Update on my leaky hatch rim

by Sherri ~ April 4th, 2012. Filed under: Kayaks, Paddle Sports Businesses, Repair.

Last August I purchased a P&H Capella 163 from Rutabaga in Madison during their end of season sale.  I got a really good deal on the boat.  I loved the color, and I was excited to have a more maneuverable boat to use for teaching.  Unfortunately, as I reported in a previous blog (“The Honeymoon is Over”- Sept 15, 2011), I soon discovered that I had a very leaky rim on my day hatch.

Initially, I was not exactly overwhelmed with the response I got from P&H when I informed them of the problem, but they made arrangements with Rutabaga to make the repair that they felt would solve the problem.  Frankly, I felt like they thought I was overstating the problem.  I ended up taking my boat back to Rutabaga twice to have them reseal the rim with 3M 5200 Adhesive/Sealant.  After two attempts, the rim was still leaking like a sieve.

To be clear, I in no way want to disparage the treatment I received from the staff and management at Rutabaga.  They made every effort to help me with this problem and they attempted to repair my boat according to the instructions they were given from P&H.  However, I was never really all that thrilled with the manner in which P&H was going about the repair.  Given the amount of water that was getting into my boat, I was pretty sure that simply trying to seal the inside of the rim was not going to work.  I was also concerned that water would get in between the rim and kayak from the outside and would expand during the freezing temperatures that occur in winter potentially causing further leaks.  I was expecting that a new rim would likely have to be installed, but I was told that the structural adhesive used to install the rim during the manufacturing process is so strong that the rim can’t be removed without damaging the fiberglass deck of the kayak.  In other words, it can’t really be truly repaired to a “good as new” condition.

After the two failed attempts to repair the rim, P&H finally decided to bring the kayak back to their facility in North Carolina to do a factory repair.  They picked up the boat from Rutabaga in late February when they were making a delivery and said they would bring it back when they came up for Canoecopia in March.

A few days before Canoecopia, I received an e-mail and a phone call from Brian Day at P&H with some good news and some bad news.  It turns out that when they got my boat back to the factory and started yanking on the rim, they discovered that the adhesive had let go on about half the rim which is why it was leaking so badly.  They didn’t know why the adhesive had failed.  The good news was that they had managed to clean out the old adhesive and reseal the rim so that it no longer leaked.  The bad news was that they had damaged my boat in the process.  My understanding is that they used some sort of heat gun in the process of curing the adhesive and it bubbled the gelcoat on the back deck.  A clamp they were using to hold the rim in place also left some sort of dent.  It was hard to see the deformity in the photo they sent me.  However, the other good news was that they were offering to give me a new kayak as a warranty replacement for my original defective (and now deformed) boat.

So at Canoecopia, I got to pick up my brand new orange Capella 163 with yellow trim.  After some rolling attempts and a pummeling in the surf of Alabama, I am happy to report that all three hatches stayed dry.



4 Responses to Update on my leaky hatch rim

  1. Rick Rojahn


    I am glad to see there are still companies around who stand behind their products (even though their response is sometimes slow).

  2. Al Gould

    Glad to hear that everything worked out for you Sherri. In my opinion P&H have done a fantastic job of of marketing in the USA. So much so. that I wonder if their QC can keep up with the demand for their boats. I love my RM 166 Capella, but was some what concerned when 2 of these arrived at the shop at the same time and there were noticeable differences. The seats were in different positions, one had micro-cell padding for the knee, and one did not. On mine. one of the screws holding the foot peg railing was too long and could have resulted in some leg scratches on reentries. All problems were fixed and their support is excellent; however, I wonder why they left the factory in that state. I am hoping that these are growing pains for them and they address their QC issues.
    I used to work for a Japanese medical device manufacturer and had the opportunity to visit their production factory on numerous occasions. Every instrument went into a cold room for 24 hours and then a hot room for for 24 hours to test them against their specifications for environmental conditions. Every instrument was verified against specifications for form, fit, and function for 48 hours. I wonder if any kayak manufacturer submits their finished products to specification or overall functionality tests before final release. If they did, you wouldn’t have had your problems, nor would I have experienced inconsistencies in my purchases.

  3. Sherri

    Rick, I was also glad to see that P&H took ownership of the problem. It was unfortunate that they did not ask to see the video I took of the leak initially to see that I was not overstating the problem (which I did inform them that I had taken). Perhaps they would have been quicker to take the boat back to the factory for repair if they had seen how much water was getting in.
    Al, I think you could be right about the difficulty of keeping up with demand. I had someone else make that same point to me. Also, with the price of oil, there is probably some urgency in making sure that the containers from England get shipped with as many kayaks as possible which could also explain the haste with which some of the boats may be getting sent out of the factory.
    Luckily, all’s well that ends well in this case. Although Kelly Blades nicked the rope on the carry handle when he sliced open the packaging on the new kayak for me. I felt really bad having to contact the company to get some replacement line, but they made sure I got it very quickly. : )

  4. Replacing a Broken Hatch Rim – Part 4 (Gluing the new rim) | SherriKayaks

    […] so strong that once it cures, you will not be able to remove the rim should there be a problem.  I had a problem with a badly leaking rim on another kayak of mine and the manufacturer claimed that the 3M 5200 adheres so strongly that it would tear up the […]

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