SmartTrack Rudder System ?

I was thinking about changing over the foot controls on my Current Design Extreme to the SmartTrack system to get a firmer footing. I was wondering if anyone had and advice or experiences that they could share. I was thinking of just changing the foot controls and connecting to the existing cables and rudder. Also I saw some place where it looked like when you raised the rudder up it pointed up as opposed to laying back on the deck. Would like to use existing holes to change the foot controls if that is possible. So any ideas appreciated.





Thanks



Peter

I have the smart track on my QCC 700
and I hate it.

I’ll take the old squooshy ones that move anyday, even though I like the firmnes of the fixed foot braces.

With the smart track when I am out all day, doing a hard work out with a bunch of sharp turns my foot will cramp up from trying to stretch my toes to push the rudder peddle.

I sent the Smart track folks an e-mail asking them if there was a fix and the answer was shorten the peddle one notch, and if that didn’t work there was a more complicated one which entailed changing the cables length.

Shortening the peddle one notch didn’t change a thing.

And yes it sticks straight up in the air and if you are in a small creek it will get caught in low bushes.

That is my take on it.

Cheers,

Jackl

Never had the smooshy ones
But I know what Jack means about trying to push the pedals with your toes. You really have to flex your calf muscle hard to get the rudder to move. I haven’t had a problem with it but I only use the rudder in very windy conditions to correct my course.



I think Jack may not be pulling hard enough on that rope to retract the rudder. Mine flips straight up in the air and then down on the deck and rests in a small notch.

You must have a different one than I
have.

And another thing; most days I don’t use the rudder, and if I don’t tuck that freaking ball in under my PFD it will bob all over the place in the water.

Do I sound like an old grouch?

Thats because I was hanging drywall all day rather than paddling!

Cheers,

JackL

Possibly incorrect setup
My cables are set up tight, so that I push very little to initiate rudder movement. The Toe Pilots end up slightly more vertical than where they naturally rest. Love my SmartTrack.



Jim

I replaced the pegs on my Dagger
Magellan with the Sealine and I’ve been very happy with it but you don’t get as much travel with them. One solution I seen here is to drill new holes in the horizontal plate on your old rudder to move the cables in closer, haven’t tried it.



I’ve got the full Sealine system on my QCC and it works better.



For those having problems snagging you could leave it sticking straight out the back (don’t back up) or remove the blade completely.



Matter of fact I took the Dagger out today cause I thought we might be breaking ice (16 deg.) and didn’t want to do that to the QCC (I’ve heard they’re delicate).



SYOR

Randy

I’ve got to agree with Jim…

– Last Updated: Jan-15-05 10:45 PM EST –

After adjusting all of the slack out of the cables, it took just a small push/touch with my toes to move the rudder. I kept taking slack out by pulling more cable through the "cool rudder wedgie". After determining that I had it adjusted correctly, I trimmed the excess cable off.

JackL, its really not hard to adjust, and you'll be glad you did.

Before the adjustment, it took my entire foot pivoting on the pegs to steer.

I did not like the way the rudder stuck up in the air, though. I paddle a lot in the swamp and had to take special care not to break the rudder off!


Tripp

I love the smart trac rudder system.
Taking the time to properly adjust it is the key. Once it is properly adjusted, it takes very little movement of the foot to move the rudder. And the stationary footpegs are worth whatever you have to go through to get it adjusted.

I converted mine.

– Last Updated: Jan-16-05 2:47 AM EST –

I converted my Current Design foot rests to the Smart Track Foot Rest (STFR) variety four years ago and I'm glad I did. I kept my existing rudder assembly, so my comments will address the question you posed, namely the STFR installation to an existing rudder:

1. You may want to consider the drop-down extension kit. The kit provides a couple of plastic rectangles and needed hardware (ss bolts, lock nuts, and rubber washers) that lower the STFR to a more comfortable position, one that places the ball/toes of your foot partially on the movable rudder pedals. Most traditional foot rests hull holes are positioned too high for the STFR configuration. I checked with a STFR installer (e.g., NY Jersey Kayak) in order to find out if I really needed it or not, and to avoid the trial and error approach) The STFR holes should fit your kayaks standard thru-hull horizontal mounting holes. If they don't, you'll need to fill them and redrill new ones. The STFR kit tells you the distance (don't quote me on the distance, but I seem to remember 14 1/2" or 14 5/8" inches). I didn't have to relocate the holes in my hull, but I did respace the horizontal holes in the extension by about 1/8 inch.

2. A set of new rudder cables come with the kit. One end is brass cinched and housed in the STFR adjustment knob (the STFR provides some adjustment for cable stretch). I had to remove the cable from the pedal assembly and thread the uncinched cable end from the back of the boat--couldn't get the cable to thread from the other direction through the H-channel (cable channel). The cable always hung up as it tried to exit the rear water tight tubing near the rudder--tried lube but the cable would not exit and eventually frayed after several attempts which would require me to shorten the cable before each new attempt--very frustrating. I gave up on that direction and threaded from the rudder end and everything proceeded smoothly. Once I threaded the cable, I then crimped a new brass cinch on the end after rethreading into the STFR itself. After everything was assembled, I attached the wedgie assembly; adjusted the cable length; and sealed the ends. Ideally, if you can thread the new cable from the cockpit back toward the rudder then you won't have to do any of the extra steps I had to perform.

3. As an earlier post to your inquiry indicated, you'll want to purchase some rudder wedgies; they don't come with the stand-alone STFR kit, but they're probably a necessity to do the job correctly. Most STFR suppliers will sell the wedgies kit as a separate item. I purchased mine through a Kayak store in CT. You'll want to adjust the rudder cables to ensure the movable pedals are at a comfortable position and far enough back (toward the paddler) to ensure full rudder control. I attached the wedgie housing next--it should pin on to your existing rudder pins. I would recommend you verify that the wedgie assembly will fit your rudder assembly before you proceded to purchase the STFR/wedgie kits. Once I threaded the cables through my rudder assembly, around the wedgies, and inserted the wedgies into their housing (which locks them in place), I trimmed the cables to about a 4-5 inch length excess and seal them with shrink tubing. Haven't had any problems with this part of the install.

3. I had problems with the original set of STFRs. After three years of use, one of the peddles broke in heavy weather after I exerted a lot of pressure on the foot rest. After removal and inspection, I isolated the problem to a broken/bent pin and pedal housing section that connects the rest to the track assembly. ST replaced both of my assemblies after I returned the damaged one to them. The new set they sent me are made out of aluminum instead of the plastic that was used in the older set. So I'm expecting better performance with the new set.

4. You can also purchase a rudder trim kit--I wouldn't think you would need or want that contraption. The assembly mounts to your hull and the cables allow you to adjust the rudder to compensate for the effects of a constant wind offset.

5. After I installed everything, I purchased replacement hardware for the small items that might be lost or need replacement over time (e.g., cotter and cinch pins, nuts, etc) and placed them in my repair kit.

All in all, the STFR provided me with a more stable foot rest than the movable variety—I find it's much easier to brace and roll now.

It was worth the effort and I would recommend the conversion.

Dave

Thanks Tripp
I’ll take a look at that.

I have not taken a close look since I talked to the factory people.

I figured I would just live with it along with my leaky hatches.

If any one can find me a 21 inch wide kevlar perception Eclipse, I’ll make a swap for my QCC-700.

I’ll even throw in my wifes QCC 600 which they built to the wrong specs and also has leaky hatches.

Beautiful fast yaks, but…

cheers,

JackL

Appreciate the comments
Thanks for all the detailed answers. I will save the comments and advise on installation. I will get a pair and change them over. The reason is I need a stable set of foot braces to roll the boat with confidence which is the most important thing for me. Appreciate your answers.





Peter

Sine folks grind the footrests to
get a larger flatter surface to push against in the forward stroke.



Something extra to think about.

Rudder replacement - check first
I have the Seal Line system pegs (original rudder and cables) on my Squall, which I paddled for three seasons on ocean, lakes and rivers. I have been very happy with the firm brace they give my foot. I’ve managed to blow a peg out of its location maybe three times trying for a roll, but with my biking muscles I can put out a bodacious amount of oomph.



As to the rudder controls, I would second the suggestions above to get the rudder contol, lower, nearer and tighter. The 3 or 4 times I ever dropped the rudder on the Squall the toe-reaching bit was a bit annoying.



I didn’t catch what boat you have - you may want to check with CD before replacing the rudder. In the Solstice series of CD boats, I have been told that the rudder in its resting state is designed to help against lee-cocking. So a vertical rudder may alter the equation. But - I never checked out the above with Current Designs. I was I thinking about removing the rudder for this last season - I found that it was always annoying and never felt good to have it down, especially in messy stuff. But we ended up getting new boats, so I never bothered.



Celia

CD Extreme Experience
Two additional installation hints to the other excellent posts:


  1. Use two vice grips to temporarily hold the two cables on the rudder attachement points until you get the toe adjustment set properly. Too tight and you won’t get full rudder movement. Too slack and, as Jack L mentioned in his post, your toes will have to pivot to far to turn.


  2. Purchase a cable cutter at a bike shop. Sometimes the cable end becomes frayed when pushing it through the CD Extreme rudder cable channel. Only a cable cutter will restore the end to the narrow diameter required for easy installation.



    It is a very worthwhile addition to the CD Extreme and the stock rudder.

Smart Track -Modified Foot Assy
Foot controls: I like tiller foot controls over the pedal system, it doesn’t feel right to be pushing on alternating sides of the boat to go forward, nor to adjust course under power by rotating the foot upwards to alter the rudder setting.



To make more like the tiller system with center foot support:

I use aluminum angle 2” wide 1/16”-1/8” thick connecting across between the 2 foot pedals, 1/8”-3/16” bungee and 1/8” through-bolted onto the foot side of the foot pedals. In my boat, 12” of angle is enough to lay across both pedals with the other 90° face under the pedals. To further reduce the aluminum angle flex, bolt or rivet ¾” or ½” C-channel on the back in 3 places of the vertical face of the angle between the pedals; a 5” long section is correct for my pedal spacing.



Notes and small tweaks:

You could bend the aluminum face sitting against the pedal to match the pedal curvature closer. Test your method on scrap aluminum before working on the final installation piece.

The hole drilled in the pedal needs to be in a flat spot on the back of the pedal- there are many plastic gussets cast in. Drill the aluminum hole with extra clearance to allow fitting the pedal to it. The bolt is to keep the aluminum angle in the right place but not too tight. The bungee keeps it firmly against the pedals looped as needed around each pedal 2-3 times without restricting the toe pedal steering rotation.

For delicate carbon and Kevlar boats, place a strip of no-skid tape under the added brace and existing pedals to protect the floor from wearing through where your heels rest. Sand and grit will wear through when stirred by your moving heel pressure.

Since the aluminum angle had a large clearance hole drilled, the foot position can be angled for different length legs, and the entire assembly can be adjusted for different paddler legs by moving the pedals simultaneously.



My method for working on the steering system: Place kayak upside down on two folding cloth lawn chairs or other supports. Adjust vertical height so you can sit on the ground on a foam pad with head and shoulders inside the boat. Put all tools alongside with immediate use tools in the hull with flashlight.

That reminds me…
Peter, Richard295’s great advice reminded me of my approach for adjusting the cables (which I skipped over in my earlier reply).



My CD rudder, in the housed position, is locked in a zero degree position. I tried to take advantage of that feature. Before adjusting the cables, I positioned a light in the cockpit so I could easily see the movable portion of the pedal assembly from the rear of the boat. If you have a helper, this procedure is much easier as it is easier to get it right if you’re viewing the pedal from the side than from the back of the boat. If you don’t, then you’ll want to use a clamp, make a number of different sightings from different angles, and make multiple adjustments until you get it right. I adjusted each cable until the face of the movable toe pedal was just about equal to the face of the fixed portion of the foot rest (in line with, and on a slight forward angle (toward the bow) in the vertical). After I found the correct position for me, I marked the position where the cable enters the water tight tube near the rudder, and then wrapped the cable around the wedgie and inserted the wedgie into its housing–making sure the mark on the cable was still alighned to the hull. I then double checked the toe pedal again, and if all was well, I inserted the cotterpin to lock the wedgie in place. Once one cable was done, I proceeded to the other one. With the rudder locked to zero, I found it easier to configure, not having to worry about left and right play.



When paddling with the rudder in the housed position (which is 99 percent of the time for me), both portions of the foot rest (fixed and movable) serve as a larger fixed plane–this gives you extra purchase when adjusting hip/foot position during a roll. I kept both portions of the pedal (fixed & movable) parallel to ensure heavy foot pressure would be distributed somewhat evenly across both pedals. If the movable portion is to far back toward the paddler then you might break it when the rudder is housed (and it makes for an uncomfortable foot position). If you don’t use the adjustment kit to lower the foot rest, then this slight advantage probably won’t be apparent to you as your foot will generally be too low on the pedals to take advantage of it (I have size 12).



TIP: My CD rudder assembly has a large threaded screw that, when tightened, applies additional pressure to the rudder pivot assembly making for a rudder that requires more pressure to move it left or right when deployed. When I’m using the rudder, this seems to keep the rudder in place with fewer pedal adjustments (assuming you don’t have opposing wave action moving your rudder around a lot. Your rudder might be different, but once you use your pedals for a while consider how you might tighten up your rudder movement to make your windy day paddling a bit easier (you accomplish the same thing the rudder trim tab contraption I mentioned in my earlier post without the extra gear and need to drill your hull).



As for cutting the rudder cable, I had a lot of practice with this after the many failed attempts at threading the cable. I’ve purchased my spare cables from West Marine. If you have them in your area, then you may wish to use their heavy duty cable cutters that are generally available for loan out (with a deposit) should you think you need them. You can also rent their crimpers to cinch the brass end bit on the cable (I used vice grips). To cut my cable, I just used a set of electrical lineman pliers that I purchased at Lowes, as long as they’re sharp, they should work well. To prevent premature fraying during the threading process, I eventually tried saturating the end of the cable with a drop of crazy glue (I wiped off the excess to ensure I didn’t increase the diameter of the wire). That seemed to reduce the fraying (but you shouldn’t need to do this if your wire threads easily through the channel). I also used some dry lube (with Teflon) on the end and first foot or two of the cables.



The installation is not as hard as describing it, so have fun–you’ll be glad you did it!



Dave

Thanks for the imformation

– Last Updated: Jan-16-05 9:14 PM EST –

Appreciate again the detailed replies. I believe another solution would be to drop the thing off and have a "Dealer" install it and let them worry about it. But that would be too easy. I will save the imformation and do it myself. If I mess it up I will throw the boat in a dumpster and buy a sailboat (which would be a whole other question that I am not going to ask here.)

Thanks Again (Really)

Peter

To sum up
Lower pedal position for Smart Track pedals, Closer so that your forefoot overhangs the stationary pedal and your toes do the steering, tighter cables to position the Toe Pilots more vertically.



The suggestion for getting a set of bike cable cutters is a great one. They will pay for themselves in reduced frustration. Get the cheapest ones you can, and they will work OK.



Another suggestion: “Solder-It” paste from Lowes or HD. It is a soldering material that comes in a hypo-like applicator, contains silver, and melts in a lighter flame. Use it to “tin” the freshly-cut ends of your cables, and your days of fraying will be over.



Smart Tracks are frustrating to set up, but once dialed in work beautifully.



Jim

Do the installation yourself
There is a greater benefit than the cost savings of having a dealer install the Smart Track. Mechanical devices are prone to failure. The installation forces you to thoroughly understand how the Smart Track system works and is tuned. If you experience a failure, or require an adjustment on a kayak trip, your previously gained experience will prove quite helpful.



The Cool Rudder Wedgies, mentioned in some earlier posts didn’t come with my kit to adapt the existing CD Extreme rudder. Since I did the installation by myself, I was forced to use vice grips as a temporary method to make sure the cable lengths were correct before permanently sizing the cables by compressing the brass band loop near the cable ends. Will someone please explain in detail how the Cool Rudder Wedgies work and how to order them?



The original version of this system used a plastic side rail that was prone to failure if heavily pressured for long periods. Many users never experience a problem with the plastic side rails, but I broke mine through heavy use. The new side rail versions use aluminum instead of plastic. Make sure that the unit you purchase isn’t plastic from old inventory.



The pedal height adjustment kit will allow you to lower the position of the standard CD Extreme foot pedals without having to drill any new holes in your boat.

tiller
I think the sisson site has tiller upgrades. My glider has tiller steering just like my west side boats and tiller rules. Very solid footing in the center of the boat for optimim push. All icf race boats have tiller and they go 12 to 14 mph!