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Submitted: 08-23-2006 by HankP88
In late June my wife and I and bought two kayaks--a Hobie pedal drive SOT for her and a Wilderness Tsunami 145 for me--and also bought two Hullavators. Because the initial outlay for all these items was a big hit for our budget, I shopped around and tried to save some money where I could. The result was that I picked up a Hullavator (last year's model) and a Hullavator XT (newest model) at really good prices on sale at two different L. L. Bean locations. (Best prices I found--even better than e-bay auctions!) I put the systems onto Thule load bars, which I then mounted onto the OEM vertical supports of my Ford Escape's roof rack (which I disassembled to remove the original Ford load bars.) The whole setup is very sturdy and there is no problem supporting the weight of the bars, hullavators and boats.
Initially I had a problem with the new XT model in that the arms would not stay locked in the down position when unloading a boat. One (or sometimes both) would dangerously snap up without warning once the weight of the boat was removed. I disassembled this unit and exchanged it for another via Bean's great customer service, and the replacement works perfectly.
As to the older model Hullavator, that one has always worked perfectly, so I'm very pleased with that one. The only thing about that one was that when I opened the box, Thule had erred in packing the parts and sent 3 upper supports with pads and only 1 lower support with pad. So, I had to call Thule directly. They sent the correct part, and I returned the incorrect one.
So all in all, I'm very satisfied with the two Hullavators I have now--and how well they work--but I knocked down the rating a couple of points because of the hassles I had to go through because of Thule's quality control.
Finally, in response to another reviewer saying how cumbersome it is to leave the Hullavator system on her car, I must say that I remove mine when I'm not using it; and also can remove my entire roof rack very easily in two units when I know I'll not be using it for an extended period of time. (Plus, I keep my Escape in a garage, and the Hullavator support arms are too tall for the garage door when in place.)
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