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old 1920 German Canoe

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by German_canoe, May 4, 2015.

  1. German_canoe

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hello guys,
    some questions maybe someone can help.

    I have this old german canoe from 1920 ?. It was covered in fberglass when I got it. By now I removed the fiberglass and sanded it nicely down. I never found any canvas under the fiber.
    My idea was to just fill the gaps with Epoxy and then cover the whole canoe in a nice transparent epoxy layer.
    What are you guys thinking ? Would that look good ? Due that I am not sure it ever was in Canvas I am not sure if I still would like to do it 'old' stlye an out an canvas layer on it.

    When I fill the gapos with eopxy which is the best to use ? The one from WS on any proposal ?

    btw. the repair patch is original not mine :)

    Attached Files:

  2. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Not real sure what you've got there but generally speaking, if a canoe was origianlly canvas covered, you're better off staying with that. Use the search function here and you'll find a wealth of info on the subject of 'glass vs canvas. I did not know the Germans made a wood/canvas canoe so maybe you've got something else?
  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Don't fill the planking gaps.... They don't look all that bad, actually.
    They need to be allowed to expand and contract with the moisture. If the product used to fill the gaps gets loose, breaks off and gets under the canvas you will have unsightly bumps under the canvas. Assuming you go with canvas....
    Personally, from an original and aesthetic view, I'd rather see a little canvas through the gaps than some kind of filler.

    On another note, the planking pattern looks like nothing I've ever seen...pretty cool. Hope you can identify the builder..
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  4. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    thanks for the answers....
    yes I realy like the planking as well. THat's why I wanna show it under epoxy clear and not hide it behind some canvas.
    Difficult to decide.
    I just contacted someone in Hamburg and they said from the planking the Canoe was covered in Canvas.
    So the decision gets more difficult.

    That being said they mentioned that If I use epoxy only the planks might break, which I do not really understand ?
    If I would use canvas and epoxy I can imaging that happens, but If I use epoxy only why would that be different then my cedar strip canoe ?

  5. Paul Fopeano

    Paul Fopeano INNKEEPER

    Very cool looking boat! Can you post more pictures? Especially the inside showing the ribs and stem.

    It looks like it was very finely built.

  6. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    yes I can post some of the inside.... does not look very nice though.
    There were some very fine canoe builders in Germany by the 1920th.
    The learned in the US and came back, due that there was a high demand of canoes in germany.
    The type of canow was for pretty rich people, they payed 3000 'Marks' by the time which was crazy expensive.
    That's why they are ncely build. Due that the canvas is gone I will probalby not find out which warf build it.
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    You may want to check for a serial number on the inside stem as described at and post it here if you find one. The information about a canoe shipped on April 11th, 1913 to Hamburg, Germany at might also interest you. The planking pattern could be similar to the one shown below from the 1913 Old Town Canoe Company catalog.


    Attached Files:

  8. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    wow that is some great information !! I will check tonight immediate and post some picture. Many thanks for that.
    I guess I know what your opinion is on Epoxy vs Canvas ? Still let me know
  9. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Strip & glass canoes have the glass & epoxy on both sides of the hull. If you put 'glass on this, it'll be only on the inside. Any time you put finish of any sort on one side of wood, you're asking for trouble... moisture gets through most finishes, and if it gets through more on one side than the other, you can have warpage issues.
  10. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    First, what makes you think the canoe was built in Germany? Also, photos of the interior, the decks and other details are required to help identify the canoe. The construction is typical of wood-canvas canoes, and because the planking is so clean, it surely was never coated with resin and fiberglass.

    You said that think that a clear covering will look best because it will show off the beautiful wood. I thought the same thing when I first became interested in wooden canoes, but I very quickly realized that the ones covered with beautifully-painted canvas were much prettier to me. With painted canvas, you don't see all the imperfections of the outside of the hull, and you don't see all those randomly-spaced tack heads. After comparing all the beautiful canvas-covered canoes with the same type of canoe covered in clear fiberglass (just look at photos here if you can't see them in person), I personally find the glass-covered ones downright unpleasant to see. That's just me; just a thought.
  11. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hello PennyPacker,
    first question is very easy .. I bought the canoe in Germany actually in Hamburg from a Canoe rental which is sort of 60 years @ the river (Alster) in town.
    Maybe ..not sure.... its was build in the US and then shipped to Germany ... ?
    Then I brought it to the US.... so I am pretty sure its a Hamburg maybe a German canoe.. (there were lots of different builders in germany by the time)
    I build a strip canoe myself few month ago and I love the style and the look of the cannoe and I clear coated that as well.
    Honeslty I really like the imperfection on this one as well. I a hand made boat with imperfection and I like those as well. So I am not shy to shop them.
    I find it sad to hide the beautiful wood behind canvas :), But again I like the canvas style as well.
    One more to mention, I really want to use it. And going down river there will be rocks and I know how my epoxy canoe looks like so maybe Canvas might be better.
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
  12. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Was out canoeing on the Charles River in my wood canvas Chestnut on Sunday and ran into 4 kayakers. Know what? All of them said, “Wow, that’s a beautiful canoe!” Now the wood grain, just the inside, they never got close enough to see. What they saw was form and color.

    Cedar grain is not all that aesthetically exceptional. It’s not rosewood or walnut. A canoe is not a guitar top or a piece of fine cabinetry. Many folks have glassed wood canoes that were once covered in canvas because they wanted to show off the wood grain. It’s a huge mistake, functionally and aesthetically. Every such canoe I have seen glassed looks like crap and performs like crap. A stripper starts out to be a stripper.

    One has to respect the artistic tradition.
  13. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    I suggest you use the search function (above, right) to find multiple discussions regarding the fiberglassing of a canoe that originally wore canvas. Bear in mind that when a canoe was originally canvas covered, the planking (no matter how beautiful) was not meant to be seen. One of the many things I love about wood/canvas canoes is that they can be restored-- taken back to "like new"-- and while any further restorations on a canoe that has been 'glassed will be possible, they will be more difficult. Don't assume that your canoe will remain pristine and you'll never have to fix anything again-- unless you don't use it. Canvassing is also far easier to accomplish than 'glassing and permits the wood to expand and contract. I've seen how fiberglass can become milky (don't know if that's the term) over time, obscuring the wood beneath... and then you have the "fun" of removing it... and the better the 'glassing-job, and harder the 'glass will be to remove.

    I'm with those who love color on the outside of a canoe, and the variety of artistic expressions I've seen... the many colors and combinations of color, the designs-- simple or complex-- are part of what makes each canoe unique.
  14. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    What Larry said.

    If you're committed to fiberglass, so be it. If you're really asking a question and willing to consider advice, read any of the many discussions about canvas vs. fiberglass here. One of the best was running in the last few days:

    The overwhelming sentiment there was for canvas, but anyone can choose to focus on the few responses in favor of non-canvas approaches.

    It's unfortunate that the thread ended with the line: "If you are trying to do a restoration, I can understand the desire to do everything with original formulations, it doesn't mean there aren't better materials out there." The strong overriding theme of that entire thread was that if one covering or another can be called "better", it's canvas - ease of application, less noxious and hazardous chemicals involved, much easier to repair than glass, covers imperfections, dampens sound, etc., etc., AND it works just fine in a variety of waters, r But your opinion is all that matters for your boat in the end.
  15. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the great answers. No I am not commited to fiber, I just liked the idea of seeing the wood.
    I know its not perfect but I still like the great lines of the wood.
    The more I hear about canvas the more I think I might try. Will post a few pictures, later of the inside and see if there is a number.
  16. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Okay, here you go some pictures from the inside.
    Additional picture to find a number. I think no luck here or its too much covered in paint/dirt.

    While looking at the anyone a good idea how to sand it down. Its very small, so I cannot really use a machine I believe.

    Additionally I added a picture with the ugly fiber which was on the canoe before.


    Attached Files:

  17. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Consider this: If you put canvas on it, and decide that you really want fiberglass, the canvas comes off easily, and you can 'glass it. On the other hand, if you put 'glass on it, and decide maybe canvas would be the better option, you've got the enormously unpleasant task of stripping the fiberglass off the hull to deal with. I've stripped the 'glass off one canoe -- a stripper, that needed to be rehabilitated -- and if I ever see another 'glassed boat that needs even a fraction of that much work, it's getting cut up and sent to the landfill.
  18. ssommers

    ssommers Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I agree with many who have replied to the thread: glass freezes one side of the boat and causes the unglazed side to crack and craze over time. However, my greatest objection to glassed boats now-days is that the glass systems available pretty seal the life of the boat. The glass will not last another 100 years. If you canvas the boat, down the road, if conditions are favorable, someone just like you might wish to give this boat another go with more canvas and filler and care. Modern glass systems are almost impossible to remove.

    Canvas with filler allows the wood to breathe. In a restoration canvas falls off the boat when the tacks holding it to the ribs are removed. If you are not familiar with the technique, recanvassing a boat is quite straightforward, and one doesn't have to use environmentally damaging materials, or breathe harmful fumes. Canvas and filler employs sustainable and earth-friendly materials (except some paints.) For all these reasons I prefer canvas and filler. My two cents.
  19. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    That canoe has very nice lines.

    While it is possible to simply sand away the old varnish of the interior, the complex surface presented by the ribs over the planking would make a thorough sanding job very difficult; scraping the old varnish after heating with a heat gun would be similarly difficult. Most folks would use a chemical stripper to remove the old varnish, followed by a light sanding simply to smooth the wood before refinishing.
  20. OP

    German_canoe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Many thanks for all the replies. I talked to someone else in Germany and they said the wood is so thin that if I only cover the outside it might break when using the canoe. The only way how it might work is that I cover the inside and outside with Epoxy.
    What are you guys thinking ? If that is true I need to go to a canvas.
    Honestly, you guys confinced my anyways that canvas is the better way :)

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