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Thule/Yakima kayak rack hardware corrosion, maintenance, and replacement

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Several of the bolt/knob sets on my ~7-year-old Thule folding J-cradles have decided to get permanently hitched. Including, infuriatingly, a pair that I'd removed from the rack, oiled, and screwed together for storage. A couple other sets had to be hacksawed off last season and replaced with new hardware. Until recently, I've installed the racks at the beginning of the season, and left them on the crossbars until autumn. Presumably, salt and water work their magic and fuse the hardware together.

I can't be the only one with this problem. What do you all do in terms of kayak rack maintenance, and how have you avoided or dealt with salt-water-induced corrosion of the stock (non-stainless) hardware that comes with Thule and Yakima racks?

Has anyone replaced the non-stainless bolts with stainless carriage bolts and knobs? (M6x75mm, 1.0 pitch for Thule, 1/4"-20 for Yakima)

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My $.02.    I believe the best way to avoid the seizure problem is to liberally use grease on the threads.  I was once told that oil is for moving parts and grease is for parts that do not move.  Likely an urban legend.  Anyway, I have used grease and never an issue, but I use Malone racks which I believe, for totally irrational reasons, are made to deal with high corrosion environments being from Maine.

Ed Lawson

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I converted my old Thule folding J hooks to mount on aerobars, so have lots of clamps and knobs and bolts left over, if that’s useful. 

Agree that specing rustable hardware on sea kayak stuff is ignorant. So is using S hooks on bow and stern lines that fall off the car, as I’ve told Thule. 

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I second Ed's GREASE suggestion.  Once I started putting Waterproof Bicycle Grease on the threads when I installed my Thule Racks each spring, I stopped having significant rust problems on the threads or bolts.

My newest problem is that one of my NEW, just purchased this spring, Yakima JayLow Kayak Carriers has started dropping rust on my car!  The rust is coming from two press fittings, not a movable part.


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