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Deck and gunwale restoration

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by IthacaBill, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. IthacaBill

    IthacaBill WCHA Member #7902

    I am currently restoring a 1915 16' Kennebec canoe. In another forum, I was told that the notched decks on my canoe were either modified or replaced. I would like my restoration to be as accurate as possible. Does anyone know how I would go about cutting new "heart shaped" decks that will accomodate both inwale and outwale? Does anyone have pictures of a Kennebec deck showing how to attach the wales? What is the best method for this procedure? Do the wales attach to the deck with screws or nails? How do the 2 wales come together at the tip of the bow? I don't think I'll need to steam the wales. Any info would be greatly appreciated, photos are available to anyone wishing to see the project so far. Thanks,
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2005
  2. robert

    robert Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Hey Bill:

    You know it’s spring when. I’m working on a similar problem, however this is on a Peterborough – so I don’t know if this would pertain to you – or if all the Canadian builder did the deck/stems the same way. But it may help. I am missing the stems, and the tips of in whales are trashed so I have been trying to project how they all fitted together. This is a diagram I drew up to visualize it. However, I still need to get to the canoe museum and verify it. I’m not sure how the stem is attached to the deck – or even if it is. But in this case screws are sunk threw in inwhale into the deck, about four screws on each side.

    Hope this helps;

    Attached Files:

  3. robert

    robert Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Sorry Bill, after I had my first cup of coffee I remembered Kennebec is American, not a Quebec company, so this really may not help at all.

    Sorry for any confusion;
  4. Bob Milner

    Bob Milner Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I used to be a 'Big Flats Bob' (just outside of Elmira) before moving to Colorado. In response to your deck/gunwale question - I see that shows a 1999 restoration of an open gunwale Kennebec. They have a link to solicit questions on the restorations they picture.
    Perhaps they may be of help.
  5. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member


    Post a picture of your decks and we can tell you if they are as original, modified, or replaced... The original Kennebec rails were very similar to Old Town - the inwales taper such that the combined width of the two rail tips is equal to the width of the stem. The deck comes to a point and the tip is even with the tips of the rails. The stem just butts up beneath the rails. Most Kennebec open gunwale canoes also had short rail caps on top of the inwales and outwales for about 24" or so. The deck is essentially a triangle, but you do need to put some hollow into the edges that the inwales attach to. Kennebec outwales are typically D-shaped and fastened with finish nails.


    Your picture of the Chestnut style tips is close but not quite right. The top of the stem is shaped into a tenon that is much thinner than the rest of the stem. This tenon is sandwiched between the inwales, and the tip of it pokes through the top so you can see the end grain.

  6. robert

    robert Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated.

    Best of luck, sorry I couldn’t help out.

  7. OP

    IthacaBill WCHA Member #7902

    Kenebec Decks & Rails

    Thanks for the advice, that's what I assumed from various pictures and from Rollin's books. I know my Grandfather modified the up-swept decks to be flatter, so that he could fly fish without interference. When he did this, he must have modified the decks and rails. I'm just having trouble picturing how I'm going to get around this predicament. I'd like to keep it the way he had it for fishing, but how do you go about fitting the rails into the notched decks while maintaining the overall shape of the canoe? (I have already produced new copies of the decks from some nice oak. I have the beveled spruce inwales ready to be fastened to the rib tips. The stems are solid. Thanks,

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