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Bending Replacement Ribs

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Mark Van Tassel, May 9, 2019.

  1. Okay, so I set up my mini steamer ( the one that performed well for bending my new stems) and put in three ribs for nearly two hours after soaking them for 36 hours. In that time the temp rose to 197 degrees, thinking that should be good enough for cedar. Bending them over the inverted canoe, two snapped as bent them over the two bow ribs just after the cant ribs. I figure well that's an extreme angle, so I'll try the last (one which was just a couple ribs from the center thwart). Snap again. I am using Western Red not Northern White. What do I need to do different? How important is grain direction when bending ribs?
  2. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

  3. OP
    Mark Van Tassel

    Mark Van Tassel "Van"

    I think generally white cedar grows slower than red, more rings, maybe somewhat stronger and that maybe the difference for bending response. I may have went beyond the critical steaming time. thanks for the response. Anybody else want to weight in?
  4. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Red is more brittle than white, and generally used for planking and white for ribs.
    Hint, get some white. (there was a guy in Duluth a few years ago selling white)
    The standard steaming guideline is 1 hour per inch of thickness, so a rib at 5/16 should be in about 20 minutes.
    More time in the steamer makes them more brittle. Oh, and the steamer should be up to temp and blowing steam before putting in the wood.
    You want straight grain with little to no run out.
    Also, the general thinking is kiln dried wood doesn't bend as well as air dried. It has something to do with "setting" the material that is softened when bending.

    Post some pics, we love watching.

  5. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I've only ever used red (white not an option in UK)
    Beware of grain run out.
    The timber lives outside until it gets used, and if it's been warm will get a 24hr soak.
    About 20 - 25 minutes of steam.
    With replacement ribs, I'll steam them one at a time in a plastic bag and bend and clamp them while the steam is still on.
    I clamp one end in position with the rib in its tube sticking up in the air then steam. I bend from the opposite side with a clamp to hand
    I find if seems to help if I try to pull along the length while bending, and try to bend slowly (but no slacking) and smoothly.
    Hope this helps

  6. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    27 minutes....including heating the steamer. I soak the wood for at least 24 hours before I steam it. Given a choice I would never try to use red cedar for anything other than planking...
    I rarely have a rib break or crack. As long as I don't dilly dally too much and get it right from the steamer to the hull or the form they bend.
  7. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Penn Yan was one of the few companies that ever used Western red cedar for ribs. Their Cartop boats and carry canoes both could have had Western red cedar ribs. Bending WRC is a real pain!!!. Most of the Maine canoe builders used Western red cedar for planking because of the availability of vertical grain wood in long lengths. Northern white cedar bends soooo much better, that is why it was used for ribs.
  8. jva74

    jva74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I bent 50 red cedar ribs with 2 failures, most probably I mixed ribs in the steambox and tried to bend fresh ones. Yes my ribs were only 6 mm thick but red cedar is pretty much doable.
    I did 3 days soaking and 20-25 min steaming. You steam too long.
  9. OP
    Mark Van Tassel

    Mark Van Tassel "Van"

    Today, as a long shot, I stopped at a small mill only 10 miles from home. I was directed to a pile to sort through. I picked up 2- 1x6x8' boards of clear NWC. That will be enough to complete this current project. Now I, at least, have one source. Don't know if it was air or kiln dried however.

    Thanks all for the advice. This is what I like about this forum: Everyone has their own experiences to relate, they might be somewhat different, but generally all in agreement on the basics. Most of all I find that everyone finds there own way through the problems as they come and end up with great results. In restoring the classics there is always a way to get "there." That's what makes the projects challenging and satisfying. I am continually amazed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our members.

    The canoe hanging from the ceiling is the one I am working on now it was made by L. E. Rehbein, of Duluth, in the late 40's. The canoe in the foreground is a Tremblay. My Chestnut Pal is on the rack in the upper left.

    Attached Files:

  10. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Hmm, you sold your Seliga and kept a Tremblay. :)
    That must have been tough.
  11. OP
    Mark Van Tassel

    Mark Van Tassel "Van"

    Dan, Ha, I knew someone would have your thought. The Tremblay was free, and I like a challenge. The Seliga went to a good home that will use it. I hated to see it just hanging in the garage so I gave it a good refinishing inside and out and then sold it. By the way, if you know anyone looking to for a Seliga that is one of his last ones made and has been in the water only once. I can give a name and telephone number.
  12. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I think I saw the/a ad for that canoe. If it's in like new condition, it will be expensive.
    PS, I have 2 Seliga's and 1 Rehbein, they are not going anywhere. :)

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