Our very own Darren Evans was enthusiastic when invited to visit Palm Equipment in Clevedon just outside Bristol in South West England. They churn out some spleaded kit all of it highly regarded. Getting the opportunity to see how the boats we use are made was an experience!
Andy Knight started the company with Bob Glee which was then called Palm Glass Fibre Mouldings Ltd. In 1979 and as the name suggests the company focussed on composite kayaks.
I met with John who spent some time showing me around the Palm factory and talking through how the boats are moulded.
Each and every boat at Palm starts of as a box full of carefully weighed out Super Linear High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic grains. This is the same plastic your milk, shower gels or kitchen cleaners come in. In fact, the team at TK Watersports™ and all our friends are currently collecting together old HDPE plastic bottles to be turned into kayaks by Palm. From this point forward the boat has its own unique identity which can be traced right back to the source of the plastic.
The powder is poured into a mould which is then sealed, placed in a rotating oven which cooks the plastic at over 200’c. As the mould rotates and tilts in the oven, the moulten plastic sticks to the inside of the mould forming the new kayak.
The warehouse plays a key part in the distribution of Palm gear worldwide. At different times of the year the warehouse can be empty or jammed packed. At this time of the year Palm are getting ready to receive containers full of gear ready for the rest of the year.
From the warehouse we went through to the the oven room and the start of the boat building process.
Each stage of the process is quality controlled and only signed off if the canoe or kayak meets stringent quality guidelines.
As you would expect form the need to use plenty of heat in producing boats it is extremely warm in this area. The timing of the tour was perfect with a freshly moulded Islander Calypso being released from the mould. No sooner is that mould is taken out of the oven, another is placed straight in!
At each and every stage the quality of the finish is checked. Boats are either scrapped or sold as seconds if anything out of the ordinary is found. All plastic that doesn’t end up in a production boat is chipped and recycled.
Once the freshly baked boats have cooled down they make their way to the building stations. It is here where all of the outfitting is attached to the boat.
All of the outfitting is done at this point, and must be completed with speed as the freshly baked kayak shrinks as it cools.
Once built up the completed boats are checked and signed off ready to go. Completed boats are then bagged and stored in a huge storage area ready to be shipped. You’ll also find customer boats that require servicing or repair in this area.
The Palm range of paddles have been doing really well since their launch. The paddles are also put together in the factory.
TK Watersports™ are also delighted to have a specially moulded Islander Calypso Sport in our fleet, the only one to be made in a plum colour!
Now you know why TK Watersports™ makes use of the very best kayaks, buoyancy aids, paddles, cags, seats, spraydecks and other top quality kayaking gear from Palm Equipment. Why not visit their website by clicking the button below to find out more.
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TK Watersports™ operates in other locations through Franchisees, who whilst operate under the TK Watersports brand, franchisees are independent of TKL Leisure Ltd.
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MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO
We’ve come the end of our 2020 season, and it’s time to hibernate for the winter! TK Watersports have been very happy to serve our customers during 2020, which has been a very different year for all of us.
However due to people having home vacations this year, and not travelling abroad, it’s been a record breaking season. I must thank loyal customers and staff, who have helped keep TK Watersports going during these hard times. Yes 2020 has been our busiest year ever!
Our season has ended for 2020, but we will be back the first Saturday in April 2021.