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Latest find - 1914 OT Charles River AA Double Gunnel

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by GMarchigiani, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. GMarchigiani

    GMarchigiani Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Just picked up this OT Charles River AA double gunnel and wanted to share. After receiving help from some wonderful people, I now know what I have. It’s in very solid shape even with the fiberglass. There are no broken ribs and the seats and thwarts will be used again. Unfortunately, both inner and outer gunnels will need to be replaced and so will both decks. I will order decks from Island Falls and hopefully source the mahogany for the gunnels locally. I will include photos.

    Just wanted to share and get everyone’s opinion.


    Attached Files:

  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Congratulations. you may want to see if you can get the decks and gunwales from the same source which will give you a better chance of getting the grain and color to match well. Good luck,

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  3. OP

    GMarchigiani Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Benson, I will see what I can do with that. I can see your point and will reach out to a few local sources, as well as Island Falls. They carry such a large variety of OT materials, glad they are the official source now.

  4. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    you can shape your own decks , if you start with a thick piece of stock. Use cardboard to get your curve shape correct and cut that curve while your block is squared off on it's side on the bandsaw first .Your bandsaw must cut 6 or 7 inches in depth . Your cutting your deck on it's side. Then you can fit and fine tune. Technically their not steam bent but they come out pretty nice and you can choose your grain so they look nice. IMG_3675.JPG IMG_3676.JPG IMG_3681.JPG
  5. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    If only the tips are rotted, you can scarf in a new tip to the old decks. I've done this on two of my boats. Most of the time the stem band covers most of the repair and you really have to look to see it. If you have a lot of rot along the sides of the deck then you may need to create new decks.

    With the gunnels. Any photos of these? A lot of guys will scarf these too if there is limited damage. I think you will find that you will need to remove the fiberglass if you replace the inner rails and decks.

    As Benson mentioned. You may want to source the same mahogany. Which brings me to the next point. Not all mahogany is the same. I'm under the impression that OT probably used Cuban or Honduran mahogany. It's going to be your most expensive option but worth it.
  6. Ron Bedard

    Ron Bedard Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Congratulations! That's a beauty.
    I made new decks as Dave described above. It doesn't take a very big piece of wood, and the process is simpler than setting up steam and bending apparatus.
    Are those oarlock fittings on the gunnels?
  7. OP

    GMarchigiani Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for all the feedback!

    Dave, I will certainly consider your method for recreating the decks. Monkitoucher, you bring up a good point. I will need to look closer but all the decks might need is new tips. The tips are wet and soft, so they won't work, but I might be able to remove and repair, I don't think the sides are too bad; I actually thought they might be serviceable but they were capped with fiberglass and water did it's damage. The fiberglass is coming off first, I need to see what's under everything but thinking not much, if any will have to be replaced. Surprisingly, there are no ribs that will need to be replaced and all the planking looks to be good. I could be wrong, but I am thinking that Honduran mahogany might be almost impossible to find if even available. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think the only species available are from Africa or the Philippines?

    And yes Ron, I believe those are oarlock fittings! ha ha
  8. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Well, everybody else seems to know so I'll ask the question: what's 'double gunnel'. The canoe looks to have 'D' shaped outer rails and normal-ish inner rails. But I see no rib tips, nor rail caps. Are the ribs attached to the rails via pockets as with a Morris? Or perhaps it does have rail caps and the outer rails are raised to be flush with the caps?
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    When replacing a broken seat rail on our 1922 OT Ideal, I got a piece of what purported to be Honduran mahogany on eBay. I'm no expert on wood identification, but what I got seems a perfect match to the original wood. Here are three original rails, one replacement, and note the difference in color between the short rails and the long ones -- the replacement matches one of the originals pretty well.
    ss IMG_0009a r.JPG

    If you do find mahogany, watch out for color variation. Of course, getting gunwale-length lumber is a different and more expensive task than getting the smaller length that I needed for a seat rail.
  10. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    What you will be looking for is mahogany in the genus Swietenia, which is often sold as Honduras mahogany or Genuine Mahogany. It's been a while, but the last time I walked around a decent hardwood supply, it was available.

    (Unless you end up restoring a Thompson, then you'll want Phillipine mahogany).
  11. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    The catalog describes it pretty well:

    Attached Files:

  12. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Yes Honduras is still available , just $$$$ but it does look nicer . Phillipine looks good and half the price. I've been scarfing my outwales and inwales when needed, on my restorations for years . Never had a problem. Here's a nice article.
    monkitoucher likes this.
  13. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks Dan. Interesting... I'm guessing that this 'double gunnel' construction is what we call today inner rail & outer rail, with the added feature that the outer rail covers the top of the ribs as well as the canvas. Maybe this is the first time it was used, replacing the rail cap & thin outer rail I've seen on other canoes. So likely the rib tips are tapered, beveled, or simply shortened to end maybe 1/4" below the top of the inner rail, and covered by the rabbet in the outer rail. No doubt they later found fabrication cheaper by allowing the rib tips to be lopped off flush with the rails and making the outer rail rabbet smaller to just cover the canvas. Evolution!
  14. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I finally found a few pictures of pictures of my DG OT. These are pretty stunning canoes. The hull is nice and quick....a bit more tender than the later canoes. By far one of the most well built and pretty Old Towns I have owned.

    So...given the small numbers of these built (Benson, what are the numbers for DG's?) and how aesthetically integral the mahogany decks are to the doubled rails I would lean towards trying to properly restore one of these. That suggests actually pressing the decks to achieve the form or if the deck damage is minimal, splicing to the original. The older OT decks are somewhat unique in how they are shaped so I would lean towards trying to save them. I would try to do the same for the rails...assuming they are mostly good I would try to splice them.
    That said, it's your boat to restore as you may want to keep it glassed in which case these comments are moot.

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    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
  15. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Another way to do decks is to steam bend two thinner pieces of wood and then laminate them.

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