TexasJim
User avatar
By Ron Mc
Jim, my boat was delivered with the Smart Track rudder and Sea Dog controls in 2009 - that was the only rudder combo the owner of defunct Kokomo Kayaks would install.

The purple 2-mm double braid deployment line in my before photo above was gorgeous, but was too slick to get a good bite in my small clam cleat, and always let go when it was wet.
I recovered the expensive dinghy line for other stuff, and bought an inexpensive 50 yds of the blue 9-strand 3-mm dyneema on Amazon.
It bites great in the clam cleat, and I have more around if I need it.

But I had to increase the size of the R-clip guides down the side of the boat.
Luckily, I already had the larger R-clips around for another rigging project.

Something else I learned about the 9-strand, essentially a 3000-lb shoestring, the best way to cut it and avoid fraying is to superglue the spot you're going to cut.
It makes a perfect cut, and the cut end glides through any fitting.

Before PE lines, nylon braids never lasted more than a couple of years - mostly wear on the softer MOC.
I still prefer New England Ropes double braid (sail line) wherever I can use it, like this 3 mm trolley line.
SailRite is a great place to shop, with 1st class mail postage.

My bow line is also New England Ropes, but it's a wonderfully limp 3/8" double braid dock line.
It coils beautifully, lays flat, and never gets in the way.
Every kayak should have a rigged bow line the length of the hull so you can be tied off and towed in deep water,
and trolley so you can do the same for someone else.
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