Any trick to replace rudder cable?

I need to repair a busted cable on a WS Sealution II. It snapped right behind the footpeg. I just broke it this weekend and have not even taken it apart to look at it. I got as far as taking it off the car and positioning it outside the door of my shop.

My next step was to search the archives here, but I don’t see anything out there. Maybe this is such a straightforward repair… nah, better not say that or Murphy might hear.

Is the cable anything special? Can I get it at the Lowes or is it a specialty retailer item?


its pretty easy
just regular cable. Look at the non-busted side so you will know how everything goes together. Then take the broken cable to a hardware store to match the size and length.

It is a pretty straightforward repair.

Go for Stainless steel if…
you can find it.


It is pretty easy to change out.

any cable won’t work
I tried the regular Lowes cable once. It rusted through in a few months time. It really could have snapped just about anywhere, as rust took to it quite readily. It’s typically quite easy to run the new cable through, just be mindful of getting everything together at the very same length as before. Get yourself stainless steel cable, available at most marine stores.

at least stainless steel
cable from a decent source (marine chandlery) however I replaced my still good SS cables with Dyneema cord.

Stainless Steel cables eventually fatigue and the little strands brake; generally the inside ones before the outside visible ones.

Inspecting them for weakness spots before they brake works only sometimes.

Dyneema line (Spectra) with a smooth outer sheet (you want to use a kern and mantle type) is much stronger then SS and does not fatigue. Dyneema does not fray with sharp strands chewing into your cable housing either.

Source Dyneema line (the smallest diameter you can get so it will fit into the cable housing) and replace the “good” side too.

To see a sea kayak with Dyneema rudder lines:


After disassembly, question
The cable terminated in a steel tab on either end, the tab had a hole in it, through which passed a bolt. So this means the cable has to be exactly the same size as the broken cable and the other cable in the pair, right?

I pulled the cable out from the stern. It runs through a plastic housing that appears a very close fit to the diameter of the cable. It occurs to me that it might not be easy getting a cable through the housing. And even if the cable fits, a cable with the steel tab on it is not going through that housing, so, how’s it all go together?

Thanks for the heads up on Stainless, and that other line sounds good, too.


My experience
with Perception and QCC boats is that the pedal end fittings are swaged onto the cable first, and the bare end of the cable threaded toward the stern. Many of the bow end fittings are of a design that will fit into teh Yakima/Werner tracks, and are not common in chandlerys. A store may be able to swage an eye with thimble and squeeze the loop to fit.

As for terminating the stern end, it is a simple DIY job using crimp fittings and pliers. Suggest that you use a thimble there too.

Buying high-quality SS cable (usually 1/16") makes the job easier as the good stuff is more flexible than the bargain-basement variety.


Definitely SS
Stainless steel cables just about aliminate stretch.

Have used bicycle brake cable. It worked

Thanks, Jim. The swagging is the part I didn’t know. I was thinking the cable was going to come from a store with the eye-tab already on it!

Do I need to buy the $30 swagging tool or can I use something like channel locks? I was thinking about getting the swagging tool because I want to create some kayak “cuffs” to lock up the boat. I was thinking of coated cable with loops to fit around the pointy ends and then join them in the middle–two cables, each with a cuff loop on one end and a small, lock loop on the other. But I wondered whether the swags would be strong enough to prevent somebody from ripping the loops apart. Any feedback on that will help me decide if I want to own a swagging tool.


vice grips
work fine.

replace both sides while you’re at it.

get 1/16" ss cable.


Different swage die sizes
The one needed for 1/16 will not work with a cable large enough to deter thieves.

Steve’s advice is correct - Vise-Grips will do a great job on 1/16. Don’t buy coated cable - just flexy aircraft quality SS.

I would go to a material handling dealer who makes wire slings for lifting to obtain custom-sized locking cables. Their swages are not prone to failure. Specify that you DO NOT want the swage to be “proof-tested” as you will not be doing any overhead lifting.


Can’t get the line through the housing
I’m not sure what I got, but while in Annapolis Performance Sailing looking for cable termination fittings I found some 1/16th, synthetic, non-stretch, high strength cord. I can’t cut it without fraying the end out, if you heat it the end gets a knob on it that I couldn’t shape into a point (cools real quick). It would work great for cable, IF I could feed the cord through the housing. I can get it started and get a few feet of it in, but as friction builds, I can’t push the string in. I put the steel wire back in, spun it, and moved it back and forth to make sure the inside of the housing wasn’t obstructed, but I still can’t get the cord to feed through. Back to SS cable?


Anybody have source for cable ends?
I can’t find the fitting that is swaged onto the cable at the end. There’s a part into which the cable is inserted, which is attached to a “washer”. Looks alot like an electrical connector you swage onto a wire you want to attache to a bolt.

Anybody have a source?


looks like you have Dyneema
cord. Excellent stuff.

Yes, the stuff is hard to melt to have a nice end.

Try over a lighter or a small flame (camping stove). As soon as you remove it form the flame grab it with you index and thumb and roll it to make a nice pointy end. It should work.

Second: the cord should be sheeted (kern/mantle type).

The outside sheet is usually polyester and makes the cord stay pretty stiff.

If inserting does not work (it looks like it has not so far) try to send a pilot cable (wire) through the housing first and then attach the Dyneema cord at the end of your pilot wire and PULL it back through the housing. It should work.

It sounds like a lot of futzing around but I believe the Dyneema is the go.

Some real high end kayak manufacturers use the stuff as factory specs.

I have replaced several SS cables with Dyneema on my friend’s kayaks and so far so good. My kayaks? I am a skeg guy these days :slight_smile:


That is exactly what it is.
I have been following the thread closely, but have not chimned in since I only know about the QCC Seal Line rudders, which I have changed out so many that I can now do it in my sleep.

Go to Lowes or home depot and pick up a package of electrical connectors that are not the twist on ones. They have a small screw in brass barrell, and that has a set screw.

You need to get the tinest ones you can find, or you might want to get in touch with Doug Bushnell up at Westside Boats and see if he will send you a couple.

That is what he uses to connect the cables on his rudders (Seal-Line).



are what the fittings are called in the electrical department. Either set-screw or compression.

These are made from either solid copper or aluminum for conductivity reasons, and are not as strong as sailing or aircraft fittings that are “rolled” onto the cable end. But these are quite pricey.

I didn’t want to mention SealLine fittings, but since Jack has already mentioned them…the “Cool Rudder Wedgies” are the berries for attaching the cable to the rudder. No contest. Hands down the sweetest little devices ever conceived in the kingdom of rudders. You can probably buy them from any dealer who sells SeaLine rudders, but be prepared for sticker shock.


Here are some photo’s that I took when I installedmy rudder on the Artisan. Might help!


No, they are not lugs.
and they are not rolled onto the cable or compressed.

They are made out of solid brass.

You are talking about a different thing than I am.

On the Seal-Line “wedgies” — I hate them with a passion , and dislike the entire Seal-line rudder system almost as much as I hate their “wedgies”

That system has way too many little parts all of which are subject to screwing up and do screw up sooner or later if you are a high mileage paddler.

I have to keep a supply of all their parts in my vehicle at all times.

Just me and my opinion



Good info
I have a cable to replace and will try this stuff as well. Thanks.