The Folbots seem to be the most-modded boats out there- probably because they’re relatively inexpensive, there are a lot of Folbot owners, and replacement parts are very inexpensive and easy to come by. Modding a Folbot is sort of like hod rodding your car 😉
Probably the one area most people want to modify on a Folbot is the rudder. The rudder itself is very good, and the pedals work well, but the cables are thin braided steel that can’t be adjusted, and there are just too many little fiddly bits. Of the mods I’ve seen, Harry Shin’s are the best, drawing on his experience in engineering and aircraft construction. Here, reprinted with his permission, are his drawings showing how to convert the Folbot rudder to a Klepper-type yoke with plastic covered detachable cables.
I did Harry’s mod on my GII, with a few changes. I used his yoke, but replaced the steel cables with 1/8″ low-stretch dacron sailing line of the type sold for high-performance dinghies. I also put small stainless steel clips at either end of the line to make it easier to set up and break down, and added line adjusters of the sort used on camping tents to make it easy to adjust for various pedal positions. I also added a couple of ttiny Harken pulleys (“blocks”, to sailors) that route the lines inside the boat away from the paddler.
Another interesting rudder pedal comes from number one Folbot fan Cliff Branham. Click here to see it.
The new Folbot rudder system is a big improvement over the old system, but Harry’s improved yoke is still a good addition.
Cliff Branham tells me he’s got a lot of interesting Folbot mods, and recently he shared with the Net his plans for a set of leeboards he made for a Folbot- although they could be adapted to any boat, really. Click here to see the drawings.
Dave Kruger and John Sloan were both looking for something a bit kore rugged than the existing lightweight Folbot spraydeck, and came up with this Klepperesque solution. Like the Klepper expedition, it’s made of hypalon, but it also features a slick laminated-wood cockpit hoop. Let’s let Dave tell the story of how it came about:
I have just finished the improved spray deck for my Greenland II double. I had been unsatisfied with the stock model for some time. aging, and because it is made of nylon, when it gets wet, it stretches enough that it can no longer be made taut. This allows water to build up on the deck, which eventually leaks down into the cockpit. In addition, the plastic-tube-supported holes are too small for me to quickly slide my body through on surf/surge launches. I wanted a more durable deck, with larger cockpit holes and coamings I could fit hardshell sprayskirts to.My solution was to fabricate a deck out of the hull material, from a two foot by eight foot piecegenerously donated by Phil Cotton of Folbot. This was cut so that it would fold over the washboards as the stock deck does. I contact cemented and stitched (polyester thread; home sewing machine) two-inch fuzzy velcro to the inside of the edge to duplicate the attachment system Folbot used in the stock deck. Because only 1-1/2 inches of the velcro width actually engages the complement on the washboards, I folded half an inch of the
fuzzy stuff over the edge of the new deck and stitched it to the inside surface of the deck. This eliminates the raw edge of the hypalon matron and makes a pleasant accent to the deck perimeter.
Naturally, I had to cut out U-shaped recesses at each of the positions where the washboard knobs attach frames. These recesses were topstitched so the Velcro would not come loose there. To
complete the periphery of the deck, I cut darts at each rear corner and at the front, contact-cemented the resulting That left coaming fabrication. Because I had some experience with Pygmy Kayak’s marine plywood kits, I bought two of their coaming kits (US$35 each) and assembled these so their widest dimension left about half an inch of clearance inside the washboards, which made for slightly different widths for the fore and aft coamings. They were saturated with two coats of System Three epoxy, sanded thoroughly, and finished with a coat of Z-Spar Captain’s varnish.
To hold the coamings to the deck, I had originally planned to use a Velcro mate between the deck and the 3/4-inch wide bottoms of the coamings. After I sewed the fuzzy stuff to custom-cut coaming holes in the hypalon deck, I realized this would never hold. So, I made an aluminum backing plate for each coaming out of 0.090 inch 6061 aluminum (cut out of US$10 worth of sheet stock, at US$2/pound). This was quite a lot of work, with lots of fussy pattern-making and at least eight to ten hours of band sawing and filing/shaping.
These backing plates were drilled to accept #8-5/8 inch truss-head stainless steel sheet metal screws (about 30/plate — on 3-inch centers). After making holes in the hypalon to correspond to the coaming holes with a leather punch, coamings and plates were screwed together to make a sandwich out of the deck material, and the whole thing was done!
It looks very slick, and should be much more durable than the stock deck. On the down side: 1. the wooden coamings are too large to fit into the storage bags, so I have to carry them separately. I made a protective bag for the deck; 2. the new deck is heavier than the old one (maybe 2 lbs more?); and 3. I expect it will be hotter that the old one. The last is not usually a drawback in the Pacific Northwest, however!
I undertook the project partly to enhance my G II and partly for the fun of it. I would not regard the new hull as a cost-effective solution to the problems I was trying to solve. Unless there were a very large demand for these, Folbot could not justify generating the tooling needed to make these. The biggest obstacle is the coaming and joining it to the deck. For example, Feathercraft’s system seems the best in the industry, and I expect their coamings are a bargain at $110 each. I looked at duplicating their system, but the Folbot’s flat deck would not accept their coamings.
The deck stood up well to the rigors of two weeks of paddling in the Deer Group, Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island — lots of exits and entries while landing and leaving beaches, with some surge. Couple small annoyances, but I think the design is pretty sound. If I had the bucks, I would anodize the backing plates and get a more corrosion-resistant SS alloy for the screws which affix the coamings to the deck.
Inspired by Dave’s project, John decided to make a similar deck. Here’s his story:
Following Dave Kruger’s instructions, I manufactured his GII spray deck using Hypalon and wood coamings. They are a definite improvement on the existingspray deck as they don’t sag or collect water. The cost was approximately:2 yards of Hypalon – $70USD
2 wood coaming kits and extra marine plywood – $70 USD
Marine epoxy and varnish – $30USD
SS Screws – $5USD
Velcro – $20 USD
labour – 10 hours or so
On another note, since I am trying to squeeze a GII and an Aleut into my compact Saturn wagon I experimented to see how much I could fit into the ‘Long-Haul’ bags made by Long-Haul products. To my pleasant surprise I was able to fit the GII longerons, upwind sail mast and boom and two paddles into the longeron bag; the rest of the upwind kit including outriggers, rudder GII ribs etc. into the rib bag; the GII hull, leeboard, two large PFDs, deckboard, sidebags, pump, and a variety of miscellania into the hull bag. These are great for travelling as they are very sturdy, easy to carry and have lots of room.
(Webmaster’s note: I have often carried two kayaks- my Aleut and my Aerius II- and two passengers in my Saturn wagon, along with PFDs, various accessories and a picnic lunch! -mike)