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20' Chestnut Gadabout

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by bu2020, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. bu2020

    bu2020 New Member

    Hi all,

    I have aquired a 20' Chestnut Gadabout with a full stern. I think it is fairly rare as I can't find much info about it other than in the 1950 catalogue. It came with a keel and 4 bilge keels (not sure if that's the correct terminology but they are 2 extra boards for either side of the keel) and a keelson as well as sponsons. It was fiberglassed but it has all been removed. The previous owner had replaced 17 ribs and I replaced 17 more. I plan to canvas it and then put a new keel and keelson and leave the bilge keels and sponsons off of it. I have a few questions:

    1. Has anyone heard of or worked on a Gadabout? (They look similar to Grand Lakers)
    2. Is it a big deal if I leave the extra keels and sponsons off? I only plan to use it in rivers and small lakes.
    3. Do I attach the keel first then the keelson or are they installed simultaneously?

    Thanks for any help.

  2. Louis Michaud

    Louis Michaud LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Tom,

    It's been a few years, hope you're still around this forum... I've just picked-up a 18' Cedarwood Sportsman (aka Chestnut Ogilvy Gadabout Sports, aka Great Spririt Sportsman). I just love that great big Ogilvy stem recurve! I would be interested in comparing notes and construction d├ętails. For instance, the original depth for the Chestnut Ogilvy Gadabouts was 14". When Cedarwood got the forms they added 2" for heavy water use and when Great Spririt Canoes bought out the Jones they continued to build them with a 16"depth.
    The attached picture is not the canoe I got! It's the only picture of an 18' Gadabout/Sportsman I was able to find.

    Louis Michaud

    Attached Files:

  3. OP

    bu2020 New Member

    Hi Louis,

    I'll take some measurements and post some pics in the next couple of days. So far I have done the following:

    -replaced 17 ribs and damaged planking
    - made 3 thwarts and 2 seats (the original had 4 seats)
    - made a keelson and installed it
    -repaired the stem top
    -stripped the old paint and varnish and refinished it
    -canvassed it with #6 canvas
    -filled it with lagging compound (Chilseal)

    To do:
    -install keel
    -outer gunnels are scarfed together but need to be rabbeted and installed.
    - make and install a wooden cover plate for the outside of the transom.

    Can't wait to get it in the water this spring!
  4. Louis Michaud

    Louis Michaud LOVES Wooden Canoes


    The canoe I have is in good shape. Only 2 cracked ribs to repair and about 50 linear feet of planking to replace, mostly along the keel area. The transom had been replaced with 2 layers of plywood, no bedding compound so everything is rotten. I planed to rebuild using oak with an inner and outer oak edge like in the pic below.

    I don't see the need for sponsons. Unless you think you will be dragging your canoe a lot I would leave off the side keels. I think they are also called rubbing strips. The spray rails I'm not sure about. I like a clean hull but they do look good in the picture above, maybe better if varnished. I've seen some installed parallel to the waterline on freighter canoes and do not find it pleasing to the eye, I prefer parallel to the sheer. Do not know how effective they are so maybe I'll wait to see if they are really needed.

    On this canoe the keel was installed first, screws from the inside, then the keelson screwed on. There is a carriage bolt that goes trough the transom knee brace, keelson and keel. Another about 12" forward through the keelson and keel. Oak, steel and water are not a good combination: steel screws that held the keel have now shrunk to the size of a wire and the oak suffers from iron sickness.

    I would like to be able to use oars so I will build removable oarlock outriggers like in the picture below to get a spread of at least 48". My apologies to the designer of the outriggers, I can't find the reference.

    Louis Michaud

    Attached Files:

  5. OP

    bu2020 New Member

    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, fighting some crazy storms out here. The center depth of mine in just over 16" and it's 14" at the transom. It has a 40" beam. I believe it is an original Chestnut as it had an old factory decal and is stamped with a serial# and GAB 20 on the stem and it looked well used. It had cedar sponsons that I am leaving off, a shoe keel and 4 bilge keels of which I am only putting the bottom shoe keel back on. I plan on putting a 1/2 " ash plate on the outside of the transom to cover the canvas and solidify the transom. Mine also had the bolts through the brace, keelson and keel but I am not putting them back in; seems like overkill.
    Keep me updated on your progress.



    Attached Files:

  6. Louis Michaud

    Louis Michaud LOVES Wooden Canoes

    It's a BIG canoe!!

    Is it an optical illusion that the transom seems a lot narrower than the hull? On the Sportsman/Sport model I have the transom is 33 5/8" wide at the sheer and 35 1/4" at it's widest.
  7. ian

    ian Curious about Wooden Canoes

    hey -- picked up a 16' square (not Y) stern boat this summer -- has the 'nut decals on the sides, but that was from the resto five years ago -- couldn't fit it as either a freighter or a prospector -- wrong stern, not enough taper aft too narrow, too wide -- started thinking it was something else with new new brunswick stickers slapped on. then the 1955 chestnut price list came in the mail (from new brunswick...) and there is the 16, 18. 20 foot gadabout and it all seems to fit...presently has a shoe-keel...any comments confirmation or refudiations?

  8. Louis Michaud

    Louis Michaud LOVES Wooden Canoes

    From this angle the stem profil doesn't look right. The Gadabout had the very typical Ogilvy recurve (see the picture above). The 16' Gadabout had a 40" beam and a 14" depth. It also had big quarter knees.
    Posting more pictures of the stem profil and of the transom would help.

    Louis Michaud
  9. ian

    ian Curious about Wooden Canoes

    certainly isn't the ogilvy recurve on the stem, but it's 40"x14", quarter knees are brass brackets, no idea if that's original...
  10. Louis Michaud

    Louis Michaud LOVES Wooden Canoes


    16' by 40" by 14". Seems to have the wide 3" ribs spaced 1/2". Transom about 35"? Starting to sound a lot like a duck with remodeled beak.


  11. James Green

    James Green New Member


    I bought a 20' Chestnut Gadabout Canoe from a good friend last summer. I researched the net but not much info on the Gadabout canoes can be found. My friend had this canoe for 10 years or so and decided to sell it to me after he brought himself a new 30'.

    I love this Chestnut. It's a 1950 model that has been fully restored. I use it on the Miramichi, Restigouche rivers and as a pleasure boat on the Sainte- Marie and Rexton Rivers. Jt's an awesome boat that my family truly enjoys. Very sturdy boat...even with 4 people. I have a 9.9 HP motor and it cruises along very nicely.

    I thought I would post a few pictures after seeing this post.


    James Green

    Attached Files:

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