One of the most commonly asked questions about the Hobie Miragedrive pedal-powered propulsion system is: 'what sort of maintenance is involved?' Its a really good question to because these devices do indeed require maintenance to keep operating fluidly, as well as to prevent failure in the field. No matter how much anyone tells you how good they are, don't be fooled into believing that you don't really have to look after them. Like anything with moving parts, you do. This is especially true for those that are used in salt water. And the more frequently they are used, the more maintenance is required.
The good news is that for the most part it's really very simple to keep your miragedrive working well. Typically this merely involves rinsing out in fresh water after use (particularly important after use in salt water), making sure that sand is thoroughly washed out of the chains and sprockets and making sure that the chains and grub screws aren't working themselves loose. That's all pretty simple to do. But every now and then it pays to give the drive a thorough service, which will not only prolong the life of your drive, just as importantly, it'll keep it in tip-top shape, providing optimal performance.
What a lot of people don't seem to notice is the slow but steady degredation in performance of their drive if a thorough service isn't carried out from time to time. Degradation occurs so slowly that one barely notices it happening and often the first some realise that their drive requires attention is when and if something goes wrong in the field. I've heard people make comments such as 'miragedrive failure is inevitable and guys like this seem to have no idea that maintenance must be performed to prevent it from happening. So far my drive has done well over 10,000km on the water and it still hasn't failed. And that's because I do understand that terms such as 'stainless steel' mean stain 'less' and that regular use in salt water will cause problems if the device is neglected.
Whenever I have a major kayak fishing trip planned I will perform a full service on my drive. Doing so can make them feel as good as new. No, scratch that... better than new! Here's how I service my V2 drive (note that although there are a few differences in the V1 drive, the following is equally relevant)
You'll need to get a few things together in order to get started. A pair of pliers might come in handy (I use a Leatherman) but not essential. A 7/16 or 11m spanner will be required to undo and tighten chain and idler cable nuts. You'll also need an allen key to undo and tighten the grub screws. You'll also need a quality lubricant that is recommended for marine use. I use Lanox, which is one of the more environmentally friendly options and also seems to last longer than most. I use Lanox on all of the stainless steel components. You'll also need a marine-grade grease as well. Here I'm using Lanotec, which is also a lanolin based product. For the synthetic Delrin components I use McNett silicone, which is useful for all kinds of things. In this case I concentrate on the areas that make contact with other parts of the drive: the sprockets, the drums (particularly the sides, where the cables run alongside), the idler cable pulley wheel and the plastic sleeves for chains and idler cable.
Obviously the first step is to dismantle the drive almost entirely. There is no real need to remove pedals from drums, nor is there a need to remove fin masts from their sprockets, so leave these in tact. if you're using a V1 drive, now is a great time to inspect the grub screws that hold the masts in place. Make sure they are not working their way loose.
There is no specific order in which you must pull it apart. I always start by removing the chains from one side of the drums, which will allow you to remove the drums and pedals. I then remove the fins from their masts and take both drums off.
Next I loosen the grub screw that holds the sprocket axle in place. using a hammer and screw driver, I then knock the axle out and remove the sprockets/masts. Then I loosen the grub screw that holds the idler cable pulley wheel, tap out the pulley wheel axle and remove the wheel.
The next step is to clean out all and any gunk inside the shaft of the sprockets and pulley wheel. I do this by using a long screwdriver to push through a small rag to push out any muck. Do this to the drum shafts to. When satisfied that they are fairly clean, I'll spray a bit of McNetts spray inside and let it sit for a while so the delrin plastic can absorb the lubricant. A short while later I'll clean out any excess spray from inside the shafts.
For good measure, I'll then spray some of the McNetts on all of the delrin parts, allow it to sit and absorb for a while and later wipe any excess off. During this process I'm particular about making sure that the sides of the drums and cable sleeves get a good dose of the stuff. This reduces friction, helps prevent wear and tear (especially on the cables) and allows for smoother operation.
The next step is to give all and any stainless steel components a thorough spray of Lanox. Make sure the chains are completely dry and free of salt, sand or dirt before lubricating them. Don't forget to spray some Lanox onto the swedges at the ends of the chains and idler cable. Then let them sit and soak it in for a while.
I then turn my attention back to the sprockets and idler pulley wheel, as well as their axles. Wipe off any excess lubricant, and then push a liberal amount of lanolin grease inside the shafts of the sprockets and pulley wheel. Coat the axles with a good amount of grease as well.
Now put the sprockets and pulley wheel back on, making sure there is a copius amount of grease in their shafts. Take care to make sure that the axles are secured back in place (with their grub screws) into the flat section of the axles, which is intended to seat the grub screws. This is important to get right.
Now re-attach the chains and idler cable to one of the drums (it doesn't matter which one). Note that here I'm using 2 nuts on the end of each chain, which I do to prevent the nuts from coming loose. This is a measure I only take for the chains - not the idler cable, which is no where near as important. if that was to somehow fall off during use, your drive will still work.
Before re-installing the drums and re-fitting the chains and cables, insert a fair amount of grease into the shafts of the drums. Now place the drums back onto the drum axle. By now your mirage drive might be starting to resemble a miragedrive again :-)
Now reattach the chains. Start with the 1st front chain. Then do the rear chain. leave the idler cable to last.
Take care when installing the chains to make sure the centre link is positioned on the centre sprocket tooth.Your fins will be misaligned if you don't get this right. Tighten the chains so that they are reasonably firm - to the point where there is minimal play (I always aim to have the front chain slightly tighter). When the chains are installed, pick up the drive and check to make sure the masts are aligned when the pedals are aligned. now is also a good time to test the action of the drive. Grab the pedals and move them back and forward. It should feel nice and smooth, not too tight and definitely not too loose. If everything looks and feels right, install the idler cable.
Now put the rear sprocket guards back into place and install your fins.
Congratulations - you're done. Your miragedrive should now feel as good as new, if not better.