ToddH

Widow NG end of life?

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Hello all. This is my first post on KiteLife. Unfortunately it's a repair question!

I have about 40 hours on a Widow NG Special. It's been a great learning kite but seems to be nearing end of life already. The first is that the nose of the kite softened, for lack of a better word, such that one of the two leading edge spars tends to be pulled behind the other. Usually the right one is pulled back. This is probably easier to just see in the attached pictures. This was something of a problem from day one with the kite, and I noticed that the sail cutout around the center T tended to pull to the right as opposed to being centered. Initially this didn't seem to affect the flying characteristics, but now the kite tends to turn more easily to the left than the right, most detectable during tight spins. 

I think these shifts also misplaced the cloth patch protecting the sail from the upper spreader. The result is a tear in the main sail under the upper spreader, which seems to have compounded the problem above by throwing the kite even more off center. I've patched the hole with some Tedlar tape, but haven't flown it again since. 

Full disclosure: about 70% of this kite's flying time was on sandy beaches, and I've had it in the ocean as well practicing takeoffs and landings. Nothing too rough but lots of salt and sand, which I always rinsed off as best I could. I'm certainly more gentle now than I was at the start of those 40 hours, but I was well past the lawn dart stage during my time with this kite.

I am curious as to whether this is an expected failure mode. Is there something I could have done to prevent it? Is there something in the set-up causing the nose to pull unevenly that I can still remedy? 

Cheers,

ToddH

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I would check the position of the rubber connectors for the upper and lower spreaders, which are held in place by some c-clips. If the c-clips got unglued or were glued incorrectly at the factory things can move asymmetrically and out of place.

If this was off since it was new, you can try sending a picture to Premier to see if they can help you.

Also Jon T at kites and fun things should be able to help with measurements and suggestions as he designed the kite.

Check your PM.

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The special and the builds for Kitty Hawk were of a little more cost saving nature. Different sail panels and stitching. Not sure about the framing. Probably put 60 hours or a little more on my Widow ng before getting the Widow Maker. When I got my Prism Zephyr and Widow ng the sails did not line up. The Widows velcro at the spine skewed the sail to the left. The patch for the upper spreader was to high and had to adjust it just about every time when resetting the kite. The Z mylar going down the spine was way off skewing to the left also. Read up on sail break in so I waited to see what would happen. About 20 hours of flight the Widow lined up and I had no further issues. The Z took a little more than 30. Still fly it and it's just fine. Only b*tch I got about that kite is the hollow ferrules connecting the upper and lower LE. I'll get better and that will become less of an issue. I've popped the LE out of the nose pocket on my Z after breaking a ferrule. Once on a Night hawk with nothing broken (lucky). Looks like it's more what rporanga is suggesting. I can't see where any of the nose stitching has come apart. Take  the leading edge that seems the least stable out of the kite and inspect it. Inspect and  reinsert the spine also. I've popped the spine out on a couple kites too.Match the LE up to the other side and see what happens. A nose repair or reinforcement remedy is to plexi it. GWTW has a good thread and some nice pics from a fella in Israel fixing a Widow ng. Got the stuff for when my noses get thin but have not done it yet. Probably a good preventative measure on standards and vented.Get this figured out and your kite has a good 300 or more hours left in it I would hope. If not I'd be pretty disgusted. On a side note several times when my Widow Maker was new I'd put it together launch and the kite would spin out of control.First time it happened I was pretty frustrated and came close to breaking the kite. After the 4th time inspecting the kite with nothing out of place I remembered reading that with new Icarex some times you have to release the tension. Did that and away it went. Happened 3 times on the Widow Maker and twice on my Mind Trick. Still don't understand why.

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From the pix it looks like it might be several things.

1 - Your wingtip tension is uneven. Is it possible you've tightened one side more than the other? If it came that way, try undoing the tips and re tension after making sure you have all spars fully in place. Do not overtighten! You are trying to get rid of most of the creases, but don't pull so tight it adds more.

2 - Is it possible the top spreader is too short? It should hold the top of the sail out fully, yours looks a bit "collapsed". None of my dual line kites show this kind of "wear", and they are 15 to 20 years old. Massage the nose to get the spine and LE to properly line up, then put in the top spreader and see if it will help hold shape. Remember to fully insert spreader.

3 - Measure from both the top and bottom of the leading edge to confirm that the fittings for both sides of the top and bottom spreaders are the same distance on the leading edge. If off, they would contribute to the asymmetric look of your sail.

Just some ideas to check ....

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The top spreader fittings look like they have moved down towards the tips. Move them back up and fix in position. They should ideally be in the center of the LE cutout made for them or just slightly above. In the photo you can see the left one and how far down it is. I'm thinking the right one may be similarly positioned. I think this should be all you need to do, but it wouldn't hurt to check the bridle for symmetry.

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Shared your post with Jon Trennepohl of Sky Burner Kites and he had this to say:

By looking at your photo’s, the spine and outside leading edges are not all the way into the nose. The cause of this is most likely that the leading edges are not pulled tight at the wingtips. If the lines that are holding the wingtips are not adjusted so it puts tension on leading edges it could have this effect on the nose.  Also the spine needs to be tight with the Velcro pulled tight over the weight in the tail. All of this would then cause the top spreader to not line up with the rub patch, which in turn would result in the sail damage .  If all of tubes are pushed into the nose like when you first got the kite, it should not have folded over like your photo shows. Did the stiches on the nose fail? If so this could also be the problem. Flying on the beach does create more wear but if you keep up with adjustments on the kite it should last longer than the time you have had it....I have been doing maintenance on kites for 30 years, as long as the sail is in good shape it has a lot of hours left on it.

Suggest you contact him if you still have trouble after following his suggestions. 

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Wow. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses. In short, I've gone from "end of life?" to "good as new" in response to this thread.

rporonga and several others nailed it right off the bat. Several of the c-clips holding the elbow connectors had come loose. The left upper was an inch low, left lower was 2 inches low and right lower was an inch or so high. I'm embarrassed that I didn't see this myself (it was obvious once primed to look at it). I had checked that the elbow connectors were flush against the c-clips but hadn't measured them for symmetry. I repositioned them to the factory positions, glued the c-clips in place and she looks to be good as new (minus a little Tedlar tape). 

The slack sail noted by Jon T (thanks Jim for emailing him) and Wayne was also remedied by moving the elbow connectors to the correct place. 

Thanks again to everyone. 

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Hate to say it but pretty soon you might look forward to doing repairs and stuff like that. Gives a person the confidence to hammer down at times. After Tuesdays air time Hydra is sitting on the bench. Couple repairs need redone and once again lining up c clips. No I'm not looking forward to it. Thanks to the forums though I know what to do. What the heck would happen to kiting if there was a  super glue shortage.😟. Wow like I don't have enough to worry about learning this stuff!!! Put a mark at the bottom of your connectors. It'll save time because it's probably going to happen again. At the very least the glue will weaken over time.Think you have an excellent kite.

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Why is super glue the glue of choice for C-clips? Is it a desirable feature that they come off on impact? I think that epoxy would hold better requiring less TLC. It has not been an issue for me as I only had 1 c-clip come off on a hard impact and it was obvious it was off, but if this requires constant checking it can become annoying.

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8 hours ago, Breezin said:

Hate to say it but pretty soon you might look forward to doing repairs and stuff like that. Gives a person the confidence to hammer down at times. 

I hear you. My first ever outing with a dual-line kite (a brand-new Quantum) I hit the beach in a hard nose dive and broke the center T. Was surprised how easy it was to repair and after that haven't feared busting anything. I try to take good care of them, but don't mind them looking loved.

 

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