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Should I restore this 1971 Northland wood/glass boat?

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by Brad Fisher, Jun 29, 2021.

  1. Brad Fisher

    Brad Fisher Curious about Wooden Canoes

    A neighbor bought it new in 1971 and wants to get it back in the water. It's a pretty boat and most of the work looks pretty straightforward, except for the fiberglass. I'd like to do it although I've never repaired fiberglass before. I've been watching YouTube videos, but haven't seen anything about fixing a hole that's backed by cedar plank. Anybody have experience in this?


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  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Hi Brad,
    You don't specifically say that you plan to leave the glass on it but it is implied in the way that you asked your question.
    If that is the intent, then you might simply remove the damaged planking from the inside and then cut through the area that needs a patch installed from the outside. From the outside cut a bit wider than the damaged plan so that you can attach new pieces of planking before installing a patch. It's a small area so as long as you feather it in reasonably well it should work just fine. Working with glass and resin is a bit of a trick if you don't have experience with it. The trick is to make sure that you get the right amount of hardener in it. If you make it too "hot" it will be setting up on you while you try to load up and smooth your patch and if you make it too "cold" it won't set.... this will be a functional but not pretty repair.
    More of an issue is the condition of the inside rails. They appear to be missing pieces. They may need to be replaced...a tough thing to do on a glassed boat. The rails are a functional necessity in that the thwarts and seats hang from them and that they hold the hulls shape. Perhaps you should post a few pictures of the damaged rails so that we can see just how badly they need repair/replacement.
  3. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    To get the canoe usable: sand the interior around the hole to remove any varnish, cut a thin(1/8"thick ) piece of wood to fit between the ribs and cover the hole, using WEST system G-flex glue the wood in place to cover the hole. allow to dry overnight, turn the canoe over, mix g-flex with sawdust or whatever to thicken, cover the hole from the outside, Let dry, go paddling
    Rob Stevens likes this.
  4. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Good paddling canoe. Canoes were made to use. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
  5. Jim Dodd

    Jim Dodd LOVES Wooden Canoes

    It's a big project, but doable.

    back in 71, it was likely built with Polyester resin. The glass, should peel off easily, with a pliers and a heat gun. Do it outside, and wear a Good 3M respirator.

    What else have you got to do ? Patch the wood sand and glass ! Leave the Keel off, and stem band off.

    I've peeled three hulls, and reglassed so far. If you like the hull ? I'd do it !

  6. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    What MGC and Gil said. patch it, sand it and paint it. Built by Albert Maw, you can even see the disc sander marks in the ribs. Serviceable canoe, dont go nuts on it just repair and use it.
  7. Jim Dodd

    Jim Dodd LOVES Wooden Canoes

    That hull could be Beautiful after you remove the old glass .

    I'd bet the old glass has delaminated quite extensively
  8. Alex Guthro

    Alex Guthro LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Definitely worth fixing, they're a great canoe to paddle. My Northland is from 1974 and was my solo tripping canoe until about 7 years ago. About 15 years ago the fibreglass was separating from the hull, so I took the remainder off and reglassed it. I'm in the process of putting new gunwales on it. I had thought of canvassing the canoe. but Maw built them with fibreglass so I stayed with that. Maw is still in business just outside of Novar Ont. If you want his ph number let me know and I can send it to you. Also Pam Wedd from Bearwood Canoes has repaired a number of Northlands. She'd be a good source of advice for you.
    Brad Fisher likes this.
  9. Alex Guthro

    Alex Guthro LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Brad, when I took the fibreglass off of mine I replaced a few ribs and a plank before glassing it. All straight forward repairs.
  10. OP
    Brad Fisher

    Brad Fisher Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks all for this advice ... everything from leave the glass on, to take it off and re-glass it, to take it off and canvas it.

    At this point I want to keep it original. The owners have a lot of sentiment attached to it. They bought it new ... and Stan named it after his wife!

    It looks to me like the glass is in good shape, except for the hole. No de-lamination that I could see. So I hope to leave it on and refinish it.

    I would love to talk to Albert Maw ... please provide his contact info. I know Pam; she has advised me on other projects and will follow up with her.

    I've uploaded some more shots for the curious.

    Thanks all!
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  11. OP
    Brad Fisher

    Brad Fisher Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Forum folks, I've committed to repairing this boat. Now I have some REAL questions:
    • Is Albert Maw still around? I left a voicemail at his number and have not heard a response.
    • I don't see signs of delimitation in the fiberglass. Where is it most likely to occur, and what does it look/feel/sound like? If it's still tight on the hull, is there any downside to leaving it on, sanding and repainting?
    • Is there a way to tell how sound the planks and ribs are beneath the glass, without removing the glass? Except for the one hole and quite a few rotten rib tops, planks and ribs look fine from inside the boat.
    • This is an important one: What are the best practices for safety when removing fiberglass, other than the obvious gloves, respirator and safety glasses? Does removing and reinstalling fiberglass make dust that can damage your lungs? (My wife is spooked by this project; I want her to know we're not taking health risks.)
    • If I re-glass, how many layers of (6 0z?) fiberglass will I need to replace the old hull? What are the safety best practices for epoxy/glass? Will re-covering with epoxy and glass make this boat less repairable in the the future (compared to say canvas)?
    • Interior may be finished in polyurethane, not oil-based varnish. How can I tell for sure? Should I strip, or just recoat? Is varnish over polyurethane a good idea, or should I stay with the existing stuff?
  12. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I'm late to this party but,

    I see 2 options;

    1) minimal effort just to get it back on the water - easy and not much work, but it won't help or prevent the rotted wood from progressing.

    2) fix it "right", less work in the long run (assuming it's kept for many more years) - and to me this means remove the glass, repair all wood, and recover with canvas. (Recovering with glass puts you back in the same spot you are now.)


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