Remove glued seat?

Wondering if anyone has suggestions about safely removing a glued plastic shaped seat from an “airalite” boat?

I want to move my seat a couple of inches back from where it is now on my Perseption Sonoma 13.5 Airalite. Mainly to maintain proper trim (I feel I’m front heavy in this boat) but also to give me a bit easier entry and exit seat-first. But found out it is glued to the hull with what seems a pound of very tough glue slapped there before the seat was mounted. The glue looks dark yellowish and is very strong.

I see no safe and easy way to detatch the seat - only cutting it out and somehow sanding down or using something lke sureform (may be several of them blades as they wear, seeing how tough the glues is) to remove excess stuck plastic fragments and glue carefully from the hull. The glue seems to be rock hard and very strong so I think removing chunks of it for a smooth bottom will require tons of elbow grease…

Also, does anyone know if there exists some sort of adhesive removal that would soften this glue but not damage the hull?

The seat itself is a very good fit for my behind so destroying it would also be a pitty.


I’ve been watching your posts about the Sonoma with interest. Are you sure that some more seat time won’t take care of the concerns without either fitting a skeg or moving the seat?

My wife has a Sonoma 13.5 airalite that I paddle frequently - it has turned into the boat I tend to grab for quick paddles due to the weight and responsveness. I’m not as tall as you (6’0 vs. 6’4 if I remember correctly; and weigh in about 200) but I find the Sonoma to be pretty well balanced, have not noticed significant weather cocking compared to other sea kayaks and the resonsiveness to strokes is, in my view, a plus.

We may have different paddling goals and experiences, but making those big changes might be overkill unless you feel like you’ve got enough seat time in the boat. Hope you don’t take offense, just throwing out another option.

I find it funny that the Sonoma was marketed as a “smaller paddler” boat, yet we’re two pretty big guys that both enjoy the boat in essentially its stock form.

It’s a good tall persin’s small boat IMO

– Last Updated: Jan-06-09 10:25 PM EST –

Thanks - your suggestion makes perfect sense, so no offense taken.

Btw, is your seat bottom glued to the hull like mine is? If mine weren't I would've just taken it out temporarily to experiment with a different position, but as it is I'm reluctant to mess with it as it is good enough for the most part.

I'm 6'4" at about 190-200lb with dry gear and no cargo. I needed 2"-3" extra than what the factory foot rails offer so my feet rest farther forward of the last position. I have also installed an aluminum foot bar with a pair of yoga blocks for feet-together paddlig and these add may be a lb or two in the front as well (since they are in addition to the existing foot rails and pedals.

So I think I got a few extra lbs forward of where it is ideal.

Not sure if it really matters for balance but it does weathercock in side winds. Nothing too bad in most situations but it is there. It is similar to how much my Tempest 170 weathercocks but with it deploying some skeg can balance it perfectly to neutral.

I haven't gotten a chance to try a skeg yet in the Sonoma but expect it will both balance as well as track better. As it is now, it responds much faster to a stern rudder than to a bow rudder, where my other boats are the opposite or neutral. This makes me think tha Sonoma's bow is more planted than it's stern for me (it's hull shape matters too, though). The boat is used currently on flat protected water so it does not really matter much - tracks well enough and the winds are always either against or with me (they follow the river bed typically) so not an issue for now. Being so short and responsive to edging I have no problem dealing with weathercocking for short distances but I'd like to balance it and moving the seat aft seems like a good experiment to try it. Except it can't move -;)

Secondly, when I enter the boat seat first I need to sit on the rear edge of the seat to be able to sqweeze my shins past the coaming; and if I could move it a bit back I would be sitting wherevI'm supposed to be - an extra bonus during entry seat first.

Anyway, the boat turned out to be very nice and I have been paddling it more than the other two I got. I it is really light, comfortable, fun to lean and to surf small wind waves. And allows me feet together paddling, very close paddle entry due to the swede form and short length, and full leg action and torso rotation - I can't get these movements in the other boats as freely.

More on weathercocking …
When stationary, the boat with me in it, turns perpendicular to the wind/parallel to wind waves. It only weathercocks when moving since the pivot point moves forward. So, if I go slowly it is mostly balanced, indeed.

Also known as Plexus is the glue used. I don’t know of a solvent for that glue that won’t also dissolve the boat faster than the glue.

I once pulled a seat out in a Perception Sundance 12 in Airlite. The seat is secured in the same fashion as your Sonoma. I destroyed the seat in the process and was never able to sand down the glue successfully. Methacrylate is good stuff. Closest thing to forever glue I know of.

I used a Japanese pull saw and over the course of several hours, was able to cut through half the glue. I thought I could apply a little leverage to pop the rest of it loose, but ended up tearing the seat. If you have the patience, you could manage to cut it out, but prepare for bloody knuckles, a tired arm, and several ruined blades.

center of gravity
With regard to changing the center of gravity, why not try adding some weight to the stern as a test before cutting out the seat. A couple three milk jugs full of water should do. Then you would know if moving the center of gravity back helps with the weathercocking. Or remove the seat back and install a back band. Maybe install a rudder; a skeg install sounds like difficult job in Airlite. If all else fails, to remove the seat I’d use a hacksaw blade to carefully cut through the glue being careful not to destroy the seat or the hull, you might want to put it back someday. Then a belt sander and a light touch to smooth things out.

There is a guy here locally who is 6’8" and had the same problem the foot peg adjustment, legs to long. At first he had installed a 2" wooden dowel across and beyond the pegs set at the longest setting. This worked quite well. He then tried mounting mini cell against the front bulkhead, cutting it at an angle, way better. Maybe this is an option but I don’t remember if the Sonoma has a solid bulkhead in the bow, or any bulk head in the bow. Or just move the rails forward. Be sure to patch the holes or leave the bolts where they are and install a small gasket with a locking nut.

Hope this helps


I’m afraid that’s what it looks like
The glue indeed looks very tough. I tried to chip a piece of it with a screwdriver some time ago and my poking it with hard sharp metal hardly had any effect… The hull plastic is not that strong.

I’m not sure if I am that determined as the seat is mostly fine where it is and I am not at all sure if moving it would have a positive effect or not -:wink:


removing seat?
I second the suggestion to put weight in the back to explore weight distribution before trying to remove seat.

I removed a seat that was glued in the wrong position in a custom built Bell Rob Roy. It’s a tough job and I was only dealing with a foam seat.

I confirmed that the seat was in the wrong position by asking for the seat placement measurements from Bell. They sent me measurements (it was 1.5 inches too far forward), a new foam seat and some glue- A good experience with customer support by the old Bell Canoe Co. While I could have had the vendor or Bell move the seat I chose to do it myself so the canoe would not be tied up in paddling season. I slowly slid a nylon spatula under the seat, working for a few hours before the seat was pried off. Some of the glue was pried off and some of the foam seat ripped off next to the glue line. Took a few more hours to get the remaining glue and foam off the bottom of the canoe. The hull was Black Gold, so I had a strong surface to gently pry against.


I wonder if those vibrator saws shown
on TV, used for things like cutting into grout lines, would work? The principle is the same as the vibrator saws orthopods use to cut plaster casts.

Cutting out the Plexus glue without damaging the hull is still going to be difficult. If you ruin the seat, but can still get the glue off the hull, you could get a foam seat assembly from

Considering the difficulty facing you, it might be an easier solution to weathercocking to saw about 6" off the stern and then plug the hole with foam and Plexus!

Just a thought.

Foot rails
We are getting off topic but thanks for the advice. The Sonoma does not have a front bukhead. Instead it has a thick firm foam pilar in the middle of the bow for rigidity and some flotation and this is forward of where my feet can reach with some space on both sides.

The foot rail holes turned out to be 1/8 or so of an inch non-standard spacing so I could not directly replace them with my Yakima aluminum rails that I had from another kayak and which have an extra notch made for me for extra travel forward. I have installed an aluminum plate (1" or so wide and may be 4 feet long overall) that is attached first on the left rear rail hole in the hull, then on the front hole on the same side, the makes a 90 degree turn across the cockpit foot area to the other side and then another 90 degree back along the other footrail. The original foot rails are mounted on the inside of it with the same bolts thru the hull - just used longer ones to accomodate the thickness of the aluminum piece.

The area where my feet push agains has a wood piece riveted to the aluminum and a foam block taped to it for comfort. Another foam block is stuck behind it and rests against the foam pilar infront of it. This forms a solid enough yet still subtly forgivin brace for my feet in the middle. I do not use the foot pegs almost at all any more and if I need them I still can use them at their farthest setting without too much discomfort for quite some time. It is just that my feet form a 90 degree angle to the hull when I use them where the optimum is may be somewhere b/w 60 and 75 forward.

Putting more weight in the back may give some idea but is not fool-proof. Compared to moving the seat back, I’m both gaining weight and moving the center of gravity so if I move the seat back without a weight I would get a slightly different trim (less displacement).

As I said, not a big deal and I will most likely not bother to remove the seat since as it seems it is glued too well in place. Unlike a foam seat, with this plastic bucket seat I will most certainly destroy it with a good chance to damage the hull in the process.

Adding a skeg is much easier and the Airalite is ABS-based so it is supposed to be easily gluable with a wide range of adhesives, should I decide to do a drop down skeg thru the stern vs. an overstern one or a strap-on one. A surfboard fin might also work. There are plenty of good but expensive skeg kits (about $200) that I could install in a pinch but I’m thinking of a cheaper home-made version if I get the time to do it…

Just scrape it off…
If I decide to remove the seat, I’ll most likely just cut off the sides of it, then scrape off the rest along with the glue under it till I’m close enough to the hull. There is no way I can get a precision cut thru the thin layer of glue where the seat almost makes contact with the hull without damaging either the seat or the hull.

But I’m not sure I’d go thru all this trouble until I have some more hours on the seat and time to experiment with weigths and to take the boat to some more challenging waters to see if it matters there enough to care. I typically take another longer boat in open water so realistically, the effects from weathercocking with the Sonoma when used on flat water are not that significant at all for me where I paddle. Just I whish I could easily take the seat out to experiment than put it back but, alas - not possible apparebtly -:wink:

Here’s another stupid idea. Would
one of those two-hand cable saws be inclined to follow the bottom of your seat as you pull it back and forth? I don’t know if you could get your two hands down in the right position to work the saw, but possibly you could use some rope extensions. I would start cutting at the back edge of the seat. Even though the glue is hard, I’ll bet the seat is just a smidge harder, so that the cable saw would stay in the glue next to the seat.

Good idea!

– Last Updated: Jan-07-09 2:45 PM EST –

Not sure if the seat or the glue is harder. I would venture to say the glue is harder - it breaks like hardened epoxy where the seat is plastic and has some flex... Might still work though since the blade would be moving more forward (side to side really) than up/down as it is cutting and with careful adjustments may actually do the trick.

a spacula heated by a propane torch? Not red hot but hot enough to melt glue. Just another thought.


The glue doesn’t melt…
…but the plastic will. I wouldn’t get near it with any significant heat.

You’re probably thinking of…

– Last Updated: Jan-08-09 9:06 AM EST –

...a Fein Multimaster. I have one and it's a phenomenal tool. I use mine for cutting fiberglass cheekplates when removing seats, but you'd never be able to get it under a kayak seat to cut it from the hull. It'll do a great job of sanding the hull once the seat is gone.

Yeah, I figured it would just be a fast
and controllable way to cut the seat and the Plexus into segments and then undercut them to remove them.

If you want to cut the seat apart, the Multimaster will do a great job. Use one of the carbide grout removal disks, they cut through fiberglass like buttah!