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Restoration started on 18' 1930 OT Guide Special, Beverly, MA

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by PMK, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. PMK

    PMK Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well, school is out and I've been to Utah and back, so I finally got started on the 18' 1930 OT Guide Special I was given last August. The canoe has been a saltwater canoe all its life. This is my first restoration.

    Today I succeeded in removing the stem bands and keel without breaking either. Some screws could be unscrewed, some stripped in the wood, some broke off. On the stem bands, I had to cut some screws with a hacksaw, getting the blade between band and keel or stem. My first tries took a bit of brass off the bottom of the stem band, but I got better and did less damage on the later ones. I presume I still face the challenge of removing portions of screws embedded in wood, as new fasteners will have to replace them. Ideas?

    I started an attempt at removing the outwales, but while it is easy to clear the the slots in the screw heads, the screws don't budge before the walls of the slots break down. I presume these screws go through outwale, rib, and into the inwale, so are fairly deep. Suggestions?

    In addition, the canoe is already a good deal more flexible without the keel. Once I have the outwales off, is there any best way to support if that will stress it the least?

    I've misplaced my camera to computer cable, but I'll try to take and upload photos soon, posting them to the following Picasa link, which currently shows the canoe prior to today's work:

    Thanks to any who read or look!

    Paul Kelly
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  2. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    I have no experience with this, but if the canoe is too flexible, why not temporarily reinstall the keel after the canvas is removed, while doing other work?

    I would also wonder if the flexibility you are describing might not be related to a need to replace (or possibly reclench) tacks that have been affected by salt water, and are now perhaps not holding planking as tight to the ribs as needs be?

    As to your questions on the linked photos about the rough paint surface and stains: there is a lot of paint on that canoe -- when built-up paint inevitably cracks, it often becomes at least partially loose and then flakes off -- or the loose portions may have been scraped off before a new coat of paint -- leaving a rough surface when repainting. Even if you were to manage to smooth the surface, cracking and flaking will continue. I presume you will be replacing the canvas, the only permanent cure for both the rough surface and the stains, which may well be mildew.

    My experience with smoothing rough paint is that, while you can make a canoe presentable, you will not succeed in getting a truly good surface. Having obtained my first random orbital sander, and wishing to modify the design on my canoe, I did a good bit of sanding (down to canvas in some places) in an attempt to get a smooth surface:

    sm 101_8447.jpg

    filled bared canvas and remaining small paint cracks with spot putty:

    Bondo spot primer.jpg

    and ended up with a new paint job that passes casual inspection (and keeps water on the proper side of the canvas):

    sm 101_8458.jpg

    but does not stand up to close scrutiny (click to enlarge):

    sm 100_8714.jpg

    In its second year, the renewed paint job is serving well:

    sm 100_0507.jpg

    albeit with some touch-ups of a few occasional and expected chips and scratches from crossing beaver dams, dead falls, and gravel patches, and I expect it will serve until canvas is replaced in a year or two.

    Good pictures in your link -- keep us informed as you go along.
  3. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    Paul, Your comment on the canoe spending its life in saltwater, and now being 'loose' suggests possible bad tacks. There have been discussions on these forums that explain dezincification - see and others. De - zinc - ed brass tacks won't have much strength left in them. But if the wood is still good, just put in a couple hundred new tacks and tighten her up again. Easy to do. Tom McCloud
  4. OP

    PMK Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Greg and Tom,

    Thanks for the ideas and sharing of experience. Indeed, the canvas is coming off--as soon as I can get the screws out of the outwale...

    Went on a Norumbega paddle on the Charles River with Steve Lapey today, who had suggestions for working on the screws and removing any that break off and remain embedded. I'll have to get to the tool store next week, then give it another go.

    And yes, I am expecting I will need to retack much of the canoe.:)

  5. smallboatshop

    smallboatshop Restorers

    We've had good luck with roll pin screw extractors. You use a triangle file to notch the roll pin. They are inexpensive and can be sharpened as necessary. The store bought ones that we tried worked great until a tooth or two broke. Dan
    Roll Pin Screw Extractors.JPG
  6. OP

    PMK Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks, Dan. I may have much need of screw extractors. (After a little web search and reading, I now know what a roll pin is.) I have now done my best to turn out all 35 screws holding on the starboard outwale. With the correct screw driver and full-body force to hold the driver in the slot, about half the screws turned. The two foremost and aftmost screws turned out of their holes. Only one other did. All other screws that turned without the slot breaking down (or apart) broke somewhere in the wood and stripped their holes, remaining imbedded. I've marked these with black sharpie.

    On a separate note, I started to think through supplies to order and was intending to order from Bill Clements in Billerica. However, he is headed to his camp in Maine until the end of September. Other recommendations of friendly and informed suppliers, perhaps near Boston's North Shore?

  7. OP

    PMK Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Just occurred to me that, if one hopes to reuse the keel and outwales, it might be easier to strip them before removing them. That's not the order of things in Stelmok and Thurlow, but is there any case against it--other than the fact that one might discover, upon removal, that they are less salvageable than one supposed?

    Of course, my keel is already off. The primary reason I am thinking to put it back on at the end of things is that the mast step gets screwed into it, and I wonder if screwing the step into ribs and planking only would be strong enough.

    Re suppliers, Steve Lapey sent me the following by email. Thought I'd paste it in should it prove useful to others.

    "Sounds like you will only have a few broken screws to deal with. Another way to make a tool for removing broken screws is to file notches in the end of a short piece of brake line tubing. Usually they sell short pieces in various diameters at the auto parts store. (always several ways to skin cats)

    "With Bill being away for the summer, the next source would be Rollin Thurlow at Northwoods Canoe in Atkinson, Maine.

    "A lot of marine supplies are available from Jamestown Distributors in Bristol, RI. They are great, if you call before noon they almost always ship UPS the same day and with luck you get the order the next day. If you ask they will send their catalog which is fun to look through, they also have an on-line catalog.

    " will get you to their site."
  8. OP

    PMK Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Pictures without the skin

    I have posted pictures on Picasa showing the canvas removed and the condition of the planking. A few are attached here, but for the full set, go to .

    From outside, tack heads appear to be whole and not proud, despite life in salt water. There are a number of cracks and a few holes in planks. Which need to be replaced?

    Enjoyed a fine day a the Salem Maritime Festival today along with Steve Lapey and other Norumbega Chapter members. We bent the ribs on the first of two canoes Steve is building for a summer camp. John Fitz provided the steam box. Had a chance to talk to many festival goers about wood and canvas construction and craftsmanship.

    Attached Files:

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