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PostPosted: October 10th, 2022, 12:55 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Peel ply pulled the next morning. The three layer reinforcement came out well enough; it isn’t as thick as foam, but (I hope) should be plenty strong, it was tough stuff to drill through.

ImagePA070012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Flange rivets installed, starting from the center rivet holes out; there is a very slight curve along the sides and I wanted any L bracket curvature to move from the center out.

ImagePA070013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Getting the seat in was a bit of a struggle. Getting the seat back out was a bit of a struggle. In and out, in and out six times; I needed to mark the machine screw holes with a stubby pencil through the bottom of the L bracket. One at a time; mark one hole with the seat on the brackets, drill that hole, put the seat back in, drop a machine screw through the hole, mark the next hole, machine screw out, seat back out, drill the next hole, times six.

The holes at the canted front rail were especially problematic and required some finagling, and a couple extra ins and outs. In that regard a regular Conk seat – flat back rail, contoured but flat not canted front rail – would be much easier to install.

Having the seat stuck on the L brackets via pop rivet pins in the rail ends would have been a no-go nightmare. Installed on the L brackets the Bubba Butt seat looks great, webbed darn near inwale to inwale. I may swipe a little spar urethane over the white blush.

ImagePA070016 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Bubba Butt seat is 4” deep at the flat back rail, 4 ½” deep at the contoured front rail, which is canted at a 25 degree angle. The seat is 8” off the floor along the un-contoured sides, but I don’t kneel much (read “almost never”); with my size 12’s and muks or water shoes it would have to be a very deep canoe to comfortably get my clod hoppers under the seat.

Actually, getting them under isn’t the problem; getting them back out to again sit on the seat without swimming is more of an issue. An older kneeler friend needs a Canoe Alert, “Help I’ve knelt and can’t get up”.

The nylon wedge spacers fit perfectly. I expected nothing less from Conk.

ImagePA070019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

As always I put SS cap nuts on the bottom of the machine screws. While I was at it I put cap nuts on the existing aluminum thwart and carry handle machine screws. Seriously Bell, not even thread protectors? I do not like exposed machine screw ends puncturing my gear, my fingers or my legs. I could save a teeny bit of weight by using thread protectors, but I like the look of cap nuts.

The one tool I really needed I couldn’t find. I couldn’t find it the last time I looked, or the time before that; the stubby right angle screwdriver. With the shouldered tumblehome there is not a lot of space to hold the Phillips head while turning the nut below. Once again the bench resembled the aftermath of a Tom shop visit, but unlike a Tom visit actual work was accomplished.

ImagePA070015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

After some DIY solutions – Phillips bit and vice grips just barely fit – I did what I should have done the first time I couldn’t fit that right angle screwdriver.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HD ... UTF8&psc=1

It should be here on Monday. Which is good because the seat needs to come back out so I can varnish the cut ends of the rails. But before then I need to make the slender utility sail thwart and install a stern thwart, and varnish those as well. But before then I need to temporarily tape the spray covers in place and see where the stud rivets will go.

Sequence, sequence, sequence; gotta do things in the correct order.


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PostPosted: October 10th, 2022, 4:19 pm 
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Oh no…. More holes in the hull!


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2022, 11:48 am 
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woodpuppy wrote:
Oh no…. More holes in the hull!


You haven’t yet begun to see holes drilled in a perfectly good canoe. The partial spray covers will require drilling forty 1/8” snap rivet holes. Plus another eight or ten if I make a center storage cover for in-camp use, which I will.

I had hastily taped on the Cooke Custom Sewing partial spray covers from the Penobscot for a quick look when I first brought the NorthStar into the shop, just to see it they would work. It was time to tape them better fitted with the solo seat in place. Serendipity and gosh golly, they fit perfectly.

ImagePA080020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImagePA080022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The stud snaps will be in good locations under the outwales, with plenty of uncovered room up front for the utility sail thwart, and uncovered room behind the seat for accessing my essentials bag while underway.

Like it was meant to be. Which it isn’t, spray covers are made for a specific make & model canoe, but the Cooke Custom Sewing partial spray covers for the Penobscot and Wilderness

ImageIMG020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

by happy happenstance respectively fit the NorthStar and Yellowstone Solo.

ImagePB240014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That may be another vote in favor of partial covers. The Penobscot is 16’ 2” and the NorthStar 16’ 6”. The RX Wilderness is 15’ 2” and the RX Yellowstone Solo 14’; only having an open cockpit gap in the center allows them to fit different canoes. (The YS doesn’t use a sail, so the bow partial could come much further back).

I marked the rivet stud locations with squibs of tape. None of them will interfere with the utility sail thwart or fore and aft thwarts.

ImagePA080027 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The stem stud rivets are even clear of the float tanks. Which are miniscule; I’ll be happy to add some minicel knee bumpers and heel pads as auxiliary floatation. The seat pad and back band won’t hurt in that floatation regard either.

We test paddled a carbon Bell Prospector with similar, maybe even smaller float tanks. Two of my volunteer paddlers flipped it in a deep, narrow attainment. We fished them out first, with some difficulty, but the Prospector did not resurface for a worrisome long time. When it did it was 50 yards downriver, with very little of the black hull afloat to see.

My first thought with vanished canoe was “Hello Bell, uh, that carbon Prospector you lent me to test paddle. . . . .”

Now that I know the snap stud locations I can cut the utility sail thwart and stern thwart to length, test screw them in place and take everything back out to epoxy and then varnish. I keep saying “varnish”; what I actually mean is Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.

I know my ideal utility sail thwart location with a 4-ish inch deep seat is 29-31 inches forward of the front edge of the seat, a distance out of paddle stroke range but still accessible with arms extended and a forward lean.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2022, 4:44 pm 
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Oh the inhumanity!!!!!


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2022, 12:10 pm 
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With the seat still in place it was time to determine the utility sail thwart location. The good news is that, sitting on the seat on a thick foam shop floor pad and moving about, nothing failed and there were no ominous creaking or cracking sounds.

With some lean and scooch forward on the 11” deep Bubba Butt seat I could use the gunwale holes from the OEM anodized bronze thwart. And, after removing that aluminum thwart, cut it down a touch (less than 1”) and install it behind the seat.

I’m wasn’t keen on using one of the heavy ash thwarts I had in shop stock for the stern; removing that bronze bow beauty, cutting it down and relocated it behind the seat made both weight and aesthetic sense. I might as well add webbing loop tie downs to the machine screws on that bronze medal winner. And a little something extra, but that comes into play later.

The forward end of the utility thwart and the bronze carry handles at the stems will also get webbing loops. Despite a production run a few weeks ago I’m already running low on 3” long webbing loops. Easily rectified, and I again made extras.

ImagePA090019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I am considering adding another thwart, located a barrel trapping distance in front of the utility thwart. I am fond of multiple thwarts; my younger son pinned one of our RX solo canoes, a fifteen footer with a stoutly truss hung seat, utility thwart and bow and stern thwarts; yes, counting the truss hung seat that is essentially five thwarts on a 15’ downriver canoe. He had a helluva time getting it unpinned; it wrinkled the sides a little, didn’t come close to folding it or even creasing it that badly.

I don’t expect to pin the NorthStar, sure hope not to, but another lightweight cross member up front, beyond the utility thwart, wouldn’t hurt.

But, I am trying to keep the weight down. Another bronze Bell/Northstar Canoe thwart wouldn’t weigh much, but, meh, $18 just to be color coordinated? Maybe I’ll make a slender, lightweight barrel trapper thwart to go up in front of the utility thwart. Or just add a minicel wedge to keep the barrel tight against the utility thwart and un-rolly, and try my best to not pin the NorthStar.

This utility sail thwart is a little different than all of those in the past. The flush mount Scotty base, which can be attached laterally, allowed me to use 3 ½” wide wood instead of the usual 5 ½” width needed for the taller, keel aligned top mount base.

ImagePA090001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There are a couple little things I always want on a utility thwart beside the sail mount. An open cleat for the bow painter line, offset near the edge of the thwart, so it is easy to snug the line down into the cleat.

ImagePA090003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I want J-hooks for the deck compass. Nice for map reading without putting my cheaters on, awesome for holding a downwind sailing line at a glance.

ImagePA090005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And at least a small run of bungee, on the side near the open cleat. With my painter lines usually cut to canoe length there is excess line past the cleat, which can be coiled and secured under that thwart bungee.

Having the bow line near at hand is a boon for old crippled up guys who struggle to exit the canoe. Add spray covers, with no exposed gunwale to grab and the bowline held 8’ away under Velcro straps at the stem, eh, I’m not that fast or nimble anymore; I want a painter in hand as soon as I attempt to exit the canoe.

Holes drilled (for ¼” bungee, I have no more ¼”, but I’m making a BMO list), beveled in the direction of bungee pull both top and bottom.

ImagePA090008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That’s all well and good and dressy as hell, but it won’t fit like that alone; the J-hooks and cleat will protrude above the sheerline if mounted directly below the inwales. I am hoping to bring the soloized NorthStar in around 40lbs, even so I will be sliding it on and off roof and storage racks and anything sticking up above the sheerline will catch, or be inadvertently torn off.

So drops. Shortie short drops, made from ¾” square ash.

ImagePA090010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I don’t have any exotic woods in the shop. Or maybe I do; that square stock is what’s left of a very long piece of ash an old timey canoe tinkerer gave me 20 years ago, along with the two halves of a never joined glass slalom kayak (soon passed along) and some experimental steam bending pieces.

ImagePA090010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The straight piece is the ¾” ash, the lazy L piece is steam bent solid ash, the U was steam bent using 8 thin strips laminated together. I hope never to do steam bending.

As short drops on the utility thwart ends those drops are historical, and I only needed two pieces of that ancient ¾’ stock, each 3 ½” long. Historical, aged like a fine bourbon and perfectly sized, just deep enough to clear the cleat.

ImagePA090011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

When working solo, unless you are a Hindu goddess, it is impossible to hold three pieces of wood in place in two locations while drilling in-situ holes. I could epoxy them in place, in fact want them epoxied in place, but I didn’t want to wait for the morrow to drill the holes. Another G/flex variety, handy for “Ain’t-quitting-for-the-day-yet” progress, G5.

ImagePA090014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

https://www.westsystem.com/specialty-ep ... -adhesive/

“Not recommended for long-term bonds subject to high loads or moisture”.

I don’t care, the entire utility thwart assemble will get a coat of epoxy and a couple coats of spar urethane, and will be held in place with double hung machine screws. I just need something to hold the drops in place while I drill and seat the screws. Epoxies thwart drops clamped in place for five minutes (OK, ten) and ready to go.

ImagePA090016 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A friend bought some G5 by accident and gave it to me. I’m on my second set, and he has since reordered his own. Thanks Doug, sometimes that stuff is a godsend for applications where I just need something quickly but firmly held in place.

Thwart clamped in place under the gunwales I drilled the first pair of machine screws on each side through the old inwale holes, then drilled new inwale holes (Woodpuppy says, “Egads, drilling holes in a canoe”) and hung the utility thwart.

ImagePA090018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And out it comes for a coat of epoxy before and a couple coats of spar urethane. A swipe of spar urethane over the white epoxy blush at the seat bracket edges and it vanished. That looked so good I dabbed a teeny amount on the old seat brackets holes on the outside, and those now look much better as well.


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2022, 4:54 pm 
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Haha, I approve of the extra holes for the utility thwart, it’s the bajillion holes in the hull that make me twitchy! I still intend to model flattery and appropriate your utility thwart ideas for the work barge.

Just today I was in Lowe’s hunting (and I mean that literally, what Neanderthal do they hire to stock the hardware bins?!?) for 3/8” hardware to hang a downhill camera when I stumbled on Mike’s favorite kind of rope ;). I know what shop box he’d put it in, but my boss wouldn’t be too fired up about me spending $50 on painters when this hank could be had for $15. As it happens Mike, 1/4” polypropylene looks like a reasonable sized line. I can work with it after all.


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PostPosted: October 13th, 2022, 12:53 pm 
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woodpuppy wrote:
Just today I was in Lowe’s hunting (and I mean that literally, what Neanderthal do they hire to stock the hardware bins?!?) for 3/8” hardware to hang a downhill camera when I stumbled on Mike’s favorite kind of rope ;). I know what shop box he’d put it in, but my boss wouldn’t be too fired up about me spending $50 on painters when this hank could be had for $15. As it happens Mike, 1/4” polypropylene looks like a reasonable sized line. I can work with it after all.


About the Neanderthals, a lot of that may be the customers. My local hardware has an incredible selection of stainless steel hardware, and entire lengthy aisle of small bins of screws, nut, bolts etc. Buying individual nuts or bolts means checking each one to make sure stuff threads on correctly; no doubt customers grab a nut or bolt, say “Nope, not that size” and just toss it back in a bin that kinda sorta looks the same. I find a few misfits every time.

That is reason enough that, if it is something I use frequently, say 10-24 x 2 ½” Phillips flat machine screws, I just buy a 50 count box. Even lesser used SS hardware, if I need four I’ll buy eight, and check each one first.

I have no idea what a downhill camera is, but most of the inexpensive bigbox hardware rope is far too weak for my canoe use preferences. This ¼” Lowes stuff has a “Safe working load” of 44lbs.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Blue-Hawk-0-25 ... 1000760540

Math is not my strong suit, is that really less than 7 cents a foot?

The ¼” BlueWater stuff I use most often has a tensile strength of 1000lbs, and the 5/16” I use on downriver canoes has a tensile strength of 2000lbs, same as the standard weight throw bag rope.

https://www.bluewaterropes.com/product/ ... scue-rope/

The compact rescue throw bag that I carry most often, even solo, uses ¼” rope with 950lb tensile strength.

https://www.nrs.com/nrs-compact-rescue-throw-bag/pmsc

I don’t mistreat my pricey rope, even the ¼” Bluewater is $1.00 a foot unless buying a full spool, but for any paddling or car topping application I want decent quality rope.

I remove the painter lines when re-racking a canoe stored outside between uses, and dry it out before putting it away. If the rope is muddy cruddy I’ll rinse it off before hanging it to dry. No different than cleaning and drying out damp tents or tarps after a trip. At a buck a foot, using 16’ bow and stern painters, eh, that’s $32 left wet & dirty, growing bacteria, out in the UV and weather? Nope.

My indoor stored boats are in my shop, and I remove those painter lines as well. In part because, on all of the boats, inside and out, the painter length and strength kinda depends on the trip, but in larger part because there is a lot of weird fumy stuff going on in the shop; epoxies, varnish, urethane, paint, melting Fire-in-a-can wax, various airborne smokes from melting webbing and bungee ends, tobacco and, uh, etc. Any of that could eventually be rope detrimental, and I’d hate to have a K9 alert on my painter lines.

Decent quality line and TLC for bow, stern and belly lines on the roof racks as well, I avoid tying those lines through anything with sharp or rough edges. The first thing I did with our van was install stainless steel eye bolts on both bumpers. Same with the truck; brand new vehicles, brought them home and started drilling holes in the bumpers the same day.

I tie the outside canoes to the rack so the wind doesn’t take them for a ride; I have neglected to do so and found a canoe on the ground a fair distance from the storage rack, but I use the cheap Home Depot poly stuff from the “JUNK ROPE” box, labeled such so my wife knows it is OK to use when tying back garden plants. In constant weather and UV exposure that cheap poly rope begins to degrade in a year’s time.

One local canoe club videoed a short demo of Z-drags with various ropes; I wish they had listed the tensile strengths, but I’d bet the first low tension snap failure was Home Cheapo rope.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYsYm-YEb6w

We have only had to set up a Z-drag once, but we have had multiple people on a rope, lined up tug of war Armstrong-style (should have been called Strongarm-style) unpinning a stuck canoe a few times. I am pretty sure we would have snapped 44lb “safe working load” strength rope.

Without a Z-drag, pulling straight back on the rope, that flying snappage could be dangerous. Like using a towing chain or cable to extract a stuck vehicle it might be advisable to lay a jacket across the center of the rope if manhauling straight backwards.

Gang hauling a deeply pinned canoe on a narrow river with some too-stretchable rope the line didn’t break, but when the hull suddenly came free of stretchy tension it shot out of a strainer pile horizontally, headed straight for us like an airborne rocket. Fortunately, stationed at the front of the line, I hit the ground in time, as did everyone else. The canoe landed upright and largely emptied of behind us.

Wow, while waiting for some epoxy and cloth to set up I went off on a tangent. Time to again flip the NorthStar to the other side.


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PostPosted: October 13th, 2022, 6:10 pm 
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Geez oh man, that “downhill” camera is yet another product of autoincorrect and the tiny font on this phone screen. This website does not follow the settings to make with the larger font. It was supposed to be a “downhole” camera. As in, looking down a well or borehole when preparing to install a well, or taking a peek at why stuff is going amiss down there.


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PostPosted: October 14th, 2022, 12:07 pm 
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The seat was ready for reinstallation. Or almost ready; I needed to add two loose webbing straps around the seat rails.

ImagePA110002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The loose webbing creates my cushy tush pad keeper straps; the pad doesn’t move around as I shift position and can’t blow away when I’m not in the canoe.

ImagePA110001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Something is still missing. Whatever could it be? Why are there stainless steel mini D-rings on the stern thwart machine screws, and another pair hung below the inwales (yes Woodpuppy, I drilled a couple more holes in my canoe).

ImagePA110005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Snap, snap, snap, snap and the back band is held in place.

ImagePA120003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The epoxied and urethaned utility sail thwart got re-dressed before installation. The cap over the receiver hole is there to prevent rain or splash from leaking into a spray skirted kayak or hollow SOT; not a concern in an open canoe. The cap wanted to flop back over the receiver, making a one hand job a two hand job. Off with his head. I didn’t want a receiver full of water, so I drilled a drain hole in the bottom.

All geegawed up and ready to install. The over-long webbing straps in the middle were a wild hair; the SS bolts securing the Scotty base are ¼”, an opportunity for a couple more center hull webbing loops. Without – ahem – drilling more holes in the canoe.

The only webbing loops I had pre-made with ¼” holes were for under hood tie down points, long enough to stick out when the hood is closed.

I didn’t feel like making shorter ones; those will do for now. They might be useful with webbing strap for holding a blue barrel in place against the utility thwart.

ImagePA110006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImagePA110007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That should be everything I need within reach.

ImagePA110008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That’s the way I like it, uh huh, uh huh. . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0_H3F84Yjk

The Y sail batten plugged into that mount does not float, don’t ask how I know, hence the minicel PFD the batten mount is wearing.


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PostPosted: October 15th, 2022, 11:18 am 
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The NorthStar needed a foot brace, but the one we took out of the Voyager was the narrower solo version, with maximum telescoping extension to 30” or less.

ImagePA080031 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Just a few inches too short. Those Wenonah adjustable foot braces seem to be in very short supply, not currently listed on Wenonah’s accessory page, not listed by any of the on-line Wenonah accessory dealers I could find. A year ago a friend had no foot brace joy even in calling Wenonah directly; they were saving all they had for their own builds. BMO probably has some, but I’m not yet ready to make that trip.

(I called BMO out of curiosity; they do have them in stock, in either silver or black. Love that place. I didn’t ask if they had them in two-tone)

There is more than one way to skin a too-short foot brace. I have some old anodized aluminum tubing from rec kayak internal keelsons, serendipity the same exact size as the wider diameter telescoping tube on the Wenonah foot brace. The outer tube on the too-short canoe foot brace was 17” long; I cut a piece of that perfect ID keelson tube at 23”, flattened one end and rounded off the corners.

ImagePA100022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Gotta love a 10 minute fix that costs zero dollars.

ImagePA100027 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Do I care that the bars are mixed silver and black? I do not; I’ll be covering that bar with black foam pipe insulation for barefoot summertime tootsie comfort.

One foot brace method involved studs that attach (?) to the sidewalls with some special epoxy. Ever generous Barry gave me a set, maybe two sets. 8 each?

ImagePA120010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I don’t know nuffin’ ‘bout anchoring no foot brace studs, and I’m not going to start experimenting now. I’ll install the modified Wenonah foot brace in the usual easy peezy manner; drill four holes and install four 3/16” flange rivets.

But, like the seat brackets, the thin kevlar sidewalls needed some additional structure first. I don’t strain pressing mightily against a foot brace on a flatwater canoe, but even so, squares of the 1 ½” 10oz Twaron tape, covered by a squares of 2” kevlar tape, epoxied and peel plied at each flange rivet location can’t hurt to beef up the sides of the thin kevlar hull.

“Oh gawd, he’s gonna drill more holes in a canoe. It’s becoming the Swiss cheese special”. Woodpuppy, when the Northstar is finished I’ll count up the number of holes I drilled in the hull and gunwales; I’m going to guess 50+. Bwahahaha.

Same procedure as stiffening the sides for the seat brackets, only this time four squares of 1 ½” Twaron tape, covered by a squares of 2” kevlar tape, roller compressed under peel ply.

ImagePA130005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Again started in the morning so that afternoon I could rotate the NorthStar 180 degrees and do the other side. Tomorrow will be as easy as drilling four more holes in the hull, egads, holes near the waterline, and installing four flange rivets (with small rubber O-rings under the flange head).

PPP (Peel Ply Pulled) the foot brace rivet hole stiffeners looked fine.

ImagePA130007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A trick for installing a foot brace while working solo; resting the bar at the desired height on a temporary platform makes that one-person task a lot easier.

ImagePA130009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

First hole drilled, through the slider bar from the inside, and O-ringed flange rivet installed from the outside. Measure and adjust for depth and drill/pop rivet the second hole on that side. Amble over to the other side of the canoe, measure and repeat.

ImagePA130013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A semi-trick with an adjustable foot brace bar on a canoe that different people may paddle; taller people with longer legs often have bigger feet, and shorter folks smaller. For my size 12’s, heel resting on a shallow pad, 6” off the floor is about right, so I put the bar at 6” high adjusted at center, but I angled the slider bar just a touch, so it is higher further away and a bit lower adjusted closer in.

Once installed the foot brace looked good, and felt firm, but it needed one more touch; some black rubber split foam pipe insulation for barefoot comfort. The grey split foam pipe insulation is too fragile, and the more durable black rubbery stuff comes with peel-strips of self adhesive.

ImagePA130015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr


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PostPosted: October 15th, 2022, 12:57 pm 
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Did you just name this boat? The Swiss Cheese Special”! I need to pick up some skinny pipe insulation for my own Wenonah Prism’s foot brace.


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PostPosted: October 16th, 2022, 7:35 am 
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woodpuppy wrote:
Did you just name this boat? The Swiss Cheese Special


I haven’t renamed many of the tandem-to-solo canoe conversions aside from adding the word “solo”, Penobscot Solo, Explorer Solo. Most of the converted tandem-to-solo decked canoes did get new names painted on; the ’71 Sockeye became the “Sea Wimp, the vintage Phoenix Vagabond became “The Rambler”, and the two ‘70’s Hyperform Optimas became the “Opie” and “Sexy Thang”.

ImagePB030018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sexy Thang even got a custom paddle.

ImagePB030023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The NorthStar will probably just be called the NorthStar Solo.

There are some other outfitting touches yet to be added, but those are either near center (wide minicel knee bumpers), near weightless (minicel heel pads) or equidistant from the stems (D-ring pads for tying in gear or float bags and snap studs for the spray covers).

NRS is replacing some defective 3D end float bags. Always great customer service from NRS; the bags were several years old, no questions asked, NRS pre-paid return label. The replacements won’t arrive ‘til next week, and I want the stem bags inflated in place before I decide where to put the vinyl pad D-rings. Gotta wait on that.

A friend picked up a Conk care package of minicel on a group trip a couple weeks ago, but when I inadvertently mentioned that I “needed” it his response was “Oh, you NEED it do you?”, and then grumbled “So, you’ll work on everyone else’s boats, but not mine?”

True that. I want to see that Conk custom minicel before I install what I have on hand, but it’s being held hostage for now. Gotta wait some more.

Since none of that will change the balance point more than an ounce or two, so I could begin assembling and installing a strap yoke

Quality 2” ITW/Nexus side release buckle. 2” heavy duty poly webbing. I folded the webbing ends over at inwale depth for extra sturdiness and epoxied the folded ends together. Wax paper so I don’t epoxy a binder clip to the webbing.

ImagePA130011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I am hoping that one pair of the OEM double hung yoke will be at the balance point. The only way to ascertain that is to Hang Tom Dooley again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtSzcKZGzDs

Which might as well be done from the shop scale, and I couldn’t resist having a look while the current almost-finished weight.

ImagePA130017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

39 1/2lbs. Keeping it under 40lbs may not happen, but I can live with 41-ish.

The sternward set of old double hung yoke holes proved to be the perfect balance point. Which is good, because the held-hostage knee bumper minicel will need to start, as usual, just forward of the strap yoke.

I know from oopsie experience that the heated nail needs to be damn near red hot to plunge a neatly sealed 3/16” hole through multiple epoxied layers of that thick poly webbing.

ImagePA140001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImagePA140002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Strap yoke installation is a piece of cake. The short webbing end with the sturdier female side release buckle simply goes on as usual; machine screw through a flange washer up top, folded end webbing, washer, lock washer, nut and cap nut below.

The longer webbing end with the male buckle gets an additional accoutrement; a length of double sided Velcro goes on below the inwale first, then the strap yoke and hardware.

ImagePA140004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The end result, when connected as a strap yoke, is this.

ImagePA140005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A note on the obvious, you’ll want the bitter end of the long strap on top for tensioning pull ease. Not that I would ever install a strap yoke upside down. Repeatedly, once again minutes ago in fact. Think man, think.

Rolled up when not in use the long end of strap yoke looks like this.

ImagePA140007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The short end just dangles free.

ImagePA140008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Picked up and cavorted about in the yard as test that proved well balanced and comfortable enough, and will do nicely for my short storage-to-roof-rack and roof-rack-to-water’s-edge needs.


Last edited by Mike McCrea on October 16th, 2022, 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 16th, 2022, 8:33 am 
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Joined: August 7th, 2022, 2:38 pm
Posts: 59
Location: North Florida
That is a fantastic idea Mike! I’ve been toting my Polaris with third seat and my Prism solo by balancing the forward edge of the seat on my head while wearing my Tilley hat- this works for getting from home racks to truck and at the launch, but I’d like something better. I appreciate your strap keeper too!

I’ve also been thinking about adding web loop tie down points to the bottoms of thwart and seat bolts and I think I have a donor strap you will appreciate. One of my old yellow cam buckle straps has become abraded through a layer of the weave and I no longer use it for fear of a failure causing loss of a boat. It may still find use holding a thermarest pad rolled up, but that only needs about 18”. The rest will go in my many piles of salvaged stuff for use on something someday, to my wife’s unending exasperation. But tie down points are easy and free!

What do you use to tie down a spare paddle? In my Prism I normally rest to tip on the bow float tank, effectively captured under the fore deck plate and carry handle. I rest the handle on the thwart that’s right in front of the paddling station. A wooden thwart like the wide walnut ones on my Polaris would be a candidates for drilling bungee holes to capture the paddle, but I’m not sure what to do with the aluminum tubular thwart besides an ungraceful loop of bungee with a barrel keeper.


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2022, 1:49 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2478
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
The strap yoke is actually a Mohawk Canoe idea. They (currently sold out) sell them on their accessories page. Easy enough to DIY.

https://www.mohawkcanoes.com/collection ... bbing-yoke

woodpuppy wrote:
What do you use to tie down a spare paddle?


Lots of possibilities for spare paddle storage; with a wood thwart or utility thwart some cross bungee to secure the shaft/grip end. With an aluminum thwart two loops of double sided Velco, one wrapped around the aluminum thwart with a second length of double sided Velcro held underneath that one so it forms an offset figure 8.

One hint with Velcro shaft keeper straps; I want a tab folded over and glued together, so I am not busting my fingernails trying to pick hook & loop apart. Especially on a stern thwart where I can’t see what I am doing behind me. That nail gouging at un-tabbed Velcro does not make for quick spare paddle retrieval, and sometimes quick is good.

My favorite way of securing a spare paddle, or paddles, or paddles plural plus short push pole and sail, involves drilling a lot of holes in the canoe, so maybe not your cuppa tea.

A spray cover with paddle blade storage pockets (plural) and paddle shaft lash straps (plural +, 5 total) resolves the easily accessible paddle problem. Paddles held near at hand, secured atop the covers, not jammed amidst the gear. Stored under the covers would be a fast retrieval nightmare. A quickly accessible spare paddle grab or switch is important to me, even in non “Oh crap” situations.

Covers are beneficial for other things of course, especially for windage. Even partial covers are handy for rain and wave splash. In hot weather/cool water trips, desert rivers in spring snowmelt (or spring fed runs in sweaty sub-tropical Florida), the area shaded under the covers stays much cooler thanks to the ambient water temperature transmitted through the hull; think chocolates in the food barrel, canteen of water that isn’t tea-temperature, ice chest if you brought one. Or Guinness Stout quaffing temperature if you didn’t.

The Penobscot covers fit the NorthStar will enough, and so on they went. I have put spray covers on a half dozen canoes, Cooke Custom Sewing covers, old/antique retrofitted covers and DIY covers, and have a process that works well for me when working alone in the shop. A shop helper working on the opposite side of the hull, alternately checking the below-outwale measurements, drilling and popping rivets would speed the process up considerably. And save walking around to the other side of the canoe 40 or 50 times.

Start by taping the covers in place, with even overlap from side to side.

Layer some cheap grey duct tape four or five layers thick. Place the duct tape on the hull under the spray cover socket location (in the case of partial covers starting at one stem) and thumb press hard, leaving a circular impression on the duct tape. If the bullseye is faint mark the center with a Sharpie dot so you don’t lose sight of it while picking up the drill; the snap stud locations need to be exact.

ImagePA140009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Drill a 1/8” hole through the center of the bullseye. Take the tape off. I have forgotten to take the tape off before installing the pop rivet through the stud over the tape. I have taken the tape off before drilling the hole.

I will proudly state that I encountered neither of those miscues this time around; maybe I’m getting better. When the hole marker tape becomes Swiss cheese stop and make a fresh multi-layer marker piece.

ImagePA140015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Push the 1/8” pop rivet through the snap stud and hole and back it up with a washer inside the hull. In some strategic locations I use stainless steel mini D-rings to provide tie down points for float bags or gear. I would have used those mini SS D-rings as back up for every other stud on the NorthStar, but I am still striving to keep the weight down.

Two mini D-rings on each side, bow and stern. That may be insufficient for proper float bag lacing. Meh, how often and I putting float bags in the NorthStar?

ImagePA140013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Pop rivet the stud in place, which requires using a reduced rivet tool nozzle, a headpiece of sorts that fits INSIDE the stud lips (that stud nozzle is less than ¼” wide and ¼” long). Some pop rivet tools come with that stud seating head.

ImagePA140019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Snap the spray cover socket onto that seated stud, wander over to the other side of the canoe and install the next snap across the hull, keeping the cover equidistant below the outwale on each side.

While you are on that side doing the opposite stem rivet press another bulleye into the layered marking tape, drill and install the next stud in line, and snap the cover in that location, amble back over to the opposite side of the canoe and do the next two on that side. After the first pair of studs on opposite sides are seated it is easier to alternate, doing two in a row before switching sides.

I’d walk a mile for a spray cover. Or some blended Turkish and Virginia Tobacco.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KyIfrtfDFo

The wheeled shop cart, with tape, drill, rivets, studs, washers, mini-D-rings and etc made that side to side traveling a lot easier. No sharp mandrel pins fallen lost on the shop floor either.

ImagePA140014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Each time you drill the next hole in line the cover needs to be unsnapped for access to put the washer in place, then everything gets re-snapped before installing the next stud. Good practice at properly seating and snapping sockets to studs. “Practice” that I really didn’t need, but it can’t be helped in the initial spray cover installation.

Stern cover on

ImagePA140010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Bow cover on

ImagePA140018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

My thumb hurts. There are 40 snaps on the partial covers, spaced 8” apart. On a non whitewater canoe cover those snaps could be spaced every 10 or even 12 inches apart. Each of those 40 got thumb snapped, unsnapped and re-snapped multiple times during the initial installation. I need to take a Thumb Break half way through.

A note on the initial installation and subsequent use of nylon spray covers. With nylon covers do not attempt the initial install if the humidity is higher than 60%, or risk later, in drier conditions, the spray covers being a too-tight PITA to snap on in the field.

When the humidity is low at a launch I dunk the stuff bag of covers in the river and set it aside while I pack the canoe. By the time I am ready to put the covers on the loaded canoe they are nylon saggy damp and easy to install. In low humidity conditions the covers will go drumskin taut dry in short order. So taut that it’s best not to have anything pointy or sharp protruding above the sheerline.

ImageP5031960 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Once installed the unadorned covers looked so nice I had to play dress up. The Penobsot’s center storage cover for in-camp use, as expected, comes up several inches short on the longer NorthStar.

ImagePA140023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

For a tripping canoe with partial covers the NorthStar deserves a center storage cover. I may DIY one from heat sealable Packcloth fabric. Or ask Dan if Cooke Custom Sewing still means custom. I am reluctant to make a purple heat sealable Packcloth cover, simple as it is, a near rectangle 72” long x 39” wide, mostly because the CCS work is far superior to my kludgy DIY attempts.

I don’t portage these days, and with a center storage cover don’t need to schlep paddling gear to a sometimes distant camp; everything from PFD to paddles and sail can stay safe and dry inside the canoe.

ImageP3070814 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImageP2180691 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The storage cover may not fit, but plenty of other accessories will. With the covers and paddle pockets I can bring a selection of paddles and poles. Those pockets and lashes would probably work equally well for fishing rods, long handle nets, or a water fowling piece; anything long you want on top and not buried in the gear underneath. Clam rakes, sadly, are a little long.

In the stern partial cover paddle pocket, with dual shaft straps, a stout straight single blade, and my beloved multi-functional shallows push pole/hiking staff/extended reach duckbilled grabber/spare tarp pole.

ImagePA140026 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

On the front cover my equally beloved Werner Camano carbon 260, a special order than once belonged to my late, great friend Norb, a slender Camp bent shaft which, blade pocketed and shaft strapped pulls the center of the front cover up for better drainage, and a furled downwind sail, ready to plug into the Y battens on the sail mount.

ImagePA140025 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There are better sails. There are no more simple, hands-free, no lines or sheets involved sails for downwind cruising. Up in seconds, down in seconds, adjustable in 30 degree increments.

I am jonsing to get some custom knee bumpers installed once the Conk package arrives, get some vinyl pad D-rings in place for stem bags/gear (replacement float bags scheduled to arrive late Tuesday), finish the rest of the minor outfitting and decorative tasks and get the soloized NorthStar out on the water where it belongs.

The Conk minicel may be delivered by the hostage-taker’s Missus as soon as tomorrow. His last kidnapping must have brought a hefty ransom, he recently bought a near identical NorthStar solo, but mine cost thousand less.

Mrs. Hostagetaker, who had her own thoughts about the purchase of a $3K+ canoe, usually stops in the shop for a visit. I made a sign for her viewing pleasure.

ImagePA150029 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Mr. Hostagetaker is right, I am a putz. BWAHAHAHA!


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2022, 3:04 pm 
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Joined: August 7th, 2022, 2:38 pm
Posts: 59
Location: North Florida
Oh someone’s in for it!


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