All About Line Laundry

Line “Laundry” is the phrase we use for kite tails, line art, spinners, bouncers, and anything else that hangs from the kite or kite line. Here at GKPI, we get a lot of questions about what will work best, how much to fly, or how to attach it.

When people call about line laundry, I always start with two questions: “What do you fly?”, and “Where do you fly?”

The amount of laundry you can lift depends on the winds you fly in and the kind of lifter kite you are using.

Smooth, stronger winds (within reason) will carry more than light or turbulent winds. And similarly, kites that float high, or hang low will not be best suited for a bulky line display. Other kites require a tail to fly well.

Line Laundry

Generally we can separate laundry into four categories – flat tails, tubes, line art, and bouncers.

Flat Tail

Flat Tails include our Transition Tails, Streamers, and Ribbons. You can get them in lengths of up to 100 feet. Because they are flat, they generate significantly less drag than tubes or other three-dimensional pieces.

Tubes are similar to flat tails because they have a long narrow profile. But because of their shape, they generate more drag, and also appear different in the sky. Tails will wave while tubes are more fluid and will appear to undulate. Tubes will also require more wind to fully inflate. We offer a variety of styles in sizes from 20 to 150 feet.

Line Art includes all kinds of inflatable spinners, shapes, and characters.

We’ve got Spikey Balls, Pillows, Socks, Drogues, Wheels, and a plethora of Fish and People Parts.

The only thing limiting line art applications is your imagination. Some are ideal for stabilizing kites that require drag on the trailing edge. Many others are better suited as a line display.

Line Art WIDTH=

Bouncers are pieces that, because of their size or design, generate so much drag that they are difficult to lift off the ground.

We've got a great collection of Crowns, Wheels, and Balls. Attach one to a kite line, and the line will run at a low angle from the anchor to the bouncer, and then at a higher angle from the bouncer to the kite. You can anchor bouncers directly to the ground, or use a lifter kite to give them a slightly higher position.

So what does this all mean??

Bouncers

Flat Tail

Choose tails or line art that accent your kites well. Consider color – so that your display matches. Consider proportion – so that the length of a tail looks right with the kite. Consider drag – so that your tail or line art doesn’t overpower kite performance.

Light flying kites like our Marconi or Wilson Wing look good with shorter flat tails like Ribbons or our 24 foot Transition Tails. Even if the kite has no attachment point, you can clip the tail into the bow lines or easily add a connection tab.

If you are flying a Delta, Genki, Dopero, or other soaring kites, consider flat tails or streamers. A tail with more drag will weigh the kite down. Of course, a larger delta - 10 feet or more - will lift plenty of laundry. Any larger kite will. But generally these kites are designed to float rather than lift.

If you are flying kites with moderate lift – Delta Conyne, Rokkaku, Cody or Box Kites – choose laundry that really augments the kite. Sometimes that means matching tails. But a contrasting color also works very well. And try attaching more pieces to the line.

Larger kites or those designed for lift will work best for a full-on laundry display. We’re talking Sleds, Foils, and Flowforms for this kind of program. In most cases, the kites will perform better with some kind of drogue or tail. But they can also carry a large assortment of art along the flying line.

Large Lifters

Drogue

When a kite requires a tail, I like to keep options open for different field limitations. For example, a larger Flowform can support a tail or tubes 100 feet long. But not all fields can handle tails like that and the last thing you want is a long tail caught in the trees, the street, or a chain link fence. So get a good alternative - like our 3-Leg Drogue for those times when you have less space.

Similarly, long tubes look great behind a large lifter. But if you attach one at each outside corner of the kite, the wind can affect them differently and this can make the kite unstable. A single tail, centered on the back of the kite, may give you more stable flight.

Be creative! You don’t always need to attach tails to the back of the kite. Consider two on the kite and one at the bridle tow point for a balanced appearance. Or put two tubes together behind the kite at a single connection point for a different look.

Three Tubes

Drogue

The idea is to stay flexible for different conditions. Create a program where you can add more display in stronger winds, or reduce load if the wind drops. Having an assortment of matching kites and laundry will make this easier.

How do you attach laundry to the kite or line??

Simple snaps or carabiners work well for most applications.

If the kite has attachment tabs, check to make sure they are strong enough for whatever you are attaching. Your big tube may be more than the manufacturer anticipated. A connection tab can be a weak link, and when a tail pulls loose, everything will come down.

I generally avoid swivels unless the piece being held rotates. Swivels are just one more piece of hardware in the set-up and one more place for something to go wrong. And of course, swivels are generally designed to be in the water. A single grain of sand can jam them up. Ball bearing swivels work best, but nothing is going to be perfect. So check your swivels often to keep things turning.

We've seen all kinds of tricks used to attach laundry to a flying line. Most involve knots which cause abrasion and weaken line strength. Our approach is a lot more simple.

Big Tube

Carabiner

We wrap small carabiners into the main flying line. Normally, three twists work just fine. When the line is slack, you can slide the "biner" anywhere you want. But when the kite goes up and tension builds on the line, the "biner" is locked in place. It's quick, easy, and doesn't reduce line strength.

Here’s another hint: Fabric colors used by manufactures may change between production runs. If you want several matching pieces, buy them in groups to insure the shades are identical.

Tails, spinners, or creative line art will make even the most interesting kite even more interesting. It will add to your show and add to your fun and satisfaction as well.

Building a program will take some time so there is no need to spend a bunch of money all at once. But plan ahead to create the best show as well as the best long-term investment.

And remember to have fun!


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