skeg cable stuck - how to fix?

-- Last Updated: Aug-06-11 6:15 PM EST --

Just loaded my Avocet RM onto the car for a paddle tomorrow morning and found that the skeg controller was stuck in the open (skeg out) position. I cannot see any problem with the naked eye. Managed to force it shut with quite a bit of effort. I don't see any obstructions inside the slot from where the skeg goes in/out (from the outside of the boat) but no obvious damage to the plastic tubing that carries the cable. I've never had a skeg problem in the 6 years or so that I owned this boat.

Any clues on how to debug or fix?


I would remove the cable and make sure it’s clean. Then you will know if it’s the cable or slider.

Try flushing it out with a hose first.

I suspect
The last paddle was done in a reservoir that was quite low because of the heat wave, so the takeout was very muddy and quite bit of mud got into the skeg area. I flushed it out best I could with a hose and so the skeg itself moves freely. However, I suppose that it’s possible for some mud to have gotten wedged into the cable tube and dried in there. I’m not sure if it can work itself out while in the water tomorrow or if I will really have to go through the process of removing it, inspecting/cleaning and then putting it back if the cable is not kinked.

If anyone has any links to the procedure of removing/installing the cable for a VCP boat I would love to see it as I’ve never gone through the process before




– Last Updated: Aug-06-11 8:05 AM EST –

It's easy to remove the skeg cable. I don't have a link handy. You loosen the small screw at the slider. Make sure you use the right size alen wrench which is metric! If you use the american size ASI or whatever it's called it is a very close fit but will strip it. After that you just pull on the skeg that pulls the cable out the back. It's easy. If you need to replace the cable also metric the only tricky part is cutting the cable. I use a grinder. I have a Valley and use in salt water and wash it out after each use. Good luck!

edit: cutting the cable is tricky not to have a strand fray off. when I use a grinder I tape it make sure the strands are in the same direction as the spinning wheel. there are other ways to cut it or have it cut the exact same length when you buy it and order the alen wrench also at the same time although those are easy to find.


Allen wrench
Valley uses a 2.5mm allen head grub screw in the slider. The stock cable is 3mm, which is a chore to find in the US unless you order from Valley or a UK dealer. 3/32 marine stainless works. Make sure it’s 1x19 spec, NOT 7x19, which is too flexible.

Going to dig in my toolbox, armed with a caliper to measure allen wrenches LOL

I will call my US Valley dealer and see if they have the exact replacement cable in the correct length. If not, I always looked for an excuse to buy a quality cutter for bike brake/gear cables…now I have it :slight_smile: I do have a Dremel with cutoff wheels too so something will work.

Ok - next question: Is it a good idea to lubraicate the cable with anything?


The Dremel with cutoff wheel would probably be perfect. Anything that pinches is likely to flatten it out and it has to go into the slider tube that is a tight fit.

There was a long thread about lubricating the cable. Oil is not a good idea, some used graphite bike lubricant so as not to attract dirt, sand, etc. I picked up some generic non oil lubricant at some big box store, although I really don’t think it’s necessary. I haven’t used anything on mine for the past 3 years. A good idea to take out the cable and wash it out well every year or so.

BTW the alen wrench is a very tight fit, you will know you got the right one.

Lube the cable?
salt water or fresh water paddling?

Salt runs down the cable and dries etc. I would lube the cable and probably shoot some Armoral or any of those water based silicone lubricants down from the control area. Also, always wash out the skeg box area if used in salt water.

non-oil lubrication for . . .
Jay and Yak,

Since we’re on the subject, is a graphite lube the thing I need for my footpegs? On one side, my metal footpeg often doesn’t seat properly after I adjust it, and my foot’s pressure sends it sliding down the rail. I am imagining the problem is a spring that doesn’t spring out far enough. A fellow paddler suggested some graphite lube but said it’s hard to find.

(The footpeg is the kind that adjusts by depressing a spring behind the footpiece, then sliding the footpiece, then releasing and it is supposed to lock in the new hole on the rail. I don’t know the brand.)


G in NC

Combination salt and fresh water paddling. Thanks for the lube suggestion


foot peg

There are two big philips head machine screws that attach each track to the boat. Loosen the one closest to the seat a few turns and you’ll be able to slide the foot peg off the track.

Then you can see why that spring isn’t doing it’s job. The hinge might need cleaned up and lubricated, or the spring might be missing or broken. I wouldn’t use an oil lube. Something like Harken McLube might be good. Or dry teflon lube.

Hey G, I’m sure someone knows more about this than I do, but graphite lube is used on bike chains because it doesn’t attract dirt that would then rotate through the gears and wear them down faster. I do ride a mountain bike a lot but just use WD40. The graphite lube was expensive. I also found some silicone lube at a big box store for a few dollars that I have used on a skeg cable on a previous kayak.

Yes, it sounds like you foot pegs are freezing up and need to lubricated. You can do this by applying lube directly and working it in by moving the parts.

While you are on the subject, if or when you have a large screw driver, I would not hesitate to remove the footpegs that is very straight forward by loosening the back screw bolt with a large screw driver until the foot peg can slide out the back. The screw doesn’t need to come all the way out, just enough so the tip of the screw bolt is flush with the track surface so the footpeg can slide past. I think this would be a good idea to check and make sure all the scews bolts are nice and tight while you are at it. Don’t over tighten them but I have seen them get loose and cause some spider cracks in the gel coat, and the person didn’t understand how simple it is with two bolts and left them loose and put some duct tape over them. Anyway, if you need to replace the footpegs that is how you would do it.

This is just some general information. If the screws are tight and you just want to spray some lube on them that’s fine as well and use a rag to catch any over spray or drops. It’s so easy to remove them I would take them out so as not to get any lube in the hull which would be slippery. I might even use a heavier oil that wouldn’t evaporate as quickly. Maybe that’s an advantage of graphite? Not sure.

When I used foot pegs I made sure to wash those out well.

RE: the skeg cable in the previous post, I go out in salt water several times a week and have just washed out the slider and skeg box with a hose and move the slider back and forth. After 3 years it still works like new. Shooting some silicone or graphite probably would help but in my experience washing these out with fresh water has been effective.

Ok, time to go paddle!

Probably wouldn’t hurt to spray with lube at the slider, however unless it’s a really old design, the slider cable has a metal tube or casing so that very little lube would reach the cable and whatever did would evaporate in a few weeks. I wash mine out and move the slider back and forth to help flush it. I doubt the factory applies anything and when one is repaired at a shop they probably don’t apply anything either. IMO not a bad idea but probably a waste of money and in my experience flushing out the slider with fresh water has been effective.

If I was replacing the cable might apply something but if dirt or salt gets in there it’s not going to make any difference and will need to be flushed out or remove the cable to clean it all.

Took the cable out
With the right allen wrench, the cable came out very easily along with the skeg. Very obvious kink in the cable close to the attachment point on the skeg. I need to replace the cable then. I’ll call around.



Dry graphite won’t work…

– Last Updated: Aug-07-11 3:13 PM EST – least not for long, as it will just wash out and it won't repel water. Wax-based lubes like White-lightning chain lube or Krytech last much longer, if you want something that's dry. Boeshield T9 is another good option and you can often find it at hardware stores and home centers. I avoid using silicone sprays, as the residue can seriously complicate boat repairs and outfitting.

On skeg cables, I typically use CorrosionX, which is oil-based and highly resistant to washing out. It's specifically designed to prevent corrosion in harsh environment. As long as you only apply a thin film to the cable (wipe the cable with a rag with the lube on it) oil-based lubes will not get gummy or attract grit. The same is true of foot peg rails.

Bicycle or motorcycle?
Graphite in bicycle chain lubes went out of favor decades ago, as it’s messy and doesn’t hold up well. Dry graphite really doesn’t work well at all, as you can’t get it into the chain. Motorcycle chain lubes with graphite are generally too heavy to penetrate well into the tight spaces on a bicycle chain. The “white graphite” lubes don’t even contain graphite (which is black), they use mica.

WD-40 is a very good chain CLEANER, but it’s a lousy lubricant, as it’s designed to displace water (WD = “water displacer”), not lubricate. It also tends to turn into a black, goopy mess on bicycle chains. Common household lubes like Tri-Flow are better lubricants but make even more of a mess.

If you don’t want to spring for a specialty chain lube (Pro-Link is one of the best, it’s very clean and it’s reasonably priced), mix synthetic motor oil 3:1 or 4:1 with mineral spirits and use that. Apply it, work it in and wipe the chain down. If it still looks grungy, repeat the process. Since you’ve been using WD-40, you may have to do this 3-4 times to get all of the crud out, but it should stay a lot cleaner afterward and last a lot longer, too.


– Last Updated: Aug-07-11 4:28 PM EST –

Thanks for the info on bike chain oil. My mountain bike is over 8 years old, ride about 50 miles a week, and every 2-3 years my friend at the bike shop puts on a new chain and gears for almost nothing. This bike has been great, but when I get a new one or new chain and gears will start used motor oil or something else.

Good info on the corrosionX stuff as well. As I said I'm convinced the skeg cable doesn't need any lube but that's good to know and I might apply it when removing the cable and where the cable meets the skeg.

I like to use motor oil for lubing things too. I need another tin man oil can. ;)

I like to take care of my stuff but not to the extent that I'm taking better care of it than I take care of myself. :)

Thanks Nate, thanks Yak
Appreciate the how-to advice. Will try it.


New cable is in and the skeg is working well again. I had to cut the new cable to size and ended up using a cutoff wheel on my Dremel. Managed to get a pretty clean cut with no fraying which was my biggest concern. The only thing I don’t like is the screw that holds the cable in place on the skeg itself. Since it is threaded through the plastic skeg only, it can easily crack the skeg if cranked too hard. I can see the stress lines already forming on the skeg… will use some epoxy to reinforce the area.

Thanks for all the good tips and advice