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Duct Tape Kayak 2013 – Build Day 5

Posted by on April 22, 2013

Duck Brand Tape came through just in the nick of time for us to get started with the most exciting part of the build…you guessed it…TAPING! This stage of the project always takes more time than anticipated and the work described in the updates for Build Days 5 & 6 actually took place over a few weeks of working here-and-there. Still, this isn’t too bad considering that it takes over a half of a mile of tape to build a duct tape kayak!

Duct Tape Kayak Box of Duct Tape

The hull of the new bow and stern sections were first in line to be taped up. Last year we used Advanced-level Duck Brand Tape for the hull because it is more weather resistant than the Basic-level tape. This year, Duck Brand included about a dozen rolls of Professional-level tape in their donation which is the most waterproof tape that they make!

We decided to stay with our trusted, three-layer taping system that we have used in the past on the hull. The first layer is laid down width-wise with each strand of tape overlapping its neighbor by at least a half-inch. This layer gives the hull its form and ensures that it will be waterproof. It takes a fair bit of time to lay down this first layer as care must be taken to make each strand tight and flat against the frame. Work also slows as you approach the extreme ends of the bow and stern section because the angles become more extreme and it’s more difficult to keep the tape flat. We always add extra tape to the extreme bow and stern in order to reinforce these critical areas.

Kayak Dave installs the first layer of hull tape on the new stern

Kayak Dave installs the first layer of hull tape on the new stern

The second layer is laid down length-wise with each strand of tape abutting or slightly overlapping its neighbor. This layer of tape functions to provide another layer of “security” against a possible leak and helps to streamline the hull. Alex usually takes charge of this second layer as he’s our resident “tape master” and highly skilled at the art of keeping these long strands of tape flat and crease-less! A few extra strands are included along the keel line for reinforcement and good measure!

The "Tape Master" hard at work!

The “Tape Master” hard at work!

The third and final layer of tape is applied to the inside of our hull. Mostly this layer serves to keep the inside of the kayak from becoming much alike a giant sticky mouse trap (or paddler trap) by covering up the adhesive side of the first layer. This third layer is most critical in the middle section because that’s where the paddler comes in contact with the inside of the hull. We decided to include it in all of the sections for the sake of completeness and further insurance against leaks.

Taping the bulkheads in is an adventure!

Taping the bulkheads in is an adventure!

Taping in the bulkheads represents the most challenging part of building the hull. This is one of those areas where it’s hard to develop a clean pattern to the taping because of all the strange angles and tight corners. The best solution that we’ve been able to come up with is to roughly follow the three-layer system described above then fall back on a “when in doubt tape a lot” strategy. Our new double bulkhead configuration represents one of the biggest design changes from last year. The bow and stern sections now have an extra station that is a perfect match to its counterpart on the middle section. This design was implemented to allow for easier coupling of the sections on race day with the added bonus of a “double bulkhead” to further mitigate against a leak at the weak point in the hull.

 Duct Tape Kayak New Stern Hull

It was a lot of work to get the hulls of the new bow and stern sections all taped up but we’re really proud of the effort and happy with the result. It came out looking and feeling like a traditional skin-on-frame kayak and much stiffer, slicker, and more streamlined than last year! There’s still a lot of work to be done and only a short time left before our big unveil at the Run of the Charles. Check back soon for our next update which will detail the taping of the deck and all of the great new additions to the mid-section!

Happy Paddling!

-Kayak Dave

Be sure to visit (and like) the Facebook Page for more pictures of the 2013 Duct Tape Kayak!

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