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Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by wapitiscat, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. wapitiscat

    wapitiscat Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'd like to try my hand at building some canoe models. I've built a strip canoe along the lines of Ted Moore's technique. I'm leaning toward something that looks more like a rib and canvas boat (e.g., Chris Pearson's Gerrish pictured in this forum). Should I get a book to bone up on these construction techniques first? Also, would a kit be a better place to start rather than jumping right into scratch built? I'm not set on any one scale. I actually made a model and didn't know it. I was getting ready to build the Redbird when we moved and I didn't have the space. I scaled down the plans and built a smaller version (about 48") just to mess around and use up some leftover strips. Stripped and glassed the hull but never have installed gunwales, thwarts, etc.

    Todd
     
  2. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    I don't know about model building and its techniques, but the methods and techniques for building full-sized wood/canvas canoes are set forth clearly in two books -- "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok, and "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok.

    The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe. These are available from the WCHA store, are often on eBay, or from Amazon.

    I'm not sure how much of this would be directly transferable to building a model -- probably would depend in part on the size of the model.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    wapitiscat

    wapitiscat Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Greg. I've ordered those two books. I'm sure they'll give me some good insight. I could probably just do a conventional strip model and apply "faux" ribs and paint the exterior to get the look.I think I saw/read that in another forum (Model Ship World ?). I like the appearance of the wider planks on the inside though. What I really need to do is start making sawdust and figure things out as they come up. I have a bad habit of locking up in the preparation phase.

    Todd
     
  4. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

  5. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    OK, I'll chime in if it's ok! Greg is correct, those books help at any scale. One thing I learned after 73 canoes or so, ya can't cut corners, especially on a wood and canvas canoe. Your right, starting in is the hardest, but once you get started, you get into it. The mold is the hardest part. Tablesaw your pcs, go buy a plywood skillsaw blade and put it on your tablesaw. It will cut nicer edges than a carbide, and much safer, it won't grab. Let me know if I can help. I was approached to write a "how to" book, but thats going to take some time. Meanwhile, I got a few orders to work on myself! Good luck!
     
  6. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Thanks for the kind word Greg. I defer to Chris Pearson, and also our other wcha member R C Cross, when it comes to constructing models. They are certainly the experts when it comes to building and/or repairing, whereas I'm more of a collector. While I have done a small amount of repair work, and have built several model airplanes, my attempts at model canoe and ship building from kits remain to be finished. The few comments I would offer are in line with what has been said above. Do some 'homework' preparation first; resist that temptation to jump right in. I'm a poor example when it comes to instruction manuals, but have usually found that, had I taken the time to read first, I could have saved many errors and often some expensive and wasted effort.

    I do know that models take time to build properly. Just because they are smaller does not mean that they take less time or effort. Most model builders will tell you that a well-made piece will take about 80% , if not an equal amount of time as a full-size canoe. Why? Because those small pieces take a lot of fiddling to get into place. It can be tedious and exacting work, which requires great dexterity and nimble fingers, not to mention steady hands. Be prepared to go slowly, and to set things aside if you become tired or frustrated. Stubbornly plowing ahead can wind up ruining good work already done.

    Hopefully, one of these days, Chris can be persuaded to write that "how to" book he has been asked to author; it will be difficult to tear him away from his work bench, and his customers will lose out on some production, but the book would be of great assistance. Maybe we can convince him to write one chapter at a time, with photos, as he works his way through constructing his next model - i.e., build a bit, take photos and write about it; build a bit more, with photos and text, etc. R C has done a piece on his re-build and restoration of a very badly damaged antique Carleton display sample. That will make for some very interesting reading when published.

    Good luck, Todd.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    wapitiscat

    wapitiscat Curious about Wooden Canoes

    OK. It looks like the usual suspects have weighed in. Thanks for the tips and encouragement so far.

    With respect to the mold, what's the consensus as to solid vs. stations. Without the CNC capability, a truly solid mold would be of the carving variety. If I used stations, would it be better to plank right on the stations (a la strip building) or attach strips to approximate a solid hull and plank on that(maybe with the traditional metal clenching strips!). Let's assume that this won't be a one off endeavour although there's no way I'm aspiring to match Chris's productivity.

    Todd
     
  8. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Depends on the scale, you can use methods as full sized canoes over 1/5 scale I would say, otherwise, lay out a centerline on a flat board, glue your station profiles as well as the stem profiles down onto it using a thin matl. like masonite, then glue blocks of wood(no knots!), I prefer poplar, and start shaving down until you hit the sections. Spoke or draw shave close, then narrow things down with sanding block. It's best to cut the wood and stations and glue all at once so you dont glue the stations unevenly so the wood wont fit properly in between them. Don't forget to include the notch for the gunwale in your stations. Then lay a pattern of the shear line on the mold making sure to intersect the stations at the right point, and scribe the gunwale shear and carve out. If you carve the groove too big, take a nice pc of cherry or something equivelent, wax it up real good, and then lay bondo in the gunwale groove. While still wet, lay the gunwale pc into the form and let it set up, then pull it out. Now you have an accurate gunwale groove. Make sure you make the stations high up off the wood base so your ribs can be longer as you bend them over the mold. JUst don't goget to wax the crap out of the gunwale pc or it will never come back out. I would also make it a fraction wider than the real gunwale pcs so they arent super tight in the groove and you can't pop the canoe out when you glue the ribs to them. Hope this helps. This is how I made my first mold before I got all techy with my cad/cam software!
     
  9. OP
    OP
    wapitiscat

    wapitiscat Curious about Wooden Canoes

    This makes sense in the overall scheme of the mold building process but I have a few more questions.

    So I guess with this method you have to pay attention to the thickness of the piece(s) of wood between the stations in order to match the scaled spacing of the molds set forth in the plan or offsets. Also, I guess you sandwich the stem molds between pieces of poplar if you have the stem molds set up perpendicular to the rest of the molds.

    It sounds like you create a fully housed notch (like a dado)? Could you just notch the edge of the station mold so that the "bottom" is open? Do you need the additional meat of the mold below (with the boat upside down) the gunwale to give more support to the ribs? Regardless, does the gunwale(inwale?) sit flush with the station mold, or inset to account for the thickness of the ribs? I haven't gotten my books yet so I'm still in the dark as to how the rib/gunwale/plank sandwich comes together at the shear. Are the molds cut to dimensions that reflect the inside of the hull like I did with my stripper?

    Todd
     
  10. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    The mold represents the inside surface of the ribs. I make the gunwale "notch" in the stations a bit shy so that the gunwale sticks out away from the mold a bit. This allows you to glue the ribs to the gunwales and not be in danger of glueing the ribs or gunwale to the mold. Its good to trap the gunwale especially if you don't pre-bend it. I have a fixture to prebend gunwales for my Old Town as well as my Racine canoes, lots of sheer. You can boil the ends of your gunwales and get away with bending them right in the gunwale "channels" on the mold as well. I'll attach a photo or 2 to help you visualize. You are correct with all the rest, glueing up the blocks and stations.
     
  11. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Mold images

    Sorry, here are the images......the 1st 2 are of my 1/5th scale Gerrish mold and the last one is my Old Town. It has interchangable ends so I can throw torpedo ends on it for a courting canoe look.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. OP
    OP
    wapitiscat

    wapitiscat Curious about Wooden Canoes

    That makes sense. Again, I'm just not up to speed on the construction techniques. How true to scale are you with respect to the dimensions of the various components (gunwale and rib thickness, etc.)?

    Edit: Does anyone have a suggestion for a boat to start out on? Maybe there's a design that is under represented in the canoe model world that someone would like to see attempted.

    Todd
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  13. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    My scale is right on the money. Most 1/4 scale canoes arent though, especially salesman samples, but they didn't need to be. I make my planks a little thicker, makes it a bit easier to fair and sand the hull and not worry about sanding through. I recommend something easy to start with, flatter sheer.
     
  14. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Every time I see one of Chris's models, I am absolutely amazed at the attention to detail, construction techniques, and unbelievable quality. Gil
     
  15. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    I agree completely. Greg
     
  16. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Awwwa gosh. Gee thanks guys. So Todd, perhaps you are pushing me into continuing on the book harder!
     
  17. OP
    OP
    wapitiscat

    wapitiscat Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hey, if a canoe model book is where you're headed I'll be glad to keep "pushing" by asking a bunch of questions. For instance ....

    Does the stem sit proud of the hull bottom? If so, do you notch it to accommodate the ribs at the bow and stern? Left to my own devices, I would probably cut a "seat" for it or use a place holder stem during the mold carving that when removed would leave a space for the true stem to rest.

    Another gunwale question. If you taper one side of the end it seems like you would have to account for that when plowing the groove in the mold unless at that point you could just rely on how the gunwale hits the stem and not worry that the mold side edge of the gunwale doesn't contact the bottom of the groove.

    Still haven't received my construction books so forgive me if I'm asking questions that will be answered as I learn more about how these beasts are assembled. I may start this weekend but the only plans/offsets I have on hand would be from Canoecraft. Would the Peterborough be a good choice? I kind of wanted to start out with a "classic" design that you all are always going on about (Old Town, Gerrish, etc.). Since I'm going to have a fair amount of time and material tied up in the mold, I'm doing a bit more hand wringing with respect to deciding on a design.

    Todd
     
  18. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Yes Jerrys book will answer the vast majority of these questions. Yes, I notch the bottom of the mold to accept the stems as with full sized canoes, don't go the full depth of the stem, just to where the stem is notched for the ribs. The angle of the groove is critical as well, but if you "botch" it, don't worry, just super glue in a shim. The depth of the gunwale groove can also be corrected by the same method, just cut a shim to fit into the bottom of the groove to make the gunwale stick out enough where you wont get glue into the groove or on the mold. The tapered end of the gunwale towards the ends can be accomodated by less depth of the groove or can be shimmed out. Dont glue planking to the stems past the point where you will lock the canoe to the model, leave them unattached to the stems about 1/2 way up, just like the real canoes are made, or else you "die lock" the canoe and will need to break the planks free to get the thing off of the mold!
     
  19. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Chris must be too modest to toot his own horn. He wrote a nice article about building model canoes for Wooden Canoe. It is found in Issue 53. Back issues can be ordered through the WCHA store at http://store.wcha.org
     

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