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Pescador Pilot 12.0 – Drive Issue and Maintenance

Kayak on hill overlooking lake

This season marks the third year of owning the Perception Kayaks, Pescador Pilot 12.0. I have been very happy with this boat, it is quick, pedal drives are amazing and it has been easy to own. As far as upkeep goes it has been minimal. There are some things you need to pay attention to every so often but I wouldn’t call it maintenance, it’s less work than that.

That being said I did come across the first major issue with the kayak since I bought it. The Pilot Drive gear housing started to come loose causing grease to leak out and a knock in the drive train as I pedaled. The fix was not complicated but it did require some special tools, none of which I had, so I improvised.

Pilot Drive with crank arms removed
Pilot drive was leaking around the edges of the housing. Also pictured is the square tapered shaft the crank arms are mounted to.

The top of the drive consists of a cylindrical housing with two threaded face plates on either end. The plates hold the crank shaft centered in the gear housing with a set of snap rings. The face plates (which are the black, flat ends of the cylinder) have small indents to allow the use of a pin face spanner wrench to tighten it. Since I did not have a pin face spanner wrench I made one, but once I finished it I discovered the wrench did not fit behind the crank arms. So now I had to remove those too.

Heating crank arms with torch.
Don’t burn the paint!

There is a proper tool to remove the crank arms, it’s called a crank puller and is typically used for bicycles, but I didn’t have that either. With the careful application of heat and leverage I was able to remove both arms with minimal damage to the paint.

Removing crank arms with a crowbar.
Carefully removing the crank arms from a square tapered shaft. This was hard, just buy the proper tools.

Next came tightening the face plates. When you are sitting in the seat of the kayak and looking at the drive the right side is a right hand thread and the left side is a left hand thread. This is important to note when tightening the plates down.

Tightening the pilot drive head with adjustable pin face wrench.
Tightening the drive head with home made wrench.

Once I was satisfied everything was secure I remounted the crank arms (making sure to align them with the prop) and gave the unit a liberal shot of grease. Since my repair the knock in the drive has gone away and no more grease leaks out of the housing. I call that a win!

Regular Maintenance

The owners manual states the only annual maintenance requirement is to lubricate the pilot drive with some marine grade grease every year. The one I use is Mystik JT-6 Marine Grease because its convenient. The grease comes in small tubes for the $10 mini grease guns and you can get it all from Canadian Tire.

Other maintenance items to watch for are just routine checkup type things. Screws for handles and gear tracks can come loose and I will usually tighten those down twice a year.

Rear grab handle for Pescador Pilot
Tighten the screws on handles and gear tracks regularly.

The propeller will become misaligned after hitting bottom or rocks but its a simple procedure to realign the prop. Just loosen off the nuts that hold it in place, realign with the crank arms and then re-tighten.

I use a silicone lubricant like the WD-40 Specialist Water Resistant Silicone to lubricate the rudder pulley to make raising and lowering easier. A heavier grease would attract more dirt and grime in the pulley so I recommend using a lubricant that dries.

At the same frequency as checking for loose screws I will check and adjust the tension of the rudder control cables if necessary.

Rudder cable adjustment points
Keeping the rudder cables tight will help the kayak track straight.

The last thing I do is apply some silicone grease on the pin that holds the drive in the down position, otherwise it squeaks and can be pretty irritating. If I forget to do this or the pin dries out, I will just splash some water on it to keep it lubricated.

Pescador Pilot Drive mounted in kayak.
Add some lubricant to the pin that holds the drive down or it will squeak like crazy…
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2 thoughts on “Pescador Pilot 12.0 – Drive Issue and Maintenance”

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