The Great Seat Experiment

After speaking with Dave Yost and Charlie Wilson ar Raystown I was convinced that I was going to install a sliding seat in my Magic. Having seen sliders in Wenonas, Souris Rivers, and several DIY’s I set about building one of my own.

I finished one, but was not happy with th eweight and complexity of the result.

And then one day while sitting on my Thinking Seat it dawned upon me: “Switch the positive to negative, and the negative to positive! IT MIGHT WORK!!!” Ooops. Sorry. Wrong movie.

What I needed was a simple seat on which I can simply scoot back when I need to trim the stern low for aft winds. I laminated a frame out of red oak (three lams of 1/4" slats) and obtained some 3/32" dacron cord. Lacing the cord was a royal PITA = I have a great respect for anyone who canes chairs.

Finished th eframe this week, gave it a test (only sagged about 2 inches under my considerable weight) and installed it in the hull today.

Pictures are at my Grovestreet album.

All I need to do now is to fabricate an adjustable seat back to allow fore-aft positioning. But that will be a cinch.


Nice work on both versions Jim, very nice indeed.

Some sliding seat thoughts: My Shearwater has a sliding seat which is I think is pretty well designed. It’s a relatively simple slider and it locks in position (unlike earlier Swift models). It does a good job of trimming when I (rarely) switch from kneeling to sitting. I used to be really sold on this slider, but I’ve come to dislike it over the years because it squeaks & groans so much, it’s a nasty racket that disturbs my harmony. If I keep that boat for another season I may replace the slider with a simple single position seat. I think it’s pretty easy to trim by simply stashing gear fore or aft as needed – sure is simpler – and gear doesn’t squeak. Of course I’ve also considered turning that particular canoe into a rowboat – but I digress… RK

Sliders/Swift Sliders/Wood butchery
First off, a repeat of Arkay’s WOW. That is impressive creativity, design and craftmanship.

I’ve been working on a slider that coppies the one that was original in the Old Town Canadienne I’ve recently aquired. It is basically rails on conventional drops and the top of the rails are notched to accept the ends of the seat cross pieces. I hope that description makes sense. I love the simplicity of it.

Akay, whoa on replacing the Shearwater sliding frame. My Shearwater seat squeeked very much also. It was my only complaint about a seat and sliding frame that I loved. The seat itself had a flaw and needed to be replaced. I put in a nice wide caned seat that I got from Piragis, onto the existing frame. I’m sure the seat is made by Ed’s or Essex. Anyway that silenced the squeeks. The squeeking was the seat itself – not the sliding frame and hangers, etc. My guess is that your situation is the same.

Silent, well trimmed paddling to you both.

sliding seat
Hi Jim,

Have to echo Osprey by repeating: impressive creativity, design and craftsmanship. I’ll have to look at version 2 at Raystown to see how it slides, but looks great.

I have been obsessing over a way to install Thule tracker kit 8 (made for last generation Honda CRV) on a present generation Rav4. Best roof rack system I’ve seen in that it is installed/removed with a just a push of a button. It’s quick to remove for better gas milage. Every time I think I’ve got it another problem pops up. Almost there with 1/4" aluminum plates to span the different bolt hole placement, drilled for both T8 hole spacing and roof bolt hole spacing. Cut rubber pad for underneath. Latest issue is how to water proof the connection sleeves that will go around the bolts between the plate and the roof. Think I have something that will work and waiting for a warm day to try.

What’s wrong with us that we spend so much time on a “problem” that most just live with?

I’ll post the results if it works.


A couple things
I also have a Shearwater and have noticed the creaking of the seat. Much of that went away when I tightened the bolts holding the seat frame. The remaining noise was alleviated when I cut 2 small pieces off the end of an old NRS strap and slid them between the wood on the seat and the wood on the seat frame right where the rear clamps for the slider adjustment are. Not ideal, I know, but at least it silenced the creaks and I find I can still adjust the seat.

Coupla thoughts
Dave, as for your question: “What’s wrong with us that we spend so much time on a “problem” that most just live with?” you apparently a fellow charter member of the “Shop Futzers Guild”. There are many of us out there - Mike, Conk, Arkay, Fat Elmo…the list goes on and on.

Our motto is a call and reply:

“Why do that?”

“Because I can!” (Alternately, “Because I want to!”)

Mike, the interference with the yoke is a major “OOPS!”. I am going to fabricate spacers to give my noggin a bit more clearance, and if that fails, I will buy a set of tall sling pads from CVCA. And the last two runs of lacing did result in several backtracks due to operator error. I estimate that the lacing took almost 8 hours.

I believe I will market these seats for $1000.00 each. I will only have to sell three or four a year to support my habit.

Today I am working on a new seat back. I have been able to recycle some old pieces from a discarded footbrace design. This week I will sew up a pad and cover and attach buckles and straps. Maybe next weekend will be warm enough for a test.

Thanks to all for the kind comments!


your other outfitting ideas
Looking at your pictures gave me a few other ideas to try after seeing how nicely tours turned out (such as the lowering spacer with a few other things incorperated into it).

Seat size
Sorry, I forgot some info.

Seat size is 24" fore/aft, 23-1/2" side to side.

Finished frame is laminated out of 1/4 x 1-1/2" select red oak from Lowes. Finished members are 3/4" thick (front member had two extra lams to allow sculpting the thigh cut-outs).

Dacron polyester cord ia 3/32", with about 170’ needed for lacing. Holes were on 1" centers.

Instead of relying on fender washers at the arches and drops I used a 1/8" x 3/4" 6061 aluminum bar running under the side rails from front drop to rear.

The extra set of drops at the front end are bolted through holes I drilled when I reinforced the inwales with an extra piece of 3/4 x3/4" ash.

One bit of info I omitted: My original slider design was influenced by a statement that Dave Yost made to me at Raystown. He felt that any hull with more than 1-1/2" of tumblehome needed a bilge-mounted seat system. And I had to add glass reinforcements on the hull interior to repair stress cracks after I was in the BWCA.

Seat back pics next weekend.


another option
Since sliding seat experimentation is at hand…

I helped my brother-in-law redo a zephyr a few years ago. We hung the seat from extruded aluminum channel (often used in woodworking jigs). It was slid along the track and was tightened with thumbscrews. I never thought of it now, but it would be pretty easy to adjust the seat height by using longer T-bolts and making a longer spacer. There was a wedge spacer that angled the seat.

Here are a couple pics and a sketchup drawing of it that is pretty clear:

I was able to find the old email where he described it to someone:

The ‘L’ profile mahogany was some corner guard that wasn’t used on a job and was just sitting in the shop where I was redoing the rails. It ended up being very structural as the aluminum track didn’t have anywhere near enough rigidity. The track was screwed and epoxied to the mahogany. The track was suspended directly from the gunwales without any other funky brackets or extra thwarts. That meant that it had to cover a pretty good span to stay parallel in order to get far enough back. The seat can now slide well forward of where I would ever use it but that was where it had to land.

Same channels
The adjustment channels I used in the first model are of the type you describe. Mine sat directly upon the wood frame, so flexing was not an issue.

What I discovered though was that the bolts running in the channels bound up, sometimes due to the seat system being weighted, sometimes due to changes in humidity. My solution was to allow the bolts to “float” within the seat system. Of course, this created another problem with the bolts binding when they canted over a few degrees. Solved that problem by using carridge bolts with the heads ground down to fit the track channel.

These are some of the reasons that I finally said “WHOA” and looked for a simpler system.