Campbell Boat Owners Website


Adding a Second Captains Chair Project

Article by Campbell Boat Owner Ron Fasola, owner of "Strange Brew"


It's no longer easy for either my wife or I to sit on our knees on the shotgun front bench seat our 24 ft. Campbell has in order to face the front of the boat while underway.  We decided that a second Captain's seat, identical to the driver's seat, would be great to have in the Campbell instead of the bench seat.  So I decided to make one myself, and share the fabrication journey with the Campbell website.    


My particular installation required:

·       Fabricating a console that matched the driver's console as closely as possible, which had a teak horizontal surface with a drink holder.

·       Since our current bench seat housed a battery charger and its two breakers, these items needed to be relocated and mounted against the bulkhead inside the new console. 

·       Two large fenders were also stored under the bench seat, so new fender storage had to be considered.

A sketch was drawn up to verify that the new console could house two large fenders, the battery charger, and its two breakers inside it.  The fenders would be accessible through a door in the console's vertical panel that faced the helm.  A second door in the other console panel that faced the passenger would allow access to the battery charger and breakers.


Because the change in the seating arrangement changed the carpet footprint, this was a good time to re-carpet the boat.


Seat Pedestal (copied from the driver's seat)

·       The seat pedestal sides were made of ½" thick plywood, and the pedestal is truncated in shape.

·       The base of the pedestal is 15" x 12", the top is 12" x 9 ½", and the overall height of the pedestal is 17" high. 

·       The top and bottom pieces, which cover the outside sides of the pedestal, were made of ¾" thick plywood. 

·       ¾" square oak blocking was used inside the pedestal on all horizontal and vertical corners.  Glue and pin nails were used on the side pieces and blocking to hold the pedestal together.  For a perfect fit, the horizontal blocking surfaces facing the vertical sides were cut at 7 degree angles so they fit precisely. 


Note: I learned the hard way to keep the top blocking at ¾" max, because the maximum room on the top will be needed to fit or allow for the swivel's mounting bolts.


·       A big rectangular hole was cut into the front pedestal side; the side facing the bow.  This matches the driver's captain seat, and will allow the interior of the pedestal to be used for small items storage.


Seat Cushion (copied from the driver's seat)

·       The seat cushion's bottom is made of ¾" thick plywood.

·       3" thick high density foam was used for the seat cushion, just like the original seat.

·       Three 1" holes were cut into the bottom to allow for water evaporation in use.


(I made and retained a pattern for this piece) 


Seat Base (copied from the driver's seat)

·       The seat base is made of ¾" plywood, and is the exact shape of the seat cushion base, only it is larger by 2 3/8" all around the seat, except for the front of the seat.

·       The front of the seat base is shaped so that the installed seat cushion overhangs the seat base by about ¾"; so one's legs do not hit the seat base. 

·       The seat base has a 2" wide horseshoe-shaped collar around its back circumference also made of ¾" plywood.  This collar is stacked on top of the seat base, exactly conforms to the outside of the seat base, and together with the ¾" thick seat base forms a 1 ½" thick vertical thickness to which the curved seat back is attached on the outside.  The collar was glued and screwed to the base, and they were both sanded together for a uniform fit.  The collar tips end exactly on the seat base where the curved back piece "armrests" come down and meet the seat base.   

·       There was 3/8" clearance between the seat cushion base and the collar to allow for the upholstery material of the seat cushion.  2" foam will be used for the seat back.


(I made and retained patterns for the collar and the seat base, and took pictures.  What is difficult to explain in writing is readily apparent in a picture!) 



The original swivel on the driver's captain seat was a very heavy duty steel, (not stainless), unit in the shape of a "halo".  Since it still works fine and is in good shape, I searched the internet for another one like it, but could not find a comparable unit.  I settled for the largest and most heavy duty "square" swivel I could find, which had the most ball bearings.  I found one from "" over the internet; their item # 165F, "giant swivel", with 81 ball bearings.  It was 11 inches square, with bolt holes on 9.25" and 8" centers.  This site also had a locking swivel, but it was only about 6" in diameter and the locking mechanism was crude and not suitable for this application, (I ordered both and returned the locking one). Because the swivel was so large, it required drilling four holes on a smaller and off-set bolt-hole diameter in the swivel flange facing the pedestal to allow nuts to fit underneath the pedestal top.


Seat Back

·       Campbell curved seat backs are made of bent or formed ¼" thick marine plywood. The curved back for a 24 ft. Campbell measures exactly 48" in circumference; the exact width of a 4x8 sheet.  Initially, a pattern from a prior Campbell upholstery employee was located which had been copied from a seat back from an early, (before 1990), Campbell.  This pattern had a straight bottom that resulted in the seat having a 90 degree angle between the seat base and the curved set back. 

·       After a seat back was cut out using the pre 1990 pattern,  the ¼" plywood seat back, (which began as just a straight piece), was soaked in a bathtub in hot water for about 2 ½ hours.  After the soak, the plywood was much more pliable, but still offered some resistance.  However, it was possible to slowly bend it around the outside of the seat base by using a strap clamp and various other clamps.  The piece was first clamped firmly to the seat base exactly at the midpoint of the curve, and each end was then slowly "worked" around the seat as the clamps were tightened to the point that the back was curved and touching the seat base at all points.  The wet seat back was allowed to thoroughly air dry for a couple of days while it was in this clamped position.

·       When completely dry, (the curved piece was allowed to dry about two days in March Havasu weather, while clamped to the perimeter of the seat base with every clamp I own), glue was applied to both the curved seat back and the seat base/collar, and again beginning at the midpoint of the curved back and working towards each end, stainless countersunk screws were used to attach the curved back to the seat base/collar. 


Note:  When screwing two pieces of anything together, make a pilot hole in the first piece, (in this case, the curved seat back), large enough so the screw easily passes through it.  This ensures that the screw will pull the two pieces together tightly, and not get bound up in the first piece.    


 At this time, the seat was completed, but fortunately not upholstered yet. Then fellow Campbell owner Butch Locatis advised that a straight backed seat was less comfortable than a seat with a back that is angled back a little.  More interestingly, Butch had in his possession an angled seat back pattern that came from the Campbell Boat Company, that was labeled "new seat, May 1990".  Apparently, Campbell made a running change in their seats in 1990, going to a slightly angled seat back, (the top of the seat back is about 2" back from 90 degrees).  That angle was measured to be about 4 degrees.  So…. a second seat back was made using the latter pattern, that had a slightly angled back.  The second seat back, made with the angled-back pattern, was just simply soaked overnight in a bathtub. The overnight soak was the better method because it made the wood more pliable. 

·       The first seat back that had already been glued and screwed was removed, and a belt sander was used to slightly angle the seat base/collar, (roughly 4 degrees), to better fit the angled back.  Glue and stainless countersunk screws were again used to attach the new seat back on to the seat base/collar.

·       A second angled seat back pattern copied from Butch's pattern was made out of ¼" plywood that will be kept for future seats. It is not desirable to obtain the 4 degree angle by simply tilting the whole seat backwards by various methods; the seat base must be kept level for comfort.

·       The difference between the straight-backed and angled-back patterns is that the angled –back pattern does not have a straight bottom.  It has an arched bottom that is about an inch or so high at the mid-point, which when the piece is curved and set flush to its bottom, results in a back that is tilted slightly backwards.      


·       The console's two sides, running at 90 degrees from the bulkhead, were made of ¾" thick plywood, to match the driver's console.   

·       Their shape somewhat matched the driver's console shape, (wider at the top).

·       Two 3" x 20" (approx. console width), pieces of ¾" oak were notched into the backs of the two side pieces to form the console and to provide ample brackets to secure the console to the bulkhead using large stainless screws.  Pictures make this clear.

·       The front detachable face of the console was made of ½" plywood, and has a large door in it, like the driver's console, which allows access to the battery charger.  It is held in place to the console with stainless screws, and has hinges and a bolt lock that match the driver side's console's door.


Teak Top

·       The new console's horizontal top had to be made of ¾" thick teak, to match the driver's console, and be bordered with the same aluminum trim used on the driver's console. 

·       To obtain the size of the top desired, it was necessary to join two pieces of 8" wide teak using biscuits and glue.  The grain pattern was considered and the finished piece came out fine.  After drying, the teak top was cut and fitted to final size. 

·       A hole for a stainless drink holder was cut into the teak top, after insuring that the cup holder would not interfere with either the fenders or the console sides below it.  

·       The top was attached to the console sides using ¾" oak blocking that was attached to the console's inside tops.  Stainless screws were used to go through the blocking vertically from the bottom, and attach into the teak top but did not go through the top, so nothing shows on the top of the teak.


Resin Coating

After all the pieces were fabricated and assembled, they were all, (except the teak top), resin coated.  I coated some of the parts myself, using polyester resin from West Marine.  I then got smart on the console and the second seat back and had D'Cucci Boats in Havasu spray them.  Joey at D'Cucci is set up for this, did it immediately, did a better job than I, and saved much time and effort.



Through Freddie Kuerner and Gary McDade, I found Rich Theophilus, (928) 230-9545, an original Campbell interior and upholstery man. Rich explained to me how tuck & roll is made, showed me the special grooved foam that is used for tuck & roll, and told me that the amount of vinyl material used between tucks is variable and up to the individual upholsterer.  Rich knew how much additional material Jack, (another original Campbell upholsterer who did my boat), allowed between tucks in order to achieve the great plush feel Campbell seats have.  Rich said he could upholster my parts "in his sleep", and could also sew on the blue vinyl piping on the 6" wide carpet strips that would need to be stapled to the bottoms of the jump seats, engine cover, and both front seat pedestals when I re-carpet the boat.


Rich did a fabulous job on my parts, and he matched the original stitching in places where a "French stitch" was used.  His prices were also reasonable.  His busy shop indicated I wasn't alone in my opinion.  Rich is also capable of fabricating any wood interior piece needed, including curved seat backs.


Happy Ending

When the project was finally completely done, and the new carpet was installed, I'm happy to report that we're very pleased with the results.  Riding in the boat is much more enjoyable for whoever is riding in the shotgun seat.  The whole project cost about $1,000.  The carpet was an additional $600.  These figures do not include my labor.  


Misc. Notes

1.     For all the teak on the boat, (interior cabinet, sliding cabin door, swim step, cabin top hatch cover, interior trim, cabin table, and both console tops), a light sanding and Watco Teak oil was and always has been used.


2.     Research on the internet revealed that the difference between marine plywood and exterior grade plywood is that marine plywood uses more plies for a given thickness for better strength, uses better wood for better rotting resistance, is sanded on both sides, and has no voids in the layup.  Both types of plywood use the same glue; a phenolic resin type.


3.     Reel Lumber in Anaheim, CA, had plenty of ¾" teak pieces, ranging in width from 7 to 8 ½" thick and in length from 8 ft. to 12 ft.  Their price for teak is $22 per board foot.  A piece of ¾" thick teak measuring 8" wide and 4 feet long was purchased, (this would allow a console top 16" deep and 24" wide, which was larger than the actual top that was eventually needed).  A biscuit cutter was used in addition to waterproof glue to join the two teak pieces.


4.     Tightbond III is the waterproof glue that was used for all glued and screwed pieces.


5.     To re-carpet the boat, 28 yards of carpet was ordered.  This was enough to replace the carpet on the main floor, both gunwales and behind the jump seats, 6 inch trim around the jump seats, engine cover, and both front seats, and all the carpet in the cabin except the horizontal bow piece.  There was enough carpet left over from the 28 yard order to make one more extra main floor piece; if I live that long!


6.     Because there were many staples used to attach the 6" vertical strips around the engine cover, pedestals, etc., and these same stainless staples are used for recovering boat trailer bunks, I bought an air powered stapler exactly like the one that Rich uses in his shop.  Arrow hand staplers don't really get the job done.  The gun cost $160 over the internet; details are available if anyone is interested.


7.     Because it is tempting but could be dangerous to step on a passenger seat that swivels in order to climb out of the boat to get on the deck, a means of locking the seat in the forward position may be needed.  Basically, two polished pieces of 3" aluminum angle, (one attached to the seat base, and one attached to the stationary pedestal), a purchased stainless piece used for pinning a bimini frame to a boat gunwale, and a ¼" locking push-pin did the trick.  We'll use the boat without the seat lock to see if it's really necessary.  Details are available.


8.     In order to allow access to the area between the stringers without removing the new console, it was necessary to cut the starboard floorboard piece that covers one of the main fuel tanks into two pieces.  Also, the increased force that the new seat with a person in it, (especially in rough water), will impose on the connection between the seat pedestal and the floor board needed to be addressed.  Four 5/16" stainless bolts were used to through-bolt the seat pedestal bottom to the floorboard, and ¼" x 1 ½" x 6" aluminum pieces were used as back up plates under the floorboard for the 5/16" bolts.  Six or eight extra stainless screws were used to secure the floorboard piece under the new seat to the stringer tops.   





  Date                              To                                                For                               Amount

3-02-12                  Ganahl Lumber                   ¼" marine plywood sheet               51.62

3-02-12                  Ganahl Lumber                   ½" plywood sheet                            27.53

3-02-12                  Reel Lumber                        Franklin Tightbond III Glue, 16 oz. 10.29

3-02-12                  Reel Lumber                        4 ft. x 8 ft. ¾" exterior plywood      33.91

3-05-12                  Reel Lumber                        8" x 48" x ¾" teak                            72.54

3-06-12                  Swivel Chair Parts               Giant 11" swivel                               74.10

3-08-12                  Rockler Hardware               100 stainless pocket screws            15.51

3-08-12                  West Marine                       2 quarts of polyester resin              44.00

3-13-12                  McFadden Hardware          Stainless nuts & bolts                     58.15

3-18-12                  West Marine                       Hinges & door bolt                          37.53

3-26-12                  D'Cucci Boats                       Resin coating console & seat back 75.00

5-17-12                  Stylecraft                             Upholstery                                     500.00





3-28-12                  Rogers Tile & Flooring        Carpet, Madison Ave Blue Mood 06                          611.00