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Need help with an Old Town Guide canoe~

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Ray Kepler, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi all,
    I recently bought an 1985 Old Town Guide, "Natural," it's my first restoration project and I'm very excited but almost wondering if I'm in over my head. It's pretty beat up. The deck plates, keel, and gunwales are rotted. The hull also has me confused. I can't tell if the canvas has been sanded off completely or just kinda. When wet, it looks nice, but the surface looks striated, not wood-like.
    I need to know what kind of wood the keel, outer gunwales, inner gunwales, and deck plate are made of. I think I can fabricate and install these parts but have never done any steaming, assuming this needs to be done.
    I also need to know if I need to re-canvass the canoe or not. It seems to be water-tight; there are places that seem to be translucent/very thin. Not sure if this is OK or not.
    For what it's worth, I'm in the southwest part of Connecticut.
     
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    It is all doable, like eating an elephant (one piece at a time).

    The inwales are spruce, the outwales honduran mahogany, and the decks are white ash (same as seat frames and thwarts). Assuming it was built per catalog specifications.

    From your description, it sounds like your canoe was fiberglassed rather than canvased. There are a lot of threads on these forums about wood canoes and fiberglass.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the info., Dan. Any idea what the keel is made of?
    And is there a quick and dirty explanation of canvas vs. fiberglass?
     
  4. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Typically, Old Town used oak for keels. A canoe does not require a keel. After you have completed all the other restoration work, take her out and paddle her, then decide if you really want a keel. Not sure what to make of the second question. When you say 'natural' does that mean that you see the wood planking from the outside? OT built some wood canoes covering the outside with 'clear' fiberglass and resin so that the planking was visible. You cannot see thru canvas. It is possible to remove fiberglass, but not fun. Videos on Youtube by Kathy Klos and others show how this is done. It has been said that a fiberglass covered boat will rot more quickly than canvas covered, because it does not dry out as quickly or thoroughly. It is certainly possible to re-canvas with canvas a previously glassed boat, bringing it back in the 'traditional' way.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I've added a couple of pix to show you what I've got. The first is as the canoe is being cleaned. It's got a nice pattern; the next is of the boat after drying. Not sure how to rotate the thing, and I don't have any pix of the inside, which is nice, except for the gunnels, stems, and deck. Sorry about the format; not sure what's happening! IMG_6989.JPG IMG_6990.JPG IMG_6989.JPG IMG_6990.JPG IMG_6989.JPG IMG_6990.JPG
     
  6. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I am suspicious that the canoe left the factory with canvas, and was glassed by somebody later on. Never seen that zebra pattern before. If she is watertight, or close to it, do a minimal restoration, then use and enjoy the canoe. Save the hard work for later when it really needs it.
     
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The "Natural" on the build record indicates that it was fiberglassed at the factory and left clear to show the wood. I can't explain the zebra stripes either but agree with Tom's suggestion to "do a minimal restoration." Factory fiberglass is often much very difficult to remove since they typically used styrene to thin the first coat of resin and improve the adhesion to the wood. Good luck with the restoration,

    Benson
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks everybody. I'll be back!
     
  9. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    The zebra striping on the hull is not unusual in terms of wood and furniture. The boat has seen a lot of changes of humidity and temperature. The space where it is just cedar planking will freeze, thaw and soak more quickly. The place where it has ribs will be slower. Given the right (really "wrong") storage condition the wood undergoes totally different aging.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi all,
    I'm back, finally. I have removed the keel and outer gunwhale and applied 7 coats of varnish to the hull.
    Now what??
    I need to replace both gunnels, the keel, deckplates, and probably a few ribs. I'm not sure what the order of progression should be at this point.
    Right now I'm almost done shaping the outer gunnels but I don't know if I should put them on and then replace the inners.
    I'd love some guidance at this point.
     
  11. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    Ray, you are in a bit of a pickle...if there is fiberglass on the outside of the hull, how do you propose to replace ribs? The tacks need to be removed to get the ribs out and then you need to be able to drive new tacks through the planking to secure the new ribs...you can't really do that through glass...
    Normally if you are going to do the inside rails and decks you would do that and then the hull...the outside rails go on last as does the keel.
    In your case, do your decks and then replace the rails...good luck.
     
  12. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    You are intending to replace the inwales (rectangular) AND outwales (L-shaped)??? If this is the case, begin by taking good measurements across the hull so the shape will be right when you put it back together. The decks are attached with screws thru the inwale ends, so back out those screws to remove decks. The rib tips are attached to the exterior of the inwale with (probably very rusty steel) nails, which can be near impossible to pull and you will likely cause rib tip damage getting them out. Some people run a hacksaw between the rib and inwale to cut the nails. Since this is a nasty piece of work, replacement of the inwale is only done when it is absolutely necessary. I don't know any way to do a rib replacement on a hull that has been glassed, unless you intend to remove all the old glass, then re-glass, or cover with canvas. After everything else is done, then the outwales and keel can go back on. Tom McCloud
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    You guys are great. Thanks. This is my first canoe fixer upper. Let me digest this information and then proceed. As for the ribs, I'll probably have to fabricate something; a few of them are spongy at the ends.
    I've come to realize that this is more of a salvage operation than a restoration! Reminding me of a Mad Max motorcycle.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  14. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    If I remove the inners and the thwarts, will the structure of the canoe be jeopardized?
     

    Attached Files:

  15. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Yes! Re-read my previous reply. That's why you take lots of accurate measurements.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    OK, didn't quite understand.
    What if I make forms, something like thwarts, out of 2x4s with notches, that will maintain the canoe's shape?
     
  17. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I should have been more precise with the previous post, but it was late at night (for me). After the decks and inwales have been removed it would be common for a hull to relax outward, like a clam shell opening. I have no experience with a glassed canoe, but might guess it would be stiffer than non-glassed and may relax less. Some bar clamps over the top, and/or toggle straps around the hull will hold it in, and are more easily moveable than anything screwed to the hull. When you remove those inwales you also loose the holes that tell you where the thwarts and seats were located, so take good measurements so that you know where to drill holes in the new inwales. Replacing badly damaged rib tips can easily be done after cutting a long scarf and epoxying on a white cedar extension. If there is a slightly cracked rib, allowing epoxy to percolate into the crack may be the best & easiest solution. If there is a badly broken rib or several cracks on a single rib, I would rough the surface (60 grit or coarser), removing varnish but not sanding so vigorously as to remove the tack tips, then laminate a strip of white cedar over the top using epoxy to tie everything together. This is just an idea - I haven't done it. TM..
     
  18. OP
    OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks TM. I'm feeling much more confident now.
     
  19. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    It looks to me like you don't need to totally remove the inwales. You could much more easily just scarf a shorter piece in at the ends and replace the decks.
     
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  20. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    Agree....fix what needs to be fixed and don't make problems where there aren't already problems.
    Repairs on a glass canoe are going to be a kludge so it's a roll your own initiative.
     

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