Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday

(From Despair.com)

I have to say that I look on mistakes (Or Misteaks and Boo-Boos as Dave Fleming would have said...) a little differently than other people.

I've been working on several skin-on-frame kayaks. I'm almost ready to skin the boats, but I have a few more details I need to work on. These details are the foot braces the cockpit coaming and a hatch cover and rim. The coaming cover and rim are essentially laminated ovals and are very similar. Unlike very traditional skin-on-frame kayaks which are built specifically for one user and have fixed foot braces and sized cockpits, I'm trying to make a more flexible boat in terms of fit. To that end, I'm making adjustable foot braces.

I started out and designed a set of dovetail rails about 2 feet long with mating slides that had a large foot-pad. There was a pair for the left and right side of the kayak. On the slides were going to be pins with a coil spring to push the pin into holes in the dovetails to allow you to adjust the position of the foot brace.

Things started out auspiciously. I milled the rails. I made up the mating slide parts. I assembled the slide parts. I slid parts together. They slid nicely.

Then I started to look at things a bit more critically. There were some issues. The "wheelbase" of the slide on the rail was short and the parts weren't particularly robust. The release pin for the slides was going to wind up being behind the pedals. This would have been inconvenient as the the kayak is very low volume and it will be awkward to reach into the cockpit to adjust these pins.


I was a bit disappointed, but I went back to my Thotful Spot.

I learned something. Well, I learned several things, really. I learned that wasn't the way I wanted to do this. I wanted something simpler and more robust. I wanted something that I could adjust from inside the cockpit. I wanted something that wasn't going to include any metal parts.

What I have in mind is a single central rail with a dovetail on the sides and a holes in the top that can sit on top of the keel stringer. It's sort of like a wooden drawer slide and will have a longer engagement with the central rail. The foot pedals will be a single piece attached to the slide that will run on the rail. There will be a long flat strip of wood extending back towards the seat with an integral pin. This strip of wood will be a leaf spring to keep the pin in the holes and should be reachable from the paddler in the cockpit.

Previous design and theory are important when working on an idea, but there's nothing like trying and doing, whether you get it "right" the first time or you make a mistake.

So, if you do make a mistake, have the persistence to keep on learning, honing your skills and trying new methods to achieve your goals.

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