Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DIY Sailing Rigging

                                                               January 2011
                                                                By Scooter

My goal for sailing my canoe has been for two years now to set up a rudder with foot peddles to steer it with my paddle as the back up if something fails.  I have built the rudder, have a way to attach it to the stern but had not come up with a good solution for foot peddles.  A tiller was the best I could do and was one step above using a paddle.  The other reason is because using the paddle to steer I need to use my foot to hold the boom line which I have come to hate and have to constantly adjust the length of the line by lifting my foot a hair to let the line run out and then stop steering to pull the line in and then correct my course by paddling hard.  With a rudder and pedal setup I will be able steer while holding onto the boom line with a hand, a much safer way of sailing canoes since a heavy gust of wind can tip you in a second!

I will say that there are pros and cons to this whole concept.  The pros are hands free sailing for the most part, the satisfaction of saying, "Gee Hal, look, no hands!" while sailing down a lake somewhere, well that is really the primary reason!  Cons are more pieces of equipment to pack, more chance you'll loose a primary piece of equipment that will make everything non-functional, and weight.  I figure an additional 6 pounds or so.  You pay the price for what you want is what I say. 

I do think that looking things over to long and to hard will make the task next to impossible.  Doubts begin to spring up in your mind and before the job has even begun it is over.  This was my dilemma and the monkey on my back.  After spending a far amount of time on line looking for examples and looking at kayaks here and there with foot pegs I was pretty toasted on the whole idea.

The thoughts came back fresh after I moved my canoe into a new storage place with room to move and a roof over my head.  I pulled out my rudder/rudder assembly and set it up.

A Feathercraft  mount fits perfectly into the aluminum pole set in the canoe.  The rudder is poplar
The idea came to me in the movement of an eye.  Now I do have to explain that this whole set up has criteria to meet, very specific criteria.  It has to be light, compact for packing, and functional.  The sail will be used on canoe trips mostly and this added gear must pack down into a small bag, be made of strong materials that weigh little, it's a given for if not it stays behind.

Once the ball got rolling it was just a matter of collecting existing materials for a rough fit.  The first was a piece of butternut wood that fits under the carry thwart.  This is fairly light, tough wood and I had it on hand.  I have two options for mounting it both have pros and cons.  Regardless it will end up in that spot as it's the mounting for the foot peddles.
Hardware for test run 

Temporary peddle thwart is added
Using cardboard to play with I cut out the foot peddles and used string to attach through the cable guides as a trail run.  I have decided that pull string cord made for power tools like lawnmowers will fit the bill and criteria.

Cable Guide taped on with string as experiment
 So next I turn my attention to the foot peddles.  In my sorting with stashed wood I come across a sheet of Plexiglas.  The answer was in my hands.  Plexiglas, light, tough as hell, easily worked/cut.  My first attempt is a complete success but successes usually fall short.  I cut the first set at 2" wide, the width of a small hinge, and 4" long, drill holes to meet the hinges and mount it to the add on thwart.

Mounted on the thwart.  2" X 4"

Range of Motion is great!

I end putting the canoe on the floor to sit in it and found the peddles to small and they would need some kind of skid resistant material on them as my shoes slide all over the place.  Hell, I won't be trying this out until May sometime so work goes on without real testing, just hypothesis.

Too Small but it works!
Back to the drawing board.  I end up cutting more p-glass but this time making the peddle 2" at the top, 3" at the bottom and 5.5" long.  Now this is better!

Longer but still needs some type of non-skid material on it.
 More to come.

March 20, 2011

After a long hiatus I finally got back to this part of the project.  In between work spells I had time to look over the objectives of this whole set up which all revolve around tripping and being able to stow gear away when not in use.  Thanks to Mr. McCrea I had cables and tubing to work with and after much deliberation I decided to mount them on the underside of the inner gunwale.  It's a nice wide area that is protected and out of the way.  Using the cable guides I ended up using SS self taping screws to secure them to the gunwale.  This way if I needed to adjust them I could simply unscrew them and move them patching any small holes with G-Flex or plumber's epoxy.  I had originally thought of using rivets.

I had already made the loops at the end for acceptance to the rudder assembly.  At that end I made the tubing long enough to drape over the carry handle of the deck offering some height.  The tension of the cables attached to the rudder and foot pedals will, hopefully, keep both lines elevated.  I am playing with testing a spacer that the tubing can be run through to keep them uniform distance apart.  When not in use they store nicely under the deck totally out of sight!

caribeaners that fit through the eyes and accepted the loop of the cable.  Easy, light, cheap, works, and again is strong.

The next step is to put the canoe on the ground and using the pedal end of the cables figure out the how much cable I need to cut for a hook up with the pedals. Since my rig is mostly a downwind affair I figure the rudder needs to move about 30 degrees per side. 

More to come!

April 1, 2011

Today I actually cut out the second pedal and mounted it.  I found some swivel clips, although I still need to find a different set but am having trouble finding small enough one, and attached them to each pedal through a hole I drilled.

If I need to I can run the cable and tubing through the loop that is riveted into the gunwale for added support.
I need to find swivel clips with a smaller end for the cable to be attached to but this is the idea!  Got these off an old computer bag.

 At the other end of the run I thought a spacer to help hold the cables sticking up might be helpful.  I won't really know until I have it under sail and pressure.  I used a piece of plastic tubing I had kicking around and drilled holes big enough to accept the cable and the cable tubing.  If all works well I can run a torch around the joints to seal them.  When not in use the whole affair fits under the carry handle and deck.  To take up the slack I will just pull from the pedal end to butt the cable up to the tubing and stuff it out of sight!

When being used...,
and stowed away.
I'm not sure if it will be a hindrance or an asset but it is easy enough to take off if need be.  Without the spacer the cables do tuck up closer to the gunwales and the underside of the deck has lips on each side that they can tuck into.  For the record I do have plans to come through the hull if this isn't successful.

My next step was to figure out a way to keep the rudder from kicking up while under sail.  I had drilled a hole in it previously and soon added a piece of bungee cord that runs up each side of the hull to an eye screw I added.  Again, I need to find small swivel clips for this so I don't have to deal with knots.

The eye hooks may need to be swapped out with ones that will bolt in from the inside if need be for added strength.
My thought is the bungee will allow for any underwater obstacles by giving enough to ride over them.  I am not concerned about landing in the shallows as most times I lower the sail before beaching.  I am sure there are more efficient ways of rigging this but for tripping purposes this is so low tech I think it will work.  When not being used the rudder gets pulled off, the bungee gets wrapped around it and is secured in the canoe.

My next step is to put the canoe on the ground and figure out the cable length from the rudder to the pedals and the degree I want the rudder to turn before I cut the cable and secure it.  Unfortunately due to my healing broken back I need an extra person to help me move several canoes around before I can do this and of course the weather has been shit here so the waiting game continues. 

More to come.

 June 28, 2011

I have finally come back to this project.  It's been a while since I've been working on the MR Courier.  With lag time while waiting for resin to cure I tackled the rudder cables.  First thing I did was tape a dowel to both foot pedals so they would be even from the top of the "movement" to the bottom which I wanted to be at a 90 degree angle.

The dowel was taken out afterwards
I took a couple pieces of rebar and jammed them into the ground at about where I thought the rudder would be the most efficent, my guess is about 30 degrees or so.  It's a downwind rig so anything beyond that won't matter. 

Rebar posts to set the angle of the rudder

To hook the cables to the foot pedals I used some swivel hooks but I really didn't like them and have been having trouble finding the ones I want.  I opted for some beaners from the dollar store which I think will work fine.

Swivel hook.  I don't like the wide ends.
Much easier with this
Next I spent a fair amount of time trying to get the cables to the length I needed.  Pull, adjust, pull the other way adjust, on and on and on it went.  I tried taping the cables but they kept sliding out when I went to adjust them.  I finally marked the cables with a Sharpy and then spent the next hour trying to cut them clean enough to fit through the holders!  I have a lot of tools but I just could not find the right cutter for this cable!  I tried a bunch of different things and spent more time walking back and forth to the toolbox to see what else I had to make a clean cut.  In the end I used all of these and got it done.

With the cables hooked on to the rudder and foot pedals I got about what I wanted.  The only way to see if this will actually work is to take it out but that won't happen for a while yet.  I wish it was now!

So, I lucked out big time on how to store these when not in use.  On the rudder side I simply tuck them ends under the deck.  I thought for sure I would have to come up with some kind of rigging for the foot pedal ends.  Pulling them forward and using the beaners from the pedals they stretch just enough to hook on to D-rings that have been mounted on this hull for years!  Hell, if I had planned this it would have been a mess!  Also, because this rig has a few parts this way I keep them all together and don't need a separate bag for them.  The beaners on the rudder will stay with that as well. 

This should work when they aren't in use

Another view
The rudder end stored under the deck.
I still need to put more of these under the gunwales to hold the tubing in place so gear won't jam it.

I think about 4 more should secure this so any gear I stow will not mess with it.  So now it boils down to a test run to see if this was worth the effort OR how I'm going to make improvements so it does work.  I still need to futz with the rudder some but I think I have a simple plan for that as well.

July 8, 2012

Gawd, it has been a long while since I worked on this project.  I woke up this morning and decided it was time to test it out so I headed over to a small pond called TurtleTown.  I decided to take my smaller sail, about half the size of my Snark sail as I just wanted to catch some light breezes and not be under a heavy load of wind.

I off loaded and set up the sail rig, the rudder and attached all the lines and headed out with a very light wind at first.  Immediately  I found strike number one against me, I forgot my freaking leeboard so all I was doing was slide slipping.  Of course it doesn't help that I have this rigged for the Hogged Backed Saint, a flat bottom canoe!  No matter how hard I tried I couldn't stop from going sideways and I had to resort back to using my paddle in addition to the rudder which defeated the entire purpose of this rig!  I kept at it as the wind started to increase but finally had to lower the sail and depend on my paddle as I made my way up the pond.

Now, the foot peddles I rigged worked out pretty well despite all my woes but I did find that they are placed too far in and I will need to place them out towards the hull more.  Also, one of the hinges started to fail, literally tearing apart from the pressure.  Damnit!!  That was strike number two!  So keeping with the old adage bad things come in threes I went to unclip the rudder from the lines and one of the clips broke!  AAAGGGHH!  Ya know it was like I know shit rolls downhill but why do I gotta live in the valley scenario!  I said to hell with it and left it on and just paddled like hell into a building headwind back to the putin.  I will say this though, the rudder really helped with that jaunt as I could just power paddle and not spend energy on corrections.

The hinge was starting to break apart!
 Ok, so the rudder did well but I have to concede that a metal one would be a better way to go.  With the wooden one I'm using I have to tie it to the hull to keep it from floating up and that is nothing more than a PITA!  Also, the way I have it rigged I need to reach way back and release it before I approach shore instead of just yanking it out of the water.  Not a good thing!

The rudder worked well for what it is.
 So, it is back to the drawing board for design/placement of the peddles, a more rugged hinge, stainless?, and a new rudder!  Goddamn, it sucks after all this time but that's what these shakedown cruises are for!

More to Come.

July 21, 2012

After the last fiasco I got word from Ron Carter who sent me a bunch of pictures and a lot of advice on what he did as he went a similar route down the road somewhere.  After looking at his info I looked my rig over and did a bunch of measurements and decided that something like this would work!

I used a piece of pine board and decided I needed an opposing curve cut to the carry thwart so I could get my toes/feet on the ends.  I wanted a section that was flat though for my feet to grip and a curve to "push" it out from that thwart towards me.

Cutting out the basic shape

Cutting for foot controls if you want to call them that

By notching it some I got what I wanted and if I need to I can add an extra layer on the underside.  I used a one inch dowel as a spacer thinking much more would make it wobble but I won't know that until I try it out.  I used eyehooks on each end to attach the rudder cables but I came up with a new problem, the cables were now too long as I had designed them for the last rig.  Yet another snafu to deal with but I have a plan!  Plans are good! 

Eye hooks to hook the cables into

Spacer that goes from the carry thwart to the control
So, now it is another day of trying it out.  I have a lot more faith in this then the last and above all it is keeping with my goal of keeping it light for those longer trips.

More To Come.

1 comment:

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