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PostPosted: November 20th, 2021, 7:28 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2097
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
With the skid plates on I could flip the Yellowstone Solo over and commence with installing the brightwork; two thwarts, two carry handles and a seat on truss hangers. Not just any thwarts, seat and hangers; a laminated ash and basswood Conk seat, hung on walnut truss drops.

I gave no consideration to a flat bench seat, but I had to think hard about a double-contour vs front rail contour Conk seat. We have wide webbed double contours in several canoes, but the straight back rail and contoured front rail is equally comfortable, and the natural forward slope is perfect for our usual multi-point seated stance (back band, foot brace, knee bumpers) without angle cutting the truss hangers.

Getting the correct cant angles on truss drops has bedeviled me before; no dummy, that’s not quite what you wanted, keep cutting them shorter and shorter and soon you’ll have kneeling height drops. Straight cut truss hangers, 1” of canted deflection on the front rail, dumdum angle cutting issue resolved in comfort.

Those may be the finest and best constructed wood & webbing canoe seats made, from the easy-on-the-thighs front edge round over, down (er, inside) to the joints; not the usual biscuit joinery, but a floating multi-ply tenon (whatever the hell that means) in each rail-to-strut joint, with mechanically stretched drum tight polypropylene webbing.

I weighed a Conk seat and a same sized webbed seat that came out of some canoe; the Conk was nearly a pound lighter. In the long run, for a seat unlikely to ever fail in a keeper canoe, a Conk seat is worth it.

The thwarts are likewise laminated ash/basswood/ash for strength and similar light weight, the carry handles are slender solid ash.

First step was to bring the sheerline back to factory spec at 27” at center. I had marked the balance point when I weighed the YS suspended on a single cam strap after gunwale installation, and clamped a spreader board in at that marked location. And then measured stem to stem to discover that center hull is, duh, actually 3” forward of that balance point.

With the bow 2” higher (18 ½”) than the stern (16 ½”) that strap hung balance point was not at measured distance center hull. That single hung strap is still a good technique for finding the balance point on the finished canoe, before the (last thing installed) strap yoke goes in.

I wanted that spreader board at center hull not just to take the sheerline out to 27” wide at midships, but also because the OEM seat was, by a Yellowstone Solo owner’s helpful measurements, positioned with the front seat edge 3” aft of center, and the thwarts each positioned 27 ½” from distant from that center point. I needed to have a center hull reference point from which to work.

With the spreader board in place and the brightwork laid across the gunwales in OEM locations it all looks good, and I see no reason to relocate anything from factory locations.

ImagePB170002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Thwarts and carry handles first. Since those are not bearing suspended weight atop I’ll use smaller (3/4” dia) flange washers. Installed with a tongue depressor between the brightwork butt ends and side of the hull; pressed tight against the edge can prove squeaky business.

That brightwork gap is a Catch 22; more room for dirt and crud to lodge, hastening bacterial rot, but that gap also provides some breathing room, so the ends don’t stay smushed together forever damp. I wash and rinse out my boats after long or muddy trips (a good idea for invasives in any case), careful to hose blast those butt ends and dislodge debris, so I’ll take some breathing room to help dry out the ungunked brightwork ends.

With the thwarts and carry handles end-angle cut to size and shape the installation was easy enough, albeit with a lot of finicky measuring and re-measuring, tapping each piece 1/8” back and forth until all measurements along the sides to center hull were even.

Like the pop rivet spacer stick it helps to have a gauge for the depth of the inwale. I cut (well, found already cut) a scrap of square ash that exact depth; laid it against the edge of the inwale, scribed a pencil line and presto, a visible width-of-inwale line for centering flange washers and drilling holes through the gunwales.

Thwarts in, helping holding the sheerline spread in place, the seat installation was next. Well, truss drops next; same technique, but holes drilled in that marked inwale overhang leaving enough space for wide (1”) flange washers. With no aluminum inserts along the top edge of the vinyl gunwales I want wide flange washers to help spread the paddler weight on the seat.

A trick to holding the seat drops in place while working with the seat; tight fitted rubber washers slid up along the machine screw shank ends below the drops hold everything elevated, for easy measurement across the hull to cut the seat frame rails to length. I should be able to remember that seat frame nomenclature by now, but, a reminder.

“The long gunwale-to-gunwale members are the rails; short bits are the struts”

I rail at those who strut such knowledge.

ImagePB180004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Cutting the seat rails to length is a tricky business, I’d like them as long as possible, so the drilled holes are not too close to the butt ends. With a flared or slab sided hull measuring for that max rail width is easy, but with the Yellowstone Solo’s shouldered tumblehome and more curvaceous ( ) sides, if I cut the rails near full bulge width I can’t fit the seat in the hull, even with the spreader brace removed and the sheerline forcibly pulled open.

FWIW, with the thwarts and carry handles installed removing that clamped-in brace didn’t change the sheerline width much at all; the thwarts alone are keeping the sheerline dimensions at OEM spec. I had hoped so; I didn’t want too much stress on the truss hangers and seat.

The widest length I could (barely) fit inside the hull was 27” front rail, 26” aft. The OEM Bell seat was cut at 24 ½” wide, with the holes drilled less than ¼” from the ends. Thankee, me likee having those holes further away from the rail edges.

No one in our family are regular kneelers, most often paddling seated with a foot brace and back band, so I cut the truss drops as deep as I could using 6” machine screws while leaving room for washers and nuts and cap nuts. The truss drops are 4” deep, plus ¾” inwale depth, plus an inch of deflection on the front rail contour. Should be plenty stable for a slender not-me sitter.

ImagePB180011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those familiar with my paddling “style”, try to imagine me precariously seated on shortie-short kneeling drops. Am I sopping wet in your imagination? I would be.

ImagePB180013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With the brightwork installed the YS is getting to be a right pretty canoe. A few coats of spar urethane and that woodwork will shine.

ImagePB180009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Now I get to clamp the spreader board back in place, take everything out in reverse order, marking each piece bow/stern and right/left. And re-drill all of the machine screw holes 1/32” larger, so there is no squeaky too-tight fit once the inside of the holes have been urethane multi-coated with a pipe cleaner.

I’m not putting a utility sail thwart or too much other frou-frou in the Yellowstone Solo, but I will drill and chamfer the bow thwart for a run of miscellaneous bungee keeper, one end through a Sgt. Knots cord lock for tensioning adjustment.

Time for a few days of spar urethane work and some light sanding between coats. And some other painting; the now epoxy-cured skid plates, and the shop Gogetch.

PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 3:16 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2097
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I opted to use Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane to seal the brightwork. In part because I have a nearly full can, in part because a long duration varnish/urethane/oil experiment showed that Helmsman spar urethane holds up in long term UV and weather exposure as well or better than other finishes when left unmaintained.

And in part because it dries fast enough that I can lightly sand and recoat the next day. Plus, at least hereabouts, it is ubiquitously hardware store available.

The Conk seat was stained light walnut before the seal coats and webbing went on, so I stained all of the other brightwork light walnut, and got everything to match well enough color wise. A single rub of stain on the thwarts, three on the ash handles, and the all of the brightwork is walnut-ish. Not as dark as the walnut seat drops, but I had no dark walnut stain.

ImagePB180002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Might as well stain and then urethane a couple hardwood dowels with pegged ends, soon to be more purposeful peculiar if not perfect.

ImagePB180003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Stains rubbed in, time to urethane the unsealed brightwork, the cut butt ends and inside the drilled holes. Conk must spray his seal coats on the seat frames, or know some brush man’s magical incantation; his finish is fine furniture freaking flawless. I’ll try my best, but my sloppy brushwork spar urethane applications will not come close.

Urethane coat #1 painted on and drying. Dammit, I really need to remember to remove the loose bristles before starting to paint; cheap chip brushes, maybe why my finish work is sub-par. Waiting for the spar urethane to dry it was Miller time. Well, at least Yuengling Chesterfield ale time.

And time to do some prep work. When the brightwork is going back in place I plan install 14 webbing loop tie points on the machine screw shank ends; two each on the carry handles, four each, paired facing fore and aft, on the thwart ends, two on the machine screws at the backside of the seat. Stoutest tie points imaginable for gear or float bags, with no additional holes drilled in boat or brightwork.

Got out the propane torch & putty knife and to hot cut/seal the webbing and a 20-penny nail to melt/seal perfect 3/16” holes. Once again, go dog go, make some melted webbing smoky shop stank.

Once again, stop dog, stop. No need to proceed, the last time I made webbing loops I made 20 extra. Put everything back away dog. While everything is out and on the bench always do a production run dog.

Dang, the bench is clean again, and I gotta get up into something in the shop. There are only a couple things left on the exterior. As on every boat, reflective tape bow and stern. Nearly the last of the High Intensity reflective tape, so small pieces, 2” pieces each side of the bow and stern ---, another 2” piece | vertical on each stem. The YS should wink back bright under a flashlight at any angle.

The YS already has a Duckhead sticker on stern right, holding up well after 20 years. It needs a new one on the left for symmetry. Only a couple Duckhead stickers left; Brian’s Yellowstone Solo is worth Duckheading both sides.

And the shop Gogetch. Usually painted in black, but the last one was done in bright blue, which I kinda liked.

The usual paper Gogetch photocopy sized to fit, backed with carbon paper and outlined on the hull. An easy paint by numbers job, especially if someone else does the painting.

ImagePB190006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Like the Duckhead stickers, shop Gogetch on both sides of the bow, for a visible declaration coming or going. A reverse Gogetch image on the other side, so both pipe smoking moon faces are facing in the same direction. Eh, towards the stern? Maybe they are backpaddling? I should have switched that orientation around, maybe next time, at least they are both right side up.

ImagePB190008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With the Gogetches (Gogetchii? What say the Passamaquoddy?) hand painted the YS could go gunwales down for some light sanding and topcoat on the skid plates.

I dithered about topcoating the Dynel sleeve skid plates with black paint vs laying a thin coat of the epoxy mix with graphite powder and black pigment. It will use less than an ounce of the toughened epoxy mix, help fill in some semi-craggy edges, and I can later apply paint over that epoxy coat. Vice versa epoxy over paint, not so well adhered.

Retaped, and ends shaped.

ImagePB200009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And lightly top coated. Worth a couple minutes to smooth and reshape the rectangular sleeve Dynel skid plates with another toughened, blackened epoxy coat.

ImagePB210011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Still a bit see through and sloppy edged, a topcoat of black paint will resolve that, and provide additional UV protection. There is always something to do while waiting for paint of seal coats to dry.

PostPosted: November 24th, 2021, 1:34 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2097
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Brightwork lightly sanded spar urethane coat #2 went on, and like a good boy I immediately cleaned the brush and put everything away. Oh wait, what’s that; the seat and hardwood dowel projects were hanging in a different place. Oopsie, everything back out.

That second coat was as good as I have ever achieved with spar urethane. Maybe I am finally getting better.

Next day, third and final coat of spar urethane, not forgetting to do all of the pieces at once this time, including the seat and dowel rods. Coat #3 was good, but not quite as perfect as coat #2; I’m not getting better, just getting lucky sometimes. Another day of waiting before I can reinstall the brightwork.

The dowel rods could use a 4th coat for potential use abuse, but I really want to get the brightwork back in the Yellowstone Solo and see what it weighs dressed before turning to minor outfitting.

Next day, with everything already cut, drilled, test fitted and removed to urethane reinstalling the brightwork goes quickly. Same places, same machine screws and other hardware

I had chamfred the holes for a single run of bungee through a cord lock tensioner on the bow thwart, and that most easily goes on before the thwart goes in. I like having a little spacer on the bungee, so it is easy to pick up without digging beneath with finger tips. Gloved hands are even worse for grasping taut flush-seated bungee off a thwart.

ImagePB210014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

My supply of urethaned balls were not farsightedly stained light walnut, but what are ya gonna do?

The SS machine screw ends are admittedly my washer and nut heavy preference involved. Under the thwarts and seat first a wider washer, so there is more beef pressed against the webbing loops or seat rails, then a smaller washer, a lock washer, a nut and a cap nut, all sized for 3/16” stainless steel.

I could have used Nylocks, plastic caps or thread protectors, but had proven quality stainless in the shop. Thank goodness; stainless cap nut are now $1.25 apiece and I used 12 of them. All of the other stainless was likewise “shop stock”; I probably don’t want to calculate the actual cost of the new stainless hardware.

ImagePB210016 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With everything back in the Yellowstone Solo it is once again an elegant canoe, reborn with better quality (and lighter) brightwork.

ImagePB210017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImagePB210018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImagePB210019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The moment of truth. Speced at 44lbs with wood gunwales (I never weighed it with OEM wood gunwales intact). 31 lbs as a bare naked Royalex hull. 41.4lbs with pop riveted vinyl gunwales and deck caps. Add narrow 2-layer Dynel skid plates, two carry handles, two thwarts, wide webbed seat on truss drops, 14 tie down webbing loops and a lot of stainless. . . . . . . .

. . . . . .barely a blond hair under 45lbs on the hanging shop scale. Gawd bless lightweight laminated brightwork. If I had installed my thick clunky (still unsanded) DIY’ed ash thwarts and a leftover bench seat the weight would easily have been pushing 50lbs. If nothing else that tale of the scale is inducement to install minimal outfitting.

But there are some things I will not do without, even in a canoe not meant for me. Nylon pad eyes for a clip-in back band, adjustable foot brace, minicel knee bumpers, D-rings and a handful of cable clips (or mini SS D’s) for lacing in float bags or top lashing gear and, finally, last thing after the hanging scale balance point is marked, a roll-up strap yoke.

That shouldn’t total more than a couple pounds; worth every ounce and then some for comfort, efficiency and safety.

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