Wavewalk S4 kayak repair after a crash at 55 mph

Rafael Francke

California

 

Here are some pictures from before and after I repaired the damage in my new Wavewalk S4.

The S4 took flight off my truck on the freeway, taking with it the metal rack off the truck. The forward rack had actually disengaged from the truck bed.
The S4 was still tied to the truck bed at the back…
Imagine a truck going at 55 mph in heavy traffic, and towing an overturned S4 kayak with its bow pointing backwards, without a trailer, and with the bow used as a trailer wheel…

Not a good thing, but the damage in the S4 was light relatively to the driving speed and the distance I had to drag it until I got to the road side, pass three lanes of freeway.

The boat is fixed, strong, and the bow has the same flex as the rest of the boat.
I also did a “reverse” leak check. After the tight job I had done I did not expect to see any leaks, and after I filled to bow with water there were indeed no leaks.

The boat is ready for use again.
Thanks to Wavewalk for the Polyethylene sheets.

Before the repair

 

Wavewalk S4 overturned – View of the extensive damage in the bow and the right hull

 

Wavewalk S4 overturned – View of a large-size crack in the front of the left hull

 

 

 

After the repair

 

Repaired Wavewalk S4 front, and left hull – bottom view

 

Repaired Wavewalk S4 bow – bottom view

 

Repaired Wavewalk S4 front of right hull – bottom view

 

Repaired Wavewalk S4 bow – top view

 

 

Repair –

First I clamped the location of the damage in order to close the gap in the boat’s wall.
Then I used a commercial heat gun. It’s a kind of heavy duty hair dryer that will reach a temperature that allows to solder copper tubing.
I heated the location of the damage to a point of “shiny looks”, just before the Polyethylene surface starts to melt completely. Then I let it cool off, and the boat was back to its original shape.

I cut the repair PE material to 1.5″ wide strips.
Holding the strips at one point, the other touching the repair location, with the heat gun aiming at the touching point of the hull and the repair material, I heated again to the point of almost melting and laying the repair material on the needed location (it feels like a wet rag) using a patty knife (knife also heated by being close to the location) I spread the material to be smoother, and I rounded edges.

The boat doesn’t look like a beauty queen now, but it is bonded on both sides of the damaged area, with a healthy overlap.

I did cover the location twice over.

After all was done, I smoothed the rough areas with a sanding disk.


Rafael’s review of his Wavewalk S4 »

4 Comments

  1. fish

    Thanks Rafael,

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an extensive repair to a kayak. Not just a Wavewalk, but any kayak.
    This is remarkable. Having done some repairs myself, I can appreciate how difficult was the task you faced. Welding PE is really hard!

    I’m sorry I didn’t have gray Polyethylene sheets for you, but spraying gray paint for outdoor plastics on this area would give it the final touch.

    Weld done! 😀

    Yoav

    PS – Many years ago, a W300 flew off the top of my SUV and landed on the I-90 while I was driving at 65 mph.
    Luckily, it landed on the pavement and not in someone’s windshield… Also, I was lucky to have a Massachusetts State Police car right behind me. The officers stopped their car, and they directed traffic around, so that I was able to access the kayak and drag it safely to the side of the road, after I had parked my car there. Those police officers did a great job.
    The tip of one hull had cracked, and I was able to repair it and use the boat as a demo boat. It was a far smaller damage than the damage seen in the above photos.

  2. Pyt Rotary

    Hi There,
    Can we have more details on this incident?
    What kind of rack was that? The one that comes with the car (build in) or custom rack?

    I did have twice the W500 shaking in top of my Dodge Caravan.
    First time was at 130Km/h (80Mp/h) when a rubber bungee cord gave up.
    The rest of 7 bungee cord were still holding.
    After that I decided to hook the W500 with chains and double it by bungee cords.
    The Chrysler built in rack is sturdy and show no sign of mechanical wearing or loosening bolts.

    Now I am lazy, I just slide the W500 & S4 inside the car (Dodge Caravan short version).
    No need to lift it in top of the car.

    A Dodge Caravan rack is rated for a 75kg(170Lb) of load.
    Check your car rack before you hit the highway.

    Best tie for the kayak are chains (Home Depot) or truck heavy duty ratchet straps (Home Depot, Costco).

    If you carport on top of the car tie the Wawewalk in 4 corners.
    If one tie gave up you have time to slow down and avoid incidents.

    Have fun and be safe.

  3. PackerYaker

    Wow, I guess I won’t be complaining about the scratches on the bottom of my hulls anymore.

  4. fish

    This is what happened to me too with the W300, a decade ago – Both the bungee and the strap gave up, and the other bungee and strap didn’t hold.

    Attaching the S4 with straps around it works better if you make the straps go through the grooves in the top part of the saddle.

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