Essential upkeep for your Revs!
Maintain your kite(s)
So, with what’s been some rather windless weather here in Vancouver, I’ve found myself sitting down in the grass, either watching it grow or contemplating weighty topics to discuss here in Revisions.
Well, ok, not so much of that but, what I do find myself doing is some simple and easy maintenance things with my kites and equipment. I mean, you have to do it sooner or later, and if you are sitting out somewhere waiting for some wind to come up, “now is a good time” is the operative phrase. We will start with the really simple things first.
You, the flyer.
You do have sunscreen on, don’t you? And some manner of hydration? Ok, not much more I can recommend beyond that!
The Kite Handles
Obviously, since these are usually cradled within your sensitive hands, handles rarely develop issues. But, as they get older (I have a set of handles from 1997! They remain my favorites.), you may find that the grips have begun to slip a little, or the glue has cracked. Most any manner of a thickish glue/epoxy will do in this case, just enough to stop the hypalon from moving around. I find once in a while, one of the black rubber caps from the top of the handle will start to move and eventually enlarge the where the buckle attaches to the handles (Disregard this if you use the snagless pro handles…). When this happens, it will start to shuffle around that buckle and simply get worse as time goes on. Do yourself a favor and drop Ben a quick email and say nice things to him and he will likely send you some new caps. It’s trivial to replace them provided you can operate some manner of pliers without rendering self injury. I am one of those “rest my thumbs on the rubber” kind of flyers so, it drives me nuts when those move even at all.
One other note, for the “euro” style line winding people who insist on wrapping their lines around their handles (I admit, I will use this method in a few very specific situations, namely 1] “oh dear, I have misplaced my winder” or 2] “Oh dear, Steve De Rooy has stolen my winder” or 3] “Oh dear, I need to get this kite moved (for any amount of reasons) this very second”), I suggest not winding them on there too tightly. As time goes on, it begins to groove the handle material and well, you know, that feels weird in my hands as well. Maybe I have a touch of princess in me?
And to wrap up on handles (ha! See what I did there?), the last thing to keep in check is the leaders themselves. If you use the snagless pro handles in particular, watch for wear and tear around the hole where the leaders pass through, it can and does weaken as the sweat from your thumbs. You’ll likely find you need to make new leaders occasionally, you can either simply make a duplicate of your existing ones (this condition almost never effects the bottom leaders unless you have some really odd method of holding your handles) or base them off of someone elses. Mine match in length across all the handles I usually use (2 personal sets, 1 iQuad set) and my top leaders are about 7 inches long across the top. Longer than the stock B series handles but, not by much.
Trim the sails!
Well, no, don’t trim them with scissors or anything like that… But there’s a few points where wear, tear and dirt will need the occasional dealing with. Dealing with dirt, ie, sand, and in particular salt water is pretty easy. Simply give the sail a wash. There’s a few approaches to this, all of which work just as well.
The forums occasionally pop up with what sounds like some kind of really odd relationship with one’s kites, the idea of showering with them, however, THIS WORKS REALLY WELL! Given it’s 7 feet across the top for a 1.5, it’s not something you can simply drop in the sink, so taking it into the shower works quite well. Just be gentle with the sail. No heavy soaps, no heavy scrubbing. You can remove the bridle to do this however, there’s no real need and it will just make it a much longer job.
Or, you can just fill the bottom of the tub with a few inches of slightly warm water and a bit of light soap, ie, dishwashing soap, and let it sit for a little bit. With either method, once you are done gently caressing the dirt out, put the rods back into the kite and let it dry again. One place in particular to watch for is sand in the leading edge. Make sure you run some water down the leading edge hole to catch any stray bits that will otherwise sit in the leading edge, grinding down the rods and the material of the leading edge.
For really stubborn stains, denatured alcohol works particularly well, however use this with some amount of caution. Again no heavy scrubbing, use it solely in the spot with the spot and then rinse with water afterwards. Given my Pro set is mostly white, a little attention on my part and it looks as pretty and clean as the day when Bazzer sent it out the door.
Do I wash my kites every single time I take them out? No, not by any stretch, there’s simply no need unless you are some manner of fastidious, OCD leaning kinda person, like the one who weighs all of their rods and carefully balances them per kite and by wind condition. I DO make a point of at least rinsing them if they have gotten fairly wet from rain and thus picked up a bunch of sand or, I have had them in salt water. And one further thing, if it’s sand you are looking to rinse off, make sure to run some water down the channel for the leading edge, or, it will sit there and grind away at either the leading edge or the rod, or…both.
While you are looking at the leading edge (and for those of you on Pros with the Bazzer-ified leading edge, you can go make some popcorn right now, or whatever you want for a quick break, this doesn’t apply to you!), check for fraying at the far edges. While the ends are hot cut in order to try and stem such a thing, over the years, you will get some fraying. The easiest way to deal with this is to hunt down one of those exceedingly rare people who still smoke and steal their lighter for a moment. Just *quickly* run the flame past this area (do not dawdle, dither, dally, halt, hesitate, idle, loiter, mosey, nap, procrastinate, ponder, rest, retire, recline, stop, sally forth, tremble, wait, wonder or wilt!) so that the frayed ends melt and voila, a nice, tidier leading edge. Often, you will only need to do this once per side on any sail and you’ll find it will be a’frayed no more.
The tension was so thick…
You could cut it with an SLE? Well no, I am referring to the tension at the various bungie points. Pay attention here. There is no award for having the sail as tight as a drum. It is a bad idea. It does not help. It will shorten the life of your sail too! While you do not want any of the bungie points to be even slightly loose when they sit on the rod ends, you do not want it super tight either. Doing this on the leading edge will in fact put more of a curve in. Doing this on the leading edge by the verticals will put too much pressure on that rubber “sand” cover which in turn will wear out the cloth at that point and quite possible weaken the leading edge rods as well at that particular point. And, keep those rubber caps on! There is no difference whatsoever that will make any difference at all in the light wind range of the kite by pulling these off. Believe me, I’ve tried it. I usually advise people to check the two bottom point bungies after the first time they have had a new kite out, just in case it’s stretched a little, or, the first time they have the kite out in a strong wind. If it does need a little adjustment after this, simply move the knot down less than half an inch. Just enough to keep it all snug but, not like you could bounce a quarter off of it.
And last but certainly not least…
We return again to the leading edge, or, more specifically, the venting material between the sail and the leading edge. This, by far, is one of the most likely places where issues will develop and with proper care and attention, you can have a sail that’s 5 or more years old that will show no sign of degradation. The approach is exceedingly simple. It begins with taking the kite apart. Where you are going to fold the sail ends over, make sure that the area is loose where the two rods have been separated, ie, with an inch or two of play. Do not separate the rods and simply fold it right between the gap, put a bit of space in there. Also, do not wrap your kite up too tightly. It is not a burrito. When you are changing rods in the leading edge, put the entire leading edge together FIRST, and then, grab one end of the leading edge rod and bend it down a little. This way, you can now pull the entire leading edge out in one somewhat smooth gesture. Any other method will leave you pushing and pulling on the leading edge which in turn really wears down that venting material.
There will be a test on this at WSIKF, which, wow, is just over a week away for me. Hopefully I will see a lot of you there, I intend to spend a little time flying Carl Robertshaw’s Masterpiece Rev 1 reworking. I intend to spend a lot of time teaching people. I intend to spend a lot of time team flying too! But, most of all, I intend to have a lot of fun.