Valley / VCP Update
A few weeks ago I posted about an encounter I had had with the boys from Valley whilst out paddling. Also my first impressions of their new plastic Nordkapp and Aquanaut HV’s. Whilst paddling they said I was welcome to visit the factory, I have now taken up that offer.
The factory I visited was a new one where they do all their new vacuum infused layups, I believe they still use the original factory for the regular glass boats and plastic boat outfitting. I witnessed both the process and finished Pro and Ultra Kevlar boats and was highly impressed. They were also doing some jigs and other pre-production work on their new Aquanaut Club (the third of the new plastic boats), this looks set to be a very popular kayak, I think they said it was going to retail for £170 less than the regular plastic kayaks.
There was other stuff they showed and told me but I’ll just sum that up by saying “Hats off to the boys at Valley” 2006 looks set to be an interesting year
Valley / VCP Update
It will be interesting to see how the QC holds up through the radical changes. No reason not to be optimistic. In fact, IMHO if they pull this off without hickups in QC and supply, VCP/VSK could eventually see a very substantial increase in market share.
Last week, I received from Peter Orton a detailed email responding to my concerns over recent issues with Valley boats.
Peter made it clear that he was aware of the issues and had taken affirmative steps to address them.
Among those steps has been bringing in QC folks he had worked with at P&H. As we all know, P&H has long had the best QC of any Brit manufacturer of kayaks.
He also noted that they hope to have the new web site up and running very soon.
What issues have you had with recent Valley boats? Since I am considering a 2005 Valley boat, I am curious if there are specific issues to look for when buying a Valley boat. To date, the ones I have tested have been close to the P&H boats I have tired which is to say they had a finish that was very good indeed.
buy with confidence
There is no reason to worry about buying a 2005 Valley kayak. The correspondence mentioned above was that we had more QC issues than we were comfortable with (in 2005) and that we had made changes to staff, materials, constructions and procedures to reduce any potential problems in the future.
For the number of kayaks we produced the number was still quite small and as you would expect from a company with a 30+ year history we would always stand buy our products and rectify/replace any product in the unlikely event that there was a problem
good to hear
I looked at VCP kayaks as THE boats to get but could never get over the cost/construction method/weight ratio. Look forward to seeing the new boats.
Don’t worry as I would not be worried about getting a 2005 or 2004 or 1995 model for that matter. I was just curious if there was something in particular to look for when going over a boat. While the Avocet matches what, based on limited experience, I like in a hull as in very seaworthy/unflappable while still lively/fun; I am thinking of an Anas Acuta to explore Greenland techniques and for something different.
I have a '91 that’s in great shape NM
Only a handful
Even in this past transition year, Valley had fewer problem boats shipped than a number of high end manufacturers. Actually, I heard of more issues with Necky Chathams than Valley boats.
That being said, there seemed to be more issues than in recent previous years. In all cases I know of Valley was responsive and took care of the issue - often offering options to the paddler.
In total I heard of a handful of Valley boats with any kind of problem. There is no reason to be aprehensive about buying a Valley boat.
What boats or lay-ups is VCP planning on vacuum bagging? This sounds like a significant departure for them from their traditional construction methods. I also heard of a few more minor quality glitches in 2005 (i.e. skeg sliders and broken seats) but still think VCP sits high on the QC ladder.
It’s the high-end layups…
…that are being vacuum bagged. The standard layup is still done by hand, but it’s now all woven cloth instead of mat, except for areas that need to be molded like deck fittings, compass recesses and the like. Since Peter took over, it seems that Valley construction has improved significantly and they’ve been making a lot of smart marketing moves, too. VSK (it’s no longer VCP) has a bright future, it appears.
clarify the methods
Could you all clarify the method for the high end boats? Is is vacuum bagging or infusion, a significantly different method?
Although they were already a good quality boat with a nice history of making things right if they went wrong, and they do appear to be on a good path, I think it is not completely right to say there is “nothing to be apprehensive about”. Take in the best way possible, remains to be seen if the problem has been fixed, even with the nicest and most competent folks, which they are, it just takes some shaking out of a new method to get it right.
See Peter Orton’s posts on the other …
But, in a nutshell, “vacuum infusion process is only currently being use on the pro and ultra Kevlar models, although the standard glass diolen construction has been revised using more cloth reinforcement reducing weight and resin ratios”
not nick picking
Right, just some folks here know there is a difference between vacuum bag and infusion processes and wanted it clear which it is,
Last season I got quite a primer on how infusion works from some aerospace buds as applied to how kayak folks are now learning to apply this process.
It has its advantages, less weight, potentially same strength, and even some added flexibility instead of cracking. That said, infusion must be handled very carefullly, since there is now less material it can result in incomplete areas with not enough resin, and as I found out, the inside of the hull especially below the feet in the cockpit is more prone to quicker wear due to less resin there!
You make some good points. Any new process takes time to perfect. Resin Infusion is a terrific way to build kayaks, but it does take care, and isn’t really faster. The infused boats I’ve been assigned to abuse have been bomber. Overbuilt in fact. Valley I’m sure will do a superb job.
had to make a decision
its not that i dont look at my Jubilee almost daily and think what an awesome boat that has been on so so many trips, but this years boat was to be a ‘rolling’ boat but a trip overseas this coming summer said it had to be flight capable for the least amount of money, so I went with the Feathercraft Whisper though I wanted a Valley q-boat…i dont plan on regretting the decision, just getting a q-boat next year.
How about the Jet Stream?
Hey how come you did not get the folding Jet Stream? Just kidding!
It looks fast and it is fast! The Jet Stream is the world’s first folding surf ski - it is 19’ 3" long, has a 20" beam, and weighs 45 pounds.
impressive stats the the Jsteam
but i’m not about speed though we’ve got the QCC700 and the Looksha II on the rack…I had a Folbot at one time and gave it to a friend who help me wire and sheet rock an addition we had made on the house. Nothing against the Folbot, it was the Edisto (no longer in their lineup) but I truly did want to edge closer to the Inuit boats (have the fear that maybe someday will actually build my own) and the Whisper had the qualities (no. one weight for a transatlantic flight) that i was looking for…and a vehement yes in that it had to carry camping gear.