Saturday, November 18, 2017

Easy fixes and maintenance of your kite

Damien DageThose no-wind days are a real bummer but also present the perfect opportunity to take care of your kite equipment. Some maintenance will help extend the lifetime of your equipment and small problems can be fixed with easy fixes. So, your kite doesn’t fly the way it used to… that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to buy a new one. Check out the checklist below before going on an unnecessary spending spree, unless of course you really want that latest model... then by all means go treat yourself!

1.    If your kite has been kept for a long time in a garage or somewhere where there is dust and humidity, the first thing you need to do is give it a good cleaning. That means pumping it up and hosing it down with fresh water. Don’t use soap or a brush. Choose a day when it’s sunny so it can dry in the sun. Close the strut clamps so you can check if it’s loosing air.
NOTE: Don’t ever pack your kite when it’s still humid after washing it with fresh water. Your canopy will get moldy in no time.

1. Clean your kite by hosing it down with fresh water

2.    After it’s been washed and dried, check if the kite’s pressure has remained the same. If it has lost some air, figure out which part (a strut, the leading edge) has lost air. To fix this check out this article.


3.    If it hasn’t lost any air – that’s great news! Now check the entire canopy starting at one side and slowly going to the other side while looking carefully if there are any holes. Small holes sometimes appear out of nowhere and are not an issue as long as you stick a self-stick patch on them so they can’t get bigger. Small holes can also rip the canopy if the kite crashes with force. So save yourself the hassle and just stick those patches on there. Somewhere in your kite bag the manufacturer will have provided a patch precisely for these purposes. Usually it will be a big one so you’ll need to cut it to size. Make sure you round off the corners so that it will stick much better.  

Check your canopy for small holes and scratches Patch up those small holes so they can't get bigger

4.    Before launching your kite, check the air pressure. For the kite to fly optimally it should have a pressure of anywhere between 5 and 7 Psi, depending on the size and form of your kite. Check online what the ideal pressure for your kite is and then use a manometer to check if you’ve reached it.

4. Check that your kite has the right aire pressure

5.    Once the pressure is perfect, mount your kite as you normally would and launch it. If you find that it turns slowly, note that there are several settings on the ears of the kite. In the photo below, the green dot shows the slow setting, the orange dot the medium setting and the red dot the fast setting, meaning that your kite in this setting should react the fastest to your bar movements.

5. Put your lines on your preferred setting

NOTE: changing these settings not only has an influence on how fast the kite will turn, it will also have an inverse effect on the bar pressure, meaning that when you put it on the fast setting you will also have less bar pressure. This is not a problem if you have a certain level but beginners should first try their kite at the slow turning setting, which means they’ll have more control over the bar.

6.    When you fly your kite at 12 o’ clock and you find that it falls backwards into the power zone of the wind window as you pull the bar down, and that it goes back up when you push the bar up, you need to check if all your lines are the same size. In this case your back lines are probably stretched, and you’ll feel overpowered all the time. Most lines stretch, and especially poor quality lines stretch a lot! Even worse is when your kite reacts much more to one side than the other. In that case probably one line is more stretched than the other.

7.    Use a tree or something else that’s sturdy, and use a rope with hook to attach all your lines to the same fixed point on the tree.

7. Use a rope with a hook to attach all your lines to a the tree7a. Use a rope with a hook to attach all your lines to a the tree

8.    Hook into your harness like you normally would and make sure that the trim system is on full power.

8.Trim system should be on full power and you should be able to pull down your bar nearly until the chickenloop8a. If your trim is depowered you'll be able to pull down the bar much further - this is not the correct way to check your lines

9.    Pull down on the bar until you feel the bar pressure. If your bar and lines are in perfect harmony, your set-up should look like the photo below, with the bar nearly reaching the chicken loop. If the bar is further up, then your backlines are stretched. You can remedy this by adjusting the knots at the end of your lines on the bar.

9. If your trim is depowered but you can only pull your bar down halfway your backlines are stretched

NOTE: If the distance is really big or if you don’t really know what you’re doing you’re better off asking for professional advice. Every system is different and messing around with knots can have unexpected results once you fly the kite again and can lead to dangerous situations.

NOTE2: Some people will pull with all their weight on the bar to stretch the middle lines. This remedies the problem only very temporarily.

10.    If your bar is crooked when you pull it down, or in other words the bar is for example pointing with the right side more towards you than the left side, then the right leading line is longer than the left. Small differences can be remedied by adjusting the corresponding knots, but again make sure you make these adjustments together with someone who knows what he or she is doing.

11.    It’s good to regularly check your equipment for wear and tear. If you kite all year around check your equipment every month, or second month. If you are only able to kite once or a couple of times a year, check your equipment every time before you set out and at the end of your holiday.

Keep enjoying the water!!

Photos by Damien Dage copyright 2015

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