I've been thinking about posting this for a while. "Big Al" asked in this thread if anyone had made their own airbags, so I guess that's what prompted me .
I bought an Old Town Alagash 174 late last year and have been slowly outfitting it throughout the winter. I'm now looking forward to getting it on the water soon. I'm primarily interested in wilderness trips in Scotland and so wanted air bags to prevent posibly loosing a couple of grands worth of camping and climbing gear at the bottom of some loch.
I purchased 4 meters of vinyl covered fabric from a shop near Birminghams rag market. This worked out at £20. I also bought some storm proof nylon for another project - making a cargo net for retaining all the gear.
The vinyl is very thick and I was concerned about stiching it but my mothers "Brother" sewing machine coped reasonably well ; though I did break about 5 - "16" gauge needles. The sewing of the airbags and the cargo net took me about 3 weeks on and off in my spare time.
I made templates for the inner shape of the canoe from newspaper and the fabric is tripple stitched on the seams. I included some "tails" on the upper seams with eyelets for lashing them to the gunwhales. The images show this better. "A picture is worth a thousand words" . The bags are stashed with polystyrene chippings that were scrap from a project at work, though you can buy packaging chips to do the same thing. The chipings are contained in lots of smaller polythene bags, just to help with the flotation. Access to the bag inner is through a velcroed flap on the front, (black line in photo).....
I used bungee cord to lash the bags in place, there is a lip on the airbag so that it fits shuggly under the gunwhale. I bought stainless steel deck lacing eyes from a marine chandlers to hold the bungee. These are riveted onto the gunwales using a special "banana peel" rivet that distribules the load on the vinyl gunwale and stops any danger of them pulling through. I thought they were really neat
I also made an additional seat for my 2 daughters to sit side by side on. Being a bit of a perfectionist ; I wanted this to match the style of the exisiting seats. A friend owns a small timber business and he gave me a couple of lengths of white ash which were staind and varnished to match the existing seats. I had trouble locating a supplier for the webbing, which is the same herringbone weave as a car seat belt but only 40mm wide. I eventually found an ebay shop that stocked it. I'll list all my links at the end of this post.
I want an effecient means of lashing gear in place. Maybe I went over the top and it's not quite finished yet...
I bought some polyester net off the web and spent a few hours (lots according to my wife !) on the sewing machine edging these in with the nylon fabric I had bought. I've placed eylets in them at regular intervals for bungee cord and these then clip into place with hooks and stainless "D" rings which are rivited to the gunwhales....
The net is actually made in two seperate sections that velcro together near the carying yoke. This gives me extral flexibility to discard a section when the kids are using the central seat.
It's not quite finished yet. I'm thinking to steam bend some ash ribs to fit in the bottom of the canoe which I can attach a few more lashing "D" rings to. Maybe that's a bit of overkill ?
Well, I hope some of you out there found it informative. I've included the links of some suppliers here to help if you feel inspired .....
Netting - http://www.allplaz.com/acatalog/Cargo_Netting.html
Barrels - http://www.smithsofthedean.co.uk/New%20Barrels.htm
Stainless Lacing Eyes - http://www.sailboats.co.uk/Cat_Disco...dard_4725.html
Stainless Lacing Hooks - http://www.sailboats.co.uk/Product~R...res_R2900.html
Stainless "D" Rings and retaining plates - http://www.sailcloth.co.uk
Banana Peel Rivets - http://www.prifast.co.uk/
Seat Webbing - http://stores.ebay.co.uk/e-SnugRug
Chippings for packing flotation bags - http://www.box-it-in.co.uk/product_i...uts-loose-fill (I didn't actually use these, but it was the cheapest supplier that i found).