old 1920 German Canoe

H.E. Pennypacker

LOVES Wooden Canoes
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.

It's understandable that someone without much knowledge of wood-canvas canoes would think they are too delicate. But the builders didn't think so! And the fact that many of these canoes are well used and very old says that they work pretty well with canvas. A wood-canvas hull is surprisingly resilient. Check the comments in many other posts on these forums and you'll see that many users know these boats aren't dainty little delicate things.
 

Paul Fopeano

INNKEEPER
Old Town, and pretty much all the builders since, milled their planking to 5/32". Thats' pretty thin. Then they applied the planks to the ribs and did some fairing of the finished hull thinning the cedar a little more. Then they canvased, filled and painted. Many boats are still being used over 100 years later with their second or third canvas skins. ...... I have epoxied boats in the past but will not do it again as long as I can still get canvas and the ingredients for a good filler. I do not look forward to grinding off the epoxy that is failing after only 25 years.

While it may seem to be a much quicker process to apply glass and epoxy to a canoe, to get it to look really good ain't too easy.
 

ssommers

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
100 year old cedar and canvas canoes should be treated kindly. The planking may be a bit brittle. My approach is as follows. I have several sorts of boats. I have my beautiful wood canvas boats that were built in the 1980s. They are great serviceable boats. I take them on multiway trips on rivers with moving class I water. I get in and out of them in knee deep water (no standing in them while beached, I don't want to stress their "backbone." But then I weigh 200 pounds. I pick them up when I bring them ashore and I roll them on their side so the gunnels take support the hull's pressure against the beach.

For tripping on whitewater I have two other boats. Royalex Dagger Canoes. Some of the best designs ever for whitewater paddling. I paddle consistently in class III class IV whitewater. These boats are twenty years old. I get in and out of them in knee-deep water. I carry them up on the shore. I turn them over on their gunnels to protect the boat as it lies on its side. I don't want to stress their backbones either.

I also have an old town Tripper, in Royalex, I purchased for three hundred dollars a few years ago. I take my children tripping on weeklong trips on moving water in this boat. II sometimes attach a motor to it and carry a mountain of gear on multiway trips. I also take it for day trips with novices on class II white water.

My point is. I think it is stupid to spend a thousand, or two or three thousand, or more on a cedar and canvas canoe and not take care of it. I've spent like 100 hours in restoring two cedar canvas boats this year. I plan to use them kindly. And save my beater boats for whacking rocks in class II, class III and up whitewater. My three cents on this one.
 
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German_canoe

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Good question, I am not sure but I don't think so.
Let me post a close look later. Does the picture in page not close enough ?
THanks
 

MGC

Scrapmaker
Good question, I am not sure but I don't think so.
Let me post a close look later. Does the picture in page not close enough ?
THanks

I blew the pictures up as far as I could and convinced myself that it's not cedar.
But, the pictures are looking down the grain so I am not 100% sure of that. One good straight on picture would be helpful.
 
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German_canoe

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi,
I atteched some close up pictures of the wood.
Anyone a clue what kind of wood that might be ?
THanks
 

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Paul Fopeano

INNKEEPER
I'm guessin' Spanish Cedar (a very expensive mahogany species that makes a wonderful deck it you can afford it). It is much harder than white or red that we are used to seein' in boats around here. I do recall one of the little solo all wood canoes at the ADK Museum that used Spanish Cedar planks. I have used it for little color accents on a few of my boats - nice tight grain and somewhat resists splitting. Try scratching a little off a bit of and tasting it. SC has a very strong acidy cedar flavor and it smells like that if you sand or mill it.

Paul

Onlyone Maine Made Wooden Canoe Works
 

MGC

Scrapmaker
Hi,
I atteched some close up pictures of the wood.

That is what I thought, mahogany. Interesting. The nail holes that we see in your pictures near where the gunwales would be attached...what are those from? Are they signs that this was canvased at one time? There seems to be far too many to be there for attaching the rails. Related, if you look head on at the stems on either end of the boat, can you see if there have ever been tacks driven into them to to secure a canvas?? I am guessing no and suspect that this boat was originally finished with varnish.

For those folks that are freaking out about using a wood and canvas in rivers...let's be serious. Nothing runs rapids better than W&C. Is it a bit daunting? Yes but try not to hit things. Fiberglass and Royalflex give you more room for error but if you blow a line in any kind of canoe you will probably take on some water, maybe highside or get hung up....the same thing that happens in a wooden canoe. I will say, if you do bash rocks in a wooden canoe you might crack some ribs or planking but unless the rock (log) is razor sharp it will not damage the canoe. You can repair the damage next time you re-canvas. I have done more damage to glass and alminum canoes running rapids than I have ever done to a wooden canoe, probably because you worry less about how cleanly you run a line.

My absolute favorite canoe "wrecK' was a pre-race run in a friends brand new lighweight aluminum canoe. He decided to bring his dog along for the ride. We were lining up for a small ridge in a fast running creek....I was in the bow and called out a line to the left side but (my nameless) friend decided to run the middle. We ran over a sharp limestone ridge and opened up his boat like a sardine can.... it literally ripped right down the middle. I held on to my paddle and got the boat to shore and he let go of his paddle (one of mine) and went after the dog. One outing and that canoe was toast.....if it was a wooden canoe it probably would have made it through and if not, the damage would have been repairable.

Which leads to a question I always ask when I am teaching white water paddling....what is the best canoe to run rapids with? Answer...someone else's...always.
 

Jan Bloom

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Spanish Cedar is not in the Mahogany Family much less a species of Mahogany. It is in the Chinaberry Family. It is sought after because it is naturally rot resistant and termite proof. It is a fairly light wood with good strength to length ratio. However, there are many other woods found in the world with similar grain character as shown in your pics. Either way looks like a really good candidate for canvas on the outside and and varnish on the inside. Planks of Spanish Cedar can be gotten at many dealers of exotic timbers. You are going to have to resaw to the correct thickness. From your pics there doesn't appear to be any particular grain orientation. A flat sawn plank of say 30-50mm thick and 120mm wide by maybe a meter long could be resawn then thicknessed sanded to give you a number of thin boards, 30-50mmx 120mm x 1m to patch with. You are in Germany, correct? If you do not have a bandsaw or thickness sander find out if there is a wood working club in your area. They may know of a wood dealer and how to get it cut down. Or find a an acoustic guitar maker, that person would for sure know where to get wood sliced thin and sanded. Just do not buy already sliced wood as it will be very expensive and probably the wrong thickness.
 

rpg51

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Sure looks like mahogany of some sort.

On wood canvas and white water - - everyone has to do whatever makes them feel comfortable, but be aware there are many competent paddlers that use wood canvas in whitewater all the time - certainly class two and three whitewater with loaded canoes is commonplace.
 
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German_canoe

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi Jan,
thanks for your answer. Actually I am in WI... so not too far away but I brought the canoe from germany to restore :)
Fun job I thought t might be a little easier. However, any idea where I can get some pieces of Spanish cedar in the US ... I can work with a planer so I can make it thinner if needed.

Additionally I removed the Gunwhales and SURPRISE ... there was Canvas originally wow how nice is that. So now after all that I guess I need to recanvas the canoe.
Good news for all traditional fans :)

And I had another big surprise which was under a cover where someone installed some nice speakers :) what a waste.
look youself I love it. Now I know where the canoe is from .. how nice is that.

If you look at the canvas pieces I even believe it was red initially.... not my favorite colour ... let see ...
More to come ....

An idea where I can get canvas and filler and all i need in WI ?
Thanks
 

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ssommers

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
This is very cool. I'm enjoying following these developments and discoveries of the German Canoe. Thanks for posting.
 

Dave Osborn

LIFE MEMBER
Spanish cedar is available at Badger Hardwoods in Walworth, WI.
I may have a couple of smaller scraps laying around...not sure how much you need.
I can provide canvas and am set up for stretching. Takes a couple hours if you want to bring it to my shop.
Send me a private message if you are interested.
Dave Osborn
Little Lakes Canoe Restoration and Guide Service
Boulder Junction, WI
 
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