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Newbie - Hand made cedar strip mystery - Condition?? Quality??

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by moonshine30, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. moonshine30

    moonshine30 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    HI there everyone!! I am still kind of a newbie to this site. I have posted one other time, but do come here for great info.

    Anyway, to the situation at hand. I just picked up this hand made stripper from a local guy here in Minnesota. He had it on ebay and apprently had it on craigslist but it wasn't on my radar because of how much he was asking and because, honestly, I was kinda looking at plastic boats. I ended up getting it from him though because I was able to barter with him for the boat and had to give him very little cash. I mostly bartered things.

    All I know is what he told me. He made it from scratch and it is around 16.6 feet long. It's a stripper(obviously), but it has some wierd design styles on it that I have never seen before and I am also uncertain as to the quality of the boat. Please refer to the pictures to see what I am talking about, but here are some of the wierd things I found when I looked at it. I ended up getting it only because it wasn't gonna cost me that much and he said it had never been in the water and was brand new.

    First, it looks like the decking is made of plywood. Don't know if that is just a el cheapo approach, or what. Second, the outer gunnel was been pieced together(purposely) on both side of the canoe. He told me that it was too expensive and just impossible to get a 1 piece gunnel, so he pieced it together the way you would do if you wanted to do a cheaper fix on an old canoe gunnel.(Or at least, that's what I've been told. Not an expert here) Third, he used yellow marine polypropolene rope and epoxied it to the bow and stern of the boat. (Basically as a sort of skid plat for the boat, as it runs all the way down to the hull) He told me this was to protect the boat. I have never seen a stripper with this, and honestly it make the boat look cheap, but someone let me know if this is a common thing to do. He told me he built this boat from a book he got. Fourth, he put these decals on all 4 sides of the boat, and they are decals and NOT painted on. I think they look retarded and was wondering if I could take them off without ruining the finish. He said he just varnished over them and didn't epoxy them. Fifth, there are foam chamber in the bow and stern of the boat. I have seen this on commercial plastic boats, but NEVER on a stripper before, so was wondering if that is a normal thing to do on a boat. I asked, and he told me that they weren't air chambers but rather foam filled chambers. I asked if the boat would stay afloat if flooded and he said it probably wouldn't sink, but I don't know if he was being straight with me. The paint job (blue on the bow and stern and orange on the inside of the boat) he said was from clouding in the resin or fiberglass job he did on the boat. (FYI, he told me he DID fiberglass over the varnish) ALSO, it doesn't look like he did a PROFESSIONAL job with the resin as there are some goopy spots and it is not all smooth on MOST areas of the boat. I don't know anyting about that, so I'm just guessing here, but I HAVE seen professional strippers and the finish is clear and smooth

    SOoo... that's what I have for info on the boat. If a couple of people could look at my pictures and the descriptions I gave and give me some kind of idea as to if I got a decent boat(assuming it's seaworthy) or if it looks like a cheap ameteur "do it yourselfer) that got screwed up that would be great. I don't have a TON of money tied up in it, so I know I could probably get rid of it on craigslist if I need to. It honestly is not the right boat for a sinlge gal who has to car top herself(it weighs over 80 lbs!!) but I kind like strippers and my family could ride in it too.(which you can't do with a solo boat. I HAVE NOT TESTED IT FOR SEAWORTHINESS AND PROBABLY WON'T BE ABLE TO UNTIL SPRING NOW UNLESS WE HAVE A WARM WEEKND.

    Thanks for any info anyone can give me and I'm sorry for the REALLY long winded post.


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  2. OP

    moonshine30 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Sorry, my computer was being wonky. Here are my pics....

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  3. OP

    moonshine30 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I can't figure out how to post all these pictures:mad:

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  4. OP

    moonshine30 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    More pics....

    I figured it out now...user here are more pics...

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  5. OP

    moonshine30 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Again, here are more pics...

    Here are the final pics... If anyone would be kind enough to let me know the condition and construction quality(or lack of) in the this canoe, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!!


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  6. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'm glad you don't have a lot of money sunk into this, and I hope you didn't trade anything of value for it.

    Everything about this boat says "poor quality."

    The "scarf joint" in the gunnels isn't a scarf joint; it's much more like a butt joint. Looks like a 1:1 "scarf", when it should be 8 or 10:1.

    I've never seen the yellow rope on the stems -- might be common locally?

    The plywood decks & seat hangers are more indicators of poor quality.

    The issues you mention about the uncured resin are a serious concern. I've not had the pleasure of having to deal with this issue, but from what I've heard and read about it, it's just nasty work.

    I could go on, but won't. It should float when swamped...
  7. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    80 pounds is heavy for a canoe this size, indicating too much epoxy was used, which is part of the reason for the un-smooth surface of the canoe. Heavy is heavy – otherwise not likely a problem in and of itself, but a sign of poor workmanship.

    More of a problem is “he told me he DID fiberglass over the varnish.” Not sure what this means, but proper stripper construction calls for glass set in epoxy over bare wood, with varnish applied over the final coat (if more than one) of epoxy. Varnishing the wood before applying the epoxy/glass matrix is not good, because the bond between the wood strips and the epoxy/glass is nowhere near as strong as it should be. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this – others here should offer their opinion as to just how bad this may be, but it is not good. Further, that the epoxy was cloudy where he painted is also a sign of a sub-standard epoxy/glass job. I would not trust this canoe for serious tripping use or heavy water.

    Gunwales made from two or three pieces of wood are not uncommon, but the method used on this canoe – very, very short scarfs (hardly enough angle to even call them scarfs) with facing butt blocks is not usual, and not as strong as a single piece of wood or properly scarfed joints. However, if the inwales are made from a single piece of wood, this is more a matter of appearance than of necessary structural strength.

    The yellow rope glued on to prevent wear is very unusual indeed, and unless the builder planned to brutalize the boat, completely unnecessary. The rope and the epoxy needed to hold it add considerable weight, and the rope certainly does not help handling and performance. It looks like it could be removed without harming the boat – with likely a good deal of effort, and smoothing and refinishing the area would be necessary. The boat could be used, however, without removing it.

    Plywood for decks is not necessarily bad – but the workmanship on these decks is not great. Indeed, the workmanship generally is pretty rough.

    The decals could be removed with careful sanding, followed by a coat or two of varnish.

    Foam in the bow and stern is sometimes seen, is not a bad idea, but the only way to see how much flotation it actually provides is to put the canoe in water and swamp it, to see if it floats or sinks. It will probably float.

    Seaworthiness is a somewhat fluid concept – this canoe will likely not sink, and should be ok at a minimum for casual paddling in calm waters. It may be better than that minimum – the only way to see how it handles in wind, rough water, and how nimble and/or steady it may be is to put it in the water and try it out.

    I would worry about the durability of this canoe, with the varnish/epoxy problem. I hope others will comment on that problem, which may be serious. Otherwise, I would wait and try it out, maybe fix it up a bit, and see if it meets your needs.
  8. KAT

    KAT LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The decals should be easily removed with heat. Use a hair dryer or heat gun and heat up the vinyl and just peel it off SLOWLY. Start at an easy edge and pull, keeping it warm. If it gets too hot it may tear, too cool and it will be difficult to remove. Any adhesive left can usually be removed with just varsol or mineral spirits.

    I worked in the sign industry for over 20 years and that is how we removed them. In summer, just leaving the decal you want to peel facing the sun for an hour or two would provide sufficient heat as well. This works for decals, pin striping, pretty much any vinyl based graphic on anything.
  9. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Wow. Just, wow.
  10. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder


    Thanks for posting this here, I've been watching that canoe for months, I do hope you don't have much into it, I thought it was way overpriced before I saw your pics, even more so now.

    I agree with the comments already given.

    Oh, glueing on rope by strip builders here is not uncommon, as is the foam in the ends. I wouldn't do either myself though.

    Try the canoe out this fall or next spring and see how it feels for you, and if your OK with it, and it meets your intended use, then work on fixing it up. (ie, at 16.5 ft and 80 lbs this is not a BW/Q boat, more a cabin beater, like another coleman.)

    This sounds like a 1st time builder with little idea of how to build a stripper, and it's interesting that he build it and didn't use it, wonder why?

  11. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Maybe he couldn't lift it.

  12. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    As strippers go, this one leaves an awful lot to be desired, as mentioned, and is simply a very poor example of the craft on any number of fronts. We used to occasionally see home-made first efforts where the builder started with $1,000 worth of materials and ended up with a brand new boat that was barely worth $100 if that, and only if the builder could find some unsuspecting soul to pawn it off on. This is, unfortunately, one of those sorts of canoes. Sadly, with all the excellent texts, web pages and assistance available on the subject these days, there really is no excuse for it. Anyone who can follow instructions can build a decent strip canoe and a lot of first time builders have produced truly lovely, sound and efficient ones. First timers who believe thay know a better way and leave the time-proven methods and scantling seldom do. If you can get out from under this beast, do so.

    However, the idea of adding flotation tanks to strip canoes dates back to at least the early 1970s and it is both quite sound and a good idea from a safety standpoint. The basic hull and trim present enough buoyancy to keep the boat from sinking, and usually even have enough reserve to also be able to keep the paddlers afloat while in the water hanging onto the canoe. That's about all though. A person in the water only weighs about 17 lbs. as the rest of your weight (which is mostly water) becomes neutral when submerged. The problem comes when you get tired of bobbing about in the lake next to a swamped canoe and decide to improve your situation. Even if your plan is simply to drag the boat to shore and empty it, flotation tanks will make it float higher when swamped and easier to pull to shore. If you decide to try to empty the water out and get back in while out in the lake, the tanks can make a much bigger difference. As soon as you raise part of your body out of the water, it reverts to its normal weight. If the canoe is not equipped with tanks and you climb in while it's swamped, it will likely head for the bottom and won't float back up until you get out of it. The tanks are there to make a dramatic increase in the hull's reserve buoyancy, which is what it's going to need if you expect to be able to climb aboard, bail it out and rescue yourself. I wouldn't build a stripper without flotation tanks of some sort. Granted, those on this canoe are poorly done and ugly as hell, but they wouldn't have to be.

    This boat has foam-filled flotation tanks behind the small vertical walls with the designs on them. On a boat with a more normal stem shape, they're actually quite easy to add.

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  13. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    One comment to add. I'd roll it over on sawhorses and see if the shape is fair. I'm thinking that the station molds may not have been of good set up quality given the appearence of the canoe. I sympathize with the builder, in that I think he got in way over his head and his skills weren't up to it. But, if it doesn't flip you out of it and it paddles remotely well it could give years of service for fishing or cruising the lake.

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