We were recently contacted by AirKayaks customer Ruud Laser, who had purchased an Advanced Elements Accessory Frame for his AE1009 Expedition inflatable kayak. For those unfamiliar, once installed, the AE2042 Accessory Frame allows one to add any aftermarket 1” rail-mount, and customize with your choice of rod holders, a fish finder, camcorder, cameras or other equipment.
The Accessory Frame System can be installed on most Advanced Elements inflatable kayak models as well as many other boats providing enough deck space is available. (The frame requires 22” wide for the front grommets and 23” wide for the rear grommets.) As an added convenience, this kit comes with 2 sets of 4 grommets, allowing one to use it on two different kayak or to set up two locations on one kayak.
Ruud confessed it felt “un-natural” to cut into a good kayak. But one year later he took the plunge, taking pictures to inspire confidence in others. Below we have woven Ruud’s photos into a shortened version of the Accessory Frame instructions. If installing your own Frame, please first read the instructions completely as they include additional diagrams and information.
Besides the kit (which includes the accessory frame, 8 mounting grommets, application glue, cutting mat and instructions) to install it on the “cloth-based” kayak, you will also need an Exacto or matte knife with a new blade, fabric chalk or pencil, metal straight edge ruler, scotch tape, duct tape and four sheets of 5′ X 5″ cardboard.
First, inflate your kayak so that the Accessory Frame can be correctly positioned.
Layout the three bars – main center and two side arms.
Position the included “mounting templates” underneath the grommets, then align the shapes, starting with the front grommets (nearest the push pins on the assembly frame). Then slide the rear grommets (on the detachable arms) as needed to align them to the template. Once aligned, use scotch tape to keep them in place under the grommets – tape in such a way that it will be easy to remove without damaging the templates.
Place the assembled accessory frame on the kayak in the desired position, taking into account your paddling techniques and arm reach. Rotate the grommets as necessary to conform to the contours of the boat. Use a pencil or fabric chalk to mark the corner edges of the templates onto your boat.
Remove the template, and reposition directly on the kayak. Use your pencil/chalk to mark the position of the two rectangles in the middle of the templates onto the deck of your boat. Remove the templates.
Place the included cutting mat under the deck of the kayak, between the hull upper and main bladder – this protects the main bladder from being cut.
Remove the frame and grommets.
Place your four sheets of cardboard on the inside of your kayak deck and position them under each of the rectangular holes.
Position the Mounting Grommet with glue, so that it is popping up through the hole of your deck.
With cardboard in place, put your hand underneath the sheet of cardboard. Apply pressure to flatten out the grommet disk, making sure that the disk is in full contact with the deck material of the kayak. (Ruud ensures a good bond using a clamping system).
Remove your hand from under the cardboard and apply duct tape around the perimeter of the grommet hole on the outside of the kayak. Make sure the duct tape flattens out the material around the base of the grommet, ensuring good contact between the material and the grommet disk.
Repeat steps 2-4 for the next three Mounting Grommets.
Leave the glue to cure for at least 12 hours before installing the Accessory Frame for use.