Explorer seat repair options

We have a mid 90’s Mad River Explorer Special Edition in kevlar. Last outing I heard some cracking when paddling vigorously and realized the cane stern seat has torn a bit. It looks like options include seat replacement or cane panel replacement.

All the seat replacement options I can find are rectangular, but our seat is trapezoid shaped. Was this part of the special edition-ness of this canoe? Anyway I like the shape of this seat so now I’m thinking cane panel replacement is the best option.

I’ve seen a few older threads mentioning suppliers of the cane and spline. Any suggestions on the best place to buy this stuff from currently? Also wondering about specific glue recommendations. Thanks!


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Ditto on Canoedoc’s recommendation of Ed’s Canoe. They’ve worked with MR for a long time, and do nice work.

Some people say replacing the “pressed cane” like this isn’t difficult, but I find getting the old cane, spline & glue out of the groove to be tedious beyond reason; it’s not worth my time. If someone has a method for getting all that material out of the groove easily, I’m all ears! Otherwise, I just replace the entire seat and frame.

On our Madd River we used yard chair webbing. Needed it quickly.

Wicker is a huge pita and doesn’t last. You can redo the seats in webbing… although the tapered sides will take some doing… or just get some non tapered seats, and store the originals if inclined.

Ed’s also sells wicker/spline repair kits

Installing the cane is fairly easy. The major challenge is removing the old spline and clearing the groove for the new material. Plan on buying a spline removal chisel. They come in 1/8 and 3/16, and make it immensely easier to clear the groove.

Any woodworker’s glue will probably do. Tightbond III claims waterproofness, so seems like it would be good. Seems like the time I did it, the instructions had me varnish the spline, I think for waterproofing. My memory is a little foggy on that part.

Price wise, by the time you buy the chisel, you probably don’t save much if anything over buying a new seat, which is much less effort.

Thanks all for the advice. I ordered two seat repair kits from Ed’s Canoe and they have arrived quickly, just ordered late last week and they arrived today. I figured I’d get one for both the bow and stern because both seats look to be the same age.

I’m expecting the process of removing the old cane to be tedious, but hopefully it’s not too bad. Getting a replacement seat was tempting, but I could not find any that were the same shape as what I have. Aesthetically I like the seat shape following the contours of the canoe so I didn’t really want to switch to a rectangular shaped seat.

Hopefully I will get some work done on the seat this week. I’ll update the thread accordingly. Thanks again for the confirmation of Ed’s and other helpful advice.

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That’s exactly what I did to restore the seat on a Blackhawk canoe where I wanted to keep the factory seat frame and overall look. I just used small screwdrivers and whatever I had on hand to clean out the groove…it wasn’t terribly difficult. There are YouTube videos available that you may want to watch before you do it.

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Old cane and spline removal is indeed tedious, but not the worst thing I’ve done. It’s easier than working on rusty cars.

I found that letting some vinegar soak into the joint helps a lot in softening the old glue. I don’t have a spline chisel but I ground a cheapo screwdriver down a bit and it is working fine to get the old stuff out.

Next I’ll sand the groove and then hopefully I’ll be ready for new cane!

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I attached the seat frame to a chunk of lumber so it was easier to clamp it in place.

Used a chisel to trim the excess cane strands.

I did get the cane insert just slightly off square, which doesn’t look the best but this is not a show boat and I doubt my rear end will care how pretty the cane looks.

This how to video was probably the most useful:

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