August 5, 2009
A Devilish Repair Job

The winds were gusting toward the end of the afternoon in Jamestown. My Pilot had been cut and the big Devil started drifting back and forth in a series of powerful figure eights. Suddenly there was a noise. It wasn’t a rip. It wasn’t a pop. It was more of a distinctive tat-tat-tat like a machine gun burst. Everyone on the field heard it.

I stared at the kite confused. I thought that my bridle had torn loose but everything appeared intact. Then I realized the typically flat kite was much more round. The “through cord” support lines had torn loose.

Big Devil!

A kite like this has about 30 internal lines that connect the front skin to the back. The fabric also has line sewn down in a “super ripstop” pattern and the support or shape lines are connected to tabs in the ripstop lines.

Driveway Repairs Driveway Repairs Driveway Repairs

The first step in a repair is to survey the damage. I did that before we put the kite away in Jamestown. Looking inside the kite, I could see that virtually all of the lines were disconnected. But fortunately, most had pulled the tabs loose rather than tearing the fabric. I packed him up, stuffed him in a bag, and "life-flighted" him home to Oregon.

For the next week, I spread the Devil out in my driveway each afternoon and used a leaf blower to inflate him. Then I crawled inside with a sewing machine and methodically re-attached each support line.

Neighbors would slow as they passed wondering what on earth was going on.

The hard part was lining up the cords so I stitched each tab in the right place. But when I did make mistakes, it was easy to untie the lines and move them to a different tab.

Half the damage was on the top and half on the bottom. So to complete repairs in a section, I’d have to flip the kite over.

Eventually I figured out that I didn’t need to plug in the sewing machine. It was easier to rotate the wheel by hand then press on the petal. But I never did manage to slide all that extra fabric under the sewing arm easily.

Fixing large kites is simply a matter of breaking the job down into small tasks and approaching them in a systematic fashion.

The Devil is back in shape now and stronger than ever. From the outside, you can’t tell that anything was ever wrong.

Now I’m hoping that the Google satellites were overhead during the repair and that you can find a huge smile looking up from my driveway if you zero in…

Fixed and Flyable

Susie is in Quebec as I write this. She’s slowly working her way toward the festival in Cap Chat but having some problems with connections. With luck, she’ll be home the 10th. I fly out Thursday night for Columbia. So for several days, we’ll be in different hemispheres but roughly the same time zones. Check back for news!


Devil of a Sale!:

As long as we’re on the subject of Devils, let’s mark them down this week. In fact, let’s mark down anything designed by the Gonzalez Brothers. That includes the Devil, Opera Masks, and the huge flying Elephant.

Order between now and August 17 when I return from Columbia, and take 20% off the cost of any of these cool (and easily repaired) inflatables.

*Click here for information on how to place an order.

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