Friday, August 15, 2014

Caring for Your Chariot part 2, Rehabbing the Revo

After covering rusty vehicles in a previous post, I had planned on doing a story on kayak maintenance. My chance came after a particularly rough week of video filming in the Everglades resulting in a nice hole right on the keel of my Hobie Revolution. My idea was to make a quick patch, but I am lucky enough to know a metal and plastic fabricator, Lucas Cesario.
Hard use will result in holes

Lucas is the creator of the Swivel Stick. It’s a really cool and useful device that puts the Power Pole Micro Anchor to shame. What I didn’t know is Lucas also has an extensive history in plastics and Plexiglas. He offered to perform a more extensive re-hab and plastic welding to the Revo, and I happily accepted.

Lucas using the Swivel Sticks
My Revo is actually a loaner from Estero River Outfitters. It’s older and has been used and abused for most of its life. While inspecting the hole, it was apparent that most of the plastic on the keel was gone, a result of being dragged over the course of years. Merely plugging the hole wasn’t going to be an option, we were going to have to build up the area for a lasting fix. The bottom of the hull has also seen its share of abuse at the hands of oyster bars, rocks and what must have been the Kraken, judging by some of the deep gouges.

Years of Rough Use

Some of the deeper gouges
Lucas started by thoroughly washing the hull with a stiff brush and soap. This was to remove any surface dirt. After drying, he used a chemical cleaner to remove deeper dirt and stains. Already the Revo looked far better and Lucas was just prepping. The real work began with the next step. Lucas began working a razor blade over the entire surface. He kept the blade straight up, perpendicular to the hull, and scraped lightly. This removed all the tiny plastic “threads” from the fine scratches that can create drag on the hull. This was very meticulous work and went slow. This smoothed out those rough edges and produced some plastic “powder” that we saved for later use on the hole.

Washing her down

Chemical cleaner application

All cleaned up

Razor scraping

Details with the razor
After leaving the kayak to warm up in the sun for a while, Lucas began using the heat gun. This is the type of work that not just anyone should do. Using a heat gun on a kayak can suddenly and without warning leave you with a pile of useless plastic. Lucas took his time and frequently stopped to use a water mister when the plastic began to get too hot. The idea is to heat up the hull just enough that the fine scratches disappear. They kind of melt together, leaving a smooth surface. The larger, deeper gouges won’t fill in, but will reduce in size.  This probably took the longest time as Lucas had to stop frequently to let the plastic cool. Slowly, Lucas worked his way back to the keel. “You will never be able to make it like new, to get rid of all the scratches, but we can make it a whole lot better”, Lucas said. After a quick going over with superfine sandpaper, it was time to tackle the hole.

Working with the heat

Slow going with the heat gun

Look who stopped by...Josh Harvel!
For this step, Lucas brought out some more specialized tools. Butane torches are able to generate extreme heat on very localized spots. He began with placing some of the plastic shavings from earlier into the small depression created from the hole. The shavings melted quickly under the heat of the torch and filled in the hole nicely. It also became evident that the keel was too thin to leave. The kayak had been dragged many times on the keel and as a result, the plastic was almost paper thin in that area. Lucas quickly came up with a plan to rebuild the keel with leftover plastic from other custom kayak projects he had completed.

Pinpoint heat

Butane torch kit

Filling the hole
melted patch
The plastic was cut and shaped to fit the affected area. Aluminum tape was placed on the inside to prevent the heated plastic from falling inward. Lucas cut a long thin strip of plastic to use similar to the way TIG welding is done. He began by heating a small part of the edge of the work area while simultaneously heating the new piece to be “welded” on. As the two were joined, Lucas would place the thin strip on the new joint, stirring the melted plastic together while melting the strip into the mix as well. He began with a small circle to build the keel to the same height, then started the same process again on top of that, over a larger area. As he worked, the thin plastic of the keel would give way as he kept working toward the front. Every half inch would cause another to fall in, but Lucas kept working along until he could find plastic thick enough to hold the new plastic. After about 5 inches he was into a good foundation and finished bonding the plastic together.

Shaping the new keel

Further shaping

Sanding and beveling the edges

1st filler

The plastic version of TIG welding

Cooling it down

The foundation

1st layer

Building up the keel
Lucas let the plastic set and cool off for a while. When it was ready, he sanded off the rough bulk into shape. Then he used a rasp to file the plastic down even with the hull. Sandpaper finished the fine shaping and blending till one area ran smoothly into the other. If we had used the same color plastic there would be no way to tell there had been repairs. Lucas advises to keep any scraps of plastic you may have from installations or any other drilling. These can be used later for patches.

Finished keel

Finished hull

Finished keel

It goes without saying that if you attempted this at home with absolutely no prior experience, there is a good chance the result will be catastrophic. Lucas is a professional and does stuff like this for a living. He can restore a kayak that has seen hard use, adding a few more years of life, or to clean it up for a sale allowing you to get top dollar for your kayak. Either way, if you are in south Florida, you can contact Lucas at to see if his particular set of skills will suit your needs. Also, check out to see Lucas' creation, the Swivel Stick. It's the best kayak anchoring system out there, bar none!

Friday, July 18, 2014

ICAST review

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, was recently held this past week, July 15th through 18th, in Orlando, Florida. The Event serves two purposes, to bring together manufacturers, distributers and retailers, and to introduce new and current products to the media. ICAST also hosts the New Product Showcase where companies can enter one of many categories to vie for the title of Best New Product.
500,000 square feet of ICAST

This year, over 11,000 attendees visited the event, including close to 1,000 media representatives covering the exhibits and products offered by 480 exhibitors on a show floor that covered 500,000 square feet. “I’ve been coming to ICAST for 20 years,” said ASA Board of Directors Chairman Gregg Wollner, executive vice president of Rapala, “and this is the best show I’ve ever attended. I can’t express how proud I am of the board of directors, the Trade Show committee and the staff for how they pulled together to make this happen.”
The Show Floor

Making up a special section of ICAST’s show floor, the New Product Showcase provides unique visibility for the latest innovations in sportfishing gear and accessories. The submitted products competed in 24 product categories for the “Best of Show” along with the overall “Best of Show” award. This year more than 700 products were entered by 253 exhibiting companies. This year, the Old Town Predator XL was voted by buyers and media as the most innovative product in the ICAST 2014 New Product Showcase Boat category and, ultimately, the overall “Best of Show.”
Larysa Switlyk and Pat Crawford show off Old Town Kayak's Best of Show 

In addition to Old Town, there were many other kayak companies present showing off new and innovative products and accessories. Hobie Kayaks unveiled the incredible Pro Angler Tandem, a 17ft miracle of rotomolding that is definitely more boat than kayak. It features Hobie’s new H-Rail system for attaching accessories with ease. Add two taller Vantage seats and dual Mirage Drives, and Hobie continues their recipe for success. Hobie Fishing Products Manager Morgan Promintz said, “We are very proud of the PA Tandem and think it will fill a niche market”.
Hobie Pro Angler Tandem

Woody Calloway debuted Native Watercraft’s new Slayer Propel 10 kayak, proving that great things come in small packages. At 60lbs, this kayak is light enough to carry down the trail, yet packed with its larger cousins’ features, including Native’s comfortable seating, an improved Propel Drive, and plenty of rigging options with the installed track system. “Our customers told us they wanted something for easier access to tighter areas”, Woody said.
Native Slayer Propel 10

Tactical Angler Crossover Stalker
Tactical Anglers was on hand with new lure offerings. Their TA Crossover Stalker comes in four patterns and will prove to be a best seller. “Reds, snook and trout will absolutely inhale these lures”, announced TA Pro Staffer Butch Newell. Westin, a European company, displayed not yet available, ultra-realistic soft plastic hybrid lures that looked absolutely beautiful. They attended ICAST hoping to find a U.S. distributer before they are available here.
Westin Lures

Flying Fisherman came out with several new designs in their line of affordable polarized glasses. This family owned, Florida based company has made a name for themselves by offering quality fishing eyewear at a fraction of the prices of other name brand competitors. This year, they are expanding their product line to include very high quality travel fishing rods. The Passport travel rods line includes three different sized fly rods and three different sized spinning rods. “These are not the low quality travel rods we have seen in the past. We developed these rods using the finest material and workmanship to offer an excellent adventure travel solution”, Flying Fisherman’s Bobby Vaughn said.
Flying Fisherman

Certainly ICAST has something for everyone. Rods, reels, line, tackle, clothing and accessories. Most of these items are already on store shelves, and the rest will be soon. One thing is for sure, with 1000 media people attending ICAST this year, we will be hearing about it for the next several months!