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I had ordered a set of Smart Trak Toe Pilots to replace the existing rudder controls on my Current Designs Zone. The unique properties of this system would afford me a fixed bracing point for my feet and perhaps a bit more leg extension—being 6’9” leg room is crucial.
Once my prompt shipment arrived from Tom’s shop, I eagerly began the installation process. Unfortunately, it soon became clear to me that I had a major problem.
The Toe Pilot rails are designed to be screwed in to the cockpit from inside the hull. The rail is enclosed with a hollow tube-like design, so there is no access to the screw hole from the cockpit side. As such, I had no way to reach the existing screw holes. Although I had a front hatch, there was absolutely no way to get at it, let alone get a screwdriver in there. With no center hatch, and no access from the rear day hatch, I thought the project was over before it began.
I called Tom and discussed my dire situation. We kicked around a couple of ideas to address this seemingly novel situation. I finally decided that the best option would be to carefully drill/cut out an access hole on the cockpit side of the Toe Pilot rail to gain access to the screw hole.
Of course the notion of hacking away at these nice new pieces of equipment did not exactly thrill me—not to mention the fact that any future warranty claims would most certainly be void. However, the alternative of doing nothing was not an option. Discretion being the better part of valor, I contacted a neighbor who is an engineer and handy with tools. At first, the thought was to use a drill press, but in the end a Dremel rotary tool was used for greater control.
After a careful assessment of the situation, we proceeded as follows:
In hindsight, it was not a huge project and fairly simple with the right tools, but certainly this was uncharted territory for all involved. While this is probably a fairly unusual modification, I hope these instructions may save someone else some time and consternation if they are faced with a similar dilemma.
I would strongly suggest that in the future, the manufacturer modify the rails with pre cut access holes to address this problem.
© 2008 Tom Holtey
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