BUYING A SECONDHAND KITE: THE PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW EXPLAINED BY A PROFESSIONAL
It’s not easy to buy a secondhand kite because we are always afraid of getting screwed. For this reason, I interviewed “Aurélien Cassou”, founder of Rép’ Kite. Aurélien is one of the best repairers in Montpellier and the South of France. He has been very nice to detail me the correct procedure to follow before buying a kite. The list does not include the search but is intended exclusively for technical inspection of the equipment.
Step 1: Inflate the kite with high pressure, then close the One-Pump pipes to isolate the struts. This will give the kite time to lose pressure if it leaks.
Check the condition of fabrics and seams
Then check the condition of the fabric and seams for potential tears or repairs:
Leading edge: there must be no tears or unrepaired scratches, because at the slightest overpressure (kite crash or even a big gust) it can explode. It is also necessary to inspect the seams and check that there is no beginning of hernia. And finally look for possible repairs. They are usually quite visible, however, when in doubt, look symmetrically at the other side of the kite to see if it is identical. On the leading edge it is not always obvious if a repair has been done properly, so judge the quality of the repair by the cleanliness of the seams; in general this is a good indication of the experience and professionalism of the repairer.
The fabrics: in order to simplify the detection of possible tears, place the wing against the light, you will see the smallest hole “light up”! Inspect the entire canopy, but pay particular attention to the area along the leading edge (about 50 cm wide). Then check the condition of the trailing edge, there will inevitably be some marbling (stretch marks) on the fabrics, but these should not be too large and should not extend more than 40 cm (16 inches) towards the leading edge. Finally, you should look for possible repairs ( sewn or not). In general it is assumed that a tear longer than 1 cm should be repaired with stitching, for others a simple adhesive patch is sufficient, so don’t worry if you find any. For sewn repairs, in addition to the quality/cleanliness of the stitching, check that both sides of the tear are edge-to-edge and that the ripstop lines are in line; this will ensure that the profile, and therefore the performance of the wing, is preserved.
scratch leading edge
Check the condition of the bridles and pulleys
Now you must check the condition of the bridles and especially the areas in contact with the pulleys. Also check that the One-Pump tubes are not melted by salt and sunlight.
Check the bar
Then check the bar: first unfold and untangle it. Hook the end of the line (connections to the kite) to a fixed point or ask the dealer to hold them firmly. Then return to the bar by sliding the lines between your fingers slightly tight to check for knots or cuts. Assume that any damaged or knotted line should be changed, as well as its twin! Then check the condition of the trim, de-power, safety line, pre-lines, and release and reset the safety. Then check the general setting by releasing the trim (max power) and pulling on the bar: all the lines must be under tension. If one of the line pairs hangs, it is too long! The vast majority of the time it is the front lines that have slackened over time. It is usually possible to compensate by changing the knots under the rear floats to make them longer, but assume that the lines on a bar with a front/rear differential of more than 10/15 cm should be changed.
knots on lines
Check the air pressure
Finally, let’s get back to the air pressure. You will now be able to un-clamp each of the struts by placing your ear right next to the pipe. As you open, you may hear a little “whisthle”: this means there is a leak somewhere. But at this point it could be on the leading edge, or on the strut you just unclamped. So open the other struts one after the other. The principle is simple: if it ” whistles ” each time, it can mean that the struts are filling the leading edge with air and that the leak is coming from there, if it only happens when opening a strut, it is the leading edge that fills the strut and it is the strut that leaks. In reality it’s a little more complex than that to identify a leak, but it already gives you an idea without the need for any equipment or removing anything.
Don’t be afraid to buy a repaired wing
As for the presence of repairs, don’t be afraid to buy a repaired wing! A well done repair will last the lifetime of the kite and will not affect its flying performance in any way. There may be a loss of aesthetics, but once again a good repairman should be able to offer something clean and that shows a lot about the quality of his work. Whatever happens and if you have the slightest doubt, don’t hesitate to ask a professional for advices.
The above steps are important both to buy a second-hand kite as well as to keep it in good condition.
If you have anything to add or you need more specific informations do not hesitate to write me in the comments.