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Adjustable front seat in a tandem

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I am considering putting a sliding front seat in my TW Special rebuild and would like some input. I have zero experience with these. The thought of adjusting trim on the fly sounds great in theory, but how well do these:

1) hold up over time- a concern is durability and the thought of a seat breaking underway isn’t pleasant.

2) weight limitations- I have some skinny paddling friends and some not so.

3) how fiddly are these and are they more of a pain then they are worth?

4) Any specific designs better than others?

At times I will be paddling with different partners with different loads and sometimes mostly empty(no gear-fishing). Lakes and rivers- nothing over class II.

This is the type of design I had in mind-

DF6B9BC9-DD8C-47EB-8DF9-5205E81A8EDB.jpeg

Thoughts?
 
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On my solos, I made my seats a little deep, which allows me to comfortably swift my weight to help correct trim.
Your pic is similar to what I normally see used.

It would be good to lock the position, and keep it there, once you determined, the trim was correct.

I see a problem, if you want to paddle your tandem solo. You generally sit in the bow seat, facing the stern. That won't work with that configuration.

Jim
 
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I’ll give it an unhelpful shot, with the caveat that I don’t much care for sliding seats (some paddlers love them). We have sliding seats in a couple of solo boats, and I rarely adjust them from my “sweet spot”. We also have height adjustable seats in a couple boats; I never move those from my sweet spot elevation either. YMMV.

1. The sliding seats in boats I’ve worked on have all shown decent durability, although ones that slid on wood rails showed some scarring and scraping from use.

2. Same as above; I didn’t notice any undue bend in the wood railed seats, but the owners/paddlers were not XL sized.

3. A little fiddly. Some are difficult to adjust on the fly with paddler weight on the seat, which to my mind negates some of the head wind/tail wind, tandem paddler weight differences or ill-placed gear load trim advantages. Some method of “locking” the seat in position is helpful, especially with a solo seat and oppositional force foot brace Maybe likewise with a bow slider; I duuno, I don’t paddle bow. Some wood railed sliders depend entirely on friction to stay in position.

4. Very much a matter of personal preference and aesthetics; wood slider rails or aluminum tubing, gunwale hung or pedestal, wood bench seat or bucket pan. I removed the sliding bucket seat from a Wenonah Sundowner and replaced it with a fixed wood bench at the bow paddler’s request. Again, unhelpfully, YMMV.

On the other hand, if the TW Special came with a sliding bow seat, and you wish to keep it stock, and don’t paddle bow yourself, why not.

One alternative might be an extra long fixed bow seat, allowing the bow paddler to shift their weight for trim. ALSG’s mega seat.

P4030008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr
 
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I've used sliding bow seats on tandems for years, Wenonah and Clipper canoes. All have held up with no problems, but they're based on aluminum construction. Sliding bow seats are extremely useful on empty canoes, or where there is a large difference in weights between the two paddlers. Trimming the canoe moving a 100+ pound paddler at the end of the boat is more efficient than trimming your 50 pound packs located more centrally, and the slider has lots more adjustability if you're packed heavy. Also, with skinny boats you can adjust the foot room for different sized bow paddlers (which may go against trim, but still better than fixed). If you're using sit and switch technique, which the TW is designed for mostly, proper trim is critical. If you're using corrective strokes, poor trim is just more work.
 
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Thank you all. I was looking at the newer version, Mad River expedition 186, and thought it could be useful if not a hinderance. I may mess around mocking it up and weigh the pieces -I would use wood. The folks I paddle with vary from kids to big dudes and I tend to attract wind so some easy trim adjustment sure would be nice.

I have a couple dedicated solos so that doesn’t enter into my equation, but an excellent point that this would make that option not feasible.

I appreciate the input.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I have that same sort of sliding bow seat on my decomposing 17-6 Swift Winisk. It's hard to say whether someone else will like or use a sliding bow seat.

In general for me, I have found that the sliding bow seat (and even a solo seat) is unnecessary, fiddly, heavier but structurally weaker, rattle-noisy, more subject to breakage, and largely unused. The bow slider was useful when I was paddling with a light young child. Most adults of any size preferred to slide the bow seat all the way aft for comfort, so they could have more longitudinal leg room when sitting or more transverse chine width when kneeling—perfect trim not being of overriding importance for recreational paddling.

You may have more bow room in a Titcomb-Walsh Special, which is a former USCA competition cruiser that Jim Henry modified with a V bottom and higher sides, and which is a foot longer than the Winisk.

All in all, not being a racer, a wilderness tripper or a perfectionist for recreational tandem trim at the expense of simplicity and comfort, if I ever refurbished my Winisk I'd probably ditch my bow slider to save weight.
 
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“In general for me, I have found that the sliding bow seat (and even a solo seat) is unnecessary, fiddly, heavier but structurally weaker, rattle-noisy, more subject to breakage, and largely unused. The bow slider was useful when I was paddling with a light young child. Most adults of any size preferred to slide the bow seat all the way aft for comfort, so they could have more longitudinal leg room when sitting or more transverse chine width when kneeling”

Uh oh, Glenn and I agree on something canoe related. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
 
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Personally I prefer seats firmly mounted. I found it easier to carry a dry bag and fill it with water (easy) to help trim. No chance of slider failure/breakage if you are out for more than a day trip. Bag can be used in bow or stern as needed. Just my 2¢…
 
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I installed a Wenonah sliding bow seat in a Bell Mystic so that my paddle partner, weighing 50 pounds more than me, could paddle bow. We blew it to bits twice. I think it was designed to move a petite person forward, not a big slab of paddling muscle backward.
 
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