Rudder Install Step by Step Guide- ATAK 140

Michael Guyer shares with us what I believe is the most thorough and informative set of instructions to install a rudder on a Wilderness Systems ATAK 140. Many of these tips and tricks will apply to other kayaks as well, especially Wilderness Systems kayaks.

Tools Required for rudder installation:
#2 Phillips head screwdriver Crimping tool/pliers
Drill & 5/32” bit Electrical Tape
5/16” drill bit Scissors or Knife
Measuring Tape Heat Gun or Lighter
Rivet Gun (Optional) Allen (Hex) Wrench (Provided) or Allen
Thread Locking Compound (Optional) bit for screwdriver (Optional)

Installation Steps:

1. Attach the Rudder Bracket

a. Remove the filler screws from inserts at the stern of kayak. These will not be reused.

rudder install ATAK
b. Place ¼” lock washer on each ¼-20 x 5/8” Allen head screw.
c. Position bracket, as shown, so that the raised portion is on top and align the opening with the inserts in stern.

NOTE: For the screws that secure the rudder bracket to the stern and the foot brace extrusions, it is a good idea to use some sort of a thread locking compound (Locktite or similar) to the threads prior to installation. Each strength is identified by color and the Blue will securely hold the screws without requiring heat or special tools to remove if necessary.

d. Partially thread one screw through bracket and into insert; Do not tighten fully.

rudder install ATAK
e. Partially thread the second screw through bracket and into insert; Do not tighten fully.
f. Position bracket so that the rudder pin hole is vertical.
g. Holding bracket to avoid disturbing proper alignment, fully tighten both screws.

2. Installing the Rudder Assembly

a. Unwrap the lift lines from the rudder assembly. If the split ring is attached to the post, remove and save the ring.
b. Insert the silver rudder post into the vertical hole in the bracket, as shown;

rudder install ATAK
c. Install the split ring that was removed in step 2. a. in the base of the rudder post, as shown;

rudder install ATAK
d. Rotate the rudder blade up and over so that it rests in the groove on top of the rear hatch.

3. Installing Rudder Tie Down

NOTE: On this particular kayak, two options are available; You can either use the 3/16” x 1’ Bungee Cord and J-Hook Fitting or you can use the “V” Rudder Rest. J-Hook installation is shown is step A. “V” Rudder Rest installation is shown in step B.

A. Installing the J-Hook.

1. Begin by determining where you will drill the hole for the bungee cord. I used a sliver Sharpie marker to identify where the hole will be drilled.

rudder install ATAK

2. Check underneath for clearance prior to drilling.

rudder install ATAK

3. The instructions provided with the rudder called for a 5/32” hole to run the bungee cord through the hatch, however, I found that I had to go up one size larger and “waller” the bit a little to get enough clearance for the bungee. You want a tight fit so that water won’t enter and sealing the hole with LEXEL or other marine sealant afterwards is recommended.
4. Next, pass the bungee cord through the hole and secure it with an overhand knot to prevent it from coming back out.

rudder install ATAK
5. Close the hatch and pass the bungee cord through the J-Hook as shown. Adjust the knot holding the J-Hook in place on top of the rudder until you have achieved the desired tension.

rudder install ATAK
6. Once you are satisfied with the final positioning of the J-Hook, cut the bungee cord and heat the end to prevent it from fraying.

rudder install ATAK

B. Installing the “V” Rudder Rest

1. Begin by determining where you will drill the hole for the bungee cord. I used a sliver Sharpie marker to indicate where the holes will be drilled.

rudder install ATAK
2. Check underneath for clearance prior to drilling.

rudder install ATAK
3. A 13/64” drill bit was used to drill the holes for the rivets. The rivets provided by Harmony are silver. I chose to use black for aesthetics, but the rivets are exactly the same size

rudder install ATAK
4. As you can see, the rivets are closed on the bottom, so water entry won’t be an issue.

rudder install ATAK
5. Alignment of the V Rudder Rest is shown below. Keep in mind that the block is made of rubber and a slight misalignment will not affect operation, as it will settle into its final alignment position with time and use.

rudder install ATAK

4. Install Rudder Lift Lines

a. Remove existing screws from the molded in recesses along the right/starboard side of the kayak from the stern to the cockpit. These screws will not be reused.

rudder install ATAK
b. Secure a round pad eye at each recess with a 10-32 x 1” Phillips head screw, as shown;

rudder install ATAK
NOTE: The lift lines can be threaded through the pad eyes as they are being installed or after all of the pad eyes are in place. In either case, ensure 1. That the openings in the pad eyes are aligned to allow free fore & aft movement of the lift lines and 2. That the lines are not twisted.

c. Place the Turtle Assemble in the forward-most pad eye.

rudder install ATAK
i. Thread the top lift line through the open hole in the top Turtle
ii. Thread the bottom lift line through the open hole in the bottom Turtle.
d. As an alternative, a pulley can be used in place of the forward pad eye. This may make operation just a bit smoother. While not necessary, I chose to drill a hole and use an extra 10-32 x 1” Phillips head screw. In reality, a single screw going into the pad eye insert is satisfactory.

rudder install ATAK

5. Installing the Footbraces

a. Secure the rudder, centered on stern deck.
b. Remove existing footbraces from hull.
c. Drill out the threaded holes in metal extrusions with a 5/16 drill bit, as shown;

rudder install ATAK
d. After drilling all 4 holes, apply some sort of paint to protect the raw metal holes. I found it easiest to apply the black paint to a Q-tip and paint the inside of the hole with the Q-tip;

rudder install ATAK
e. The new Keeper braces had the older, unpadded foot rests (left). I found it necessary to remove the plastic “Christmas tree” fastener to slide the padded foot rests (right) off of the footbraces that we just removed. I then installed the padded foot rests on the new Keeper braces in place of the unpadded ones;

rudder install ATAK

NOTE: Contrary to the written instructions that are provided with the rudder kit, you MUST slide the Keeper braces onto the aluminum extrusions PRIOR to installing the extrusions where you previously removed the footbraces. There is not enough clearance to slide the Keeper braces onto the extrusions if you install them separately. Also, these 4 screws will benefit from Blue Thread locking compound, as mentioned earlier.

f. Simply slide the Keeper brace forward far enough to start the rear ¼”-20 x 5/8 screw;

rudder install ATAK
g. Next, slide the Keeper brace rearward enough to start the forward ¼”-20 x 5/8 screw;

rudder install ATAK
h. Once both screws are started, fully tighten each screw.

6. Installing the Rudder Control Cables and & Connection to Head of Rudder Assembly

a. If installed, remove the plugs at each end of the rudder tubing.
b. Identify the end of the cable with a shrink-wrapped swage.
c. Insert cable into the center notch in rudder wing so that the end of the swage butts up against the stern side of the rudder wing. If after on-water testing you want your rudder to be more responsive, move the swage to the inboard notch. If you want it less responsive, move it to the outboard notch;

rudder install ATAK
d. Starting from the stern, insert the opposite end of the cable into the stern tubing port and push slowly forward. Do not try to rush or push too hard, as the cable could bind;

rudder install ATAK
e. On the starboard side, ensure that the cable goes underneath the rudder lift lines;

rudder install ATAK
f. Continue pushing until the end of the cable emerges from the end of the tubing, just behind the Keeper braces;

rudder install ATAK
g. Pull the cable fully forward to remove any slack. Double check that the swaged end of the cable is still engaged in the notch in the rudder wing.

7. Connecting the Cables to the Keeper Braces

a. Position the rudder into a deployed, vertical position. It may be handy to use tape to prevent the rudder from moving from a centered position.
b. Cut the shrink tubing into 2 equal parts. Slide 1 section of tubing onto each cable, followed by 2 copper swages per cable;

rudder install ATAK
c. Loop the end of the cables through the loops at the stern end of the Keeper braces, removing all slack. Tape or hold the two ends of the cable together to maintain relative position;

rudder install ATAK
d. Remove the tape securing the rudder in position and push the Keeper brace fully forward by hand. Inspect rudder position to insure that it is not contacting the hull. If this position is acceptable, run the end of the cable back through the two swages and tape in place. Repeat this procedure with the cable on the other side of the kayak.

e. With both cables temporarily taped, move both Keeper braces into a centered position, even with each other and inspect the rudder position. Rudder should be centered.
f. If rudder position is correct, butt both swages against each other and crimp to firmly bind the cable inside the swages and cut off the excess cable;

rudder install ATAK
g. Slide the shrink tubing over both swages and the cable end and shrink with a heat gun or lighter;

rudder install ATAK
You have now successfully installed the Harmony Rudder on your Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 140 kayak!

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