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 Post subject: Trak etc
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:24 pm 
Moved from http://foldingkayaks.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=3182&p=19924#p19924

adi2410355 wrote:
Just to summarise how I see that: Feathercraft Kahuna/Wisper is better if you have to carry it for longer distances (because for some reasons you can’t use the wheels which come with Trak), Trak is better if you are not so fussed with saving 5-6kg and are more fussed with saving £900 (in the UK). K1 is much better if you want to travel long expeditions often, Trak is better if you are not fussed with no front hatch and are not planning to circumnavigate Iceland, but fussed with saving £2000 and 20-25 minutes on every assembly time.

It's not that simple. Wheels that come with the Trak bag are what - 15 cm or 6" wide? 20 cm or 8"? These sizes (not to mention bearings or absence thereof) have very limited range of use, basically they are for hard smooth surfaces. Also, you can't use these wheels with assembled Trak, am I correct? Then you have to carry a designated kayak cart, and with the Trak bag taking a substantial part of stern half (or bow), plus with a kayak cart inside you won't have much room even for a short overnight weekend trip. You may have to take a long trip (2 weeks or longer) not very often, but with Trak this is going to be some pain no matter how often you take such a trip. Saving 20-25 minutes on assembling becomes irrelevant in trips longer than 5 days, but other things become important.

About not being fussed with saving 5-6 kg (12-14 lbs) - also not that simple. For frequent daytrips, when you have to lift it and carry short distances in assembled or dissembled form - boat weight becomes even more important than in long trips. Especially when you don't carry a boat cart (I don't mean a bag cart), or have to use public transit. Every few pounds and every one kilogram matter, IMO. There can be steep shores, steps, high floating dock, large boulders etc, and then carrying a long boat heavier than 35-40 lbs (16-18 kg) becomes a pain even on distances of a hundred meters or less (and dangerous, too).

Saving money is a different matter - I can't recommend anything here, of course. Though, in my opinion, when buying a luxury item for 20 or 25 years, saving 1/3 of cost or so is less important than compromised enjoyment all those years.

Quote:
In terms of quality and design it has nothing to be ashamed of, quite contrary, honestly.

You don't know this yet. I'm not asking detailed questions because this boat doesn't meet my needs, but there are things that may fail (and will fail) sooner than you want, in any design. Some of them might be easy to repair, and some not.

Regarding range of conditions that Trak is suitable for:
It doesn't have a skeg or rudder. Say, there is no wind and you want to go straight. You adjust rocker to zero, but I doubt that a 17ft long kayak can have tracking so good that skeg or rudder won't be needed at all. It might have a tolerably good tracking, but never as good as with skeg. On short crossing you may ignore it, but on long crossings it will become a nuisance.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:32 pm 
Having paddled a Trak for a few times for a total of about two hours I found it to be a competent boat with a few issues, two of which seem to have been corrected. The price, $5,000+, seemed out of line considering that my MontBell Ellsmere 530 is a foot and a half longer, stiffer, a few pounds lighter, a bit faster (just sensed, not measured) and less than half the price. Now that the price of the Trak has come down from the stratosphere it has become more reasonable, and the retreat of the dollar has raised the price of the Ellsmere to almost $3,000. Adjusting the shape changing jacks on the fly was not an option in the environment of New York harbor with 3-4 foot chop coming at all angles kicked up by traffic, wind and hard edge reflections. The new spray skirt that gives access to the pumps while it remains fixed in place sounds like a big improvement.

The major issue I have with the Trak is that if it is swamped, even with the supplied Seattle Sports floatation bags fully inflated, it can't be drained enough to do a self reentry. Without sponsons the boat sits too low in the water to put it on edge to to give it enough freeboard to reenter without it swamping again. Which leads to a few suggestions:

1. Assembly time must include blowing up and securing floatation bags;
2. Don't take it out alone unless you can swim back to safety or have absolute faith in your roll;
3. Make sure your partner knows how to do an assisted rescue.

On the positive side, it does set up more quickly than the Ellsmere (up to 30 minutes with rudder, flotation bags, etc.), closer to the Klepper AE II (20 minutes), and unlike the Ellsmere, you don't have to go to Japan to buy it.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:45 pm 
Quote:
Adjusting the shape changing jacks on the fly was not an option in the environment of New York harbor with 3-4 foot chop coming at all angles kicked up by traffic, wind and hard edge reflections. The new spray skirt that gives access to the pumps while it remains fixed in place sounds like a big improvement.

This was another issue that I thought of, but didn't want to raise since didn't see it in flesh. Opening the skirt when you need a correction by those pumps of Trak - it didn't sound safe at all. Good that they've fixed this, but if this have resulted in some proprietary skirt design to ensure access to pumps, this means increased cost of skirt replacement, or more time to attach it, or both.

Another situation - when wind is heavy and shifts from side to side every 15-20 minutes. With or without skirt, but you'll have to drop the paddle every 15-20 minutes in order to change the lateral rocker. Because it doesn't have a rudder. Wouldn't it be easier to use a rudder? Seems so to me. There is a whole "school of thought" in sea kayaking that considers rudder to be an evil, though even the most zealous protagonists still don't reject a skeg. Adding a skeg or rudder on a folder means another few minutes of assembling and few pounds of weight.

Quote:
...if it is swamped, even with the supplied Seattle Sports floatation bags fully inflated, it can't be drained enough to do a self reentry.

Something tells me that you didn't have much cargo in there. I wonder how much positive flotation it will have when swamped and before you re-enter it, when it's fully loaded for 5-6 days trip. In other words - could it at some point sink before or when you try to re-enter it.

Quote:
Assembly time must include blowing up and securing floatation bags;

Yeah, and weight too, though manufacturers don't seem to care when publishing the specs.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:00 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:00 pm
Posts: 139
David
Does the flotation when swamped problem seem worse for TRAK than for other SOF/folding kayaks without sponsons or do you think the problem is inherent to all such kayaks?

Bernie

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BernieM
Folbot Cooper, Pakboat Sport, Innova Sunny, Epic GPX, Oru Kayak, Wike Bicycle Trailer


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:05 pm 
Bernie,

I have intentionaly swamped and reentered my Ellsmere after fliping it and getting most of the water out. It had Seattle Sport floatation bags secured fore and aft and fully inflated sponsons. It rides higher on its side than the Trak. I haven't tried this in any other single folder as I have yet to find any other than the Trak and my MontBell Ellsmere 530 that welcome my size 15 feet.

Ralph Diaz might have more insight into the matter as he has tried almost all of the folders out there.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:16 am 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:02 pm
Posts: 1035
Location: Astoria, OR
Probably whichever boat you swamp, it will need flotation and/or cargo occupying every underdeck space forward of your feet, and aft of your rear, in order to provide enough buoyancy for pumpout.

Those Seattle Sport flotation bags may not be nearly enough.

The other option is a sea sock that tightly seals to the coaming, The Feathercraft seasocks will fit a wide variety of cockpits, if you can get hold of one. In truth, a sea sock is not difficult to sew up using waterproof coated nylon, and does not need to mimic the internal shape of the boat, as long as it can balloon out to press against the deck and hull when you burp it.

FC sea socks: http://www.feathercraft.com/accessories/misc.php

Pygmy also sells a sea sock, of FC manufacture.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:26 am 
Ade and I have ordered our Traks with the optional Trak seasocks so we don't see this as being a major issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:39 am 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:02 pm
Posts: 1035
Location: Astoria, OR
6950rpm wrote:
Ade and I have ordered our Traks with the optional Trak seasocks so we don't see this as being a major issue.
You got it. With the sea socks, the flotation becomes a backup. The boat should float plenty high enough for self rescue. Keep us informed as you pursue your adventure! Should be a lot of fun. We like photos!

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:57 pm 
One of the first outings on the Thames last Sunday...

Image

Have to say we are both really pleased with the build quality of these kayaks.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:26 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:00 pm
Posts: 139
Have you used the spray skirt? With the spray skirt on, can you adjust the lateral pistons as well as the central one? Also, do you routinely have to re-adjust the lateral pistons for straight tracking after putting the kayak in the water?

thanks
Bernie

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Folbot Cooper, Pakboat Sport, Innova Sunny, Epic GPX, Oru Kayak, Wike Bicycle Trailer


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:41 pm 
Yes have used both the sea sock and the sprak skirt.

When using the spray skirt and the sea sock, you can easily adjust the 3 pneumatic jacks. If using the spray skirt on its own, you can even adjust the cords that hold the back rest in place.

I found that once lateral adjustment had been set, I didn't kneed to touch them again for the rest of the trip. The rocker however was extremely useful to adjust.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:39 am 
I managed to paddle it 3 times so far and covered about 20-25 few miles in total. I took all trips on the fast running Thames and on Monday it was very very windy as well. The wind was so strong that although I paddled downstream on the river which is now higher than normal and the current is strong, the wind blowing from the opposite direction was pushing me backwards when I stopped paddling and had to paddle through small waves. I didn't experience any tracking issues. Just a bit of lean here and there if necessary and it's really fine. I don't have much comparison though. I only paddled P&H Capella and Quest hardshell sea kayaks and I don't remember whether they had skegs or not. However, 2 Gumotex (Innova) inflatables (Sunny and Safari) are non paddleable without additional tracking devices, every little wind blow or paddle movement spins them and it takes a lot of effort just to keep them straight. Nothing like this happens to the Trak. In fact it exceeds my expectations in this matter - I thought it would be worse and was considering trying out whether a strap-on skeg from the Wisper would fit, but now I don't find it necessary.
I used all pistons - rocker helps very much with turning and manoeuvring in narrow canals is fairly easy and because I am clumsy I didn't centre the frame properly and had to compensate it with the lateral pistons. They really make the askew boat track straight and I'm sure it would be the same helpful with side winds during open crossings.
I used a sea sock and a spray skirt (both are good quality, made by Chillcheater from polyester covered with polyurethane) and had no problems with adjusting either pistons or the back support (and reaching anything you keep in the cockpit). It takes a bit to get used to finding the little release valves, but it's fine after 3-4 times.
I haven't paddled on the sea yet, but so far I am delighted with the boat.
I will be very happy to make some close-up pictures of the kayak and the individual elements later on.
I also weighed the pieces which can be taken apart and put to the second or hand luggages if necessary due to air travel restrictions. The seat is 1.3kg, the pistons are 3x1.1kg, the shell itself is 5.5kg. I didn't weigh the crossribs yet, but they are very thick and solid and can be put somewhere else too, thus some weight can be saved here as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:55 am 
The port and starboard hydraulic jacks are used to trim the boat ends into or away from the wind or current. No skeg or rudder needed when the boat will bend to negate the quartering winds or currents.

I haven't put my TRAK through any exercises yet since I have only paddled it alone but I will be testing its edges, etc. this weekend.

With float bags fully inflated and a sea sock I can't see any problems with a flooded boat sinking.
I'm sure it's possible though.
The float bags can have gear stored inside them before you seal them to inflate too.
This will be a major inconvenience if you have to reinflate the bags everytime you need something but I carry the things I need on deck or in the cockpit.

I am thinking of devising a pulley system to attach in the bow so I can pull a string from the cockpit and access stuff and then pull the opposite string to return in to the space in front of my feet.

Robb Smith


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:40 pm 
Sorry to join the discussion so late, but I wanted to comment on the previous post regarding Trak handling. My wife and I were down at Tybee Island, GA last year and paddled back and forth to Little Tybee in approximate 20-25 knot winds blowing down the channel and 2'-3' chop. She was paddling her Trak 1600, and experienced no difficulty whatever. She was paddling with a lot of rocker dialed in, which I guess sort of turns it into a folding Anas Acuta, but still had no trouble tracking. That said, we haven't tried it on long paddles with varying wind directions, but that's in store for the summer, so we'll have a chance for further evaluation.

Also, Trak-wise, we've discovered that the side jacks don't seem to do much, even if you accidentally hit one of the valves with a knee and turn the boat into a banana, so when I have time, I plan to replace them with something simpler (maybe a tubular aluminum non-adjustable expander) and save myself 10 lbs and some unnecessary complication. I've already simplified assembly by fabricating a pair of plywood plates with holes near the bottom to fit the jack ends. The pieces of plywood butt agains the center frames in such a way that I can use one of the side jacks to expand the boat and easily place the keel jack. It brings the expansion part of the assembly process down to less than 30 seconds.

As far as price is concerned, I've noticed that barely used Traks frequently show up on Ebay or Craig's list for around $1,700, which seems to me very reasonable. The Paddleswap website is a good way to locate them, as it really doesn't matter much whether they're located near you or not.

Hope this was helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: Trak etc
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:16 am 
Saludable99 wrote:
Also, Trak-wise, we've discovered that the side jacks don't seem to do much, even if you accidentally hit one of the valves with a knee and turn the boat into a banana, so when I have time, I plan to replace them with something simpler (maybe a tubular aluminum non-adjustable expander) and save myself 10 lbs and some unnecessary complication. I've already simplified assembly by fabricating a pair of plywood plates with holes near the bottom to fit the jack ends. The pieces of plywood butt agains the center frames in such a way that I can use one of the side jacks to expand the boat and easily place the keel jack. It brings the expansion part of the assembly process down to less than 30 seconds.

Could you please post pictures of your mods ?


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