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Replacing stem bands

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by jcanoe714, May 6, 2005.

  1. jcanoe714

    jcanoe714 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    So, another quick question... Last year I completely restored (practically built) my 15' Old Town Trapper. In the course of putting everything back together during the last stages I was strongly advised to consider junking my aluminum stem bands that were originally attached and replacing them w/ nicer (and more durable) brass stem bands. At the time, I couldn't afford the additional cost. But I'm wondering a few things: Since I repainted my canoe last year, is it worthwile to undo and replace the old bands w/ brass ones? Are they that much imporved in quality? And how difficult would it be to have them match the shape (and screw holes) for the bow and stern of the canoe? Finally, if it is worth pursuing, where should I consider shoping for the these items? Thanks again...


    Take care,


    jcanoe
     
  2. Ric Altfather

    Ric Altfather WCHA #4035

    Stem Bands

    Did you re-use the aluminum bands in your rebuild and use copious amounts of bedding compound? If so, leave it alone. If you want brass, check in the builders column for Old Town replacement parts or Rollin Thurlow...they can provide the necessary parts.

    Ric
     
  3. OP
    OP
    jcanoe714

    jcanoe714 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yes, lot of bedding compound. The paint flakes and chips off of it... I actually though there was another company that made very durable (and elegant) stem bands... Well I need to think about this a bit more I suppose. But again, I was told that replacing them would be better for the long term welfare of the canoe...
     
  4. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Old Town can send you brass stem bands UPS and they aren't all that expensive, compared to the value of the boat. The last set I bought came shipped in a scrap chunk of the vinyl extrusion that they use for gunwales on their plastic boats, so they got here in good shape. I think they were pre-drilled, but don't remember for sure. You bend them to shape and cut them to their final length, bevel the ends, etc. They're easy to shape, but bending needs to be done slowly and carefully as the spots with countersunk screw holes bend much easier than the rest of the strip. If you aren't careful, you'll get kinks at the screw holes. With the brass bands, you have a choice of leaving them shiny, full length, or painting the lower part and leaving the top shiny where they wrap up on top of the decks. Both methods look pretty good. There is no question that brass will withstand a bit more beaching abrasion than aluminum, but most of us try to minimize any and all forms abrasion on our wooden canoes, so I doubt you're ever going to wear through your aluminum bands. As far as what's best for the canoe, the quality of the bedding job is drastically more important and will have a much greater impact on long term durability than which of the two materials is chosen for the bands. Properly installed, both should do fine. Brass is a little tougher, more decorative and holds paint somewhat better, but that's about it. It well may be one of those "if it ain't broke..." situations
     
  5. OP
    OP
    jcanoe714

    jcanoe714 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Ok, I think you might be right... I wish I had the cash to replace them with brass at the time. The paint does flake off of the aliminum, and it look rather junky -- it's the only part of the canoe that doesn't look good. But I might be inclined to agree w/ the "if it ain't broke..." philosophy. Sounds like bending the brass could be a real headache. Last year I though I read about a particular dealer of brass bands (whom, I believe, also sold these great brass eye rings) who advised me to consider junking the aluminum and replacing them -- not just w/ brass, but bands would provide a wider cover around the tight points on the bow and stern (i.e., around the seems of the canvass folds).
     
  6. ebeeby

    ebeeby Novice Canoe Restorer

    I removed and cleaned all the paint off the aluminium stem bands on a Seliga canoe (Seliga used aluminium for a brief period when brass/bronze was unavailable). Cleaned up, they look pretty good. And they are the original bands installed by Joe.
    I did replace the brass bands on a 1929 Old Town with new (pre-drilled) bands I got from Northwoods. I was attaching them to a boat which had new canvas and so I was making all new holes with the screws. I would guess (though it is not necessarily so) that getting the holes to align with new bands on your boat may be difficult.
    I would recommend cleaning the bands so they are (relatively) bright rather than using brass. When next you recanvass, you can apply new bands.
     
  7. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    You could always scrape the paint off of the bands while they're still on the canoe, mask them off, and the paint a coat of zinc chromate primer on the bare aluminum. Once it dries, your regular paint should stick to them without flaking.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    jcanoe714

    jcanoe714 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks. You know, after reading all of this I was actually just thinking about taking the paint off of the bands and rubbing some steel wool on them -- and maybe even putting some sort of chemical preservative over them afterwards (like zinc chromate primer) to give it a better sheen (and durability perhaps).
     
  9. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The zinc chromete primers which I have used are all a pretty nasty orange-yellow color, so you will probably want to paint over them. They do make a substantial improvement in paint adhesion though (I know people who have painted aluminum canoes using them as the primer). Also, it's a good idea to avoid using steel wool on any boat as tiny bits break off in the process and can later rust, leaving little brown spots in your finish where you weren't expecting them. Boat supply places sell bronze wool specifically for that reason as a replacement. If you can't find it locally, you can use Scotchbrite pads, which are just a plastic matrix coated with fine abrasive.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    jcanoe714

    jcanoe714 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Ok, good to know. So, if I use those Scotchbrite pads to knock the loose, chipped paint off the the stems should I coat them w/ anything afterwards just to them them a nicer sheen a bit of a protective layer? As i said in an early posting, part of the tought of replacing them was that there doesn't seem to a lot of width in covering over the folds of the canvas... Anyway, thanks for you help.
     
  11. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Right after the Scotchbrite treatment they will look kind of like brushed stainless steel, though within a few days they'll likely dull down to more of a grey, which isn't all that ugly and at least looks better than peeling paint. Most coatings, like laquer, varnish, etc. will eventually peel, just like the paint did so they probably aren't a good idea. Don't know whether wax would do anything to slow the oxidation. "Natural" brushed aluminum or properly primed and painted are probably the best options. You can epoxy-coat aluminum, but it really should be acid-etched first. After epoxy coating they could be varnished or painted, but the process is so much work that it would be cheaper and easier to toss them and buy brass bands to replace them with.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    jcanoe714

    jcanoe714 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well...seems like just having them left w/o any chemical agent would likely be the best way to go then, no?
     

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