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Willits 822

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by ppride, Mar 31, 2020.

  1. ppride

    ppride Canoe Builder

    This canoe has kneeling thwarts rather than seats. Unfortunately none of them are original. I can figure out the lengths from Pat Chapman's book, and the width and thickness from the mounting pads. What I need are patterns or close up pictures to get the shapes close. Hopefully some one has a similar boat and can help me out. The canoe was in rough shape when I got it. Fiber glassed inside and out with broken inner and outer planking, and rot in the ends. Repairs are going well with the fiber glass gone, damaged and rotten wood replaced. It won't be a museum piece but should end up a solid usable canoe.
    Thanks, Pete
  2. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Hi Pete - You're a good and brave soul. This one seems like it's got some serious issues, and to save an infirm Willits from demise is an honorable thing! Mark Adams has one of these with thwarts only, but I'm not sure if he has it close by. Hopefully he'll come along soon and provide some input. Jack Cohen also has one out in San Francisco, but I don't know that he frequents these forums.

    I (and others) can provide Willits thwart details, but of course it would be best to get dimensions from a canoe with thwarts placed as they are in yours.

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  4. Shari Gnolek

    Shari Gnolek Have dog, will paddle

    The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle ( has a Willits canoe on display outside the building. I took a few pictures of it when I was there in January which I've attached here (it's been heavily painted). Looking at the catalog pictures that Benson provided, it seems like the thwarts that were on it could be original. I don't know if these are the kneeling thwarts that you are referring to, but this is a "working" museum and boat building center so maybe someone from there could take the measurements you'd need. Assuming they are closed for a while, the canoe is outside so if you know someone in that area they could probably walk over there and take the measurements too.

    Attached Files:

  5. CraigP

    CraigP New Member

    Pete -- I am currently restoring Willits #229 and have the thwarts removed from the canoe. If the kneeling thwarts are the same as the thwarts in a Willits with seats, I would be glad to measure, trace, photograph, etc. the thwart for you. Let me know.
  6. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Pete, is this what your looking for? if so I have more photos if needed. Dave Willits bro. canoe 007.JPG Willits bro. canoe 012.JPG
  7. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Pete - You probably already know this but the catalog images that Benson posted above are the standard Willits canoe setup with two thwarts and two seats. This is the type shown in Shari's photo taken at the Center for Wooden Boats. Yours is probably more akin to the one shown in Dave's photos. This type of Willits is sometimes referred to as a Boy Scout canoe or camp canoe. Note that Dave's rear thwart is one interior plank closer to the stern deck than those in the photos below. The second and third photos attached here (these are Jack Cohen's beautiful canoes) show a comparison between the standard Willits and one with thwarts only. The last photo atttached here shows a mast thwart in place of the bow seat and thwart. The point is that the Willits brothers configured canoes in different ways as needed by their customers. If you can post photos and/or descriptions of the positions of your thwarts, you might get a reply from someone with a canoe configured exactly like yours, and from them probably get the exact shape of thwarts that were once there.

    Hope this helps - Michael

    willitsthwarts_interior.jpg Willits compared.jpg Willits compared b.jpg Willits mast thwart.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
  8. OP

    ppride Canoe Builder

    Thank you all for your help. Craig sent me close up pictures and detailed drawings of his thwart which should work fine for me. Attached are pictures of the thwart locations on this boat. I will post more pictures when I'm done. Hope all are staying healthy. Pete IMG_0849.JPG IMG_0850.JPG IMG_0851.JPG

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