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First restore - Bastien Huron

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Tedp, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. Tedp

    Tedp canoe tripper

    Number one of many posts as this is my first attempt at a restoration. I've spent a lot of hours searching and reading this forum so I now have ideas but will need some hand-holding. This is a Great forum and am a bit overwhelmed by the expertise and the skills.

    I think it is a Bastien Huron in so-so shape. It's 14'x35"x13"deep, fiberglassed and was laying in the dirt in my neighbours yard when I given it.

    I've stripped off the glass with a heat gun and two scrapers.
    I'm in the middle of heating and scraping off the extra poly resin.

    Question #1. The planks have wood filler in between, most of it in fairly good shape. Was told that filling was done to stop the excess resin from getting inside during fiberglassing. I want to canvas. The fiberglass was waterproof. Canvas is not so the planks will swell. So do I need to remove 250 linear feet of wood filler. If yes, just lengthwise or between the plank butts as well?


    cheers and thanks,
  2. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    A painful answer, so I'll make it quick - Yep!

    The planks will shrink and swell as they get wet. Left in the cracks between the planks, the filler will work its way between the plank and the canvas causing a hard spot and wear.

    Good news - nice looking boat and very restorable!
  3. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    One trick I use for this problem is this: break a hack saw blade in half, wrap the broken end in tape to make a hand grip, grind the other end at the factory hole to create a hook. With the help of your heat gun you now should have a saw and pic which will remove most of the foreign material. Doesn't take that long once you get at it. Enjoy!
  4. OP

    Tedp canoe tripper

    Mike, Dave,
    thanks for the help.
    It turns out that scraping off the excess resin is the pain and removing all that filler is easy.
    I'm using a 2inch scrapper from the inside to just push out the filler in the area between the ribs. Then turning it over and using Dave's pic idea in the rib areas. Maybe 3 hours work max. It appears to be glue and sawdust rather than commercial filler.

    Ref the excess resin. I'm getting it smooth but I'm not getting it totally off.

    Now to convince the wife that I need the heated garage this winter for the canoe restoration and that is more important than her and her car's. Sure!
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
  5. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Use a paint scraper and heat gun on the exterior to remove the residue. Keep it sharp by touching it up on your grinder. [ The scraper, not the heat gun ] Try not to catch any clinching tacks as you go. Not a big deal if you do because the Hurons are notorious for loose and broken tacks. One of your next steps is to check, re- clinch and replace as required " EVERY " tack. Only then will you be having fun! If the tack head is proud replace it. If it is suspect either replace it or try re-clinching it. Check again carefully before you instal the canvas as some others may have become proud in the restoration process. The Huron canoe builders used thicker planking and ribs as compared to most other manufacturers causing the tacks to clinch poorly.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
  6. OP

    Tedp canoe tripper

    Brass tacks

    Little doses of reality keep popping up with this project.
    So far 3 hours and half way finished removing all of the wood filler.
    So far 6 hours and slightly over half way finished removing the excess resin.
    By this time next week, I'll be ready to remove the interior varnish. Things are moving along quite well thanks to some good advice.

    Question #2
    I have about 40 proud or missing tacks that need replacing. So I need to order some. The planks are approx .2 - .25 inches thick. The ribs are approx .36 inches thick. How long should the new tacks be in order to get a proper clinch? I'm hoping that my 5 pound sledge hammer will act like an anvil and back up my hammering.

    Thanks again,
  7. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood



    If the original tacks are holding for the most part, pull one of them and measure it and order the same size. Your canoe was probably one of many built, so I would assume the builders had the tack size right.

    (Although, I have a project in the garage now and it seems many of the tacks didn't clinch properly, but this builder didn't build hundreds, so maybe he tried to get away with shorter tacks at some point).
  8. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    They used 5/8" copper or brass tacks on their canoes. Use brass tacks for replacement as they are stronger and you won't find any copper ones if that is what was used. I am just restoring a 16' Huron and may try some 3/4" tacks to see if they work any better but I would advise staying with the 5/8" brass ones. Make sure your 5 lb. hammer is placed true to the tack you are clinching or you may crack the rib.
  9. OP

    Tedp canoe tripper

    tacks and other goodies

    Thanks Fitz, Dave.
    In retrospect I should have thought of that but I guess I'm just nervous at this first effort. No 5/8 available where I'm ordering from so I got a pound of 11/16" brass canoe tacks and a bunch of 3/4" silicone bronze ringed nails for stemming and rib/inwales.
    I also culled through and bought some 3/4" cedar fencing that I'm hoping to rip into two 1/4" planks with leftovers used for scarfing to tops of ribs.
    I'm getting excited as all of the resin has been removed and all that wood filler as well. I never would have succeeded with that filler without that hacksaw tool Dave suggested.
    Time to strip the old interior varnish while I wait for 4 18ft pieces of 1x1 skipped ash to arrive.

    thanks Ted
  10. OP

    Tedp canoe tripper

    First mistake (I think)
    I scarfed a new 8 inches of stem front and stern rather than make complete new ones. But I cut parallel to the thwarts rather than canoe length.
    It's a little late to re-do but I'm now wondering about structural integrity and those 3 bronze nail heads interfering with staples when canvasing.

    I've also just clamped my first new inwale and am wondering how long it will take to firm up so that I can remove all those clamps and do the other side.

    So canoe restore rule #1 there is no such thing as too many clamps, only not enough!

    Second mistake (I think)
    I have to strip the varnish in the back yard and think I've waited too long this season. Daily average temps are around 55F and I'm wondering if the stripper will work when it's that cold.

    cheers Ted
  11. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    The stripper probably will, but will you?!
  12. john hupfield

    john hupfield fire starter/wood burner

    I've been using Polystrippa at 50 F for years.Don't try to do it all at once.
    55 would be balmy here and I've been scrapping down a big Peterborough runabout for the last 2 weeks.
    Huron are workhorses and I personally think they have more in common with Bark canoes then Chestnut or Peterbourough would have.
    They are pretty common here yet so don't worry too much about finessing a little.
  13. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Ted, for a picture of a 16' Huron, I just listed one for sale on the WCHA classified site. Can email more pictures to you if they will help.
  14. OP

    Tedp canoe tripper

    Rats, there goes my excuse for not getting at the stripping. It's going to be a balmy 53F on Monday, so it's back to work with the scrappers and pot scrubbers.
    Glad to hear that my scarfing error isn't terminal. On the back of the stems, I glued two 16" long strips of 1/4" ash to help with structural integrity. I know I should have just made brand new stems but I'm still nervous at doing any serious work yet. I should get over that eventually.

    Dave, that photo of your Huron - Wow - here's hoping mine comes out half as good.

    I'm glad it's a Huron with no real provenance as I'm thinking a 14 footer is too small for 2 people so I'm considering removing the existing seats and just putting a solo seat where the middle thwart is.

    We learn by out mistakes. That's my story anyway.

    Thanks and cheers, Ted
  15. Scot T

    Scot T LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I have a 14' (well 14' 9") Huron. I don't believe it is a Bastien. It was my first restoration and I still love the little beast more than all the others I have.

    It was pretty rough (to be kind) when I first got it, more firewood than not, but I slowly coaxed it back to life and am glad I did. It's a great paddling canoe and not too bad at all for two people. I wouldn't run any big rapids with it but for day tripping on sheltered waters it's great.

    The babish on the seats was gone and I decided to not replace it, instead with slats "Willits" style. Works fine.

    Here's a photo for your pleasure...

    Attached Files:

  16. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Stripping at Freezing

    I have stripped a couple of canoes in the 30's F using methylene chloride based gel strippers. I didn't notice a difference at all.

    Get a couple of gallons of the nasty stuff. Slather it on about a third of the hull with an old paint brush, let it work about half an hour. Slather the next third of the canoe. Now scrape what you can from the first third at that point (it all won't come off). Re-slather the first third. Scrape the second third.

    Keep working down the canoe in this manner. Keeping everything wet with stripper at all times. You might finish in two or three hours.

    I like to wear a respirator when I have my head in the ends of the canoe too. Heavy gloves and eye protection, etc.
  17. OP

    Tedp canoe tripper

    geometry what happened?

    OK I know my basic geometry doesn't amount to much, but even I can see that none of these lines and angles will line up.

    I know the stem (even though it has been pushed a little to the left by the new right inwale), is in the correct spot because of the planks. But if I run two lines along the inwales, the inwales cross about 3 inches in front of the stem. And the deck doesn't even come close even if the front part is rotted away.
    What the heck is happening?
    Do I just say to to heck with it and when I make a brand new deck, make one that fits or should I be doing something right now to make everything right?


    btw, the old layers of the polyurethanes are coming off quite nicely. One more slathering and I should be down to wood.
  18. canoenut

    canoenut LOVES Wooden Canoes


    The inwale doesn't extend to the stem. It only goes as far as the notch in the deck. The deck extends to the stem or over it. There is an inwale cap that will cover that joint. The inwale cap runs the full length of the canoe.
  19. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I think a new Maple deck configured the same as the original and fastened to the stem might be the way to go_Originally the stems were nailed to the end of the deck with about a 2 1/2 " spike. Nothing fancy. Everything hopefully will fall into place once that is done. Not sure what you plan to do with the original inwales but they look to be useable to me. On the damaged inwale just remove a little of it and reconfigure your new deck to match. Don't forget that the strip of wood which is fastened to the upper inwale will cover up any minor sins. Also note that all of these Huron canoes have degree of cork screw twist in them but it doesn't hamper the way they perform. Since these canoes are built a little different than most there are a few tricks that will help a lot when you get to the the canvasing. Stay with it.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008
  20. Scot T

    Scot T LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Of the few Hurons I've restored they were all different. Trust Dave, he has lots of good information. I agree that you should follow the old deck pattern if you are to make a new one.

    On the second Huron I restored both decks were rotten through so I thought it would be a good idea to take the best one, copy it with a little more than twice the thickness needed to make two, split (saw) them in half and I'd be set to go. That was certainly "the best laid plans of mice and men". In theory it was great, in reality...did not work! Each deck was very different from the other.

    I also found that the cant ribs don't necessarily tack flush against the deck. It drove me nuts trying to figure out why the shear on one side at one end had a nasty curve inwards about 6-8" from the stem until I loosened off the fastenings to allow a fair curve. It all got covered by the outwale and the inwale cap.

    The twist in the first couple also had me scratching my head until I read somewhere that for Huron's it's normal. I cannot tell that it has any affect on the way they paddle but then I've never paddled one that wasn't warped so how would I know the difference? Ignorance is bliss, they say.

    I'll be interested in your canvasing tricks, Dave. I've got a 16' er that I will be canvasing soon and welcome any hints I can get. I didn't have any mentionable trouble so far but any and all tips are always thankfully accepted.

    Keep at it Ted, you will have a fun canoe in the water by spring.

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