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Skeg Repair - Necky Chatham and other solid wire skegs

A kayak skeg is basically a drop down fin near the stern of the boat. Much like a centerboard on a sailboat, it helps with tracking, and for squirrely boats like the Necky Chatham, it's pretty much a necessity. Luckily the Chatham has a nice one. It's smooth to engage, simple, and sturdy. One of the reasons these skegs are so bomber is because Necky uses a titanium wire (They call it 'Necky Wire') instead of braided cable.

Necky Chatham 16 with skeg tubing exposed in rear hatch

If you forget to pull up your skeg when landing it can kink the cable. In the case with braided wire, it will kink more and more each time until eventually it will be next to impossible to engage with the hand lever, necessitating replacement.

The solid titanium wire is tough, rust proof, and kink resistant. It is extremely flexible however if you bend it too far it snaps.

I'm not sure if you can purchase this wire from another source, but expect it to cost almost $100 retail. I was surprised too! Try not to snap it! You might be able to replace the solid wire with braided steel, but the below instructions are for the solid wire.

Remove the old wire

Remove the broken/kinked wire by unscrewing the skeg toggle/handle and pulling out from the skeg box. You'll need an allen wrench to loosen the toggle.

Insert new wire

I found it helpful to use a metal file to round off the end that you are pushing through the plastic skeg tube. Remember that this wire is very strong, and can be very sharp. You don't want to scratch the inside of your skeg tube as this will make it difficult to engage the skeg. (You want as little friction as possible) You might want to consider replacing the plastic tube at this time if it has been damaged. The hardware store has this tubing and it's very inexpensive.

New titanium wire is fed through the skeg tube

Attach the toggle

You're going to be messing with the wire to get the right length and adjustment, so this step will keep you from losing the wire inside the tube. Notice that I have the end of the wire on the OUTSIDE of the recess. The wire comes long so you will need to cut it. If you have the wire inside the forward part of the tube (You can see it on the left side of the recess here:) it will likely poke through your knee paddling as can be seen below. Opps!

Before we cut the wire let's look at a few things. You can always cut more off, but you can't add to it, right?

Below is the original set screw. This screw holds the wire in the skeg, and can be subject to a good amount of pull when pulling the skeg up.

As you can see the titanium has rubbed off the stainless steel, making the tip rounded. I found this didn't hold well on the new skeg wire, so I will replace it with a new one.

Try out your new screw. This one is screwed in but extends too far from the surface of the skeg. I had to cut it to length. Hopefully you can find the right length and not have to cut.

Cutting the wire

Though I heard you could cut titanium with a carbon saw blade, I didn't have a lot of luck. For me, a bolt cutter and metal file to smooth the end of the wire worked great.

Install the wire in the skeg

You'll want to do some tug testing to make sure it's secure. Then, push the skeg all the way down/ in to the skeg box. You can loosen the toggle to allow you to do this.

Cutting the wire

You'll cut from the toggle end. You need to make sure that you measure enough wire so that when the skeg is engaged (working while paddling) as much as you want, that there is still enough wire to allow it to stay in the forward end of the recessed toggle area. Sorry, I don't have a photo, but I like about 30 degrees.

TEST IT several times with the skeg at several angles. Once you know that you have enough wire, but not too much, mark it with a sharpie and cut it.

Then, insert it in the forward recess, adjust the position for the toggle on the wire, and tighten it down. You should be good to go!

If anything was confusing please leave a comment and I will clarify.

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Greg Weiss
Greg Weiss
Apr 24, 2022

I bought it directly from Old Town who now manufactures some of Neckys models


Very clear instructions, thank you. My only question is where can I purchase the 1/8" NITI cable?

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