Friday, December 9, 2016

Perception Vizcaya Restoration

The Perception Vizcaya solo touring kayak was produced 1999 through 2002. It was outfitted with the “ComfortTech” foam rubber seat mounted to a seat cradle that is molded as part of the hull. It was also outfitted with an optional rudder system that featured a rather unique rudder assembly. While there is nothing initially wrong with these two features these parts are no longer available.

The Vizcaya is a somewhat rare kayak, not that many were produced. While the Vizcaya is part of the vast Perception “family of kayaks”, its closest “younger siblings” are the Caretta tandem as well as the Napali sit-on-top solo and Mandalay sit-on-top tandem. All had the same unique rudder assembly, only the Vizcaya had the unique “Comfort Tech” foam seat. These features were discontinued when the kayaks were discontinued.

Rudder Replacement (or new rudder installation): 

The rudder assembly for the Vizcaya and its closest “siblings” can only be addressed by means of the SmartTrack rudder system. The key item is the Performance Blade Housing, Rear Mount to be used with the Foil Blade, Solo. (Or the Foil Blade, Tandem if applied to the two tandem kayaks mentioned above.) These Smart Track parts can be used to replace, or add a rudder to a kayak that has not had one before. The first link in this paragraph will lead to some basic info on the system. 

The original Perception Keepers Foot Controls and cables are compatible with the SmartTrack rudder assembly and are still available; to replace old, or add to a kayak that has not had them. Use the first link in this paragraph as well as the TopKayaker indexes to All Skills and Customization to learn more about rudder system installation and repair. Contact me as needed. FYI: I do not typically recommend Smart Track Toe Pilot Foot Controls (recreational or regular) for use with sit-on-tops, but it can be done with the rec version. 

Perception Vizcaya Seat Replacement: 

The original seat for the Perception Vizcaya is no longer available as a replacement part. These seats will typically rot like an old foam rubber toy. The seat can be replaced with modern components that are currently available. It will be a custom job requiring a bit of tinkering on your part. 

You will want to completely remove the old foam rubber seat and seat strap. Take steps not to damage the seat frame under it. It is not advisable to remove the seat frame. It is molded as part of the hull and may play a structural role. 

The Vizcaya is 24 inches wide, at the beam, with a cockpit coaming that is published to be 21 inches wide. I am confident that you can use the Necky Touring Seat Pad Kit (commonly used in sea kayaks about 22 inches wide). If the space from one side of your seat frame is about 18-20 inches to the other side, this Necky seat should do OK in your Vizcaya. The seat pad at the link above is used in modern Necky brand kayaks with a similar, but different, frame (Necky Seat Frame) that you do not need. 

The Necky Touring Seat Pad Kit comes with Velcro adhesive strips and some push rivets. This may or may not be completely adequate to the secure the seat well to the existing Viscaya seat frame. Some additional Velcro, maybe some adhesive and possibly some screws and nuts for the seat pad “ears” might be needed. It is also possible that you may need to elevate the seat with a slab of Close Cell Foam. 

Test sit (on dry land) and test paddle the kayak (in clam water close to shore) with seat temporally installed the cockpit. Assess the need for elevation with close cell foam. Consider adjustment fore and aft as needed. Bear in mind that adhesives and push rivets will be difficult to take apart if you need to re-do. This testing must be done with the back band in place, see more below. 

You will want some back support too. You can select any of the sea kayak style BackBands. Back Bands are generic, and all are more or less the same for the most part. I will suggest the two below as best options for price and performance:
Seals Back Band, Small Dimensions 14 inches by 5 1.4 inches

Seals Back Band, Large Dimensions 15 inches by 6 1/8 inches

Get the small if you are a small or medium person, or you feel that it will fit your back or the kayak better. Get the large, if you are a large or tall person (maybe medium) or you have a clear need for extra back support. Use the link below for more info on how-to install:

Now that you have the basic seat components in place, and have test paddled, you can fine tune the plan with some Close Cell Foam and/or other Hardware bits, if needed. Next test paddle the kayak in a "sea trial", not too adventurous, with a bailout plan, just in case your install is not working to you satisfaction. When your kayak with its new seat has proven itself you can them use it fully as it as the sea kayak it was intended to be. 

Assuming you are going to be paddling this kayak as a sea kayak, or as a fresh water touring kayak (big lakes), probably wearing a Spray Skirt and possibly practicing some sea kayak skills, some hip pads might be something to think about. The Harmony Hip Pad Kit (or other hip pad kits) would be advisable as the next custom outfitting. 

You may have other questions about restoring the Vizcaya. Feel free to contact me. You might try this retrofit on your Vizcaya. Please feel free to share your results with me. 

(Photos below show before images. Send me your after images and I will post them.)

Happy Paddling, Tom Holtey,

Greetings Kayakers!

This blog is my new platform to publish information of interests to all kayakers. While the website (the TopKayaker online magazine) will remain a vast reservoir of information, you can look here to see new information. I will be referring to many of the TopKayaker articles, so consider it your "freshman text book".

What has peaked my interest greatly is the restoration of classic kayaks and this will be a primary focus here. Fiberglass, composite and plastic kayak hulls are nearly indestructible. The hulls will last forever. The "soft parts" and other fittings will not. Your great grandchildren will inherit that old kayak in your garage. Lord knows, what they will use for a seat, hatch cover or rudder, maybe their cows will be drinking water from the hull. In any case, these old kayaks will be passed down, sold at yard sales and distributed to those who want to paddle them. These classic kayaks can be restored to full working condition, to be used safely for their original intended purpose. These kayaks were good enough for us a decade or two ago, they will be again with some TLC.

Yes, there are some kayaks that are lost cause and should be recycled or repurposed, never to paddle again. The reason for such could be many and varied. This topic will addressed at a later date. For the most part, if you have a viable hull, most of the original parts, a budget, some time and effort, as well as some ability to work with your hands, restoring an old kayak could be as much fun as paddling it.

Much of what you will initially see here on this blog will be information on kayak repair, maintenance, and access to parts. In the past decade or so my work at (the TopKayaker online store) has allowed me to help all kinds of kayakers, customize and improve their kayaks, repair kayaks, obtain hard to find kayak parts and to restore older kayaks back into full working order. So I will be pointing your attention to the TopKayaker Shop often. I like to say that "We have every thing but the hull".

I will not be encouraging people to "Mickey Mouse" or jury rig their kayaks back onto the water. While their might be a little McGyvering and some garage engineering, I will be advising repairs that take into account safety and practical needs within the realm of the kayaking. Kayaking as a discipline has many levels in terms of the equipment used and the skills needed, not only to have fun but also to be safe. By percentage most paddlers simply want to float around on a pond, small lake or slow river, their goals and needs are simple, their exposure to risk is minimal. Other paddlers are more serious, even pro level, with more complex goals and greater exposure to risk. While paddling skills cannot be taught completely in a blog, I can address the equipment restoration based on the type of kayak and the intent of the kayak's designer and manufacture in terms of use. In other words I will not be advising on how to strap a lawn chair into kayak, nor how to convert a white water kayak into a sea kayak, or vise versa. I will also drag my heels on the application of any motor, no matter how small. I will apply my 36+ years of experience as a paddler, in the paddle sports business, and my common sense, to all that is published here. My goal is to help you restore your kayak back to safe operating condition.

I hope to address some other issues of interest to kayakers here as well, such as destinations, kayak news, reviews of equipment and the history of modern sport kayaking in the USA.

I look forward to our journey together, Tom Holtey