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Thoughts On Seat & Thwart Bolts On Canoes With Rail Caps

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Howie, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. Howie

    Howie LOVES Wooden Canoes

    What the consensus on seat & thwart bolts on canoes with rail caps: should the bolt heads be below the cap or above? I've only had a few canoes with these caps, and it looks like they all came from the factory with the cap covering the bolt heads. But clearly having the heads visible would be very convenient - both for general use as well as when varnishing.
  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Convienient for what, Howie? Once they are in, they are in. You shouldn’t need to access them. If you are worried about accessing the head so that they don’t turn while tightening the nuts, epoxy them in so they won’t turn.
    IMHO Bolts are always under the caps.
    1905Gerrish likes this.
  3. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Ditto what Dave said. I have four closed gunwale canoes. All four have the seat and thwart bolt heads under the cap. It borders on hearsay to run the bolt thru the cap! Don't make me come over there!

    Be well,
  4. OP

    Howie LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Ok ok! I was asking about the Rushton Indian I'm working on - I didn't mention that at the start because I knew a whole lot of people would beat on me.
  5. Ossineke

    Ossineke Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hello Howie and others,
    Our good ole BN Morris (circa 1905) has rail caps. As I recall when we restored her (2104) she had bolts shaped like upside down "L's". No screw head on the top side, yet a brass screw on the bottom with brass washer (not clothes) and a nut. The "L" portion topside had a slot it would fit in there by would not turn when you tighten the nut.

    Was this original or did someone install this during an earlier restoration?
  6. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Howie, I am close to you anbd you can come by if you wish to see closed gunnels. Never bugger up the caps with ugly holes and heads ( my opinion ) Historically wrong. Old bolts sometimes had ears on the shaft just under the head to inhibit rotation as they embed in the wale hole as they are get tightened. Others used the bent rod as above . You could easily make these from a brass bolt with the head removed. I have just recently used escutcheon pins of about 3/4" with the heads removed and after tightening down the nut, drive the pin at 45 degrees into the flat of the gunnel and right at the edge of the head slot, leaving out enough pin length to lay in the length of the slot in the bolt head. Using the right gauge pin will allow for the pin shaft to be bent and forced to sit very nicely in the slot and the cap will lay right over it. I find the bolt to stay put just fine. And a little grease on the bolt threads doesn't hoit eeda. If you are concerned and want more retention put in another on the other side. Have fun Dave
  7. OP

    Howie LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Ossineke - I know just what you mean - the 1906 HW I restored a few months ago had two of the 'L' bolts just as you describe.
    Dave - Thanks for the info. You wouldn't have a pic of what you're describing would you?
  8. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Ossineke - Your description of your seat and thwart bolts matches the original bolts. These bolts were made from brass bar stock, bent 90 degrees at one end threaded on the other. It appears that when closed gunwale Morris canoes were built, the bolt was dropped into the drilled hole and the "head" either pounded into the rail to set it, or pulled into the rail as the nut was tightened. This created the slot that the bolt now sits in. This was an excellent method for producing a functional bolt, in-house, that provided everything needed including any length desired and a built-in method for preventing turning.

  9. Craig Allen

    Craig Allen Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here are the brass bolts on my 1916 Morris. They are 2-1/8" and 2-7/8" long. I think perhaps the gunwales were probably first chiseled out to receive the bolt head.

    Attached Files:

  10. OP

    Howie LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Yup - got it. Thanks.
  11. Paul Scheuer

    Paul Scheuer LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I didn't see it mentioned above, but the anti-rotation slots for the "L" bolts on my Morris are perpendicular to the length of the inwales (cross-grain). This an open gunnel construction with the aft bolts of the stern seat covered by the tails of the 24 inch deck. The other seat hangers and thwart bolts are flat heads. These slots appear to have been cut free hand., i.e not with a router.
  12. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Howie......I don't have a pic of the process, but you could put a piece of drilled gunnel in a vice , add a bolt and pin it once then twice and see how you feel about the " fix ". And by the way , the next restorer will easily be able to remove the pins if needed. Have fun, Dave
  13. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    My AA grade HW has hidden bolt heads.
    I managed to free just two when dismantling. They are bolts with ears.

    I made new ones (or equivalent) by buying 4mm brass threaded bar and knurled threaded inserts then soldering them together. I'm sure you could do similar under the caps.

    IMGP4881.JPG DSC00996.JPG DSC00998.JPG

    I like to slide my thumb along the gunnel as I paddle so my chestnut playmate has invisible bolt heads too

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