Submitted: 06-14-2006 by BIRDZONE
I waited for the new Hullavator XT's to become available and received two sets a couple months ago. I mounted them on my Yakima bars with Q-Towers since Yakima is the only rack for my F-150 Supercrew. The first outing went pretty good until the we were on our way home. When we stopped, we couldn't open the doors without damage to the paint at the top of the doors... The Q-Towers had come loose on the bars and the clips had pulled the bottom of the Q-Towers down over the top of the doors. This was caused by the weight and leverage of the Hullavators twisting around on the bars and the Q-Towers working loose. I called Thule and Yakima. The tech rep at Yakima was both helpful and understanding. My Q-Towers were about a year to a year and a half old and locked on the bars with a cam action turned by an allen wrench. He said Yakima had since changed the design of the Q-Towers and they now held the bars more securely. He sent me an updated set of Q-Towers (my clips and locks transferred from the old Q-Towers). I put everything together and although we haven't been out on the road yet, I can't imagine any more serious trouble. The new Q-Towers clamp securely around the bars without any 'travel'. The twisting/torque on the bars shouldn't have any effect on the bars and towers.
The Hullavator's do what they are supposed to do, you just have to learn to let them help raise and lower the kayak. It takes a little getting used to, so don't panic or be hasty. One area I would like to see improved is a faster tie-down of the kayak to the Hullavator cradle bars. They are also heavy, so you will want to unhook and remove the Hullavator's before removing the rack system. It's actually quite easy. Another advantage of the Hullavator system is that it is easy to drop a boat down to access the cockpit, install covers, or clean the boat.
After our next outing, I'll report back if we have any more problems.