05 August 2009

SHOP: DIY sea kayak foot brace

A paddling acquaintance of mine announced that he wanted to sell his beloved carbon/Kevlar sea kayak.
His reasoning was that the factory foot pedals collapsed on him once and the replacement ones did not look any better. He was not confident with the outfit of his otherwise great kayak.
While jokingly I promptly offered him a ridiculous sum to buy his kayak I added that if the foot pedals were his only problem it would be unwise to sell a kayak that he loved.
After making a few suggestions, with a simple solution on how to remove the existing plastic pedals and fabricate an aluminum bar as replacement, he no longer wished to part with his kayak.
On the next paddle he proudly showed me the modification. Admittedly he did a decent job.
His feet were resting on a bar that was spanning across the width of the hull offering more than one foot position.
His replacement foot bar prompted me to finally address my own foot pedal set- up in my prototype SeaBird Designs Northsea.
The kayak I have is a preproduction one where the outfit was not fully finalized and the foot pegs rails were not positioned correctly. A factory retrofit was done to ship the kayak in time but the job was below my standard.
As they say: "You don't buy a house because of its furniture"; I decided that the flexible factory foot pegs had to go.

Factory set up in pre-production Northsea. These foot pegs were for a rudder (that I removed and replaced with a skeg)
I wanted a secure wide bar to push my feet against.
I removed the rails and the foot pegs and fabricated a new rail from anodized aluminum "L" section.
I used the existing threaded studs to mount the rails.

replacement aluminum rails: "L" section anodized profile
The cross brace where my feet will rest against had to be rather wide and curved a bit.
I could have used the aluminum profile that I have used in my other kayaks but the adjustment in the SeaBird was different: the pegs and rail have been removed.
I set out to fabricate a cross bar made from foam and composite fiberglass and carbon.
I cut a wide section of foam core and heating it up with a heat gun I shaped it into a shallow channel.
I cut a slot in the end to create a tab for anchoring it on the aluminum "L" rail.

heat shaped foam core
The foam core was layered by double bias glass cloth and West System epoxy (105/206).

double bias covered by 4oz glass
Once cured I trimmed the excess cloth off from the edges.
Subsequent sessions did cover the front side with carbon cloth.
Carbon added a lot of strength and made the brace stiff.
Unfortunately carbon is not very abrasion resistant and an area that would see constant rubbing of shoes and sand had to be protected with a final layer of 2oz glass cloth.

2oz glass cloth covering carbon cloth
The foot brace once cured had the anchor tabs drilled and a last coat of epoxy was done for durability and looks.
Installing the cross brace meant careful alignment on the aluminum rails and a row of holes for adjustment (different leg lengths).
I used a 1/4" stainless steel bolt and a wing nut (rubber washer) for securing the foot brace.

Replacement foot brace installed (not shown with wing nuts but nylocks)


  1. you have amazing fabricating skills. That just looks amazing.


  2. Great work as usual :) Any ideas how I can make the bar without carbon/fiberglass as I have no clue to use them.
    I've made the aluminium left/right bars but can't figure out how to create a bar and especially how to mount it on the sidebars.

    Thanks a lot

    1. In other kayaks of mine I have added the same style foot bar but I have used aluminium profile that is rounded a bit on the top edge (image here http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnarlydog/2453728036/ ).
      I cut a slot and mounted it on the exiting foot pegs. You could mount a "T" section directly onto the side rails (in your case bars).


Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Because of spam received from unwanted manufacturers/retailers all comments are now moderated. Allow a few days for your comment to appear when the operators of GnarlyDog News are on safari.