My Mate Pete

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Well those of you who watched my Assembly presentation will know that I had a beautiful English built Turks canoe from about 1890-1900. Well last weekend at the Thames Traditional Boat Festival I sold it to a fellow wooden canoe enthusiast who love Turks canoes more than I do. He saw it and within 30 seconds shook my hand and the deal was done. He was happy, I was happy and importantly there was now space on the rack :)

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So when another canoe needing work came up for sale her in the UK I jumped at it as I needed a new project to get my teeth into. This canoe is a wood/canvas Peterborough 16S from I believe the 1920's. I drove to the centre of the UK on what has now been recorded as the hottest day ever in the UK with temperatures passing 40 degrees C.

Today the canoe came home to Norfolk. I just love the hull shape and curves.

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It came with the decks, seats and thwart. All of which I intend to repair and save.

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The first job was to wash everything down and strip off the badge, cane and a few years accumulation of dust and crud. So that I didn't lose it I glued back on the tip to one of the deck wings.
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I am yet to make a full assessment but my list so far is:

1. New stems
2.Planking repairs
3.Inwale and out wale repair/renewal
4. Some new rib tips
and so it goes...........



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This is by far the most extensive repair I have attempted so sit back and enjoy the ride with me if you like.

I have a good supply of malt whiskey for the long and I suspect frequent periods of contemplation which will be needed for this project! I am now off to see what wood supplies I have and what I will need.

Here we go!


Nick
 

Todd F

Lifetime Member
Nick, look forward to how you restore the tag. Bought some Spring Bank 30 years ago for when I retired...time to sample and enjoy!
 

Rob Stevens

Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
Lovely shaped P'bo.

What, no broken ribs!? Piece of cake.

I laughed when I saw that pink digit sticking through a hole in the planking.
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
In trying to work out the identity of the canoe I have found a response from Dick Persson to the previous owner of this canoe “ The model # is actually 16 or 16S as it was also called. It was introduced in the fall of 1930 as a special grade canoe, built on the same form as the company’s “Otonabee” model. It was a lower grade canoe with a much lower price, at the time the Otonabee sold for $82 and the 16S for $62.
In 1936 it was renamed “Champlain” with model #26P

All of this knowledge is invaluable as I now know what the width should be.......33"

Overnight I had soaked the deck plate in white spirit which softened the old varnish which was then easily rubbed off.

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The canoe had an original thwart with it being one of a symmetrical pair; that would help me set the width to where it should be. I am taking the 33" from the outside of the planking across the centre of the canoe ie excluding the outwales. First though I had to remove the remnants of the seat and thwart bolts so I made a simple press using a piece of ash and a G-clamp and popped them all out. Simply mount it over the bolt wind away util you hear the bolt crask and then it can be pulled out wit a pair of nippers.
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I then set in a couple of temporary thwarts using some offcuts of cedar which I had with the bolt holes matching the dimension of those on the original thwart, put some ratchet straps around the whole hull to spread the land and pulled the hull in until the holes line up with those in the remnants of the inwhales. Once the temporary thwarts were secured I removed the straps and used them again to close the ends up until all looked right in relation to the seat frame fixing holes and the corresponding ones on the inhales. It was surprising how much the canoe had relaxed. I will keep soaking the hull over the next week or so so that the canoe gets used to being back where it should be.

There is one broken rib near the rear thwart but it is high up I will keep an eye on it and may do a backside repair; the occasional scar on a 90 year old canoe is fine in my book.

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I have been out and picked up some wood hardener and filler to repair the seats and thwart ends so that I can reuse; I have got some good glue for the rib tip replacements at either end. I need to see what cedar I have left over from my Chrles River repair to do both the rib tips and planking. I am in touch with my local saw mill to see if he has got some clear Douglas Fir for the inhales and outwales.
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I need to see what I have for the stem repairs; I have some ash which may suffice. One stem just needs the upper section and tip replaced whilst at the stern its the whole curve so the joy and frustration of steam bending awaits :)

Onwards...

Nick
 

samb

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Slow down! - you'll be needing another project before autumn at this rate.
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Slow down! - you'll be needing another project before autumn at this rate.

How’s the Cedar Rib project? I just want to get it all stable and in the overall shape it should be; it is all a bit floppy but the temp thwarts are helping significantly. There will be a lot of cleaning back, sanding etc which will be the time consuming part to ensure an even finish. I suspect that finger print recognition on my iPad will be difficult for a while :)
 

samb

LOVES Wooden Canoes
How’s the Cedar Rib project?

All work done except the coamings, and the varnish, then there's sanding and varnish, then a bit more sanding and varnish (until I get bored) then fit the stem and keel band.
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Have used Douglas Fir before for inwhales and how does it compared to spruce?
I have it on my Pal and like it but it’s a tad soft. I have subsequently found out that it is a special order so have opted to go with Ash which is plentiful. I can also use Ash for some other bits and bobs.
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Me and my mate Pete nearly fell out over the last week. Various "buggeration" factors came into play. A blistering heatwave has not helped and it is patently obvious that electrical power tools do not like working hard in temperatures of 35 C + . First casualty was the table saw; not only did it trip the garage RCB but also the main house as Angelika was soon outside telling me that Netflix was down! Next my trusty power plane gave up the ghost and then finally the old steamer also blew. What next? Jumped in the car to go and buy a planer and good old Land Rover had decided to go on strike with a common electrical glitch which again is related to hot weather.

After 4 days the car part arrived and I managed to get a new planer and found a steamer for sale in the next village so we were up and running again; I will strip the ash planks down using my trusty skill saw and a well secured guide.

I managed to salvage what was left of one of the stems and using this as a guide I adjusted my stem bending for from a Charles River curve to that of a Peterborough. I also made another form for the inwale ends having cut new side on long scarf joints on all 4.
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Having stripped down some ash to just over 1" square selecting the straights grain I could find I steamed the 2 stems and 4 inwale ends. There was some slight run out on the grain on the stems but by the time I had worked and shaped the stem I was back onto straight grain. I used the notched rib tops at both ends as my datum for the jig for the inwales. The rip tips at the end are shot and will be replaced now that I have maintained the shape and sheer of the inwale.
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The seats were dismantled and then cleaned, woodworm treated and reassembled with new dowels in the joints. The remaining thwart was saved, sanded and stained; a replica for the 2nd thwart will be made using the original as a pattern. This canoe would have had mahogany outwales so I have decided to go with a dark theme on the outwales, seats, thwarts and decks. A light inwale will give some contrast.

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The seats will be redone but I am going down the expedition cord route; I have found some tan coloured kevlar no stretch cord which I will weave in a traditional pattern. Not traditional but strong and functional.

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Having got the stem in and the inwale ends bent and fitted I then had to set about doing th e rather complicated joint which Chestnut & Peterborough both use. I got it done but it was evident that not having complete inwales and outwales on for many years, the canoe had spread slightly and had a minor twist. To hold it all together I drilled through the stem and inwales and whacked a hardwood dowel in. This helped straighten it all with the decks now screwed in place all was rather more ship shape.

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I need to think about how to finish the inwales at the tip. To taper or not? I will do sone studying of photos to see what it should be and what I am happy with.

That's it for today. I have retreated inside out of the heat having done some work in the 6 am coolness and late in the evening before sitting out and watching the meteor display last evening. Next is the other stem and inhales followed by rib tips at each end. The other cracked rib tips have been glued fr filled with an epoxy 2 part filler which will be saved back and stained.

Keep cool, calm, collected and breathe!
 

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patrick corry

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
You raise some questions about which I have been pondering for some time; re: tapered inwale ends. If tapered (which in my mind is more pleasing to the eye), is the tapering done on the inner or outer surface? Also if tapering, wouldn't this best be done off the canoe, prior to installation? I ask because I'm at the stage of fabricating and installing new Ash inwales on the Chestnut Ranger I'm restoring (at least I think it's a Ranger- 15'x35"x13.5"). I welcome your thoughts.
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
On my Chestnut they were not tapered.

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Looking at the detail drawing for Peterborough and Chestnut canoes in Mike Elliotts book “My Old Canoe” he hasn’t tapered them so I will leave them as is and improve the end detail when the outwales are on to avoid a “ snub nose” appearance.
 
OP
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Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
This week I have managed to get the rib tips repaired and replacements glued on and shaped to fit. They were then pre-drilled and nailed to the new inwale ends with bronze ring shank nails. I will cut them down in due course to allow the fitting of the outwales which have a rebater the shear plank.

I then went over the canoe with a heat gun and removed 3 glass fibre patches and repaired these with new patches made from the original shear planks which I had taken off at each end to allow the semi to be done. I repaired another couple of holes where I could get my finger through. The repairs are invisible from inside. I will post some photos showing the areas done. The rains arrived so the canoe is wrapped up at present.

Evening therapy has been the seats. I caned my Charles River but this time I went down the line of "Expedition Caning" as demonstrated in one of the Three River Chapter Zoom meetings in 2021. I used a 2.5 mm kevlar flat braid. I am not unhappy with the result which should be pretty bomb proof. The purists will scoff I am sure but hey, the canoe is going to have the grandkids crawling all over it so it needs to be tough. Kids don't understand about not standing on seats.

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The other job this week was the outwales. I stripped the ash planks down to 1" square lengths, set my router table up, ran the lengths through swearing at regular intervals as the ash is hard but eventually I got them done. I then lined each pair up and cut the scarfs. I then turned them over, put them side by side and ran the belt sander over them as a pair which gives a good tight joint.They were then glued and clamped and left to set. I then went down each rebate with a hand plane to even out and roughly tided the lengths up with a belt sander. They will be trial fitted and steamed into shape on the canoe before final finishing and profiling. I need to work out what the profile is for a Peterborough; I am assuming similar to a Chestnut with the edges slightly rounded off?

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I had also done other planking and made a start on making a 2nd thwart from ash. All is now tucked away as we are off to the west coast of Scotland next week for a bit of R&R searching for the elusive Haggis and trying to spot whales, dolphins, eagles and pine martin. I am sure some whisky will be found too.

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As I did the planking a few other tack heads popped off so I will go over the whole canoe and re-tack where needed. At the stems the planking was generally sound save for a few areas of chipping which I cleaned up and filled with a 2 part epoxy putty. Having not had any stems or complete outwales for quite some time it was a real effort to close the canoe at each end onto the new stems. I suspect that the stem profile is not as fine as it was originally but once canvassed and with a new stem band in place it should look fine. Then of course, there is the inevitable question......to keel or not to keel? I will leave you to ponder on that one!

Cheers!

Nick
 

Todd F

Lifetime Member
Nick appreciate all the pictures, very helpful! If you head down to Macrihanish swing by the Wee Toon for a bit of Springbank single malt. Cheers!
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
The main issue with now being retired is that I lose track of the days. I found that I have an extra day before we go to Scotland so will use that for mucking the car out and packing ready for the trek northwards. Our cottage is on a Sea Trout river so I sorted my rod and gear; its not about catching a fish but being where you are with your mind diverted from normal routine.

This morning Angelika awoke to a back garden which resembled the aftermath of a snow storm; I had got up early and with the power planer took the outwales down to 3/4". My Black Lab looked like he had developed dandruff but a quick run over with the lawn mower and we were all spic and span again (not the dog; I vacuumed him :)) .

I grabbed the steamer and set to work steaming each gunwale, clamping drilling and screwing as I went. I use a wall paper steamer and a 2ft long length of plastic rainwater pipe which I stuff each end with a bit of towel and then simply slide along the canoe fixing as I go. I did it on the canoe trailer and using a strap was able to add upward pressure to the wood to get it to take the curve. All went well; ash likes steam :) A couple of hors later and both sides had been done with the end roughly trimmed and some small screws to hold everything in place. They will be taken off profiled and tapered at the ends with a long taper. They do add significant strength and rigidity to the whole structure.

Here is the steaming setup:

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and then the outwales in place

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With everything tidied away the canoe was suspended again where it will now sit for a couple of weeks over which all will dry out and set. Then on return it will be tacking and sanding. Lots of sanding and prepping prior to getting it all put back together. A slight shock this morning; silicon bronze bolts for the seats and thwarts £7.32 + Vat @ 20% each !! I will do some research and see what I have in my bolt tins and collection.

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Back in a couple of weeks......
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Having returned from our trip to the West Coast of Scotland I did a bit of fettling on the outwales this week.

I tweaked the fit and have started sanding and trimming to achieve a satisfactory finish at the deck tips. Again this is really first fix as when the filled canvas is on that will alter the dynamics slightly.

It's beginning to have a lovely canoe shape again. I used the original thwart as a template on shape and length for the replacement and this enabled me to pull the hull back in to the original dimension so the original seats will fit back in too.


I sat the seats on the inwales to check the dimension. I have also fashioned some square section seat hangers.

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Having not had any stems in for quite some time I think there is a perceptible twist on the hull. I will keep tweaking but hey it's an old canoe so as long as it looks good to a gent on a galloping horse at 20 yards that will be fine.

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I need to get some more sanding loops for the belt sander and the detail sander so I can level off the gunwales and get the lumps and bumps even. I ended up ordering the hardware from Rollin Thurlow as even with shipping charges the screws, bolts etc were about half the price I was being quoted here in the UK. I have temporarily held everything in place with a smaller size screw so when all is finally fixed the larger screws will have a good bite. Canvas is on order. From some remnants found the suggestion is that this canoe was red in colour previously. I have on order some golden shellac which I will use to get an even colour. I have also ordered a batch of Mirka Gold sanding pads which would work well on the ribs and planking when I start the mammoth sanding event but I suspect that for a while the fingerprint ID on my iPad won't work!

I will have a rest from sanding for a few days and will work on the seat hangers and go over and secure any loose planking
Now the ongoing dilemma: to keel or not to keel? It had one originally...........
 

pklonowski

Unrepentant Canoeist
Leave the keel off, paddle it a bit, and decide whether you really want one. It can be added later. I've seen a discussion: why put holes in an otherwise intact hull and canvas?
 
OP
OP
Blott

Blott

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Leave the keel off, paddle it a bit, and decide whether you really want one. It can be added later. I've seen a discussion: why put holes in an otherwise intact hull and canvas?
I left it off my Chestnut and Charles River It's enough effort putting a beautiful new canvas on; driving 20 odd screws through it is always going to be a recipe for disaster in my life!
 
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