If your Yakima Jlow Kayak rack will not tighten or and stay tight this is how to repair it. I'm not sure if this problem is due to miss use or poor-quality materials. I did some looking and couldn't find any information on how to repair these racks. I tried to replace the nut that was stripped out, but the threads used on this bolt are ultra fine maybe M7 x 0.75 and seem to be very hard to find. I thought about re-threading the nut or bolt but came up with the solution below. After visiting the local hardware store for the 3rd time I found a standard 5/16 J bolt that was the correct size to be modified to repair my Jlow Rack.
1 - J Bolt 5/16" X 7" with nut
2 - Bolt and locking nut to replace rivets in U bar
Step 1: Hunt Down a J Hook
Go to you local hardware store and pick up a J Bolt 5/16" X 7" and 2 nuts and bolts to replace the rivets in the U bar.
Step 2: Disassembly the Cam
To remove the red cam, you need to cut or drill a hole on the opposite side of the pin that holds it together. Locate the direct opposite side of where the pin goes in. I cut a slice with my Dremel and used a small punch and hammer to back the pin out just enough to remove it from the bolt.
Step 3: Remove Rivets
To remove the rivets, I first cut slices in the top of the rivets so I could hold them with a standard screwdriver. Next, I drilled the back of the rivet with a drill bit that was the same size as the rivet. You don't need to drill much just enough for the top of the rivet to be removed. Now that the rivets are loose remove them and the U padded shaped brace.
Step 4: Remove Cam Bolt
This step may vary depending on how bad your parts are messed up. You should be able to see the nut if by looking through where the U piece was opposite the cam. I was able to use vice grips to twist and pull the cam bolt loose from the stripped nut. It does have a roll pin in it that may need removed.
Step 5: Modify the J Bolt
Using a grinder or file to shape the J bolt to match the shape and length of the original cam bolt. I had to shorten the threads of mine about an 1/8" to be able to tighten down enough. Now that your bolt has 2 flat sides drill a hole matching the original for the pin in the cam.
Step 6: Re-Assembly
Assemble new cam bolt by inserting it into the cam and push
the pin back into place.
Install new nut in elbow piece opposite the cam. There is a spot that will hold it so that it does not turn for assembly.
Insert new cam bolt through the elbow piece then through the main rack body and then thread it into the new nut. You should be able to test and see if your new parts will work now.
Re-connect the U bar to the elbows. Insert the new bolts with the head side closest to where your kayak would sit and nut away from the boat. When tightening the new nuts and bolts don’t over tighten them or you will crush the U bar.