K1 to C1 conversion

C1 Outfitting written by Lee Pyke

I have been paddling C1 for some 11 years or so now, I have spent far too much time cutting up boats and foam, high on evostick fumes or laminating some kind of composite. I came across several variations of seats during my travels, several of which I have tried out to varying degrees of success. I eventually arrived at this one which I think I will continue to use for the foreseeable future.

When I set out on making my seat I started to think what was important to me.It had to be simple, safe, durable with noting to break, cost effective, I didn’t want to have to glue or drill holes in my boats, and I wanted a system that didn’t move around the boat but was also transferable between boats. It also had to be trim able.

What i came up with you will see below. I have been using it now for three years and have had no problems whatsoever. I have put the same seat in several different boats, play boats and creek boats. Once built the conversion time taken is five to ten minutes. In fact it takes longer to take the kayak seat out than it does to put this in.

the finished seat

Stripped out boat, remove everything except the pillars and if you use a soft backrest leave that too!

note rear support legs are longer than the front, this aids getting it in and out

the strap fixings, this is just a piece of paddle shaft pushed through the foam, I also glue it in place to prevent it moving, webbing is passed through this and buckles fixed to either side.

Knee blocks (effectively wedges) these can be glued straight to the seat, but in hindsight I wonder whether these could be Velcro’d to give greater adjustability?

the seat fitted into the boat

using a Jackson thruster to effectively push knees down into cups (Alternatively a foam bulkhead could be made, or use a beach ball, again be careful of entrapment)

On the water, spend some time paddling the boat with a soft backband to at least ascertain the trim. If you don’t like it replace it later with a solid one.

Sourcing foam
Finding the stuff in sufficient quantities can be a nightmare, most kayak shops tend to sell relatively small pieces for making kayak hip pads. But in my opinion they are quite expensive.
I managed to source mine directly from a company called Polyformes near Milton Keynes, they can be found by a simple search on the internet, although they tend to only sell by the sheet. (Over £100)
I was thinking of placing an order fairly soon, so if you are interested in getting hold of say a 1/4 sheet (plenty for this conversion and a solid backrest) then get in touch. I tend to use a slightly higher quality foam (microlen PE20) than is normally used for kayak bulkheads etc. as I find it stronger, harder wearing, more rigid (I can remove the stringer from the bottom of the boat without oil canning) and it can be cut and shaped a lot better then the softer versions. It also supports you better.
(Note if I get enough interest I will be happy to negotiate getting the factory to cut the seat sections to size, so effectively you get a conversion kit)

Straps and buckles
I’m not going to go into much detail about outfitting straps, I personally use Amsafe aircraft buckles, I bought them whilst in Canada, I know some people that have pilfered them, but would not recommend doing this having discussed it with a senior BA person, they don’t look too kindly on delayed flight slots whilst they repair their aircraft, and I am told they will look to pass on associated costs should the culprits be caught.
(My experience of this happening was a hour long search in the security channel at midlands airport, some twit had stolen our buckles, he got away with it!! you have been warned!!) As for the webbing I simply attach it to the existing seat bolt holes. I always ensure that I use two buckles, with a central attachment, one for each thigh. I find this safer than just 1 lap strap. If one buckle fails I can free the other and then pull through enough slack to get the other leg out.. Just be careful when thinking about buckles and straps. I have used ratchet straps (but these are likely to get caught with clothing and snag) I have also used chest harness buckles (these tend to slip, are prone to breaking under immense pressure and can also get snagged) I have even tried car seat belts (These just go rusty and the spring will eventually snap) Like I say, its your choice but be careful.

My outfitting solution is compatible with both solid and soft backbands, I have always been a fan of sold backrests and have struggled with the soft backband dropping underneath my bum. However that said I know Dave Bainbridge and a number of other paddlers successfully use them, in fact I used a soft back band to some success in the new Jackson boat which appears to have a much higher cockpit rear. It certainly allows you to throw weight more effectively over the back of the boat. I think experimentation is key here with different boats, try it with the original backband first and see how you get on. that failing you will at least have a idea where you will need to put your solid back band after a couple of sessions should you decide this is the way to go.

Unfortunately you will have to do some gluing to personalise your seat, I recommend evostic contact adhesive in its original form. Some of the other versions tend not to remain stuck for very long when wet. When gluing foam I recommend that you ensure that the foam is absolutely dry, spread a very thin film on both sides to be attached (when I say thin, I mean as thin as you can possibly get!!) wait for it to dry 100%, then apply another thin film of glue, this time wait for it to go touch dry, it should not feel wet to the touch at all. Bring the two halves together very carefully and they should bond instantly. I recommend that you wait at least overnight before using newly bonded foam in water.

Cutting foam
I now get my foam cut for me at the factory, if you have a bandsaw then this will always give you the best possible finish. Alternatively I suggest using a serrated bread knife.

Shaping foam
Foam is quite easy to shape, initially using the bread knife but then you can also use a sure form and finally different grades of sandpaper. I always finally seal the foam by going over it briefly with a blowtorch. this takes off the fluffy edges and gives a final smooth finish.. but be careful, I believe the fumes are not great for you and its quite easy to set the stuff on fire.
I have also recently found that you can quite successfully shape foam with a hand held router, this gives an amazing finish.
Quick word of advice: If you’re planning on cutting foam or shaping it, try to do it outdoors and have a Hoover handy, this stuff gets everywhere. I still find remnants from the last seat I cut 2 years ago!!
Note: I have given sizes specific to my conversion, I believe that this is compatible with most boats I have come across. I would urge you however to at least check measurement C, take a tape measure and measure the shortest distance between the front and rear foams of the boat. This should be the same if not just slightly less to ensure a snug fit. I have found it necessary on a couple of occasions to make a triangular wedge, this can be pushed down any gap and create a even snugger fit.

A) 99cm
B) Height – 15cm
C) 75cm
D) 21cm
E) 20cm
F) 3cm