help with Merlin II dimensional specs.

I took the thwarts and seat out of the 2001 composite Merlin II I just purchased to apply a couple of good coats of Watco to the wood gunwales and deck plates. I mixed up the two thwarts which aren’t exactly the same length and it’s not clear which one goes where. Also the seat hole pattern does not align with the seat screw pattern in the gunwales no matter how I position the thwarts. It seems I’ll have to do more persuading than I would have thought to screw things back together. I guess I can’t be sure that components weren’t modified since the canoe left the factory.

I looked on the Bell site for dimensions and I read 29 maximum width, 27 maximum gunwale width and 25.5 wl (what does that mean?).

My questions are:

Any thoughts about re-attaching the thwarts and seat? I bought the Merlin II with very short kneeling drops and I’m going to reassemble it with much longer drops.

What if I didn’t splay the gunwales apart as far as they were? (besides reducing the rocker)


boat is a little swedeform

– Last Updated: Oct-25-11 10:59 PM EST –

so try the short thwart up front.

Waterline width is what you are referring to. I am not sure that is the boat sunk in the water 3 inches or 4 inches width..

What composite layup do you have? If its foam core (like UL) its already a little flat on the bottom. If you pull it in you may or may not notice a reduction in turning ability.

I am not sure how pulling in the gunwales would put pressure on the float tanks but probably not much if its just an inch.

Just guessing on this but looking at the pix on the bell site the slightly longer one goes in the front. Once you get the thwarts in, the seat will probably fit better.

Merlin II Trim
Strangely, I’m missing trim specs on Merlin II, but have taken steps to re-acquire that data.

That said, Merlin II is slightly Swede Form with Differential Sheer, both widening the hull at topside beam aft, plus, we always moved the aft thwart forwards to reinforce the seat. The wider thwart goes aft.

The unthwarted beam
of the Merlin II is significantly narrower than I would have thought. I’ve re-gunwaled a few hulls and I’ve had the thwarts and seats out of several and none have as much resistance to splaying open to the correct width as this Merlin II.

I’m guessing that the ash gunwales are narrowing up the unthwarted hull.

Thanks for the info about the wider thwart going aft.

I plan to reinstall the two thwarts and then a contoured or bucket seat with hole locations that match the seat hole locations in the inwales.

Thanks for the input.

If I could narrow the beam
closer to it’s unthwarted dimension, maybe 1 to 1-1/2 inches without affecting hull performance to much, it might help keep my paddle closer to the center line. I’ll be sitting pretty low in the boat and paddling off one side or with a double-bladed paddle (not too often).

Wood gunwales
if left in place always straighten the curve.

Compare two RapidFires…one with wood gunwales and one with infused gunwales. I had a spray cover made. It was an inch too narrow. Turns out the pattern was made for a wood gunwaled RapidFire.

Mine had infused CobraSox gunwales.

Rails and hull form
In a perfect world, aluminum rails should be pre-bent in two planes before being applied to hulls.

Even then, spreader bars at hull center and working pop rivets from center out to the stems is the preferred application technique.

Two piece alu rails set more accurately than one part ones because they can be riveted in tension, like wood rails can be “set” and screwed in tension.

Wood rails need the same treatment; spreader bar and setting screws from center to the stems “locks” wood closer to the intended shear and center to stem curvature.

Still, in both situations, prebent, pre stretched, set in tension, rails tend to try to straighten when spreader bar, thwarts, seats are removed.

Foam cored, fabric wrapped or encapsulated rails that infuse in the mold, like Placid’s CobraSox, Colden’s SnakeSkin, Swift’s CXT greatly reduce that tendency because the plastic sets-up in the mold with shape taken from the mold itself. Of course molds change a little over time and repeated exo-therm cycles too.