Dave Gentry Chuckanut 12 Build – Part Four

by Jim Brown - Sweetwater, Tennessee - USA

The GCI SitBacker Canoe/Stadium seat fit reasonably well into the kayak, but did require the last inch or so of the cockpit coaming to be removed so the frame would rest nicely on the fabric covering of the carlins, and would provide enough fore and aft movement of the seatback to adjust for comfort.

Part OnePart Two – Part ThreePart Four

Part Four:

Stuff You’ve Left To Do After You Think You’re Done

At the end of the last episode, I had concluded that this build had cost more than I had expected ($450+) and weighed more than I had hoped (39#), but I also realized that these problems were largely the result of my own decisions and inexperience with the SOF construction. I had some unexpected problems coating the new 10 oz polyester fabric, but overall had thoroughly enjoyed the build, and was looking forward to the first “sea trials”.

Also, I had some thinking to do about my next project; whether to immediately build the second Chuckanut 12, or to try something different first, such as a Josh Withe “Sawfish” foam kayak, or even the new Dave Gentry “Chatauqua” sailing canoe.




I had also thought I was pretty much done with the first Chuckanut 12 build, but found there were a lot of details remaining. Therein lies this tale.

The GCI SitBacker Canoe/Stadium seat fit reasonably well into the kayak, but did require the last inch or so of the cockpit coaming to be removed so the frame would rest nicely on the fabric covering of the carlins, and would provide enough fore and aft movement of the seatback to adjust for comfort. The seat also has heavy adjustable straps underneath to permit attaching to a canoe seat or stadium bench, so all that was required was a 1×3 to be attached athwartship under the floorboards to hold the seat in place, but allow a little fore/aft movement. And the seat is easily removable for travel if necessary.

I have seldom used the deck bungees on kayaks in the past, but what the heck, it seems they might come in handy some day, so I went ahead and installed the only bungee cord I could find locally, which was 5/16″ black & white, and the color went well with the white deck.

It also became apparent that a footrest would be needed to keep the force transmitted through the paddle from pulling the paddler forward off the seat. This little adjustable thing was clamped to the floorboards with wingnuts so it could be moved to accommodate both my 5′-4″ wife and 6′-3″ myself.

The next agenda item was some stainless fittings to hang the kayaks from the hoists I had installed a couple of years ago on the garage ceiling. These two eye straps were installed in the center stringer just forward of frame #2, and in the center of frame #4. The ceiling pulley mounts needed to be moved slightly to adjust for the new kayaks. The cheapo hoists had been obtained from Amazon for about $25 each, and work fine.

A quick test showed the Thule Stacker mounts on the Forester would not be satisfactory for this SOF kayak as they had been for the hardshell plastic kayaks, as they tended to push in on the fabric, and hang up on the gunnels. Rats! I had given away my J-mounts when I sold our Pungos. Oh well, back to Amazon for some cheapo J-mounts.

In previous episodes, I had mentioned some saw difficulties. The first was with an old Craftsman bandsaw which I had inherited from a Father-In-Law. The tire on the top wheel of the saw had disintegrated, and I had been unable to stretch the Sears replacement tire enough to fit the 8″ diameter wheel. I had been running the saw with no tire on that wheel. A semi-pro woodworking neighbor who has hands about twice the size of mine was able, with the help of some clamps and levers to get the tire on the wheel. I then spent several hours doing all the adjustments I should have checked long ago, and the saw seems to run fine.

The second problem was with my Craftsman table saw, which had been damaged such that the blade tilt mechanism could not be adjusted to return the blade to vertical. A cursory look at the manual indicated this would be a difficult and time-consuming problem to fix, and I needed to make use of the beautiful Fall weekend ahead to have a chance of splashing this boat before cold weather. So to expedite the ripping of the stringers, I consulted the Knoxville Craigslist, and found a smaller and older Craftsman table saw with a new carbide blade for $100. All that was required was an almost 100 mile round-trip, and it was mine. The saw worked fine throughout the project.

After the boat was completed, I had time to remove the legs from my larger table saw, turn it upside down on the work table and really look inside. At first, I couldn’t find any problem, but then I noticed a groove in the threaded shaft that adjusts the blade tilt. It turns out that a 7/16″ e-clip was supposed to be in that groove, and when replaced, the problem was solved. I lubed everything inside with teflon dry-lube per the manual, and she works like new.

The smaller saw was also lubed and adjusted, and put on Craigslist for the $100 I had in it, and it sold in a couple of days at the asking price, so all is well in the shop.

Interestingly, a new Harbor Freight store opened in Knoxville recently, and the table saw they sell is exactly, except for the color, like this older Craftsman, and sells for $140, but when on sale for as low as $100. It does not include the stand ($40), but I think (the catalog description is not clear) it includes a blade of some sort, and a larger motor.

So, what is next. We won’t get this kayak in the water until warmer weather, not because it couldn’t be done, but because at the tender age of 83, I just don’t want to get out in the cold to do it!

I have decided to build a Sawfish 12 foam kayak, just to try another new construction method, and to see how it compares to the Chuckanut 12. I just journeyed to Home Depot yesterday and got some pink foam and almost all the other supplies needed to build Sawfish, for a total of $141. Only cheap fabric and maybe some more paint needed. Not bad.

This raises a key question: What do I enjoy more; building the boats, or using the boats I have built? I have decided that I am basically a “builder of things”, though I only like building useful things that we can enjoy. I am definitely not one who just likes to “putter around” in the shop, making useless stuff. And I would rather use something I have built, than buy something already made. So what is the answer? Hmmmm…

As an aside, this is a picture of a gift from my group of engineers upon my first retirement way back in 1985, which now hangs on the shop wall. The meanings of the pig-latin and the symbols are self-evident, and reflect our mind set at the time.

The small aluminum drone propeller was also given to me by the same guys on the occasion of obtaining my Instrument Rating for our Piper Archer. I loved flying, but some things just don’t fit into the retirement situation. Small boats are the thing now, and we have the Gheenoe with the 5 HP Mercury four stroke for when we don’t feel like paddling, but just cruising around the many lakes nearby.

There have been several other retirements since that one in 1985! Like when I retired from running a FL Psych Hospital in 1993. Strange job for an engineer you say? Stranger than you can imagine. Then after a move from FL to coastal NC, a Real Estate Broker and a Residential Contractor. Now in east TN, enjoying life and building/restoring small boats. Another story for another time!

Thank you all for taking the time to read these epistles. I will definitely report back later on comparing the Chuckanut 12 and the Sawfish 12 kayaks in both the building experiences, and in the water. Until then, Faire Winds!

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