DIY Hands-Free Steering Motor for Kayak
Unfortunately, I did not shoot a video while I made this, but here’s an updated step-by-step of the build…
Seat Side Motor Head Controls Set-Up
Step 1: Disconnecting the Wires
Remove the screws from the bottom of the motor head and remove the top half. Disconnect the wires from the control switch. There will be a total of 6 wires, 2 for the battery and 4 that will run down the shaft. The control switch should indicate the wire colors for easy reference later. Keep the screws.
Step 2: Removing the Motor Head
Unscrew the bolt that connects the motor head to the shaft. Remove the motor head. You should be left with 4 wires hanging out the top of the motor shaft. Keep the nuts and bolts.
Step 3: Extending the Wires
Measure the ideal length from where the motor will be mounted to where you will place the controls. Purchase wires in the same gauge and color as the original wires. Purchase 4 sets (male and female) of disconnects that match the wire gauge. Cut your wires to length, add an extra foot for slack (just incase). Attach male dicconnectors to one end the wires and attach females to the other end.
Step 4: Reconnecting Wires
Connect the new wires to the wires on the shaft. For an easier build you can keep the existing head as the control and mount it to your liking. I’ve seen people use a Scotty Rod holder (see below). For a more compact controls, you can place the controls in an outdoor grade electrical box, drill holes into a blank face plate and use a knob of you choice (half circle connection) or keep the twist control. (Looking back I would have kept the original motor head.) Reconnect the four wires to the controls. Reconnect the original battery wires. Connect to battery and test your wiring skills.
If you have a rudder system on your kayak or do not need hands-free steering, up can stop here.
Mounting Your Motor
My KC Kayak came with a V-Lock Universal Mounting System. I replaced the 90-degree insert with a flat insert and attached a hinge to it. I attached a wood block to the hinge. The hinge allows your motor to give and pop up if it hits sand or rocks and reduces stress to kayak attachment point. How you mount the motor, will ultimately depend on your kayak. The V-Lock may be a good option if your kayak doesn’t have a place to attach a trolling motor and you have access to bolt it in from the inside.
Hands-Free Steering Set-up
Step 1: Seat Set-up
I used a Marine Raider seat on a low swivel. Replace the top set of bolts on the back of the seat with eye bolts (they should be 1/4-#20).
Step 2: Adding a T-head to the Motor Shaft
Disconnect the extended wires from the wires coming out of the motor shaft. Purchase a 1 inch PVC T-connector, (be sure to get it with 2 SLIPS and 1 THREADED on the center), the motor shaft fits snug in a threaded 1 inch. Drill a 1/2 hole on one side of the T, dead center. Feed the wires through this hole and place the T-head on the motor shaft. Align the T-connector so it is perpendicular to your kayak with the wires coming out towards your seat. Drill a hole the same size as the original bolt that connected the motor head to shaft. Drill straight through the PVC, the shaft and through the other side of the PVC. Be careful not to damage or cut the wires in the process, drill slowly. Place the bolt through the hole and secure with a nut on the other end. Cut two pieces of 1 inch PVC about 12 inches long. Push them into the T-connector. Drill a hole about 1 inch from the end of each arm and install an eye bolt and secure from the inside with a nut.
Step 3: Connecting the Seat to the T-head
Purchase 2 sets of CanJam Cord Tighteners. Use CanJam or any other “no-knot” hook to connect the motor arms to the seat. You do not want use a fixed length, as you will need to adjust the tightness based on how deep you are dropping your trolling motor. Place a CanJam on each eyelid. Run parachute cord from the left arm to the right side of the seat (criss-cross), repeat with the other side. Tighten the cord, evenly on both sides. Done.
Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions or questions.