Im going to be buying a Wenonah Jensen solo canoe this Monday. Its older, from the late 80s but is in pretty good shape still. Im excited to have a solo as Ive been told its one of the best ways to improve your paddling skills. Also its a Kevlar ultralite so at 32lbs it should be easy to shlep around by myself. Nice.
The guy didnt know what model it was. Wenonah couldn’t identify it by the serial because it was too old… Any of you guys know what it is based off this info (the guy measured):
25" width at gunwale
29-30" max width
15-16" bow depth
12"ish stern depth
Kevlar ultralight hull with Diamond core and no side ribs
Anyways to my main question: it does not have a sliding seat or foot brace, both of which I deem a necessity. So, my question is should I build a sliding seat assembly myself (as I work at a machine shop and have access to thin angle aluminum and thin walled alum tubing) or should I see if wenonah would sell me a sliding seat assembly? (that sounds like its >$100 though and cheaper is (much) better)
Regardless of if I make or buy one it will need to be mounted to the bottom of the boat. What is the recommended glue for Kevlar boats? is there a particular epoxy that is known to work well?
Third, I will build a foot brace myself. Should I make it similar to a factory brace (angle alum) that attaches to the sides or Ive seen some people make one that mounts to the back of the seat base with (thin) rods going to the foot brace and small legs to hold it up off the floor. The rod idea sounds less solid but maybe someone has a build log with some ideas.
So what say ye? Know of any build logs for something like this? Thanks.
Made my own
I made my own for a wood strip canoe I finished. I was going to make it out of aluminum and have my dad weld it up for me. He must have huffed too much paint that week though because he burned through $20 of “test” aluminum and was getting horrible results. So I abandoned that route and built my frame out of wood with aluminum rails. I pretty much copied this guy:
Came out nice and light (just under 1 1/2 pounds without seat) and didn’t take long. Just used scraps I had laying around the shop. I fiberglassed it into place, which is also how the Wenonah sliding buckets are installed.
The seat I made myself by using a bucket out of my pro boat to make a mold. Then used the mold to make the seat out of fiberglass.
If you buy a slider from Wenonah make sure you get the size you want. They make a wide bucket seat (most rec boats) and a smaller kevlar seat (in their racing boats). I find the smaller seats much more comfortable. I have to have a pad on the wide ones to keep my butt from hurting.
The only foot braces I’ve made are like the Wenonah ones with aluminum angle.
When you get the boat check the hull ID tag on the stern. I’ve never seen a Wenonah that didn’t have the model engraved on the tag.
How’s the racing been going?
West G-flex has excellent adhesion
and a bit of residual flexibility. Mixes 1:1 and is just thin enough to soak into whatever cloth you use to spread the load of the contact points of the sliding seat.
Unless you see evidence that local reinforcement is there already, I suggest putting down a layer of glass under each contact point to spread the load. If your racing takes you over an occasional sharp bump or ledge, the seat contact points might soften the Kevlar on the diamond foam core. Be sure to smooth any sharp edges from the glass pads so they don’t nick you or cause other mischief. Kevlar is not as good for such pads, in spite of its toughness, and with glass you can see through it to spot incipient damage.
I personally would buy the seat assembly, but why not hack around with your own design while you’re waiting?
Thanks alan, that is a sweet looking design as well as being very functional. Ill probably make something that looks like that if the seat assembly is too much to buy from wenonah.
Racing has been going very well. I havent gotten out to paddle all week because Im not hard core enough to go out in 100*+ heat indexes so Im sure Ill be feeling it when I go back at it this week. I got 2nd in the Hoigaards paddle derby (my first race) here in minneapolis which I was very pleased with. We got a time of 59:56 on a 6 mile course in a MNII and neither of us train super hard, just 2-3 times per week of medium to hard paddling. Id like to shave a couple mins off that by the last race.
How necessary is the extra glass layer do you really think? I dont have supplies or glass experience so it would be semi difficult to do...
Thanks again to you both
You could ask Wenonah about the
advisability of extra glass. You can pick up small packets of glass in boat shops like West Marine, and they should have G-flex in small quantities also.
When you’re racing, before or after the event, see what others have done and ask them. I would think that if a long race includes portages, that thumping your butt back on the seat when reboarding would eventually depress the Kevlar. But maybe not.
It’s good to cut your teeth on a “glassing” project before too long, because sooner or later, you’ll have no choice.
How is the original seat set up in this boat? Does it hang from the gunwales or is it just a non-sliding pedestal. If it hangs from the gunwales there’s no reason you couldn’t hang a sliding seat from them too. Might be easier, though you’d still have to find a seat. Or maybe you could reuse the old one.
original is mon the floor
The original is on the floor so there are no factory mounts available. Ill probably reuse the existing seat until I get a few extra bucks to buy a new one from wenonah
I keep meaning to build a sliding seat for my Magic and Jensen WWC1 but I get along quite well with the fixed ones. The only real reason I need a slider is for trimming the boat when the dog comes along. Even when I paddled a C1 I rarely moved the seat once I had it set. You might get along just fine with the stock seat.
Maybe something like this would work for you - but if you want to floor mount it, you’d have to work the mounting out on your own Still, working from plans for the seat itself instead of having to “reinvent the wheel” would save some trouble, and it sure is a class seat… worthy of a Jensen.
Look down toward the bottom of the page for the sliding seat picture.
got it - thoughts - questions
So I got the boat yesterday. I was somewhat apprehensive about driving 11 hours for a boat without a bunch of pictures but it turned out to be in near mint condition and its from 79’! it was stored inside and not used much. Nice. There is no name plate on it. Just a serial etched into the rear gunwale with an electric etching pen. So if there are any old guys who recognize a Jensen solo fron that time please let me know what the model is called.
I couldnt see it in the pictures but it does have an adjustable foot rest, you just need a screwdriver to adjust it. (the seat and foot brace are wood! thats oldschool. to be expected though considering its 6 years older than me =) Ill probably end up buying a new seat from wenonah as the old one is so so but it will be fine for this summer.
I took it to rookies night last night for a good couple hour paddle and like it quite a bit. I ended up dumping it in the mississippi (needed a good shower last night) which was my first time unitentionally swamping a canoe =( my cherry is officially popped. I need to get a better feel for leaning as I see how important it is to turning a solo boat.
I got to paddle Carl’s J-203 solo racer and have to say I like the final stability feel of the 203 more than the Jensen. The jensen has a fairly round bottom and doesnt have much “feel” or resistance between hard lean and in the water. Ill get used to it though and its not too big of a deal. I wont be taking this boat on any big or questionable waters. Its more a decently fast trainer/light easy to get anywhere boat. (32lbs is Awesome to portage!)
I know where i screwed up when I went in. once I realized I was too far over I instinctually tried to lean back to the middle instead of putting my paddle in the water for a brace. I probably could have saved it if I did but this is counter intuitive to a noob such as I. Im going to take it to a beach and just practice leaning too far and bracing and try to break the instinct to lean back to center. Muscle memory and unconcious decision making is what makes anyone good at anything so I know this is just something I need to hammer in my brain.
Lastly a couple questions…
Carl said I might be able to take the gunwales in an inch or 2. How easy is this to do? know of an online photo log/tutorial? I work at a machine shop so I have almost any metal working tool at my disposal.
2nd, what is the best way to put “trim tape” on the bow and stern waterlines? Should I just lay it on a flat surface (like my garage floor with a drop cloth underneath) and measure up 4" and put some tape on? or go higher like 5 or 6"?
What tape works best/what do you use?
First off findout if it is a straight keeled non-rockered hard tracking boat. If it is do what you
suggested with putting it on a level floor and measuring up. If it has any rocker find out what it was designed as.: I helped build a cruiser that had
1/2 inch rear rocker. To trim to design we had to allow that the bow would be i/2 inch lower in the water. BUT don,t agonize over it. Use a GPS and see how you go fast at different seat placements then mark it there. Racers in Jboats will slide their seats
to compensate for suckwater and drafting. The first year in your new boat just work on going fast then worry about constantly adjusting,