raising the seat

-- Last Updated: Oct-29-06 12:17 AM EST --

Has anyone raised the seat on a yellowstone solo? The last couple weeks with the cooler temps I have had trouble fitting my larger sized shoes under the seat. Probably not a good thing for getting out if I tipped over!

As it is now, the front of the stock seat kind of presses into the back of my thiegh. Wasn't sure of the best way to fix this? Are adjustable hangers possible? How is the balence when sitting in the boat after raising the seat? Any thought appreciated thanks!

Yep it’s easy, New boat have long drops
For some reason and probably a good one Bell started puting 4 inch drops in all their solo boats. I want to say it is so you can cut them to what you want but I believe it may be because the canoes (any canoe) are much more stable when the seat is low. In the old days a Wildfire or Magic came out of the factory with a 1 or 2 inch seat drop and if you wanted to lower the seat you had to make new drops or add shims. At least with the 4 inch drops you just neet to cut them to what you want. You may need to buy new seat bolts if the old ones are not threaded all the way up.

I just lowered the seat in my Wildfire, stock it was 1/2 in the back and 1 1/4 in the front which is pretty high. I moved it to 1 1/2 back to 2 1/4 front and it seems fine. The boat rolled over pretty easy when the seat was too high.

Depends on Trim
It’s easy as N.T. said if your boat has wood trim. Mine is vinyl trim and the metal seat hangers bend to the outside with the seat hanging underneath. Makes it impossible to shim the seat up. A solution I heard about is to drill out the rivets, reverse & reattach the hangers, and install shims to raise the seat. You’ll also have to trim the seat rails. My RX Wildfire is a 2003 model which is before they changed the name to YS. I haven’t looked at a more recent model to see if Bell changed the mounting method for vinyl trimmed boats…which was a poor design in my opinion.

raising seat
Mr. Skunk, 2 comments:

  1. raising the seat even half an inch is a big deal and will make the boat feel (perhaps much) different…you might want to try adding a piece of 1/2 inch thick wood to the top of the seat just as an experiment to see if the boat would still feel OK to you before you actually modify the boat and maybe find out you don’t like it. Yellowstone/Wildfire is already pretty lively so adding seat height might not be good.

  2. you might also look at footwear alternatives. I wear the low booties and sealskin socks with 2-3 layers of socks…maybe not as warm as some shoes but maintains flexibility and helps get the feet under the seat.

seat drop
My Merlin bought used came with the original drops that were very high. With weight in the canoe the boat felt stable to me for paddling. The only reason I bought and changed the drop to the Bell 4" is for stability while trolling and catching large fish, this instability has scared me a few times.

The new drop adds much stability but it is more difficult to get your feet under the seat for kneeling which I love to do when paddling the boat…a conundrum for sure. I am also looking into lower profile shoes. My Teva Gamma pros used mainly for kayaking are not cutting it in the canoe.

You’re right.

– Last Updated: Oct-29-06 9:40 AM EST –

The Royalex Wildfire I had did have the stainless drops. What I did was simple, git rid of them and make wood ones. Drill through the vinyl gunwales and put trim washers under the bolt heads. Bell made the boat both ways getting rid of the metal drops at some point. Photo of the ones I changed.




Older boat with stock drops


Old boat new drops


Bell seat drops
I purchased a used RX Wildfire (Yellowstone) that came with a wooden, angled seat drop that I assume was provided by Bell. The seller also threw in the original metal brackets. The high drop felt very tippy to me when seated, such as when fishing or taking a break from kneeling. I can’t kneel for more than 30 min. because it hurts my ankles. I replaced the high wooded brackets with the original metal one and it is perfect for me with my size 8 puppies. I can kneel alright, and the boat is much more stable for me when seated.

If you can purchase the wooden drops from Bell and replace the original drop you will have room for your feet, if you can be comfortable with the tippy feeling when seated. I didn’t like that. I think Bell solos are somewhat quirky.


Looks Great
Thanks for the pics & advice N.T… I had considered making wood drops as you did but wasn’t sure if the gunwhales would have enough strength to support my weight. Looks like it’s no problem. I love the way my Wildfire handles on the twisty stuff I usually paddle, but my my feet go numb after a short time since I always kneel. Raising the seat will help that a lot. Should be an easy winter project. Thanks again.

Size 13
I wear size 13 shoes/boots.

I like to smoothly remove/put my feet under the seat in my Wildfires.

For that reason the seat in both have been raised

quite a bit. The front edge of the seat is lower than the back edge of the seat. I find that more comfortable than having the seat level when I kneel, and I kneel about 75% of the time.

I think the metal seat hangers look cheap, ugly & out of place. Yes, you can remove them without too much problem, but the wooden seat hangers are much better in my opinion.

A Wildfire would not be my boat of choice if I wanted to go poling, but it is a long way from being an unstable canoe, even with the seat near the bottom of the gunwales.


raising seat
Thanks for the replies and pics. The idea to place something on the seat and sit on it first, before moving the seat is a (obvious) good one. I can experiment a little to see what seems to work.

The boat is fairly new, has vinyl gunnels and I believe 4" wood seat drops. Not sure if the 2" bell drops would be too much, but maybe something in between. When paddling, I try to kneel most of the time, but my feet fall asleep and have to switch back and forth. The last few months have had a chance to use the boat a lot and don’t really have any complaints. The one thing I would like is to feel more connected with the boat.

Originally I wanted to at least glue in some knee pads. I am using a removable pad right now. Perhaps I should get this set first before moving the seat, or would it be other way around?

Thanks again.

High seat for me
I have both the 2" and 4" drops for my Yellowstone. The 4" drops are much more stable when sitting, but like you I knee most of the time, so I prefer the 2" drops. Flatwater sections usually give me enough time to sit comfortably and let my knees and ankles have a break. If things feel tippy, I kneel again.

I thought this was a thread about…
…bathroom ettiquette.

I’ve paddled an older Willdfire RX for a few years now. It is essentially the same canoe as what is marketed now as a Yellowstone Solo (RX).

Much of what I have to say has been covered by others above, but here’s how I’d phrase it:

I personally wouldn’t hesitate to cut the wood drops to raise the seat so that you can comfortably get your feet in and out from under the seat for kneeling. You are correct to consider entrapment issues. If you end up taking off too much or are not pleased with the angle you can always make a new set of drops. Assuming you have some basic woodworking skills making new Bell style seat drops to fit your individual needs is a very simple project.

The goal for seat height in that canoe would be to position it so that it’s comfortable to kneel against yet easy to get your feet in and out from underneath. The fit (height and angle) for this depends solely on what you find comfortable for your leg length and foot size. Seat height has little to do with the balance of this canoe unless you’re sitting fully on the seat. Which is to say; while kneeling your weight will be largely transferred to the bottom of the canoe via your knees, so your center of gravity will be low.

As to gluing in individual kneeling pads, I wouldn’t with this canoe. You’d be way ahead to use a larger kneeling pad that would allow you to kneel in a variety of positions and will offer some padding for your ankles and shins as well. The Bell T-pad does a fairly good job at this while an even larger rectangular shaped pad does a better job. A large piece of ½” closed cell foam is all you need. Some people use yoga mats, pieces of “lock together” shop floor mats and even kiddy play mats – anything that’s comfortable to kneel on and doesn’t absorb water. A large loose (and replaceable) kneeling mat is much more versatile than individual glued in kneeling pads and won’t degrade the potential resale value of your canoe like glue-ins will. - R

kneeling pads
The best ones are the ones I have made myself with hydroseal bonding neoprene to minicell and backing with carpet grip.

The Bell T pads seem to slide around alot in the Yellowstone. A pad that fits gunwale to gunwale is best and less apt to slide. You could use playpads but they are a little harder than minicell (maybe a different density of minicell?)

For me my boat should be outfitted to my comfort and secondary is resale value. I have glued knee pads into my ABS boats because I use them on trips or in situations where I dont want a pad popping out and losing it on the river. Its a pain to roll up a pad and portage it.

However, never would I glue pads to a wood/canvas boat!

Kneeling Pads

I have installed kneeling pads on 3 of my 4 boat fleet. I couldn’t quite do that to my new kevlar tandem tripper. For that I purchased a bell, small size, removable kneeling pad ($30). It works well for the times I paddle it solo. It seems to stay in place quite well when in use but it can be removed. I have installed home made pads made from closed foam sleeping pads using contact cement. The best pads I have seen were purchased from Swift Canoe. They are the 1/2 inch thick stick on kind. I put them on my Bell Wildfire (Yellowstone), and on my Old Town Pack. They work great, and are always there when you want to kneel. They also hold up very well to abuse. They were priced at $40. Can. for a pair. Well worth it in my opinion.


Well I should …

– Last Updated: Oct-31-06 3:28 AM EST –

...try experimenting a little to see what might work with the seat for me. You guys gave me some more things to think about. I am still on the fence with attaching the pads. The low profile pads seem like they might be less obtrusive when sitting or getting in and out of the boat.

Have been using the bell 31"x9" kneeling pad which works great, but is also a loose item when having to portage or pull around log jams. I could be more organized but it is a pain having loose things to carry.

Yesterday, put my sandals over the brookie socks, which works ok after undoing the strap going over the top of my foot. Sandals are not my favorite for kneeling. Picked up a pair of boat shoes on sale last year from patagonia, and they work great (in warmer weather). Have only tried fishing out of the boat a couple times, not long after I got it, but I was feeling a little tippy trying to cast....lol.

Anyways, thanks again for the great tips!

All this talk about raising the seat…
…in my house, if I leave the seat raised and my wife plops in the pot in the middle of the night, I catch holy hell. This is the seat in my master bathroom, and trust me, I raised it only for this picture… then promptly lowered it again.


Yeah we know you are on a short chain
That’s a nice picture to see with your morning coffee…real nice.

Hey, our maid quit. What can I say.

I paddle a Wenonah Argosy and almost always kneel. Had the same problems with my feet until it occured to me: If you kneel all the time anyway, why not put a foam pedestreal in? I did that and can kneel comfy now without my feet getting stuck. Downside: can’t sit at all anymore and shifting sides is nearly impossible (but unneccesarry with the narrow solo anyway)