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Langford questions

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Ben Russ, Dec 19, 2021.

  1. Ben Russ

    Ben Russ Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I am picking up a 15’ Langford wood and canvas project canoe for restoration tomorrow and I had 2 questions.
    First, the previous owner warned me that the canoe was built during a time when “Langford’s quality was not good!” In reading through the forum, others have mentioned this period in Langford history but only mentioned the seat hangers. What other quality control issues might I encounter?
    How could I improve the overall quality of the canoe?
     
  2. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Well, start with a thorough assessment of the condition it is in. Then decide how much you want to improve on the current state.
     
    Ben Russ likes this.
  3. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    A good restoration would be the place to start, assuming it needs that.
    During the sloppy build periods the quality of the woods used and the care that was used to assemble them was not up to par. Shy of replacing cupped planking and any rot you may find, it's not really very easy to build the quality back. If the spacing between the ribs is not consistent, you would not want to start pulling them out and respacing them, as long as the wood is good. If the rails are spliced and it bothers you, you could replace them with one piece or properly spliced ones. While you are working on it you might find steel nails and screws that you could replace with better materials. You will want to re-clinch most (all) of the tacks as you go. A properly filled treated canvas will be an upgrade.
    Restored and with a few good coats of varnish and a fresh canvas, these are really decent canoes. Currently there are very few wooden canoes in use. You will get lot's of gawkers stopping to look inside it to admire the wood.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Ben Russ

    Ben Russ Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for both replies. This definitely gives me somewhere to start. Hadn’t thought about the fasteners but you are correct, if not properly installed, it would certainly make a difference.
    I’ll have to wait to see the canoe to sort out spacing and condition of ribs as well. There seems to be considerable gaps between the planks, from the pictures I have too.
     
  5. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    MGC likes this.
  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Rob hit the nail on the spot. Do read the thread he linked.
    The issue with these boats is not typically the gaps, it's cupping. Because the planking was not always properly milled the grain of some planks might be wrong.
    With respect to rib spacing, I mentioned it only because you asked what quality issues you might observe, not to suggest that you do anything about it. Once someone steams and bends the ribs on the form they are where they are. It's not a structural problem that needs to be fixed, it's a cosmetic issue that catches the eye of other builders or fussy enthusiasts. Unless a rib is damaged it's the norm to leave it in place.
     
    Ben Russ likes this.
  7. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    sunk and plugged seat hanger bolts, lots and lots of rot-prone red oak, crappy planking and get ready to reclench the entire boat after you get all the steel out of it. other than that, probably more rot. Cant wait to never work on another one. Mostly applies to boats built 60s and 70s. early ones were great.
     
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  8. OP
    OP
    Ben Russ

    Ben Russ Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, I don’t know how to date my boat. Haven’t found a serial number on it, although I wouldn’t really know what to look for or where to look for it. I since picking it I can’t say that I have noticed any red cedar but some of the planks don’t look great either so maybe I will just replace them and that would take care of steel, cedar and clenching all in one shot.
     
  9. Murat V

    Murat V LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I've got a late '70s 15 foot Langford. Looks to be their "Trapper" model. Wrote a little post about some of the build features on my site. It includes a 1979 model and price list. Link is here:

    https://paddlemaking.blogspot.com/2015/09/canoe-identity-mystery-solved.html

    Can confirm the build quality isn't the greatest. The planking on mine is very narrow red cedar , some complete with knots and saw marks. Perhaps they were using up that last of whatever they had in their stock before switching ownership. The hull had lots of gaps, steel fasteners, aluminum stem bands, etc. The excess use of oak makes them heavier than they need to be. I need those bulky shoulder pads attached the center thwart in order to portage mine any distance.

    The rawhide lacing on Langford seats also to give out pretty quick. The simple cross weave pattern isn't that strong compared to a snowshoe style weave. By the time I got mine, someone just covered the seats with a plywood top.

    All those aesthetic issues aside, it is still a decent canoe. It has a pretty deep, boxy design so it carries quite a bit of load. It handles very well in windy + wavy lake conditions for which it was intended. I've gone on multiple camping trips both solo and with my son. I see the build quality issues as being reason enough to actually use (even abuse) the boat like it was intended rather than pamper it for delicate use.

    [​IMG]

    I also use it to go poling on some local shallow rivers. It is pretty stable for standing up if that is your thing...

    [​IMG]

    Functionally, I found that the bow seat was placed too far forward. It's a tight squeeze up there for the bow paddler and if you intend to use the boat solo by sitting on the bow seat facing the stern, the trim will still be way off. For that reason, I use a temporary leather seat

    [​IMG]

    If you are going to do a major restoration, you might consider changing the bow seat location to better suit your needs. Even if you don't change much to deal with aesthetic issues, I'm sure you'll enjoy paddling it.
     
    Rob Stevens likes this.
  10. OP
    OP
    Ben Russ

    Ben Russ Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Maybe someone can help me with an age? I don’t see a lot of red cedar and the planks seem thicker.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. OP
    OP
    Ben Russ

    Ben Russ Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I wasn’t sure how to tag people. I respect your opinion and would like to know if you could have a look at the pictures I attached to help me understand if mine was built during this period? I may have more work cut out for me than I expect.
     
  12. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Wow thanks okay, do you have the seats and decks? for white cedar they display the odd pattern. im not sure but what that wood wasnt brought in from somewhere far away, its certainly odd. i would guess its a 60s or 70s boat from the rib profile and plank width, along with the strange gore pattern. ( where the plank ends meet around the turn of the bilge. at least its stripped so thats a great start. )
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Ben Russ

    Ben Russ Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you. I have decks, seats and yoke, no thwart, so I will have to make one. The seats have the straight holes on one side and offsets on the other, so likely Red.
    Yes, it is pretty much ready to go.
     
  14. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    Thanks for starting this thread, Ben- and welcome to the WCHA and the Langford club, too!
    I wasn't aware of Murat's earlier post - or the link to Andres blog post- so a big thank you for that.

    I've had a mid to late '60's 15' Langford for a number of years and can confirm all that has been said previously. Cruder built and heavier definitely- it is at least 15 lbs heavier than my 16' Pal. The canvas is ready to be replaced so I'll look forward to a closer examination of the construction with the cotton off.

    IMG_2970.JPG Nice paddling canoe however; portaging, not so much!

    Bruce
     

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