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Who has the Chestnut form for the 17' Prospector?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by rpg51, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Mark Z.

    Mark Z. LOVES Wooden Canoes

    You are in excellent company with your affection for the Prospector. Some Prospector users and boosters were R. M. Patterson of The Dangerous River, Sigurd Olsen, Calvin Rustrum (he even used the 18 foot Prospector on some trips), Bill Mason, Becky Mason and a number of others that I am missing. Go for it.
    Mark Z.
  2. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Ken Solway’s book is likely the most accurate accounting of where the forms went that we now have. Of course now the question is where did the forms he have go to. Carl Jones got some (when Chestnut closed) and started Cedarwood Canoes. I am not sure where he is, though I know of one Cedarwood Canoe Prospector owned by a Norumbega chapter member.

    Actually there might not have been that many 16, 17, and 18 foot forms available when Chestnut closed. Solway writes that for the Pleasure model – their most popular canoe – Chestnut needed 3 forms to keep up with demand. That suggests, at the most, two forms for the 16, 17, and 18 prospector models.

    Years ago, I saw a catalogue of all canoe and kayaks being built (I think compiled in Canoe & Kayak), and like ALL the Canadian builders, Kevlar and fiberglass, had a complete line of clone Prospectors. So yeah, with all those fellas in the game, you are gonna get some phonies.
  3. OP

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

  4. robin

    robin LOVES Wooden Canoes

    That's Schuyler Thomsons shop in Norfolk, Ct. where the form was built. Most of the canoes where built at Keewaydin in Vermont I believe(the canoe being built was not in Schuyler's shop). iirc, Schuyler told me they where 16' Prospectors with some modifications. He said they preformed well on the upstream and downstream portions of the trip from Vermont to the bay, slower on the flats.

    Mark Z said:
    " You are in excellent company with your affection for the Prospector. Some Prospector users and boosters were R. M. Patterson of The Dangerous River, Sigurd Olsen, Calvin Rustrum (he even used the 18 foot Prospector on some trips), Bill Mason, Becky Mason and a number of others that I am missing. Go for it."

    I agree, and would add Fitz and Brendan to that list.
  5. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    The Keewaydin canoes were based on the 17-foot Prospector. You can read about this project in Wooden Canoe issue 170

    Not all Prospectors are created equal, as one post-Chestnut owner found to his chagrin. When his was side-by-side with an original (1979) that I once owned, the difference in bottom shape was very evident.
  6. OP

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    If you are comfortable sharing this information - and just out of curiosity - how did your canoe's hull shape differ from the "post chestnut" owner's canoe? It would be interesting to see a picture of that.

    Also, just out of curiosity, was the other owner's canoe built on an original Chestnut form?

    I'm a little unclear - were the 2012 Keewaydin canoes 16' or 17'?

    The truth is I was strongly attracted to the Chestnut Prospector hull shape from an aesthetic perspective the very first time I saw one probably 30 years ago.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  7. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Interesting that in the video they are putting in . . . not half ribs, but what would you call ‘em? Rib re-enforcers. I would guess you would get a much stiffer canoe. I recall the Keewaydin cruiser that Norumbega fixed up had those as well.

    (By the way, what is the record for the longest post at the forum?)
  8. Dylan Schoelzel

    Dylan Schoelzel born in a canoe

    There is a difference between Keewaydin in Vermont and Keewaydin in Temagami. Currently both camps are part of the same foundation but their canoeing programs and the canoes they use are independent of one another. The canoes in that video were built as part of a trip that was done by the Vermont camp and had nothing to do with the Temagami camp. Some of the footage is taken at Lake Dumore.

    Those small ribs being installed in the video are not the same as the ones on the Keewaydin canoe that the Norumbega Chapter did. The smaller ribs in the video are very non-traditional for a Keewaydin canoe. The chapter canoe had the more traditional wannigan ribs. They are full length ribs on top of the regular ribs. These were installed by Chestnut at the factory. As far as I know wannigan ribs were the brain child of Keewaydin. They have been used for 75 plus years.

    I wrote an article about the history of the canoe at Keewaydin in Temagami for the Journal about a year ago. The article traces the canoes used and the builder’s that supplied them from the inception of Keewaydin in 1893 until the present.

    To the best of my knowledge Don Fraser is not building canoes any more. Keewaydin basically had a standing order with him since he delivered his first canoe to the camp in 1982. 4-6 years ago Don said no to an order from Keewaydin. He said he had a few back orders he wanted to finish up and that was it. Don is in his 80’s, acquired the forms from Chestnut when their doors closed, and before that he was a long time employee at Chestnut. I am sure there is no rush for him to move his forms onto the next person. He has been around them all his life.

    Besides Don, Hugh is building a 17 footer and I am sure it is as true to the prospector design as you will find. I have taken the lines from several 17 prospectors including one just 1 month after it was built and before it ever saw the water. They all have deviations in shape. Other than Don and Hugh I am not aware of anyone building a Prospector that is unmodified and which is true to the original design.
  9. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  10. robin

    robin LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Dan Miller said: "The Keewaydin canoes were based on the 17-foot Prospector"

    Yes, my mistake.

    I saw Schuyler this morning, we where steaming gunnels for a friends OCTA,(,
    and he again mentioned to me his admiration for the 17' Chestnut Prospector, loaded that is. He mentioned that when the canoe is empty you needed to be chewing gum on both sides of your mouth to remain balanced.
  11. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I don’t like to paddle mine solo in a wind. But then again I don’t like to paddle any canoe solo in a wind. Me paddling it solo keeled way over used to be a photo on the WCHA brochure. (taken by Steve Lapey on the Sudbury River.) I think on a Wooden Canoe cover once too.
  12. OP

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Maybe I should have Hugh install wanigan ribs? Might be too late.

    I do trip with wanigans all the time. I think I'll skip the wanigan ribs. My canoe will not get anywhere near the use that the Keewaydin canoes get. I'll just be careful and I'll soften the corners on my wanigans. Keep a little weight off my 62 year old neck/back.

    I believe I have seen an old photo of wanigan ribs in a Keewaydin canoe - might have been in the book The Keewaydin Way. I'll check tonight. My memory is that the ribs in the old photo I saw were similar to the ribs in the video but that there were three in front of the thwart - every other rib, and three in back of the thwart, every other rib. Also, my memory is that they did not cover the entire rib - just the chine area similar to the video in that respect - but I could be dead wrong, going on memory.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  13. paddler123

    paddler123 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Darrow's canoes from Headwaters also had wannigan ribs. Wabun has them in many of its canoes, although not all. All that I have seen go gunwale to gunwale on every other rib in the middle section, with six total (three in front of center thwart, three behind).
  14. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    The newer version's bottom was more rounded. The side-by-side came about as a result of a discussion of stability. The other canoe was a Cedarwood (Carl Jones) on an original mold. Mine was one of the last built by Chestnut, shipping in January of 1979, just before the factory doors slammed shut. I no longer have mine - sold it to a fellow in Quebec who was going to use it to its potential far more than I was.

    BTW, John Winters wrote an article in Kanawa magazine sometime back in the 1990s about why the 16' Prospector was pretty much the perfect design. I wish I had that article but my Kanawa magazines were lost in a flood. If anyone has a copy they can scan for me....
  15. OP

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Interesting. I have sensed that these hull shapes do differ as far as the extent of the roundness in the hull. Do you think that there was variance in the Chestnut forms over the years? Or is it a function of the building process, or the age of the canoes and loss of shape/modification? All of the above? Can two builders get different hull shapes off the same mold?

    Looking at the Headwaters 16' mold (Fort) in the photos I have (see above), and the shape of the hull they produced off that mold for me (see photos above, I don't have the canoe yet) it looks to me like the Headwaters hull has a somewhat flatter shape than the kevlar prospector that I previously owned. Also it looks flatter than the 17 foot hulls in the Keewaydin video. If I am correct about this I am pleased because while I like the more rounded hull shape it can be taken to extremes making the hull unpleasant to paddle - especially solo.
  16. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Absolutely yes...
  17. Dylan Schoelzel

    Dylan Schoelzel born in a canoe

    A traditional Keewaydin wannigan rib runs full length from gunwale to gunwale. The typical width is 1 ¼ - 1 3/8 depending on the width of the main rib below and who is building the canoe. There are 3 per side of the center thwart, alternating ribs, for a total of 6. Yes Brian has a section about the wannigan rib in his book the Keewaydin Way, but who do you think he got his info from:rolleyes:

    Wabun was an offspring of Keewaydin so naturally the knowledge carried down the lake. Hugh was on trip staff in the 60’s at Camp Temagami and he use to rebuild canoes for Keewaydin. While I can’t speak for him, I am sure he learned about the wannigan rib from those experiences.

    I have probably seen 75+ Fraser prospectors built from the original form, many brand new before they were even used, and I can say there is a lot of deviation in hull shape below the waterline even when new. This is true about most wood canvas canoes to some extent - that there will be some deviation in hull shape from canoe to canoe even when built from the same form, but the prospector seems more prone to it. Some of the prospectors at Keewaydin that start out about 15-16 inches deep when new will end up being 18 inches in a few years from rounding out. In some cases as much as 22 inches deep by the time they are retired, but of course those have usually been rebuilt a few times along the way.
  18. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    All of the above are possible. And I have capably, though unintentionally, proven that the same builder can get different hull shapes off the same mold.

    One thing that builders of reproduction molds need to consider is that ribs spring back to some degree. So, after taking the lines, the design needs to be re-lofted to accommodate for this spring back. I'm going back a long time in my memory, but I think I flattened the 14' pleasure Peternut by 1/2", and Steve Lapey's Prospector was flattened 3/4" - Steve can confirm this, but I know he hit his target bottom arch by doing this. If the mold is not flattened, it is almost guaranteed that the new version will have a slightly rounder bottom than the original.
  19. OP

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Fascinating. So if a customer were looking for a hull on the flat side of the spectrum and made that known at the time of the order - could the skilled builder accommodate such a request?

    Is there anything an owner can do to reduce the loss of original shape over time?
  20. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I paddled tandem with Steve on the first canoe he pulled off that form - before flattening – and it had some serious rocker. So spring-back he had to deal with. We had a real adventure with it, me in the stern. Finally he moved back behind the front seat, a radical trim fix. And then we had a rock solid speed boat!

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