Installing Footbraces in Freedom Solo

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Cruiser
Posts: 609
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:21 am
Location: Bowmanville, Ontario

Installing Footbraces in Freedom Solo

Post by Cruiser » Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:32 am

This another topic that I didn't see much of in the archives. When I did the first trips with my Freedom Solo, I decided to make a few changes. One of those was to add a set of footbraces, they make paddling more comfortable and ... efficient (that is just my opinion).

Drilling holes in the canoe was not an option, but my research found one that didn't require holes ... I could post a link, but they go 404 too easy, I will just say I got them at DuckWorks and if anyone can't find them there, contact me and I will post a link.

First step is to mark out where the footbraces are going to live. I did a painters tape layout that put the middle adjustable position of the braces where I measured my feet would normally be, this give me lots of adjustment range for personal preference. This pic shows the kit and the initial layout. The units are held in with a bolt modified with a flat piece of stainless with a lot of holes. On the tape layout, you can see a circle marked, this is where the bolts will eventually be attached.

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The next step is to cut away the painters tape to expose just the area you select for installation, I think I did about 3"x4" .... it isn't obvious in the pic, but I made a 2 pencil marks for vertical and horizontal centre alignment of this bolt. This area gets sanded down to epoxy, you can make out the glass pattern in the sanded area.

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Next I cleaned up the bolts, removing oxide, burrs and generally roughing up the bolt surface, to make sure the epoxy bond was as good as it could be. This is one bolt in the vice and the emery cloth I used to clean/rough it up.

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The next step is a bit critical, don't try and freehand the bolt placement. Just cover the brace back with packing tape or whatever you use when you epoxy, install the bolts in the brace frame. Mix up a small amount of thickened epoxy. Dab the epoxy on the sanded area where the bolt will go, cover the bottom of the bolt as well .... a note at this point. PRE PLAN HOW YOU INTEND TO CLAMP AND HOLD THIS IN POSITION WHILE THE EPOXY SETS UP. You really don't want to be trying to figure that out while the epoxy is busy setting up. I got a bit creative and used some batten cutoffs to apply downward pressure and duct tape to hold position. The alignment pencil marks are a little more obvious on this pic. Final step here was to smooth the epoxy that "squishes" up through the holes, I used a small glue brush ( you will see one in a later pic).

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Once the epoxy has setup, remove the footbrace and the attached bolt will look something like this.

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Next step is to finish securing the bolt to the hull, a small square of fiberglass is placed over the bolt. To make room for the bolt, just take a pen or something round and smooth to work a hole in the FG weave (no need to cut). Once the glass is in place, mix epoxy and use the standard 3 coat strategy to finish bolt attachment.(The brush is just a glue or flux brush from the local Home Depot)

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View of completed first epoxy coat, note I left a few of the sanding scuff marks as a guide for future applications.

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Sand the final epoxy coat to prepare it for varnish, plus I mounted the braces at this stage to check the overall fit. I didn't do any varnish pics, but I used 2 coats of Epifanes, plus a final low gloss to match the low gloss interior finish.

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Shot of the completed installation, the streaky marks on the canoe are just mud and clay streaks from my recent Quetico trip ... anyone who has ventured the BW and Quetico area portages, knows that the mud and clay seems to get everywhere.

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I wanted to try these out before I posted the project. They made a huge difference for paddling efficiency/ease and I think they also enhanced the boats responsiveness ... overall, I can't imagine the boat without the braces now. Highly recommended for solo boats.


Brian
Last edited by Cruiser on Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Cruiser
Posts: 609
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:21 am
Location: Bowmanville, Ontario

Re: Installing Footbraces in Freedom Solo

Post by Cruiser » Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:38 am

Just noticed a small error in this post, I only used 2 coats of epoxy on the glass patch, not 3 as stated, as in the canoe interior, I wanted the rougher surface.

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Jim Dodd
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Location: Iowa

Re: Installing Footbraces in Freedom Solo

Post by Jim Dodd » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:08 pm

Brian
I like the idea, I'll probably try and figure out a simple wood version.
Might work great in mild white water !

Thanks !

Jim
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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