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)
1. Attach the Rudder Bracket
a. Remove the filler screws from inserts at the stern of kayak. These will not be reused.
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.
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;
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.
2. Check underneath for clearance prior to drilling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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;
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;
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;
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;
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;