Lesson learned and uncrimp my pole

The crimp:

I was aiming to float through a tongue of water passing over a ledge formation. I was drifting a little towards the rocks on the left side of the passage. I’d been polling on my right, and I pulled up the pole, swung it over the bow and let it down towards the rocks I was drifting towards. I just needed a little nudge to stay center chute.

The pole lodged in a crack in the rocks, as poles will. Before I could pull it out the current carried me into my pole and I had it on my torso just above my belly. The boat started to go away under me, but I rocked up the upstream gunwale and leaned into the pole, stabilizing things long enough to take a step back and jerk the pole out. Luckily, I’d been standing well forward and had a step to give. Luckily, it was only a mild rapid. But, now my pole is bent ten or fifteen degrees about 16" from one end.

So, the lesson to share is don’t plant your pole across the path where your body needs to go. That may be easier to write than it is to do in practice.

The advice I seek is on whether I should straighten the pole of just leave it, and if straighten, is there any right way? The pole is one of Ed Hayden’s products and is made of 1.125" t61 aircraft tubing.


bent shaft pole

– Last Updated: Jun-16-08 8:45 PM EST –

now we'll have the straight shaft vs. bent shaft debate going on with poles as well as paddles. Thanks a lot Chip;-). Ed's poles are .058 wall. I'd leave it, it'd probably add to the fatigue if you tried straightening it out, especially if it's crimped.If you start to see white along the bend, you're broke. If a radiused bend, you could straighten it out.Take the delrin insert out, find a 1" dia. bar of something solid, put that in a vise, slide the pole over it and bend back. By the way, it's 6061-t6, the t6 is the tempering.
Don't worry, Aaron tweaked his pole a few weeks back, and we use .063 wall, 1.5" dia. 6061-t6 mongo poles. Actually dented the thang!! Rescuing that pole exercised our paddling skills vigorously.

I’ve seen Harry Rock find a couple of trees a few inches apart and use them like a pipe bender, working back and forth from one side of the bend to the other until he had pretty much straightened his pole.

I’ve done the same but I’m inclined to leave it semi straight say 5 degrees ot so. I’m thinking the less I stretch the tubing the better. Both of my poles have a 5 degree bend about 12" from one end.

Careful with the aluminum!
A technique I have seen used (on bicycle frames) is to take a block of maple, or other hardwood, and bote a hole identical to the tube’s outer diameter in it. Saw it in half through the center of the circle. Lubricate the wood block liberally with your choice of gease, place the blocks around the shaft and clamp everything in a vise. Twist and pull the pole through the blockseveral times to “re-size” the tube. After that, gentle bending may get the worst kink out.

Good luck!


I’ve not used aluminum. So in posting a reply to this I’m just being an a$$, but my recommendation is to use wood.


Wow, it’s good to know Harry Rock has to unbend a pole once in awhile, too. I used the wrong term when I said my pole was crimped, it is just bent. My first thought was to find a couple of trees and just reverse the bend. But then I had visions that doing so, I might end up crimping the pole or worse.

I once used the a variation of the wood block approach on aluminum gunwales, and it worked to an extent, but I think with a round tube it will work even better. Jim, is “bole” a typo? Maybe hole?

Thanks for the suggestions. And if I don’t get around to it for awhile, I’ll just use the pole as a bent shaft, like Matt suggested. I sort of want to do it just to see the puzzled looks on peoples face when I tell them the pole is supposed to be that way, that it is more efficient for flatwater polling!


It’s not hard
to go from a bend to a kink. That’s why I leave well enough alone.

Careful With That Axe Eugene!

“Bote a hoe”

– Last Updated: Jun-17-08 8:16 AM EST –

Sometimes I fall back to talking like I am still in the 'hood.

Bore a hole.


BTW - since it is not an actual crimp, do you have any friends who are electricians? if so they probably have a set of conduit benders, although 1.25" is pretty large size.

Wood is good

I like wood poles, too. I took the aluminum pole along for this trip because it is a two piece pole and stores conveniently. I wasn’t sure whether I’d use it on the James, and had it not been in use, I could have easily stored the pole in the bottom of the boat. I do have a two-piece, wood pole that I use in some situation, but the aluminum pole is a better all-around pole, so that’s the one I took on this trip.

Stuck in the same crack where my pole bent, the lighter wood poles I’ve used, basswood and closet-pole, would have snapped. Maybe the ash pole, too. At least with aluminum, I still had a pole to use to finish the trip.

Do you have any two-piece wood poles? If so, please share source and characteristics.


Electrician Here
A 1" EMT bender would work with 1.125" OD tubing.

1" EMT or thinwall pipe is 1.160"

don’t they have meds?