Monday, April 14, 2008

Making the Kona Daggerboard Removable

One of my pet peeves is "uninvention"; the discontinuation of effective products or ideas, and, typically, their replacement with lousy or unnecessarily complicated substitutes. A lot of uninventions are automotive, i.e. it is now hard to find cars with manual transmissions, windows, and doorlocks. There are plenty of uninventions in consumer electronics, too. Like, what happened to those black digital watches that lasted forever, were honestly waterproof and had easily replaceable, standardized bands? Indeed, it often seems that the more pragmatic and economical something is, the more likely it is to be snatched away from us. Generic beer? It was gone before I even reached legal age.


Sadly, even windsurfing has been hit by the uninventers. The windsurfing longboard was vanquished in 2000, taking away the most fun and efficient way to sail in light winds and forcing newcomers to the sport to "schlog" on tubby wideboards instead. Longboards were not reinvented until 2006, when Exocet came out with the Kona ONE (then called the Kona Style). The Kona had some nice new features, like a stepped-tail for improved speed and handling, and a foot-friendly rubber coating on the deck. But it lacked one nice, simple feature of the old boards; the Kona daggerboard could not be removed unless you completely disassembled it with a screwdriver. That means the daggerboard knob is always protruding from the deck of the board, denting your car when you put it upside-down on the roofrack, and stubbing your toes if you're paddling the board around without the sail. I was complaining about it on the Kona Windsurfing Forum, and found these plans for modifying the daggerboard to make it easily removable.


They were sketched out by a Norwegian named Ilan. Trusting in Scandinavian engineering, and hoping that my own handyman skills were up to par, I decided to try the fix myself. To start, I had to unscrew the daggerboard and the mounting plates.


Then I used a ruler and pencil to sketch a path up from the pivot hole in each plate to the top of the plates. I made the paths about 9/16" wide (the hole is 13/16" wide). Cutting out the paths in the plates was easy, but only because I was able to borrow a power jigsaw from work (we use it for cutting PVC aquarium pipes). Then I used the little saw and knife in my leatherman tool to truncate the axle on the daggerboard itself to 8/16" wide. I made the truncations so that they would line up with the daggerboard escape slot only when the daggerboard was deployed at an (estimated) 45 degree angle. The axle material was hard to cut. I had to sort-of "whittle" it. Today I reinstalled the plates and (hooray) the system worked. The daggerboard pivots just as smoothly and securely as before, but when you turn it 45 degrees you can slide it right out.


Apparently, the newer edition Konas are going to come with a removable dagger, but if you have an old version you'll just have to do the reinventing yourself.


Johnny Douglass said...

In the uninventions examples don't forget my favorite, the one size fits every make and model, domestic or foreign, and only costs $3.00, sealed beam headlight. If a stone hit the light, you made a 5 minute $3.00 stop at any backwater gas station and you were shining bright again. By 1985 I was up to $185 for a busted Subaru light and now I read of replacement lights costing over $600 for a hi-falutin' Xenon illumination system. Grrr! Oh…James… cool daggerboard mod!

John said...

You are a brave man for cutting away at your board, but congrats on making it work! unfortunately you opened my eyes to this uninventor stuff and now i have something else to think and bitch about lol.