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planking putty?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by davavd, Dec 13, 2021.

  1. davavd

    davavd Curious about Wooden Canoes

    1940 OTCA - we have replaced the broken ribs and are replacing bad planking now. Where do we stop? All the pieces that were holed or split have been (or are in the process of being) replaced. There are a couple of hundred old tack holes, dents, and small gouges that don't seem to warrant replacing the plank or even a section of it. I assume these imperfections should be filled with something, but what? My project partner is in favor of thickened epoxy (West System G-flex). If I don't hear to the contrary, this will start tomorrow afternoon.
     
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    My understanding is that filling small holes and minor imperfections like you described is generally discouraged since they usually don't show through the canvas. Anything you use as a filler is likely to come loose later and create a much bigger issue than the one that you originally wanted to solve. Good luck,

    Benson
     
  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Benson is correct that in most cases a tack hole or small dent will be bridged over with canvas and not noticed after filling and painting.
    However if you have areas that you feel would benefit from some filler and fairing, my suggestion is to use Total Fair. It’s a 2 part fairing compound that is easily sanded. In my experience I’ve never had it come loose. The stuff would be difficult to remove, even if you tried.
    It’s available at Jamestown Distributors.
    I know there are other compounds similar, but this is what I use.
     

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  4. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    That looks like nice stuff Dave. I wonder how it would work on a car?
    Also, I noticed they also sell a polyester resin filler, so folks need to watch what they are buying.

    Dan
     
  5. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Dave is correct. Another vote for Total Fair. great stuff. Not needed on small tack holes.
     
  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Or......Petit Ez-Fair. I have used it for quite a few years without any problems.
    Some builders use bondo. But, supposedly bondo holds water. Marine fairing products do not.
    Whatever you use, it's best to be somewhat discrete with this stuff. A little bit goes a long way.
    [​IMG]

    WRT G-Flex......don't use it for fairing. It hardens too slowly and it hardens too hard. You can trim it while it's setting but is it not really intended for that.....and I love me some G-Flex. I have used it on everything from canoe stems to rubber boots and gun stocks. I think I am always looking for more ways to use it. Even so, I would not fair a canoe with it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2021
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  7. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Dave, Mike,
    How did the compound work with the gaps between the planks? Did it squeeze though and cause a problem on the inside? Was it visible?
    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  8. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I tend to be pretty stingy with it and make sure that I don't try to use it to build areas where there is a big gap or where it won't be backed by a rib. It will push through and it will be visible from inside the boat if you are not careful.. Pink blobs are not something you want to see when you look inside a canoe. I prefer to leave planking gaps as is if they are not too large. I try to fair by sanding, micro planing and sometimes shimming. I have also resorted to the "Rushton" fix, a sliver that fills gaps.
     
  9. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Yes I use it sparingly and try not to get it in the planking gaps. I usually leave the gaps alone. Unless their way to big. Then I replace a plank if needed. A side note, I like to varnish after the canvas is on. Actually for me a good time to varnish is while the filler is drying for a few weeks.
     
  10. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Years ago, when I varnished the interior after canvassing and filling, The filler bubbled along the planking gaps when the canoe was used. Acid lakes seemed to be especially vulnerable to this. Jack McGreivey, who had encountered this before, thought the solvents in the varnish went through the canvas and caused the bubbles. Since then, I always varnish before canvassing, and this problem has been corrected.
     
    JClearwater likes this.
  11. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Jim,
    As others have said, do not apply it over planking gaps, except behind a rib.
    Like Gil, I also varnish before canvassing. I’ve had issues with the varnish seeping through the gaps, leaving depressions.
    I think it was caused by the varnish soaking into the canvas, then shrinking when the oils dry.
    Anyway, no problems since I started varnishing before canvassing.
     

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    JClearwater likes this.
  12. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I've been varnishing after canvas for 25 years, never a problem. what little gets through should be very minor.
     
  13. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Friends,
    The canoe I am working on now, as time permits me, is a Rushton Indian Girl that has had a very rough life. Despite my best efforts the hull is not going to be as fair as I would like it to be. I've replaced 19 ribs, 18 of them in a row, did back side repairs on four others and will have to fix the tops on a bunch more. There are gaps between the planks in some places bigger than I would like to see but I don't think big enough to justify replacing the plank. I still have to fix both stems, replace the inwales, etc. etc. so I have plenty of time to think before I have to make a decision on trying a fairing product. As an aside, I also varnish before I canvas. It always seemed logical to me that if the canvas was installed prior to varnishing that the varnish seeping between the planking gaps would soak into the canvas and effect how the filler would "fill" the weave in those spots. Maybe I'm worrying about nothing, who knows.

    My apologies to davavd, who started this thread, because it sort of went sideways from your original question.

    Jim
     
  14. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I think I started the varnish topic, my bad:) Jim, the next two canoes I have to do each are going to get about 20 ribs. :( I went to my local cedar fence co. who I love. He lets me pick through the cedar. I got a beautiful load of very clear no knot planks the other day . Have to start slicing them up. There I go off topic again.
     
  15. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Started once to varnish before and saw too much on the floor. So, thereafter, would raw linseed inside turn it over and canvas and fill and paint early coats with keel , and maybe outer stem fitting/ installing and stem band fitting. Back over and varnish w/o finish coats ( canvas in the gaps is cured solid and the raw linseed is dried and ready ). great variation after this depending on the canoe style, gold leaf work seat, accessories etc. It's all fun saving these guys.
    Dave
     
  16. Tim Belcher

    Tim Belcher Apprentice

    I'm interested in MGC's comment "I have also resorted to the "Rushton" fix, a sliver that fills gaps." Any more you can add? I was thinking of going in that direction, but pondering the best way to fasten a sliver in. It seemed like tacking a sliver in place would likely mean widening the gap to accommodate a sliver that would be wide enough for the tack. Otherwise I was thinking of using epoxy to glue the strip to an adjoining plank? .
     
  17. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Tim, first, this kluge fix shows up in the Rushton rag canoes. Those were done by contract workers and are not generally built to the same standard as the wooden ones. I don't think I have a photo (but I will look) of this but if you can visualize a gap in the planking that is wide enough to accept a tack then you probably understand. On two different canoes I have seen a long (6 to 8 inches) sliver tacked in in on one end and tapering down to a point on the other. In each case, the filler was a tapered piece fixing a tapered gap. I have left them in place as they do seem to work. They are not a particularly glowing testament to the builders skills.
     
  18. Tim Belcher

    Tim Belcher Apprentice

    Thanks MGC. I may try to adapt it. My gaps aren't huge but I don't like them. Nothing about my canoe will be a glowing testament to my restoring skills, so I'm probably safe.
     
  19. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Tim, I have done a few really old canoes where at face value the gaps seemed like they were just too large. Except in a few spots in the bow and stern (in the cheeks as it were) where these gaps would really stand out when the canvas is pulled in tight, I have left them alone. I have yet to find one where I regretted that. Once you get 4 or 5 good coats of varnish in the hull and a nice tight and properly filled canvas on the outside those gaps simply don't stand out anymore.
    The only thing that would tempt me to fill gaps would be if I thought that they would affect how well I could fair the boat in a particular area. Anyone who has ever dealt with a roller-coaster landscape on a filled canvas and trying to get it smooth enough to paint knows what I mean. And those spots (from my experience) are where you will judiciously sand, plane, shim and possibly apply fairing compound or replace boards. If the gaps really bothered me enough, I would start moving planking around...and that is what I often end up doing on the bow and stern. If the canoe was not properly planked when it was built and if it has gaps that will stand out when you pull the canvas tight, I tend to start moving planking around. Usually with one or two well placed boards you can get things to line up. And since these areas are almost always under the decks, the replacement wood does not jump out at you.
    From years ago I remember talking to a friend about his TR4 and it's restoration. He had taken it to two different shops to get it done. The first one got "the gaps" wrong. They weren't better than original. So..he took it to another shop that got the gaps right, two years and $40,000 later. My Healey with it's crappy gaps and paint job done with a pinecone in my garage had been on the road for 4 years before he got that thing on the road. Do what will make you happy but not crazy. Better than original is a choice.
    Mike
     
  20. Tim Belcher

    Tim Belcher Apprentice

    Thanks Mike. That's all very helpful. Maybe I'll try moving the planks around to fill the gaps. I guess I have some time before I'll be able to put it in the water anyway, so no rush.
     

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