Canoe Mishaps and The Importance of the Right Tools.

So on my French River canoe trip, the first thing we noticed was that my friend Shane brought all his tackle and yet somehow forgot his fishing rod in his truck (which was about 250km away).  The second thing we noticed was that the bow seat had shorn off at the bend in one of the aluminum brackets riveted to the gunnel.  Luckily for us, both emergencies were solved with camp ingenuity.  Shane fashioned himself a rod out of an extra spool of line, duct tape, some swivels, and a stick, while a 2×6 wedged under the seat allowed for full paddling abilities at the front of the canoe.

The canoe in question!

Once home, I set about fixing the seat, and learned a valuable lesson about having the proper tools for the job.  First things first, I had to completely rip out and put in a new piece of aluminum to hold the seat up.  I used aluminum because it won’t rust like steel would, and it’s a bit easier to work with.  I got a 4 foot strip of 1/8″x1 1.25″ aluminum at Home Depot for about 10 bucks, and set to work.

Getting the old rivets out was easy enough.  By using a drill bit the size of the replacement rivet’s diameter, I managed to take out the two rivets holding the broken piece in place, making sure not to go too far and damage the other side of the canoe’s aluminum railing.  I then pried the rivet head off with a screwdriver and cleaned out the hole after taking out the broken strip.  I now had an appropriate measuring stick for how long my new holder should be, complete with a drilling pattern.

I flattened out and lined up the two broken pieces of aluminum on the new one and marked where the bend would be, where the holes should be, and where to cut it.  I then drilled out the holes with a drill press, bent the aluminum with a vice and a hammer (to ensure a neat bend), and cut the strip to size with a hacksaw.  A good hacksaw blade made short and precise work of the soft metal.

It is here that I can prove the importance of the “measure twice, cut once” method.  I had to chop another quarter inch off the top of the replacement piece because it was thicker than the original bracket, and opened up the hole connecting the seat to the canoe a bit more, but it went into place fairly easily all things considered.  Once it was in it’s position, I used a rivet gun to squeeze in some new rivets and viola!  Brand new seat bracket.

 

Your stand rivet gun, savior of the metal-working community.

 

I suppose I should do all the brackets eventually, but that might be a winter project.  Had I not had access to the right tools, (like a rivet gun, drill press, vice, hacksaw, good drill bits, etc.) the project would have been significantly more slapstick.  I would have had to use titanium bolts which cost an arm and a leg, the aluminum would be all wonky, I’d have bolt heads and nuts poking out ready to rip apart your legs and clothes…

Long story short, if you’ve got the right tools, for god’s sake use them.  It’ll make your life easier and your projects more professional.