After building the Cape
Ann Double, I realized that a mass-produced aluminum rudder would be just
too embarrassing to put on a hand crafted wooden kayak. I did not need to
search for long before I settled on a rudder made of cool looking satin
black carbon fabric. The 'look' was certainly important but the rudder is
also amazingly strong, light, and very simple to build.
Making a solid graphite rudder with full size and accurate rudder plans
is a fun little project that anybody can do and learn a few things about
composites and high tech fibers as well. The rudder construction requires
only a few basic tools that every do-it-yourselfer has (drill, hack saw,
jigsaw, sandpaper etc...). The project takes about four afternoons in total.
The Rudder Mechanism KIT provides all the
hardware components (predrilled) to make construction faster, more accurate
This hi-tech carbon rudder is about 60% less expensive than any commercial
'cookie cutter' steering system and will make your kayak look as you would
want - unique!
Most commercial kayak rudders are made of heavy stainless steel or more
commonly of cheap anodized aluminum. Aluminum blades are weak and deflect
excessively in the water, causing stalling and additional parasitic drag.
Anodization is only a surface treatment that abrades with time, causing
salt water corrosion and fouling of the mechanism.
The One Ocean Kayaks rudder has a high 'aspect
ratio' blade which gives it a good lift and low drag performance. This
means paddling further and faster with with the same amount of power.
Incorporating plywood core with high tensile modulus carbon fibers into
the design not only makes this assembly super light (under 1lb) and strong
but the stiff blade deflects very little in use and its inherent fatigue
resistance gives it almost indefinite life-span. You neverneed
to worry about corrosion because all parts are composite, plastic, and of
marine grade stainless steel.
Customers who purchased the Rudder Plans or the Rudder mechanism Kit
can take advantage of the FREE
On-line Manual that shows the
entire construction procedure in the minutest detail and in 136
photos and large close-ups.
The manual shows carbon fiber, fiberglass and epoxy lay-up and making
the rudder using the plan templates. All shaping, drilling and assembly
of all remaining parts is described and illustrated in the manual
as well. The
mounting of this rudder to a kayak
is shown in the Kayak Shop pages. All composite
components are illustrated in the Rudder
for the quick response. You've answered all my questions.... I did
find your on-line rudder manual very helpful. I can easily say that
because I do a lot of technical writing in my job. It certainly kept
me from making some serious mistakes.... thanks for providing an alternative
to the typical aluminum rudder. The carbon rudder is far superior
- Peter Agocs
The Rudder turned out great!! And I love working with the carbon
fiber!!...I can't tell you how much help you have been in making this
kayak something that is top-of-the-line and something that I am really
proud of, compared to what it would have been without your advice
and suggestions. Thanks a million, and keep up the good work!! ---
Just got my rudder kit (with cables) and wanted to complement you
on the terrific work you did with the plans (blueprint) and especially
the on-line construction manual. This is probably the best way to
present information... the photos are sharp, clear, and accurate and
the instructions are easy to understand. I really appreciate your
effort and find the materials and information I received to be of
superior value! Thanks again. - M. Johnson
...ordered the rudder plans from you last year and just last week
took the time to build and install it. I'm basically a lazy paddler
and absolutely love the rudder. It functions extremely well and will
turn this boat on a dime if need be. It also takes the thought and
effort out of tracking. You can set your feet so the boat is tracking
in the direction you want and take your eyes off the destination for
a while, look up, and low and behold you are still heading in the
right direction...--- D. Inman
Wish to thank you for the plans and well thought-through instructions
for my new rudder and to
share my minor alterations. Maybe it will help some other builder.
I have paddled my Pygmy Coho for three years and this is the first
rudder for the boat. I am especially pleased with the bracket/ hinge.
The first two layers of pre-preg cloth were molded tightly around
the stern of the boat, only. Then I taped the prepared styrofoam mold
behind the lay-up before adding the rest of the cloth layers. Final
product is precise fitting bracket on stern with fully enclosed pocket
for the hinge material...enjoyed this project. - D. Andrew
Wanted to let you know that I completed the rudder
(finally, now that it's gotten cold around here- Wisconsin) and have
had a couple paddles with it. It's great... what a perfect kit. Your
instructions, template and web photos were top notch! I enjoyed making
it and it's really great in the water. - Ryan Brooks
Comprehensive Plans package for
Graphite Kayak Rudder
- Rudder Plans - exact, full size templates plotted
- Multiple templates- in case of a mistake
- Dimensions are described in both English and Metric units
Manual - detailed photos and step by step instructions
plus bonus pages on construction
of graphite rudder hinge
to fit any rudder or kayak.
Rudder plans are on a 24" x 42" sheet of high quality,
heavy weight white bond paper for easy tracing of templates
feel like searching for hardware components ?
tools to drill or cut accurately?
- The Kayak Rudder Mechanism Kit
eliminates the search for difficult to find parts and individual
pieces. The Complete KIT provides the Plans, the Cable Kit and
all the necessary stainless steel and plastic components needed
to build the rudder (no mounting bracket, composite materials
or parts are included).
- All plastic components in the Rudder Mechanism Kit are
pre-drilled and shaped! Only a minor adjustment with
a file or beltsander is needed on the rudder body to fine tune
the retracted and deployed position of the blade. The 1/4"
(6,3mm) stainless pivot pin is pre-drilled to accept the cotter
Kayak Rudder Mechanism KIT
- Rudder Plans - exact, full size templates plotted
- Stainless Hardware - all Marine grade stainless
steel machine bolts and self-locking nuts, rudder pivot pin, cotter
- Plastic components - UHMW -PE (ultra high molecular
weight polyethylene) rudder body, rudder blade friction spacers,
retraction cable bushing, hinge blocks for custom mounting bracket
- Rudder blade wood core - 1/16" (1,58mm) plywood
- Rudder cable Kit - two 10' (3,04m) lengths of stainless
steel cable, two 7' (2,13m) lengths of cable guide, 4 brass chrome
plated caps and 4 ferrules to make attachment loops to the footbraces.
Stainless steel "eyes" are permanently swaged (crimped)
onto the other cable ends for easy attachment to the rudder.
Note: the kit contains
the essential mechanical components (hardware) that hold the rudder
together and make it functional (retraction and deployment). The
actual rudder blade, body (wings) and mounting brackets are a do-it-yourself
project as far as the composite lay-up goes - NO
composite materials (carbon or epoxy) or pre-made parts (finshed rudder
blade or wings) are included in the kit !
Check out the Construction
Intro for rudder mounting solutions and overview of
all composite parts you will be building!
See the Resources page for sources of epoxy,
Carbon fabric and fiberglass(optional). The Rudder
Manual also has a list of links to many composite supply places.
To learn more about epoxy, see the Epoxy Test.
Reinforcement fabrics are illustrated in the Abrasion
Rudder mounting bracket is not included due to the large variety
of stern shapes. The on-line rudder manual illustrates step by step
construction of a composite bracket to fit any kayak stern.
The Kit provides the plastic hinge blocks used in the bracket. See
the Construction Intro
for the issues and solutions.
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