Making your own leader lines

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Making your own leader lines

Postby sflinux » Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:59 pm

I have been on the quest for making my bar and lines stronger. As I've written in other posts, I've had lines and leader lines break. After each failure I would analyze my system and try to improve it. I'm trying to find the weakest link in my system and replace those pieces, rather than going out and buying a new bar and lines every two years (Seems to be the most economical way).
What has NOT worked well for me in the past:
1) stopper ball on kite lines
2) o-rings as stopper ball on kite lines
3) knots on leader lines.
4) pigtails on the rear lines (I've had three of them brake, two of them from a brand new kite but was most likely just defective. The other was from a gust with a low aspect ratio kite... the pigtail was probably just worn from two seasons of use.)

I now try to use q-line (600#) or what looks like my strongest/best lines for the front lines, especially for the leash line (I use one of the front lines as my leash line).
Reason: The front lines are always under load, so should be your strongest lines. Your leash line should be the strongest if you don't want a run away kite.

I also am working on a redundant leash system: having a secondary line which could be engaged as a leash. For my 5th line bar this means, keeping my existing 4 line as my leash, and having a handle on the 5th line which could be used as a leash. For my 4 line bar, I have one of my front lines as my main leash line and have a handle on one of my steering lines as a backup which can be pulled (slingshot).
Reason: Coming from a rock climbing background, I like redundancy. If one part of the system fails, it's nice to have a backup to prevent a runaway kite.

I still like having some sort of stopper, on the leash line, to keep my bar from traveling all the way to the kite. Instead of putting the stopper on the kite line, I extend the leader line for my leash so that the stopper can be on the leader line. I prefer using a ss oring instead of a stopper ball.
Reason: SS orings and stopper balls weaken the line. I've had lines gouge stopper balls. I prefer orings becaue they have no rough edges. Both are equivalent to putting a knot in your system which weakens your lines by 30%. Better to put a knot in a 1200 lb leader line than a 500 lb kite line.

The other thing I've tried to get rid of is knots in my leader lines (where the kite lines attach). I now grab a bite of leader line and do a figure eight knot. The extra line gets tied off with triple fisherman knots. This works fine for lines that are not leash lines.
Reason: I've had lines break at knots. Knots weaken the lines by 30%. Using a figure eight knot does not weaken the line. And looping two loops together puts the load evenly on each line, rather than on the line with the knot which basically just gets slowly sawed away with the abrasion from each pull.

For leader lines, I use spectra line available from Svenson's boating shop in Alameda (clement st), I believe they call it spectralite. The smallest gauge they carry works well. Just measure your largest kite span and add a foot or two to get the right amount.
Reason: Spectra is strong and has little stretch. You want this for your front lines. I've used 6 - 7 mm cordage for the leader lines for my stearing lines just because I've had that lying around. But I wouldn't use anything but spectra for my front lines.

For the leash line ideally you want to use one long line with no knots between the stopper on each end. I bought some spectra but was too short to do this. So in order to prevent my bar's oring, which slides on the leash line when I let go of the bar from getting caught on any knots, I had to do something different. For the leash lines, I've done something new (not fully tested). I fold the leader line eight inches from the end, and do A LOT of zigzag stitches (with extra strong nylon thread) on the leader line, leaving a 1 1/2 loop on the end. I slide 18 awg shrink wrap over the loop and carefully heat it so that it shrinks to cover the very end of the leader line. Now I can loop my kite line to this leader line, and loop the other end to a stopper oring that stops on my bar (where my leash attaches). I also thread a ss oring onto this to stop the bar (near the kite line). With this setup, I have no knots for the ring that your bar travels on to get hung up on. It will easily slide over the shrink wrap. This is pretty much the same way most kite lines are made, except they sleeve the end with a tube of dacron and sew this in as well. I don't see the need for dacron on a leader line, but time will tell.
Looking forward to testing it in Maui next week...
happy kiting,
bric
p.s. the racers who want fast, aerodynamic lines won't like this setup, but I prefer strength to speed.
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Postby sflinux » Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:54 am

Yesterday a better way to introduce a ss oring stopper into the kite line occured to me. I used to use the method as described in a wipika manual where you grab a bite, feed it through the oring, then thread each end through the bite. I have had one line break at this spot due to the strain that this knot puts on the line, since each end can be pulled in opposite directions.
Now I make a figure eight on the line and have the oring in one of the figure eight loops. This should add no additional stress to the line. For people who don't want to extend their leader lines, I see this as the best way to introduce a stopper into their system.
-bric
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