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More Short Push Poles

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The push poles made during the Yellowstone Solo rebuild have been vacationing in Florida with Joel, and I’m told have been post-shoulder surgery rehab helpful for exercising faux paddle strokes.

PB280034 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Although I do wonder what passersby think when they see a man paddling a camp chair with a pole. “Florida Man Attempts to Paddle Chair Across Collier County”. I hope he has the lawn chair properly heeled, doing Helinox freestyle. Photos or it didn’t happen.

While I was amidst sanding and urethaning stages I wanted a couple more short poles. I liked the 5’ length a lot, and it fit on the YS stern cover perfectly.

PB280035 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I wished the five foot pear-gripped pole had a tee for grabby purposes. I also wished I had more T-grips. And whadda ya know, there, in the bottom of a box, I found a bunch more.

Need T-grips, got tee grips. Need shoes, got shoes. Not rubber granny crutch tips this time, something more iron clad for durability, something that will hurt more if I thump someone with it. Not iron, but maybe copper clad; I had a perfectly sized copper pipe cap, and a same diameter length of copper sleeve. What else do I have in the bins of salvage?

A ha, an overfull box of, um, I’m sure that have a name, “peg legs” for tables and stands. I thought they were Roblox or some such, but Googling that only produces a cartoon character app.

https://letmegooglethat.com/?q=Roblox

These things:

P2050004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Like stripping the wheels and casters off anything dumpster bound I wasn’t letting those peg legs go. Guess I need to find a sturdier box for them. No need to sand wood bottoms to fit, just drill holes for right sized pegs on a couple, lubricate with epoxy and slide the stiff shaft in the hole.

Y’all have dirty minds.

The shoes became a little experimental. A plain copper cap, a copper sleeve with a peg leg, and just the peg leg. I never noticed or checked before, but the grid-bottomed pegs are too heavy to be aluminum, and have zero attraction even with a powerful ceramic magnet, so I’m calling those pegs old-laboratory quality stainless.

P2050005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those just got pricier. Only 30 or 40 left in stock, sizes 1 ½”, 1” and 3/4”. Order yours today. Enter the secret password for free shipping and handling. (Free shipping available only to Main St. USA, or York, New York. Other conditions may apply).

P2050009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those shorter push poles became two each at 5’ long, and one cane sized for my height at 36 ¾”, including tee grip and shoe. Properly sized, any of the suggested method came up with the same length for my physiology.

https://houseofcanes.com/blog/how-to-measure-and-use-a-cane-properly

Joel’s 38” height pear grip cane is probably near his nipple level. That’s why I didn’t glue the crutch tip in place Joel; saw a few inches of that thing. And when you come north in spring we’ll put a less Granny reminiscent crutch tip shoe on bottom on it. Maybe a sand spike; I have ideas.

Grips and shoes epoxied on, and first coat of urethane laid on the fishing yoke, I couldn’t do much more, certainly not make shop dust. Fortunately Chip paid a shop visit, fulfilling my hermit-like one visitor a month routine. If I’d known he was coming I would have cleaned and organized the shop; I know how fastidious Chip is about shop clutter and organization.

Great visit, talking canoes and gear, roof rack issues(and boasting how I was right a year ago when I said “Just buy a set of VanTech racks, made to fit the transit”), swapping stories and bits of gear. Thanks for the leftover Thule hardware, the air filters for the Tacoma and the books. And I didn’t get you nothing.

Well, not nothing; I couldn’t let Chip leave empty-handed. He seemed to like the ethafoam sawhorse boat stabilizers and, like my pal Berkeley’s companion, uses 2x6’s width-wise as sawhorse crossbars. 2x4, 2x6, doesn’t matter, inverted gunwale are only in flat crossbar contact for a fraction of an inch.

I had just the ticket, four of those giant ethafoam blocks.

P2040001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The stylized W on that hat stands for “WTF am I supposed to do with these?

I’d been saving those ethafoam blocks for Berkeley’s friend, but he never visits anymore, and won’t go paddling with me. I think it was something I said. I do miss Berkeley though.
 
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Back to work on the shortie push poles. With the G/flexed tee grips and shoes firmly in place I wanted to run a bead of thickened epoxy around all of the transition edges, tee grips to dowel on top, and shoes-to-dowel transition below, just so no creeping crud gets in, and so the grip-to-shaft area is smooth.

A little thickened G/flex (I added black pigment at one point) and a tiny paintbrush to lay a bead around the circumferences, all six of them.

The easiest even-flow way to do that epoxy bead is to hold the poles horizontal under a sand bag weight, paint around the transition circumference, and keep rotating the poles so the upside becomes down, to avoid gravity drips and sags as the epoxy seeps into any crevice or void and hardens.

P2050011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That is a lot of rotational twist and turn babysitting, at least at first, ‘til the epoxy stops sagging.

One important babysitting hint. DO NOT accidentally (and unknowingly) drag a sleeve across those epoxied ends. DO NOT not notice that sleeve contamination until you have scrubbed your hands repeatedly, every few minutes, wondering where the hell the sticky is coming from and continuing to find little smears of epoxy stickkem left everydamnwhere. ARRGGHH, on the space bar of the keyboard, WTF?

Time to change shirts. Tomorrow those shortie push poles can get stained, and start catching up on daily urethane coats.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I think double short push poles are a brilliant idea for ascending rapids or shallow currents, as well as propelling through shallow waters occluded by vegetation, muck or other obstacles—and without risking damage to expensive paddles.

Peter Macfarlane, of Otter Creek Smallcraft and the first (perhaps only) person to paddle the NFCT in both directions, and a member here, used two modified ski poles from a kneeling position as his primary way of ascending rivers during both his trips. He removed the baskets and wrist straps.

Double Poling Peter Macfarlane.jpg

Here's an article about his technique . . .


. . . and a video . . .


I wish I had had double push poles for many situations over the past four decades. Maybe I could use my hiking poles.
 
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Glenn, I think I had seen that two-pole technique before, but never really considered the idea. I use a short (5 – 6 foot) pole to push off cobble bars or sand shallows when grounded out, but “pole”, singular.

As a non-stander I can see how using two short poles, seated or kneeling, would provide more oomph, and be more directionally advantageous.
 
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I think double short push poles are a brilliant idea for ascending rapids or shallow currents, as well as propelling through shallow waters occluded by vegetation, muck or other obstacles—and without risking damage to expensive paddles.
This is something I never thought of. It's going on my todo list for the upcoming season!
 
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Thanks for the blocks. They are gonna come in handy when I get back to working on boats.

For pole tips, consider the lowly copper sleeve. The soft copper grabs rock well and the wood wears away as needed. Kind of like your middle version but without the cross-hatched piece on the bottom.

When can we expect to see the results of testing which pole grabs better?
 

Glenn MacGrady

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As a non-stander I can see how using two short poles, seated or kneeling, would provide more oomph, and be more directionally advantageous.

Indeed. Other than as a balancing stunt, I think most who paddle narrow solo canoes are never going to be standing up with a 12' pole, even when to do so would be advantageous. Or even carry a such a pole.

I see advantages to short sitting poles for situations other than propelling up rapids or shallow currents. Here I am stuck in a very common bed of water hyacinths in Snake Creek, near Blue Springs State Park, Florida. I'm paddling my narrow outrigger canoe full force, but only going about 3" per stroke. A hull-stowable short pole—or better, two—would have made propulsion through the vegetation much easier.

Stuck in water hyacinths.JPG
 
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The gridded stainless steel pegs are fairly rock-grabby, and we have those on some well used push poles. On a mud or soft sand bottom having a wider foot is advantageous.

PC261479 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That is a “Coot’s Foot” shoe, which works well in soft pluff mud. Something like this manufactured pole foot could be adapted for a short wood shaft.

https://mgs4u.com/product/mgs-foot-...yhO9wVwgW3lD_y1qLPgS2oRyFP3xXhfEaAqqIEALw_wcB

Or some broader foot could be DIY’ed for mud bottom use. In soft mud the rigid Coots foot works much better than the spring loaded “Duck’s Bill” attachments.

https://www.hhlure.com/products/duckbill-head-attachment

Even when those Duck Bills worked the spring eventually rusted and they became less operable.

Thinking more about the double poling technique it would work better in a narrower solo canoe versus one of our soloized tandems, and I’m wondering about a couple design criteria.

Length of pole; ski poles are sized for downhill or cross country.

https://www.alpineaccessories.com/SkiPoleSizing.html

For someone 6-ish feet tall downhill poles should be 50” long, which is the exact height of the longer ones. Cross country poles would be more like 61” long. I wonder which style ski pole Mr. Macfarlane uses?

The other design element is some sort of grip on the shaft, as on a ski pole. I have some ideas there; bicycle handlebar grips are too narrow for the under-construction poles, but I have some dense foam double blade paddle shaft grips in some box of miscellanea. Might have to find those and glue them on the five footers just below the tee grips.
 
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I tried duck-bill foot on a pole in Patuxent mud. Didn’t work well at all. It was okay for the push part, but still sank in the mud and was hard to pull up. And, when I did extract it, loosing all forward momentum in the process, the duck bill came up stuffed with mud. Heavy, obviously, but also very messy. The duck foot long ago went to the scrap pile.

never tried a coots foot, but mud sucks. It’ll suck your shoe off. It will suck a paddle or a pole to the point where it stops forward progress.
 
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“I tried duck-bill foot on a pole in Patuxent mud. Didn’t work well at all. It was okay for the push part, but still sank in the mud and was hard to pull up. And, when I did extract it, loosing all forward momentum in the process, the duck bill came up stuffed with mud. Heavy, obviously, but also very messy. The duck foot long ago went to the scrap pile”

I found the same difficulties with the Duck’s Bill pole foot. Instead of tossing it in the scrap pile I foisted it off on some sucker down in Gambrills Maryland.

I expect there is some soft mud bottom foot design that would be lighter, bring up less mud and more efficient in the extraction phase, something that would come back out without halting forwards progress.
 
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Growing up in the FL Keys yours truly did a lot of poling on the mud flats while someone else got to cast for redfish… the pole seemed 20’ long. But it fit within the footprint of the gunwale of an 18’ flats boat, so it must have been closer to 16’. The top end was just the cut end of the pole, it was enough to jam it into the mud and tie off to it. The push end had a scrolled triangular piece of plywood bolted to the pole at a flat cut interface. The piece looked like a book shelf support. The pole & foot were finished in a gray epoxy paint. We rebuilt/replaced as needed. This arrangement worked well, the “heel” didn’t stick in the muck badly, dragged along the bottom easily, and provided enough purchase to keep headway. Note that when it starts getting really hard to pole, you should expect someone on the bow to holler “Did you forget the plugs Ace?” Cause you did, dammit.
 
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“The push end had a scrolled triangular piece of plywood bolted to the pole at a flat cut interface. The piece looked like a book shelf support”

I guess that, from a mud-retrieval physics standpoint, a triangular shaped foot may have pull free advantages. What are the approximate dimensions of the triangular shoe? Can you explain what you mean by “scrolled”?

I’m interested in making a Coot’s Foot-ish mud pole, and in the best shoe shape for that objective. Thinking some thick plastic base (or ? material), in that triangular shape, ruggedly attached to the end of a 6 foot “mud pole” for swamp and marsh canoeing use.
 
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“The push end had a scrolled triangular piece of plywood bolted to the pole at a flat cut interface. The piece looked like a book shelf support”

I guess that, from a mud-retrieval physics standpoint, a triangular shaped foot may have pull free advantages. What are the approximate dimensions of the triangular shoe? Can you explain what you mean by “scrolled”?

I’m interested in making a Coot’s Foot-ish mud pole, and in the best shoe shape for that objective. Thinking some thick plastic base (or ? material), in that triangular shape, ruggedly attached to the end of a 6 foot “mud pole” for swamp and marsh canoeing use.
6583578B-1F6C-4804-B22D-3E30273A56A8.jpeg

Like so, though the foot is drawn too big for the pole; it’s been a long while since I’ve seen one in person. But I’d say the triangular piece was on the order of 4-5” on a side. Maybe a little smaller. I don’t know the purpose for the scroll saw design, except that it gives robust corners and is “artful”. The man who made these worked for a time at Perdue-Dean in Key Largo converting tri-hull boats into flats boats for the back-country “sports”. So some artistic expression is expected!
 
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Thanks for that sketch. Somehow in mind’s eye I had a /_\ triangle affixed horizontal to the bottom of the pole. That orientation makes much more sense.

Now I understand what you meant by “shelf bracket”. Our previous dwelling was an old house with a dearth of closet space, so I made dozens of those curvy shelf brackets from cheap pine boards. Maybe more than “dozens”; there are dozens holding of those reused shelves in our home today, and I have a box of 8 or 10 still stored away unused.

Not those cheap already painted white pine board brackets. I have a stash of “rare” wood I’ve been saving for near 20 years now. End cuts of dried lumber from a mill (Thanks Ed). Ash, maple, cherry, walnut; each slab is 1 ¼” to 2 ¼” thick, 8” to 10” wide, but only 12” +/- long.

I have been jonsing to find a use for at least one piece of that historic wood; originally a pickup load brought to a paddle gathering, to be split as kindling. When the “You can’t burn this piece, or this piece” vultures got finished, only half a pick up load was left for the fire.

I’m thinking a stay-seated marsh muck push pole; a 5 or 6 foot hardwood dowel, flatten out along one edge at the bottom |), an epoxied and screwed/pegged “shelf bracket" piece, and coat the whole thing with epoxy before a few coats of urethane. Maybe two, one for each side ski-pole pushing, and leave the unfooted top semi-not-sharply pointed for use as a sand stake anchors.

I will do my best at “artistic expression” for something destined to be covered in mud.

Thanks, got another project in the wings, and another way to use some ancient shop stock.
 
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I’ve got all the parts on hand for a “Home Depole” poling pole, but I’ve been thinking I might make one end like I sketched and use the copper cap and furniture bolt on the other end.
 
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The short push poles are finished. I stopped at 4 coats of spar urethane on those poles, let that cure and painted a black band where needed for aesthetic reasons. I can always add more coats of spar urethane as they get nicked and worn.

Not just push poles, Macfarlane-style push poles. I had two 1 ¼” ID paddle grip sleeves left, used on cold to the touch aluminum shaft Mohawk double blades. Added below the tee grips for better, less slippery pole grasp.

P2110003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those old grips have proven surprisingly durable, the interior is vinyl clad, and once slid on they become grippy as hell without any adhesive. As with the Mohawk paddles I had to lubricate the shaft to slip them on or adjust them in place.

P2110013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I don’t know exactly where they will be best located along the shaft; after those sleeves have rested for a few days they are only movable by spritzing some silicone spray between the shaft and sleeve. Those grips are semi-crude, and near 30 years old; there are a bunch of better manufactured paddle shaft grips. Probably best in push pole action without the molded finger grips

https://www.google.com/search?q=pad...fcBiAGyF5IBBjAuMTQuNJgBAKABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz

Or use a ¾” pole and bicycle handlebar grips.

P2110008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

If I like the Macfarlane-style push poles (and wish he, as a Canoe Tripping member, would chime in with length and design thoughts) once I figure out the most functional length I’ll probably make a few more. Those are such an easy side-project when the epoxy, sandpaper and urethane are already on the bench for other tasks.

And I want to make a Woodpuppy-style bottom mud foot/top sand stake version on an easily canoe stowable 5 or 6 foot pole for a soggy bottom friend. That mud-foot style, thinking about it, is very similar to the manufactured Coots Foot shoe, shaped like this /_\ instead of a sculpted triangle /| off just one side.

That /_\ shape seems popular as a manufactured mud bottom shoe, but dayum, those are crazy pricey for a molded chunk of plastic. And I thought winky Wenonah deck caps were outrageously priced.

https://fibertexandsupply.com/product/extreme-replacement-foot/

https://www.godevil.com/product/10-or-12-push-pole/

The Coots Foot /_\ shape

P2110004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I’m thinking the triangular design must have proven mud-bottom useful. The indents and reveals on the Coots Foot sides not so much; they tend to pull up a lot of mud, so maybe something smoother sided. The other issue is that the Coots Foot insert for the pole is 1 ½” dia, so even with a 5 foot pole it is a beast.

There’s gotta be a way to cob together a /_\ pole end shape and shaft insert from something like PVC plumbing fittings or ???, even if some plastic cutting & trimming is required. Guess I need to spend some time in the plumbing aisle.
 
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Hey Mike, have you fussed with a push pole yet?

And in rereading a portion of this thread, why hardwood dowels for short push poles?
 
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