Deck fittings are also generally easier to install when the deck is separate from the hull. For this project we’re using simple fiberglass tube deck fittings. On some building bulletin boards they are commonly also called “Maroske fittings” after a home builder named Gerald Maroske. They’re pretty simple: A hollow fiberglass tube is molded in the deck and the cord or bungee passes through it. They are light weight, simple, waterproof and easy to install. The only major downside is the their size. You can generally only run one line through each fitting. You really have to preplan your decklines before installing these guys.
Here’s how I do mine.
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The first thing is to design the layout of the lines. I spend literally hours with each customer detailing exactly where the hatches are and what lines will run where and what material they will be made. Before any holes are drilled or cut my customer signs off an official approval drawing. In this case Zack wanted pretty standard Greenland lines on his kayak. The main lines are double runs of 3/16″ cord with carbon fiber sliders. Next to each hatch are a double run of 1/4″ bungee to hold paddles. At the ends are grab handles made from wrapped cord (usually used as paddle holders on the Greenland kayaks). He will not be carrying much on his deck as the the kayak is destined mostly for high speed training and racing. It should work well and look really good. It’ll be a neat combination of Greenland and modern race kayak.
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Now to mark and drill the holes. To keep the hole spacing and offsets uniform I used a little plywood jig I made for the “Areia” Black Pearl project. Line up the center line and stab an old Sharpie into each hole. To help prevent tear-out I backed up the deck with a piece of scrap wood while drilling the holes.
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I next flipped the deck so the inside was up and beveled each hole with a 45 degree router bit chucked in my drill. The tubes enter the deck at an angle. The bevel allows the tubes to be as small as and as tight to the deck as possible.
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Now the forms. You want something that releases easily from epoxy, holds it shape when you bend it and is easy to remove. Most builders use clear PVC tubing with a length of rope pulled through it. The rope allows the PVC to bend without kinking. I’ve found the PVC can be a bear to remove. Others swear by hotglue sticks wrapped in Teflon tape. I tried it and found it to be a lot of work. The resulting tube wasn’t very smooth either. This is what I now swear by: LATEX tubing with a greased piece of coaxial cable. The grease (petroleum jelly) is needed because the latex is very stretchy and grippy. Grease the cable and the latex slides on easily. Over the tubing are two layers of 1/2″ diameter braided fiberglass tube. This whole assembly is slid through one hole and out the other.
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Now you simply wet out the fiberglass tubing with epoxy. I tinted it black to make the fittings opaque. Before applying the epoxy I masked off the inside of the deck around each one. It minimizes the cleanup.
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Now you let the epoxy cure overnight at a minimum. You want the epoxy hard. If it’s still “green” the formed tubes may deform. Now demold them. The coaxial cable slides out first. Then you start pulling one end of the latex. It’ll stretch 200 – 300% and then fully release with a soft “pop.” Other methods are more… dramatic, shall we say… during the removal stage.
Trim up the exposed ends on the exterior of the deck with a pull saw and move to the next one.
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Here are the final deck fitting sans deck lines. They just need to be sanded flush with the deck and then rounded over.
One really nice thing about using coax cable and latex tubing is that they are 100% reusable. I’ve done a few kayaks with the same tubes and cable.
Next up: making the cockpit coaming.