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1922 Charles River CS 17 Restoration

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by monkitoucher, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Hello everyone,

    Some of this was on another thread. Sorry for the repetition.

    After searching for a canoe project, I ended up finding one a couple of Fridays ago. I bought it from a really nice lady that brought the canoe to Colorado from her family's camp in upstate NY. She mentioned that the canoe was stored in a shed until a tree fell through the roof. A branch poked through the hull. So now there are a couple of really bad bondo/fiberglass patches visible on the interior. She had been storing outside directly on the ground. So there is some rot in the stem tops.

    Benson Gray was kind enough to help me research the build sheet. It turns out that it was a 1922 Charles River CS 17.

    Turns out that the canoe was shipped to E.L. Marks in Old Forge NY.

    He was a Mason with the North Woods Lodge No. 849 F. & A.M..
    In 1878 he successfully hatched and planted the first lake trout ever reared and propagated in the Adirondacks
    He was Superintendent and built the the Fulton Chain Hatchery he Adirondacks N.Y. in 1889.
    in 1907 he was listed as one of the Members of Brown's Tract Guides in the Central Adirondacks
    In the 1910 Census he was 52 has wife was Dorothy S. (46), daughters Betsy K.(8) and Ada (3), and son James H. (10). The census also states that he is the proprietor of a "boat livery".
    He was a "lifetime" member of the Old Forge Fire Department (25 years or more).
    E. L. was also Justice of the peace for "WILMURT, HERKIMER COUNTY, NY"
    In 1935 the state conservation department cited Emmet Marks as the "Godfather of Adirondack Fishermen".
    He lived from 1856 to 1945.

    I imagine the canoe that I have was a part of his livery.

    I intend to use this thread to show the restoration progress.

    Things I'll need to address are:
    • Remove the fiberglass
    • It has a couple of bondo patches that will need to be removed.
    • There's a cracked rib or two or three (Need to see what damage is under the bondo)
    • New thwarts
    • All of the gunwales inner and outer are in pretty bad shape.
    • I'm sure there will be some rotten rib tips and stem tips.
    • And any bad planking.
    • New canvas job
    • and a whole mess of other things I'm sure
    Any words of advice and your insights would be very useful.

    Attached Files:

  2. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    I worked on removing the bondo from the interior of the hull tonight. It looks like the damage is't as bas as it could be. It looks like I might get away with replacing two ribs.

    I'm not sure about the planking yet it looks like groves have been warn into the top of the planks. Any suggestions on how to determine if a plank needs to be replaced? Rot? Splits? Bowing? Or wear like I have on the top of the boards? I'm not too sure what to save or replace. I'd like to do the best job that I can on this restoration.

    Attached Files:

  3. charvey

    charvey Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Quite a project, but a good one if you don't rush things. If you haven't already, pick up some of the restoration books sold here on the site, and dive into YouTube for videos, and even Facebook. If the ribs and planking are in doubt replace them now or you will kick yourself later for not giving them attention. Looks like you canoe has good shape, just pay close attention that the wood you replace has good joints and no gaps with the original wood. This takes time, and quite often several attempts but you be much happier with the end result.
  4. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Thanks for the reply Charvey. I ordered the Mike Elliott book from his site. And I've nearly exhausted you tube. Thanks for the Information on the decking. Should I leave any gap between the boards or between the joint? my canoe has about a 1/32" to 1/16" gap between deck boards.

    Ive had a little difficulty finding anything on how to replace the inner gunwale (I hope the book will cover it). I think my plan now is to sister it to the top of the existing gunwale with clamps and let it set for a week to get the shape. Then I can remove the old gunwale and attach the new gunwale to the ribs and clamping temporary thwarts about every other rib or so. I think this will locate the gunwale vertically and horizontally. Keeping the shape during the process. Sound like a sound plan?

    Last night I had a good ole time removing the fiberglass. The canoe peeled like a blue banana.

    Attached Files:

  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Your idea of pre-shaping the inwale by clamping it to the existing one will not likely actually shape the new piece of wood if you merely clamp it there for a couple of weeks -- though your instinct is sound.

    Take a look at

    A traditional steam box can be used, shaping one end at a time (because steam boxes are usually much shorter than a gunwale).

    Clamping it in place after steaming it will shape/curve it permanently. Without steaming, the stick will want to straighten itself out -- no conducive to holding the shape of the canoe.

  6. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Clamp it to the underside of the old gunwales after steaming (or while steaming wit the poly bag). You can't force the gunwale into the curve, but you can wrap it around the curve. See Jerry and Rollin's book for a description of the process.
  7. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious


    Thank you Greg and Dan. And thanks for the book suggestion and link. I came across the steam bag solution the other day. It looked really interesting.

    Clamping it under makes more sense. Forcing around the curve is a good tip.

    I had a bit of luck with Island Falls Canoe. They have a Charles River buck that they are going to pre bend my gunwales on. I'm going to do spruce for the inner gunwales and ash for the outer. I hope that is in keeping with the restoration while giving her a little more durability. Although I was looking forward to bending and building my gunwales. Buying them pre bent also has its benefits.

    We started to do the stripping last night. We are using E-Z strip. It seemed like it was a little less caustic. I think our plan is to do 2 coats of stripper and scraping for the whole boat. Then go back and strip and scrape some more.
  8. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    We got a couple rounds of the stripping completed this weekend! My wife was a trooper.

    Along the way a few discoveries led to a few questions:

    Broken Ribs – I've seen a couple schools of thought on this. Some folks bend the rib @ 1.5 ribs down and some folks bend at 2. Is there a gradient to how this is done? Should the bend happen closer to the original as the taper towards the end increases? Also if the all or most of the planking is going to come off would it make sense to bend the rib in-situ with clamps that would bridge over to the two neighboring ribs (this would run counter to bend over over... not in?).

    Sanding – Should I sand out the ribs? If so, does it make sense to do so after all of the rib an inner gunwales have been prepared?

    Planking – During the work stripping It just became apparent that the planking was mostly shot. In places it was rotten... others weathered where the grain was very pronounced. Other places it was warn from significant use. I measured out the total board feet and came up with 108 board feet. This is about what Terry at Island Falls Canoe said it would take. To replace it with Western Red plus shipping would really put a dent in the budget on this. I was thinking about sucking it up and buying a table saw (of which I have many uses) and ripping my own. My question is this... Home Depot has green rough cut 4X6 Western Red that I could rip down. Would this be a feasible option if I could get a board that didn't look like the Bride of Frankenstein? Or is the fact that it's green and the grain isn't necessarily quarter sawn going to be a pain in the butt?

    Thanks for all of you advice and help.
  9. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Alright... Not to let this thread die on the vine.

    I've been moving along on the restoration. Although I have a hard time remembering to take any photos.
    The Stripping went really well. My wife and I knuckled down and stripped all the ribs. We came to the conclusion that the planking was not going to come out well. it was just too rotted brittle from the fiberglass and years of use without much finish to protect it.

    Another interesting find was the canoe's name. I think I made out that it says "S.S. Sperry". There was a Sperry Family in Old Forge that had a few businesses in the area. Just a little more interesting history.
    More info:

    We used TE-KA to brighten everything up. I'm pretty happy with the way that came out.

    Next, I found some ash and tried to bend replacement stems out of it. I found out that kiln dried ash was really hard to bend. I ended up soaking them for about a week, steaming for 1.5 hours, and then using a compression strap to hold the outside in place while the interior of the curve compressed. This took a fair amount of trial and error I ended up welding up my own compression strap with grip tape along the inside of the strap to keep everything in place.
    Once I Shaped and scarfed the stems in I wanted to add a little more integrity to the inside of the stem curve in case the scarf wanted to let go. Still debating on whether to reinforce with dowels or just depend on the planking to add additional structural strength.
    Then, I started to focus on the ribs. I had some pretty good luck with only messing up on the first one. I bent it over another broken rib that had a bulge to it. Then another rib was bent a little short of the width. I just re-steamed it and bent the rib directly to the interior position instead of trying to reform it on the outside of the canoe. The rest of the ribs bent and fit pretty well.
    Now I'm at the point of trying to match the stain to the old ribs. I tried some oil-based stains that weren't quite matching the age and grain of the original ribs. I'm now playing with chemical staining with either baking soda, ammonia, or ironed vinegar. So far the most dramatic is the ironed vinegar. For the ribs, it's almost a perfect match. Another positive with this method of staining is that it won't fade like some stains will.

    I believe that my next work will be replacing all the planking. Methodically removing while replacing. I feel that this should be done before replacing the inner gunwales. Mostly because I'd think that getting all the structure below the gunwales would be more important than messing with gunwale replacement while some of the ribs are only tacked into decrepit planking.

    Attached Files:

    Kent E. Nord likes this.
  10. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Another update... It took me about 10 days to get the gore and bilge planks on. Took my time and did basically a plank a day. I didn't want a completely new set of tack holes to show up on the old ribs so I pre-drilled from the rib side out. This worked pretty well. There were a couple blowouts from the tips of the old tacks. But I think compared to the alternative I'm happy with the results.

    I had a few cracks in the planking develop. But the original planking had cracks in it too. I used the old town build technique of surrounding the crack with a couple of tacks worked pretty well. Around the bilge, I ended up using some sheet metal welding clamps that I bought from Eastwood about 10 years back. They were pretty useful for doing a pre-bend in the planking to get everything scribed and drilled.

    I ended up with some more cracked ribs from all the clinching. This will be dealt with after I fix with the rib tips and install the inner gunnels.

    Next, will be steaming and bending the inner gunnels and carving some new thwarts.

    IMG_1859.JPG IMG_1860.JPG IMG_1863.JPG
  11. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    I bent in one of the inner gunnels against the old gunnel. I think I'm coming up short. I ordered these from Island Falls and I really expected them to run out a couple inches more than they did. I may have enough to make it work or I'll have to scarf in tips to these. Or should I just send them back?
    Does anyone have photos of how a Charles River gunnels and stem should come together? Looking for suggestions.

    Thanks in advance.
    IMG_1867.JPG IMG_1869.JPG IMG_1870.JPG
  12. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  13. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Thanks, Benson! I think that approach may be the ticket.
  14. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Checking in again...

    I was able to get the inner gunnels on without too much of a problem last month. The profile didn't end up with enough upsweep so I had to steam bend and nail as I went. The decks went in alright without too much of a hitch. The biggest problem that I had was keeping everything true to each other. I ended up making some bar clamps with some ash batons that helped out a lot with that.

    The inner gunnels just had enough material to clear the stems. My main concern with this is that the scarf joint intersects the mounting hole for the center thwart exactly. We'll see if that fails in a matter of time.

    I finished up the planking and installed the outer gunnels. Has the same problem with the upsweep I was able to manhandle them screw by screw. And I was able to mostly get them straight to the deck by using half of a bar clamp fed up under the deck.

    After a lot of trepidation how to recanvas (upside down or upside up). I ended up deciding to do it upside down on a set of normal sawhorses and attached the come-along to the front of my truck. It wasn't too bad of a process my wife and I soldiered on.

    On Sunday I filled the canvas without much of a fuss other than it took me quite a while to get 4 coats on with rubbing each coat out as I moved in 3 or 4-foot sections.

    From all that I have a few questions:

    In spots, I think I can see the faintest view of canvas grain. Can I continue to coat these patches?

    I thought I faired the new planking out sufficiently. I was starting to sand off a fair amount of the tack heads and I didn't really have a feel for what the canvas and filler would smooth out. Right now I have a couple of places where you can make out a vague line where the boards weren't faired to the curve enough. I don't think It will harm anything but the cosmetics. I don't have any frame of reference for how smooth the hulls on these should be after they have been faired. Is it common to see planking lines below the canvas or it this a major faux pas?

    I think I have the stem seams stitched together pretty well. How do I completely cover this seam? With filler? Bedding compound?

    Attached Files:

  15. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    How do I completely cover this seam? With filler? Bedding compound?
    Some of us 'paint' over the overlap of canvas as it crosses the stem with epoxy, then mix sanding dust with epoxy and cover the stem with a thick layer. Stretch saran wrap over that still-liquid epoxy to smooth it. This does a good job of covering the tacks or staples and bonding the canvas. After it has set solid, it can be sanded smooth to accept the brass stem band. Sand to feather the edges, then fill the canvas. Not likely filler will bond to the epoxy, but just make a smooth transition in preparation for priming. Others do it differently.
    monkitoucher likes this.
  16. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    I've seen the use of high fill primers being mentioned on here to smooth out the filler and to give a little bit of a bed while sanding the canoe smooth. I'm thinking about using it along with glazing putty.

    How do you guys apply it? Are you spraying it on? Also what brand are you using? I am using Kirby's to paint. Would want it to work with that.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  17. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    I spent the weekend up at our cabin. It was raining and ultimately snowed a couple of inches on Saturday. It was a good time to become one with the cane. Here are the results.

    I'm coming down the home stretch. I'm going to install the outer gunnels tonight and start finishing the inside this week. Next week paint and final assembly.

    Attached Files:

  18. Paul East

    Paul East PFE1944

    Looking good, you are making fast work of it.
  19. OP

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Checking in again. I have the third coat of paint on her now. I'm using the Kirby topside with Penetrol (mixed at 10%). The first two coats went on alright, but I had a couple problems with the nap on the roller shedding into the paint. I ended up getting some foam rollers for this coat and it made a significant difference. I also changed up the way I rolled on the paint. I started rolling away from the wet edge and tipping into the wet. This has reduced some of the hard lines where there was an area of slightly dry and wetter paint that wouldn't lay down smoothly. I still have areas of orange peel from the roller where the paint didn't lay down.
    I think it's as good as it's going to get with my abilities. I'm about halfway through my second quart. I'm not entirely happy with the way this is laying down. It probably has something to do with temp and humidity (80s and less than 20% humidity).

    I may do a 4th coat this week. How long would you let the paint cure before use? Asking for a friend.

    IMG_1931.JPG IMG_1932.JPG IMG_1933.JPG IMG_1934.JPG
  20. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Kirby can be beastly hard paint to work with... You'll need to sand it out if you want to remove some of the orange peel..but for the most part the die is cast.

    Is that a 1965 ish GTA???? Very nice!

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