If you own an older NDK (Nigel Dennis Kayaks), now called Sea Kayaking UK, you’ve probably experienced a broken seat. The older seats were fiberglassed into the kayak under the deck and that fiberglass would eventually tear away. The standard replacement was a foam seat, but now you can install a NDK high performance seat yourself. It takes about 2 hours to install a high performance seat, although it can take much less time if you’re used to repairing kayaks. Even if you don’t need to replace your old seat, you may want to consider a new seat, because they’re much more comfortable and the built-in back band is great.
The Sea Kayaking UK (NDK) high performance seat is a fiberglass seat that hangs from the side of the cockpit instead of the underside of the deck, so there should be less stress on the joint, which in theory should help prevent failure. The older seats also often caused a pinch between the back band and the seat (See: Make your NDK/SKUK Seat Comfy), but the new NDK high performance seat features a built in foam and fiberglass back, which assuming you’re physically fit and used to kayaking, provides enough support that you could paddle without a back band. When you order a replacement kit, it comes with the seat, an installed back band, a foam block for each hip and a foam pillar to use as a replacement back band. It doesn’t include glue or instructions.
NOTE: If ordering this in the U.S., plan ahead as very few replacement kits make it into the states. My seat missed the boat (literally) by a few days, so to get it on time Nigel Dennis, himself, flew it over the pond on his way to Canoecopia. Thanks, Nigel!
- Seat w/ adjustable plastic side parts, four bolts (comes with the kit)
- Back band or foam pillar (comes with the kit)
- Foam seat pad
- Allen keys
- Tape measure
- Weights (or sand bag)
- Gloves: use when using acetone and the glue
- Respirator: wear when using acetone or when using methacrylate adhesive
- Mixing sticks (popsicle sticks)
- Plexus MA300 glue or methacrylate SS 605 glue (NDK’s specification): This is hard to find retail in the states. I found Plexus at James, but in bulk sizes and without the calk gun. I found Devcon Plastic Welder in town for $7, but you can pick it up on Amazon for less. Devcon Plastic Welder is methacrylate adhesive, but I couldn’t tell if it was the exact specification that NDK listed.
- 60-grit sandpaper
Seats for Installing a NDK High Performance Seat
- You need to get the current seat out. If it’s a fiberglass seat, good luck! To get the side that isn’t broken out, you need to cut and sand. Be careful not to pull on it, because you could crack the gelcoat. Once out, clean up the joint with sandpaper. If the seat is foam, you can use Homax Goo Gone to help remove left over foam and contact cement.
- The kit I received was assembled, but if it’s not, then assemble the seat so that the adjustable side parts sandwich the nylon for the back band. I taped the back of the bolts so that no adhesive would get into them.
- Place the seat into the cockpit. NDK says to place the foam seat pad first, but I found aligning the seat was easier by putting the seat in first.
- Align the seat so that the back is 2 inches from the bulkhead, unless the kayak is a Pilgrim, which requires a different distance.
- Center the seat in the cockpit by finding the lowest part of the hull. I used my finger to feel the lowest spot.
- Now align the seat so that it’s perpendicular to the center line of the kayak. This is much harder than it seems. In my case, my cockpit coaming was put in off center and at a slight angle, so I couldn’t use the cockpit coaming center point to align the seat. I ran a rope from the front of the kayak which I centered and held in place with tape at the bow. I used the rope to measure the distance from the bow to each bolt. I moved the seat until each bolt was an equal distance from the bow. I then did the same from the stern. I allow measured off of the bulkhead and tried to find the center of the deck in front of the cockpit coaming and measured off of that one.
- Once satisfied with the placement, use a marker to mark where the adjustable side pieces contact the hull. Also, outline the front of the seat with marker.
- Remove the seat.
- Place the foam seat pad into the kayak. Keep the adhesive backing on the pad until you decide exactly where it should go. NDK recommends placing it forward of the fiberglass seat, so the edge of the seat rests on the foam instead of directly on the glass hull. They recommend 30mm, so about an inch forward of the outline you made.
- Mark around the foam pad in a way that will make it easy for you to find the placement.
- Peel the backing off and stick the foam seat pad into the cockpit.
- With 60-grit sandpaper sand the area where you will glue the adjustable side pieces to the hull.
- Clean the sanding with acetone. Acetone will remove your marker lines, so be careful as you clean.
- Place the seat into the kayak aligned with your marks.
- Place weights onto the seat, so that it doesn’t move around during gluing.
- Mix up the methacrylate on a piece of cardboard. The plastic packaging that came with the glue worked as a mixing board for me.
- Pull the seat away from the side of the hull and smear the glue onto the back of the adjustable side pieces. You really need to pull with some force to get the seat to come away from the hull. Repeat it on the other side. The pressure from the seat will squeeze out some of the glue. In places, you might have gaps, but methacrylate has gap filling properties, so it will fill small gaps of a millimeter or two. If your gap is larger, you need to figure out how to close it by applying pressure from one side.
- Wipe up the excess glue with a clean cloth. Don’t use your acetone cloth, because acetone could penetrate the glue and make the bond weaker.
- Glance one last time to make sure everything is in alignment.
- Wait 15 minutes and the glue should set.
- Stick the foam hip pads into the slots on the seat. The pads come with flat bottoms, so I cut an angle to make it fit perfectly instead of a factory fit.
- Wait for the glue to fully cure according to the instructions. Usually 24 hours.
- You can replace the back band with the foam pillar if you don’t like the back band or feel like you don’t need it. If you remove the back band, make sure to add a stainless washer before threading the screw. If you don’t, it could be too long and push into the hull cracking the gelcoat. It happened to me.