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24aa. Mounting fixed Yakima footbraces for a rudderless kayak

See also 24ab. Mounting sliding footbraces

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If you would like to mount your fixed footbraces by drilling through the kayak skin (the way most kayak manufacturers do), then the screws supplied with the Yakima footbrace set will work fine. If drilling is not an option, then a slight modification will be required. The problem is that the screws supplied with the footbraces from the factory are not suitable to be threaded from the 'top'. The head of the screw is too wide to pass through the foot peg slot and the threaded stem is too short to reach the tapped hole. (1/4" standard thread).

So, the first step is to drill out the thread in the aluminium rail so the the screw can freely pass through (both holes in the rail).
I believe that the best way to install these things is to make everything maintainable, removable and easy.
The front of the rail will receive a slot so that the screw needs to be only loosened (without being removed) and the rail can slide in and out. The head of the screw fits fine into the wider opening.
Detail of slot cutting. Use a file to smooth the cuts if needed.
Unfortunately, a simple slot is not practical or desirable on the cockpit side of the rail, so I am modifying the screw head so it can pass through the foot peg slot.
The reason for this is that the footbraces are 'pushed against' so the slot in the front is effective in resisting the force while this same slot in the rear would result in a weak attachment.

Once the modifications are complete, the screws are tightened onto the rail, the thread is trimmed to the nut and the nut itself is notched to for a better grip in the epoxy. A stronger solution still is to put a stainless washer under the nut. Roughen the bonded side of the washer with coarse sandpaper, grinder of a file so that the washer can also bond with the epoxy.

The next vital step is to create a nonstick surface on the aluminium rail so it can be removed once the epoxy putty hardens. Clear packing tape serves as the perfect mold release. make sure that only the screw protrudes 'unmasked'.
Once the bonding areas are protected with the tape and the screws are fastened, a bead of epoxy putty is 'buttered' on. Make sure to force the epoxy into every 'nook and cranny' around the nut.

The putty consists of epoxy, colloidal silica (Cabosil) and milled fiberglass. For high stress bonding like this, it is a very good idea to reinforce the epoxy matrix with longer fibers like the milled fiberglass (milled Kavlar or carbon).

If you don't have milled fiberglass, take a scrap of fiberglass or better still some graphite cloth and chop it with scissors into 1/4" (6mm) or smaller bits. You will need only about a table spoon of this to make all the putty you need. The reinforced putty will be immeasurably stronger.
I am doing the footbrace mounting right after the kayak bonding operation. The fiberglass tape is still fresh. The footbrace is placed on location markers drawn before the deck was bonded to the hull. In this instance, I waited to bond the footbraces until the taping was finished since the pegs sit right on top of the new tape.

Removal of excess putty around the bond. Note the 5/8" Minicel foam spacer supporting the footbrace. The deck is on the right side.

The spacer is there for two reasons:
  • Both foot pegs will be mounted symmetrically with respect to the kayak
  • I like to rest the ball of my foot against the peg which requires that it be as high as practical without interfering with the deck or removal

Close up

Next day (if fast epoxy is used) a tap with a hammer on the side of the foot peg will break the bond. Remember to loosen the screws first !!
Cleaning up. The bonded area is perfectly molded to the shape of the rail.
Now, the removal of the footbraces for whatever reason will be a snap and if you decide to install something totally different at a later date, you don't need a stick of Semtex to blast the footbraces off :)

See also 24ab. Mounting sliding footbraces


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Last page update: 11 January 2020