View Full Version : DIY Sliding Rowing Seat

Steve Hornsby
03-03-2006, 05:08 PM
It's gettin to be rowing season around these parts. Has anyone ever come across a plan for a homemade rowing seat or heard of what materials are used - ie - inline skate wheels?

I already have folding oarlocks and can easily rig a footrest (with straps) onto my existing footrests. I just need ideas for some sort of sliding seat contraption.

Thanks in advance,


03-03-2006, 07:26 PM
Ask this eBay seller to send you a picture or describe the condition of the wheels and axles on this old sliding seat. Getting it may save you a lot of bother if you can make a track to use with it. Failing that, if there's a university that has a crew nearby you might ask them if they have any used ones , etc.

Good luck!


03-03-2006, 07:40 PM
Glen-L sells a sliding seat kit for their Skulling Skiff:



garland reese
03-03-2006, 08:17 PM
If you have the room in your boat, I'd build the unit that Jim suggests. It is pretty nice. What type of boat are you wanting to rig for sliding seat? bear in mind that you need a pretty long boat for a sliding seat rig, to prevent the porpoising (man I know I screewed that word up!!) effect that you get when shifting weight fore and aft in a short boat. If your boat is short, I'd look for, or try to design a sliding rigger. It's more efficient anyway.....by a long shot! Just unconventional, and illegal in competitive realms.

03-03-2006, 10:02 PM

03-04-2006, 11:55 AM
This one's good:

Or try these...



Frank E. Price
03-04-2006, 02:29 PM
The plans for Bolger's Stretched Light Rowing Dory include a homemade sliding seat. Plans are inexpensive and available from Dynamite Payson.


garland reese
03-04-2006, 03:06 PM
If you have your footstretchers and your riggers/oarlocks already figured out, all you really need is to build some type of platform for your boat, that you can mount a set of standard rails and a sliding seat on. I'd spring for rails and seat from a manufactuer. They would be much lighther than you could make off the shelf, and the seat/rail is designed to hold the seat captive on the rails when the boat is upside down. If you're still looking for footstretcher solutions, check out the Concept 2 foot clogs that are used on their rowing ergometers... they work nicely in recreational boats. Just remember to tie the heels down to limit their movement upward, in case of a capsize. Those clogs hold tenaciously to a running shoe heel....

You can get seats and rails from a lot of sources. Maas, Wintech, Vespoli, any major rowing shell manufacturer will have the needed parts. Buy the parts, and design the platform based on the parts you buy, so you can get the proper seat height in relation to the pins/oarlocks.

[ 03-04-2006, 03:28 PM: Message edited by: garland reese ]

Steve Hornsby
03-04-2006, 04:25 PM
Thanks all,

Great ideas to get me started. I'll let you know how I make out. By the way, I'm rowing an Oarling - its a bit over 17ft.


garland reese
03-04-2006, 04:28 PM
Good luck Steve! I wonder, if as a collective group, we could develope a sliding rigger "drop-in unit" for boats that are a bit short for sliding seat setups? I bet a nice one could be developed by a combined effort.

Steve Hornsby
03-04-2006, 04:48 PM

Neat idea. I was thinking that I probably don't need the full movement offered by the rigs in the long shells. Just enough to be able to use a slightly longer oar, maybe a bit more efficiency on longer rows and to get my legs in on the exercise.

I may look at some of the manufacturers to see if I can find a roller assembly for a reasonable price. One could then build the track and seat -I was actually looking forward to carving the seat.

So many projects - too little time.

03-05-2006, 08:29 AM
Garland ,

I like your idea.

Over the years, I have seen any number of references to the sliding oarlock (rigger) system . The commentator almost invariably passes along the information about itís being banned from competitive rowing due to superior performance. One reference indicated the offending unit was built in South America. Iíve never seen Plans or Drawings and /or detailed Written Information on their design, use or actual effectiveness. I began to think of them as an Urban Legend :rolleyes: .

However, I just did some Googleing, and was surprised to find at least two companies selling contemporary and apparently well engineered units ! This one; Piantedosi http://rowingrigs.com/slidingrig.html is a little easier to review as the other is in Finland. :D

Most interesting,and they have a Drop In Unit.


garland reese
03-05-2006, 09:07 AM
Yes, there used to be a few recreational sculling shells that offered a sliding rigger setup. It really and truly is superior in performance to the sliding seat.

Thanks for the information on the drop in units. I did not know that Gary offered a drop in sliding rigger system. His drop-in "conventional sliding seat" unit is top-drawer. Very well made units.

I'd really like to build myself a sporty single someday....not a full out race boat, but something along the lines of a Maas single, and rig it with a sliding rigger. That'd be fun. I think though, that it would be a "from the ground up" project, as sculling shell plans are scarce. And I've not seen any plans for a sliding rigger setup.

garland reese
03-05-2006, 09:13 AM
Steve, I may still have some details on carving a seat top, and some other stuff on sliding rails. I'll see if I can locate that stuff.

You could still use the conventional rails and just buy the frame to attach your own seat design.

Rowing weather is fastly approaching. I got on the water on Friday, in a rec single........wonderful day, albeit a bit choppy. If you ever get down to Oklahoma, come row with us. Chesapeakeboathouse (http://www.chesapeakeboathouse.org/index2.html)

[ 03-05-2006, 09:15 AM: Message edited by: garland reese ]

Gary Piantedosi
03-05-2006, 09:47 AM
Garland - have you checked out Ron Mueller's kits (Wayland Marine)? I haven't seen this one yet but I'm sure we could set it up with a sliding rigger. http://www.merrywherry.com/mshell.html. There is also a rotomolded boat out of France, the Virus, that offers a sliding rigger. John Peinert built a sliding rigger boat in the 80's called a Faststart 16 - a nice and easy boat to row. I own the tooling and have been kicking around the idea of bringing it back into production.

I rowed in the Snow Row yesterday. You can check out some pics posted in this thread http://www.woodenboat-ubb.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=005631
There is a shot of my double - a Ron Mueller boat called the Merry Sea - 24' stitch and glue. Hull wieght is only 55 lbs - we used Spectra cloth. Don't be fooled by the sunshine - it was cold and gnarly.

Rob Hazard
03-05-2006, 11:29 AM
I recall the topic of sliding riggers discussed here in the past. I'm still curious about them.

In a boat with fixed oarlocks and a sliding seat, the hull is driven forward by the oars in the oarlocks.
But if the seat is fixed and the locks free to move, it's the rower's butt that actually drives the hull forward.
Wouldn't your butt get kinda sore that way?

Mark Van
03-05-2006, 11:37 AM
I don't think the rower would feel any different. The oarlocks are just attatched to the feet, so they move bach and forth instead of the body. The reason that they are more efficient is that the trim of the boat doesn't change, since the rowers weight stays in the same place.

Gary Piantedosi
03-05-2006, 12:30 PM
Rob - the sliding rigger boat is driven by your butt and the proper design of the seat is a big issue. The Peinert built boat that I have has a molded fiberglass seat. The plug was formed from one of those stamped steel tractor seats. It is pretty comfortable but an awkward piece to attach other than to it's original molded deck. For my sliding rigger Row Wing I use the same seat top as my other rigs but incorporate a seat plate with a lip on it (padded) to keep you from sliding off the bow end. What we find actually works the best is a sorbothane seat pad from Tom Donoho in Atlanta. He calls it 'sore-no-more'. The pad is about 1/4 inch thick and adheres to the shiny varnished seat top just like a 'colorform'. They stay in place, without tape or adhesive, even upside down on the roof of the car! More importantly for sliding riggers, as well as softening the ride, it is virtually impossible to slide off. Usually in a sliding rigger scenario you would slide off the seat and rub up against the capturing tab on the seat plate. That constant rubbing would get abusive. With this seat pad you are essentialy glued in place; no sliding, no rubbing, pretty sweet.

There is no difference in the geometry between sliding seat and sliding rigger rowing. Where you will feel the difference is just prior to the 'catch'. The sudden change in direction of your torso weight (with a sliding seat) makes it 'feel' more powerful - like you are throwing your weight into it. It is not more powerful - that 'feel' means your timing is off and you are 'checking' the boat.

Dave Carnell
03-06-2006, 08:51 AM
I made a couple of seats of upside-down boxes with a polyurethane skate wheel at each corner. Height depended on seat height you needed. A couple of small strips of wood epoxied to the bottom of the boat made tracks. Dead simple and cheap. At the time I was corresponding regularly with the late Joe Dobler. He thought it a great idea and proposed some variations.

Tom Hoffman
03-12-2006, 04:10 PM
If I could find the plan around here some where, I am pretty sure that Grahm King's Kingfisher rowing shell plan has a plan for a self made rowing rig, sliding and everything. I haven't built the boat yet, but I am going to build a Skin on Frame Kayak one of the ones in Morris's book that is long and thin and has drop bow and stern looks very much like a shell, I will just have to widen the cock pit and lengthen the over all length to around 24' to trim out the widened cock pit and build King's sliding seat rig. At least that is my plan. I will look at all the links that you all provided. Thanks all.......