Up: C1 Outfitting
Outfitting a C1
So, you have that new hunk of plastic, at least new to you, in the
workshop, backyard, driveway. A cordless drill, broken paddle, a small mortgage
worth of minicell foam and some glue (Contact Cement); you are ready.
Rip out the kayak seat and thigh braces. Some thigh braces can be sawn and the
cockpit reinforcement left in place (Prijon) if there is no desire to return
the C-1 back to a kayak. Most of my conversions are all along the same theme.
Installing a strongback from the foam under the front deck to the foam under
the back deck.
This strongback is required to secure thigh straps near the centre
of the boat.
Some people have rigged C-1's with bulkheads to secure the
paddler's knees, but I have found bulkheads very difficult to fit into the boat
but harder to fit tightly to the paddler's knees. Without a tight, no movement
at all, fit, paddling performance will suffer. To attain this tight fit some
paddlers use foam wedges, but this leads to entrapment problems and yard sales of
foam if a swim is required on the river. Others use lap belts. Now lap belts
can be a real death trap. If you are not a pro (and you are probably not if
you're reading this, stay away from lap belts, they are a serious hazard.)
After fitting this strongback, with an old paddle shaft, wooden dowel, or
such, a three-inch mini cell foam seat is glued around it. The seat back will
be a couple inches forward from the kayak seat back to counter act the new
placement of the canoeist's legs. The height of the seat bottom of about 6 1/2"
is a good start, more can be cut away after paddling a bit if your legs can
stand it or some more can be glued on if you are a small paddler and are outfitting
a very wide boat (or have difficulty sitting and like rolling over and over and
over). The height of the back rest can interfere with the sprayskirt, hinder wet
exits, and cause back injuries and reduce freedom of movement. Under the bum,
the seat should be at least 6" wide; wider may interfere with your feet and ankles
when getting in and out of the boat. At your knees and thighs the seat foam can
be cut down to allow space for water bottle, throw bag, etc. and attaching thigh
Using North Water straps I have looped them around the paddleshaft strongback
or tied a separate loop of nylon to attach the straps to. Whatever works for
how you have cut your foam is fine. Next, cut foam knee cup or wedges to locate
your knees outboard as far as possible. Be sure to have some foam under your
knee for comfort and protection from the day you slam that very spot onto a rocky
point from 10-feet up. A little foam supporting your ankle is a nice comfort
touch. Beware of making this too tall though, it may feel good now supporting
your ankle but the higher you support your ankle the less blood will flow around
your knee and your lower leg will fall asleep and get pins and needles.
Secure the outboard end of the thigh straps to the old kayak seat mount bolts.
This, at first glance, seems like the straps will be very far up your leg and be
an entrapment danger. Try it now, in the shop, I don't think it will be a problem
getting out, even with your jeans on and right side up. Upside down and wet,
you will have no trouble getting out. The hard part in C-1 is keeping your bum on
the seat when you are chucking all those ends. If you start to slide off the seat
you become unstable real fast and will have difficulty rolling and then you will
have to wet exit. Oh, yea, the North Water straps are probably too long. Just heat
up a large nail or screw driver (nearly red hot) and melt a hole in the strap or
padded webbing to adjust the anchor point of the straps to suit the space required.
I often find it helpful and more comfortable to use double straps. For this, I drill
another hole in front of the seat anchor bolts and mount the second strap to
more securely hold my knees. On some boats paddled by smaller people there is
a temptation to drill this hole down the side of the boat instead of up near the
cockpit rim. If you succumb to this temptation, the head of the bolt outside
the boat will often be right at the spot to nibble at your paddle, with every
forward stroke, onside or offside.
Before you tuck this baby under your arm (can't do that with an open boat),
and head for the best squirting eddy line, you must install some hip grabbers.
Don't be tempted to "just try it out". I have followed Mark Scriver's instruction
and made many from those while plastic cutting boards you may find in the kitchen
nearest you. Some have since broken. Most have broken in shuttling, not paddling.
I think using lots of heat and bending slowly and adjusting the bending point will
all help in making a lasting hip pad. I have used some 1/8" X 2" aluminum strapping
on my last couple of boats, and it appears to be very sturdy. (Bend the aluminum
cold and adjust the bending point so one spot doesn't take the full 90 degree
bend.) Mount these hip braces near the old seat mounting bolts. You can combine
the fastener used to secure the thigh strap. Use two bolts to prevent movement
of the hip brace. Slap on some minicell foam to just lightly push on the paddler.
Be sure to round off foam and bracket to ease pressures on the spray skirt.
Awesome! Let's go paddling.
Note using Piranha's seat rail system instead of a strong back: to secure the
thigh straps some aluminum 1/8" X 2" banding is used to stiffen the assembly.
This makes for a very light boat compared to the original kayaks.
Some C-1 paddlers have begun to use racheting snow board straps for thigh
and racheting back bands for their seat backs to fine tune their positions
and aft. This is more important on the smallest new boats.
Mini cell foam, 3" thick, If ordering the foam from a manufacturer ask for the
skins to be cut off. They usually sell a 4'X 7' sheet. This can be cut in half
reduce shipping costs. Your local paddle shop should be able to sell you some
foam but it might be only small sizes, 1'X 1'.
Contact cement (not water-based); double coat everything.
- handsaws work well
- bandsaws work great
- electric carving knives work great
- electric sanders with coarse paper work well
- a fabric called dragon skin is helpful on inside curves
- stainless steel bolts
- fender washers
- lock nuts
Good paddling, Tim
Up: C1 Outfitting