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,

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