Lowering a Canoe Seat

-- Last Updated: Mar-29-10 5:41 PM EST --

So I paddled my new MR Legend yesterday and decided I would like to drop both my seats by a couple of inches. I have read one way of doing this is the use of a 3/4" dowel but am unsure if it's the best method.

Any thoughts or ideas on a quick fix???

Longer bolts for a lower seat
The wood you see is just spacers to keep the seats down.

Where the dowel could come in is as a spacer, but not a seat hanger…

The shop guys should be here soon.

Depends on the brand of canoe but most companies will sell longer seat drops. For instance, Old Town uses the hollow dowel drops, some Wenonah use a metal bracket, Bell uses walnut plates, etc. Keep in mind that lowering the seat will sometimes interfere with getting your feet and legs under the seat…just something to think about.

Just found this…

– Last Updated: Mar-29-10 6:12 PM EST –

Looks interesting-

http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?7448-Sprout’s-Shock-Absorbing-and-Length-Adjusting-Canoe-Seat-Solution (cut and paste the whole address into browser to view)

Using dowels is not
as strong as using a single piece of wood. They allow too much forward and backward movement. Check out a Bell boat if you can and copy the wood seat drop.

Why the paddler wanted a level seat
is beyond me. The Legend being a river boat; you can be expected to kneel at least some of the time. Kneeling against a canted seat is far more comfortable than a level webbed seat.

I use 3/4 Cutting sticks
from work. they are 3/4 x 3/4 x 54 inches long in a hard plastic… they have a round hole in the middle so I just cut the desired legnth I want. they are pretty ubitquitious in the industry so if you know any printers ask for one.

Better Than Dowels

– Last Updated: Mar-29-10 9:27 PM EST –

The issue with hollow dowels is that the seat becomes a swing. Shaped, one-piece, seat drops as used by Bell, Hemlock, Colden and others are a much more rigid option.

There are two issues: 1. are the seats currently dropped on 1/4" bolts or #10 machine screws? 2. What is the spacing between the bolts/ M. Screws?

Call Eds or Essex, tell them the spacing and fastener size. You will need longer fasteners. MacMaster Carr has everything you'll need there.

2 steps
use dowels to cut and try and get the hieght you want,use it a while,then after your are sure of the height and angle,get and install one piece drops that are that demention.


Perfect Solution
The dowels are fine for short seat drops, but the longer they are, the more they “Swing” with your paddle stroke. As rblturtle says, experiment with the dowels, but truss-like one piece drops are much more stable. Ed’s Canoes will cut them to any length you like and you can get the hardware from them too. A little more than DIY, but I prefer to spend my time paddling than building seat drops. Good people to deal with, too. Here’s the link. WW


One issue w/Ed’s canoe is the hardware. At least that was my experience. Their seat screws are 1/4x20. I think a #10 screw is preferable. That was a couple of years ago, they may have switched.

level vs canted
This was not the OP question, but I don’t agree with the advice given above. Most tripping rivers in North America have miles of flat water interspersed with an occasional couple hundred yards of rapids. Paddling flat water while sitting on a canted seat for more than a few hours is very uncomfortable, it is an unnatural position for the hips and spine. Conversely, kneeling against a flat seat is easy, comfortable, safe, practical, solid, and has no low hanging front edge to trap boots. If the boat is used mostly in whitewater a saddle might make sense, with a flat spot on the back for sitting to stretch.

Back to the OP question…boring holes in longer pieces of dowel rods almost requires a drill press to get the hole to go straight through the center of the rod. It is much easier IMHO to buy the longer seat drops from any canoe manufacturer or aftermarket supplier.

To get the feel for where you like your seat just leave out the dowels and use long bolts and adjust height by tightening or loosening nuts. Paddling without seat hangers temporarily is stable enough for a few miles while you figure out where you want it to be. For me 9" has always seemed a comfortable height. I’m 5’9" with size 11 Chotas and kneel often.

Thanks for all the info…
I decided to just use the dowel system as a starting point… it was easy, hell the hardest part was finding the machine screws long enough to work. I dropped it to 8.5 inches and will paddle for my first extended trip tomorrow. Kneeling is out for me and I’m 6’6 and have size 14 shoes, so the height being a little lower will have no impact if my feet will get stuck or not, they’re not going under there any way.

Old American Red Cross Manual
My Cross Canoe manual from the 50’s recommends that you take out all the seats from a canoe and replace them with thwarts only. It shows how and where to put the thwarts and recmmends kneeling low in the canoe and kneeling with you backside against the thwart in calmer waters.

You would not beleive all the pictures of bare knees against the hard wood ribs of these canoes. Only a couple pictures in the whole book have PFDs in them.

Back them people were tough. I have been able to increase the time I can spend kneeling comfortably over the years but I always perfer a cusion for my knees. I think I wopuld be just as happy with a kneeling thwart as a seat provided the knee cusioning was adequate.

in a W/C canoe I can stand bare knees better than in a smooth Royalex hull. It seems that every grain of sand on the smooth Royalex hull grinds its way into my knees.