tandem canoe seat placement

I was a little surprised to find that both the bow and stern Bell metal seat

hangers measure 5’’ on the front vertical edge and 4 1/2’’ in the back. To mount

the seat level, a longer front edge makes sense to me for the bow since the

gunwale is higher at that position, but in the stern it seems like the back edge

should be longer. I’m trying to figure out how to trim some wooden truss style

seat hangers.

Also, is it normal for seats to hang the same distance from the gunwales,

putting the rear seat higher?

The intention may be to provide a slope

– Last Updated: Nov-26-12 5:42 PM EST –

It is common to provide a downward slope in the forward direction, especially to provide comfort when kneeling (though 1.0 to 1.5 inches of height differential would be more common when setting up a seat for kneeling). Most canoes I've looked at have no noticeable difference in gunwale height occurring within the seat locations, but maybe I haven't looked closely enough. Usually, most of the upward angle of the gunwales occurs closer to the ends of the boat than where the seats are located, though the rear seat is more likely to be within that zone than the front seat (it's closer to its end of the boat than the front seat is to its end).

I think I've seen some aluminum canoes having the rear seat higher than the front, but I can't say I've noticed a trend for that. I bet it's common though, as I doubt it's normal to use different hangers for the front versus the back. Someone else may prove me wrong though.

Wood-truss style hangers are easy to work with. Just trim them gradually, trying the boat in-between adjustments, until you get it the way you like.

Yeah, get it the way you like
There’s no strict rules on seat height. The lower they are, the more stable the ride. But if anybody wants to kneel, you gotta leave room for the feet to slide under the seat.

I had one boat where the seat hangers for the stern were several inches longer than the hangers for the bow. The seat was placed well back in the stern where the gunwales did slope up towards the high stem.

Some folks like the seats sloped forward.

You might want to play around with dowel hangers before you decide. Like GBG suggested, you could start with them long and experiment with shortening them to see what you like. I guess you could do that with a truss hanger, too. But when you get to a length that is too short, it’s harder to lengthen them!


Reverse em
how about turning them around so the long drop is in the back for the stern seat. You might have to swap left and right so the bottom edge faces the seat.

Somebody had to say it.

higher stern seat normal?
Maybe the intention was to angle them, although they’re clearly mounted very

low, too low to get my 9.5 size feet under there comfortably. I was just

surprised to not see a reversal of the hanger plate in the stern. Then again, I

never noticed any angle while sitting on the seat, and it would have to be quite

an angle. I can’t figure it out!

Now, it would appear that the stern seat, mounted closer to the stem, would have

to be either sitting higher than the bow seat but with an equal amount of

space under the seat or sitting the same amount above the water but maybe with

less space underneath, at least in an empty symmetric canoe on a windless

lake. Of course, everything changes once two different-weighted paddlers enter

the boat with their unevenly distributed gear and the wind picks up. I read

somewhere that a higher stern seat provides a better view of what’s ahead, kind

of like in a movie theater. Not sure it matters that much.

You can move the seats anywhere you want. Most of the traditional seats seem pretty level. I like the sliding bow seat option for trimming boats like Wenonahs.

Usually traditional seats are canted
forward. Backward canting makes kneeling support a problem and is a back killer over distance. The other issue is sciatica. Your legs can become numb with pressure of the front support on the back of the thighs.

I have had a couple of seats installed level. Not long before we took a saw to the back drops to cant the seat forward. 3/4 inch difference between front and back as far as distance seat to floor is standard.

Look at many shapes of canoe seats. Many are shaped in the front to avoid nerve impingement.

Well. so it goes
In the beginning, we wanted the stern seat higher than the bow because: 1. the larger person should paddle stern for trim, 2. higher stern seat should provide better front vision, and 3. the stern has a wider knee stance, hence better stability/ heel control.

God, she, only knows what happened after I left, but Bell seats should always can forward to improve comfort for kneeling paddlers.

Chop the drops as needed to fit the hull to yuor family needs, using tempered pop rivets from McMaster-Carr to re-install.