Newb with an early Dancer model needs refitting and maintenance advice

Hi I new to both the site and to paddling, I am just starting out (uk midlands) had a few lessons and have been given a very old but watertight Dancer. I have zero experience with the maintenance and repair of kayaks other than what I read on sites like this. So I turn to you now for the answers I cannot find regarding my (new to me) Dancer.

  1. The centre support columns (the original white, not sure are the a type of Styrofoam?) are crystallising and flaky, I’ve seen threads where people have suggested replacing them with the modern micro foam I’ve found a site willing to shape them to the desired kayak shape and post them out (not cheaply but as i’d rather not mess anything up cheaper than buying a new boat) but wouldn’t that take away the safety of the support columns purpose? What would you suggest?
    Can the original columns be lacquered or treated to prevent further degradation or is it possible to replace them, if so who sells that type of foam, is there anything within the foam? google is not my friend on this.
  2. The Dancer has an inner skin for want of a better way to explain it, a moulded plastic insert on the underside just in front of the cockpit, should this be water tight? it is intended to aid floatation? There seems to be some sort of black grease sealing it, or maybe it’s years of grime oozing out of it?? I ask not only out of curiosity but because a. it reduces the slide in space of the already pretty tight cockpit, and B. I am going to want to be able to apply some rigging to the boat for carrying stuff the centre column will prevent me from stowing, do I need to ensure I avoid that area? Can it be removed and either permanently or just for cleaning, then replaced?
  3. I am thinking of installing a removable fin shortly as hear I will need all the help I can get with the Dancers dislike of flat water tracking. I am loving paddling and hope to spend my time mainly on the rivers but the nearest river isn’t always going to be convenient for a quick paddle. How much will a fin help a dancer on flat water? Other posts I’ve read give me a mixed opinion, yes they help a fair bit on most kayaks tracking but also I’ve read don’t even bother putting that dancer on a lake. Am I wasting £30 on epoxy and fin and wasting my time with that idea?
    Tyia x

I’m not sure what the foam crystallizing looks like, but it doesn’t sound good , you could cut and glue in your own minicell foam support columns but the cost would be much more than the boat is worth. If I remember correctly the Dancer was a fun boat with a tiny cockpit, I would not want to get trapped in one collapsed in a river pin, with a do it yourself foam block. Your money would be better spent on a used kayak in good condition. If you are just paddling flat water, leave it as is and learn to paddle in a straight line, it will be good skill building. Personally I’d give it up and look for a good used boat.

Thanks SeaDart

The Dancer tracks as straight as the paddler paddles. It is an old school boat so kinder than the newer WW boats that followed. But it does increase the learning curve over a trackier boat.

I am wondering if you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole though. You mention stowing gear - carrying gear like for day touring was not something the Dancer was designed to facilitate when new let alone in a very aged state. It might be worth keeping around to learn to roll.

Thanks Celia, I see your point I wouldn’t want to carry a lot just a couple of bungees to secure a small bag (perhaps some lunch ) and possibly attaching my go pro to capture the kids on their boats. I’ll drop perception an email and see if they will tell me what the lining is in practical terms. My concern with the tracking is my core and upper body strength is as newb as I am, i’m imagining fighting to get where i’m trying to go because the cross wind has increased slightly while I was on the water. The fin appealed to me as a way to reduce that while I train and improve my paddle strokes.

If all you want to do is replace the vertical thing - honestly it has been so long I forget what is inside the Dancer - Seadart is correct. Add your time to a good cutting knife, adequate sized block of minicell and Weldwood cement and you can fix that. The boat is so old I would be surprised if original inserts existed anywhere.

It is a great boat as long as it has not gotten too brittle - remember how old this hunk of plastic is - once you get the paddling down. My personal cut would be that it’ll take more time to mess with fins than to solve your paddling form and position. You are likely to be surprised at how fast that can come along.

You could try “fiberglassing” those columns.
They offer fiberglass kits at automotive stores.
(at least here in the states.)

That area described in your section 2 sounds like a “bulkhead”. If it is? It’s function is to keep items contained and for flotation.

A removable fin or skeg should help with tracking. I’ve had good success mounting pivoting skegs on one side of the kayak near the stern. It can make the mounting easier than trying to attach right to the pointy stern. It would take some time to make one so, it’s probably only worth the effort if you enjoy building things. Here’s a photo of one:


Beautiful work Wolf! Way beyond my skill set though, the old gals not worth the cost of the materials for that rudder, i’m talking a £30 glue on fin that slides out of its housing when no longer needed. If that’s your boat it’s beautiful <3 :smiley: . I think you are on to something there Teddy I found a post about the old maker of the perception boats (ACE) having an inner lining as a bulkhead instead of a centre support and that perception scrapped the bulkhead idea, replacing it with the centre supports but kept the original lining.
Thanks all x

The materials probably cost less than US$ 15 but as I said you have to enjoy building things and have some hand tools to cut the wood.

Is there actually a glue-on fin with housing that you can buy?

I’m in the group that believes learning how to paddle the Dancer is worth the effort. It’s skill building.

If I however were to want a skeg on it, I would just glue a fin to a piece of lath and use a couple of accessory straps and strap that skeg on. Old school way. able to remove it or not at whim as you learn. Fin part can also be removed {just unsnap a couple of fastex buckles} to modify as desired.

The pillars in a Dancer are just closed cell foam , if I remember, about 5 or 6 inches wide. {to prevent hull collapsing in a pin}

No do not fiberglass the support column.

I would be cautious with investing too much into the beast, or taking it into even moderately demanding conditions. As a former owner of several, the plastics in the boat at their age can self destruct at in-opportune times.

Oh dear, I just inherited an old Dancer, took it out today and had a mostly wonderful time with it. I love how light it is. I’m concerned about the potential for self destruction, though. Is there any way I can tell when that might be about to happen? And can you describe what happened with yours?

old plastic works on water without rocks. It’s the rocks hammering the bottom that works to make cracks. I had an AQ Noah many years ago the was lacking on UV inhibitor direct from the factory.

I used it … it gained cracks every-time. I just welded it back together and used it some more. {It didn’t like the rocks}

Finally the cracks gained and I gave up. Took a hammer to the kayak and put the pieces in the recycle bin.

If you hit it with a hammer and it just bounces off…It’s still sound

Thank you roym, very helpful. Can a uvinhibitor be added I wonder? In any case I will inspect it for cracks and try the hammer trick too! Th:e other problem with it, as someone else mentioned, is the very narrow cockpit. But I have searched the internet – there is nothing as light as this model: so welcome to these aged arms!

One clue is to push on the bow or stern deck, in an area where there is no underlying support, with the boat on land. If it makes a ‘crinkly’ sound - kinda like rice crispies - thats not good!

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First off, I’m a die hard open boater… BUT I’ve owned two Dancers that I acquired because I could get them inexpensively and have passed them on to youngsters who are just getting into paddling. I learned to roll in one just to learn a new paddling skill, but they are really too small for me to use for day long paddles. I get leg cramps from them. (A Corsica X would be better…) But they sure are fun to paddle. (You’d think a design that fun to paddle would still be made by someone. I hear the Dagger Greenboat is similar.)
Both were old but the plastic showed no sign of brittleness on either. I think the history of the individual boat - whether its spent a lot of time stored outside in the sun causing UV degradation is the key question as to whether it stays flexible. Keeping it 303’d (a UV blocker) is probably not a bad practice for plastic that old.
I had a spray skirt from Snapdragon , which is no longer in business as I understand it. There might be a problem finding a skirt to fit it now. A more avid kayaker than I would be able to point you in a hopeful direction for that, I’d think.
Those pillars can be removed by removing the seat - I modified the pillar in my first one by carving out just enough foam to allow my heels to fit. You could do so for repair purposes if you think after a good inspection/cleaning that they’re in bad enough condition for that to be to warranted.
There’s room enough behind the seat on either side of the pillar for lunch and a bit of extra gear; a first aid kit, rain jacket, etc. Its not easily accessible on the water from there, but most folks land for lunch or to put on rain gear anyhow.
Most recent one looks like this:

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Wow, yours is in great shape! And I agree–I don’t know why they don’t still make them. It’s like with cars, every time they hit on a great body shape/style they have to change it in 5 years to keep things “new.” I will look for the UV protectorant. Like I said earlier the weight is such a huge plus for me. I can carry it with one hand.

Thank you I will try that!