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1902 Rushton Indian complete

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Howie, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I've just finished restoring my 15' 1902-ish Rushton Indian, Grade B, serial #84. It weighs 67# and is 31-3/4" wide from the outer rails. Seat, thwarts, and decks are chestnut.
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    Note the odd wide/flat keel and the staggered placing of the screws holding the keel. To compensate for the thin keel the screws enter at about a 60 degree angle thereby giving it more wood to bite into.
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    It also came with a 2-piece removable floor board system as well as what appears to be a seat back. I assume they're from Rushton as they appear to be original and fit very well.
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  2. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    More pics...
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    Kent E. Nord likes this.
  3. Scott Rowe

    Scott Rowe Random Adventurer

    Looks great Howie! So jealous.
  4. johnmetts

    johnmetts Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    What a lovely maiden.
  5. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    John: Well, technically it's not a maiden - that'd be an Indian Girl. This is an Indian. It was only available in the 15' length, and came out in 1902, a year or two before the Indian Girl and was the first canvas covered canoe offered by Rushton. It lacks the bi-lobed decks and trapezoid rear seat usually associated with the Indian Girl. She/he has rail caps, thinnish non-rabbeted outer rails, a very fat keel. Like the Indian Girl the front seat is atta ched from the outside with screws through the ribs. And I'm told the deck peaks are an inch or two taller that those in an Indian Girl.

    I just yesterday took it out for a swim. Just me sitting 'backwards' in the front seat so the aft end is pointing forward. This thing turns on a dime: just one circular stroke with the paddle causes a 90 degree turn. And it wasn't as 'tender' as thought it might be as long as I sat in the middle of the seat. It found sitting or leaning to the side made it much more unstable though.
    So it's a keeper. Guess I'll be selling my 13' Old Town 50 Pounder...
  6. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Beautiful canoe Howie. Nice job
  7. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    Like the Indian Girl the front seat is attached from the outside with screws through the ribs.

    What a beautiful restoration- congratulations!
    Question though about the note re: front seat. So seat hangers screwed directly to ribs from outside? Screw heads countersunk flush? How thick are ribs?
    Interesting way of hanging seat. Rear seat hung directly from inwale so wondering why they choose something else for front...

  8. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Yup - c-sunk flat-head screws from outside through to the blocks holding the seat. Yeah... don't know what to say. It does make the inner rails stronger, and you can still remove the seat. Plus with this technique the seat acts as a thwart as it's extremely rigid - unlike seats that dangle from the rails with wiggly standoff spacers. And consider: this was Rushton's first canvas covered canoe. He was making non-canvas canoes and boats before this. Seems to me with non-canvas canoes there's little down side to mounting seats from the outside, so likely with the Indian & Indian Girl he continued to use the same construction techniques.
  9. johnmetts

    johnmetts Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    True, she is not a "Girl" in that context, however, I still assert that she is a lovely maiden in the tradition of the sea. I refer to your wonderful craft in the feminine as it is embedded in maritime tradition and I appreciate your wonderful craft in the sense of the skill you ply. I have read that the feminine idiom for watercraft comes from the Latin word for ship, "navis," which holds a feminine connotation - however this doesn't hold water. (sorry - couldn't resist.) Some sources suggest the concept of "she" is related to motherhood, and the protective nature of mums everywhere. This would be a valued attribute in a watercraft - even though in olden times a woman on board a ship was considered bad luck. The English word "ship" comes from the German "schiff", a noun that is neither masculine nor feminine.

    Sadly, the romance of the sea has fallen by the wayside. Nowadays, Lloyd's List, reporter of shipping news since 1734, refers to all watercraft by the pronoun "it." (A descriptor that leaves a dusty taste on the tongue and conjures up a picture of a neutered cat.) Alas, we have let political correctness debase the art and architecture of our language. We, who still appreciate all that is beauty and art; where a Girl is still a Girl and a wooden canoe is still most feminine in line and aspect; can call your creation a maiden to show our keen eye for such a lovely thing.

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  10. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    johnmetts: How is it you Brits have such a way with words? Although... it is called 'English' I suppose.

    As to the feminine craft: I take your point! Consider: the first thing we canoe restorers do is rip off their canvas and strip them down to their bare wood. Then we probe for rot or other damage, and replace and or fix imperfections. Only then, after weeks of work do we varnish, canvas, and paint anew to make them look like they did when they were young.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  11. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Goodness....I'm headed outside for a smoke.

    WRT Pooks observations, one way to spot a canoe from the North Country is to look for the bow seat hung from a pair of cleats attached directly to the ribs. You'll see this in all of the Indian Girls, the Whistle Wing that Benson just posted is constructed this way and the Brown I am currently working on is the same. There seems to be a convention for how to trim the edges of it. It seems like anyone that ever built a canoe in St. Lawrence County made these pieces exactly the same way.
    From what I've seen they do have a tendency to spread a bit due to the way the seats are attached...and the absence of a thwart near the seat.
    Shari Gnolek likes this.
  12. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    "one way to spot a canoe from the North Country,..."
    Seat cleats screwed from the outside of the ribs are very common in Canadian canoes.
    Many are working boats. That seat attachment strenghtens the hull considerably (as Howie mentioned above). I never understood why anyone would drill a hole through a relatively narrow piece of wood as a gunnel. That seems to me to weaken it unnecessarily (all the more so if it's softwood as many inners are).
    Craig Johnson and MGC like this.
  13. johnmetts

    johnmetts Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    British? Oh my. I was born in Michigan but of Irish and French Canadian descent. Pi pip! Tally - ho and all that jolly rot!
  14. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Howie. . . . a couple of questions if I may. . . .

    Nowhere near this stage on my Navahoe yet, but how did you fasten the outer rails and caps on? The caps look like copper nails on the photos, (What size and what spacing?), but I can't see what you did with the sides.

    Did you have original side rails or make new? I think they'll be a pain to bend with being so thin. I'm thinking my best bet will be to bend up a much thicker piece then saw strips off. I'll probably do each side in two pieces as I don't fancy handling 16' lengths of thin curved wood on my saw! Making all four strips from the same piece should enable me to get a decent grain match where they join.

    Can you get me a photo showing the shape and size of the cleats which hold the bow seat. Did you use screws with cups through the planking?

    Thanks - I'm sure there'll be more questions to come!

  15. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    While you wait for Howie to punch your ticket, here are a couple seat cleat related images that might be helpful. I can add some more measurements if you need them.
    The cleats are secured from outside without cup washers. There are 4 screws per cleat.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  16. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Hi Sam... Looks like Mike has answered your seat questions.

    I was given scraps of the rail caps & sides when I got the canoe. The sides I made are accurate to the original and measure 0.9" x 0.43". I used #8 screws to hold them, though I believe the original used copper nails like the caps. You most certainly need to steam bend the sides from a square piece of wood - perhaps 0.9 x 0.9 square - then split in half after bending. I screwed up on the upper caps though - I made them too wide & too thick @ 1.4" x 0.28". My thinking was that their outer edge would just cover the inner edge of the outer rail and extend to about 1/16" from the inner edge of the inner rail. But this made it too thick (in both directions) to bend easily. Plus they look clunky. A few months ago I did a Morris with rail caps I made at 3/16" x 1". These conformed much better and look better too. Luckily I was able to get long lengths of ash for the Rushton so mine are one piece, but I did scarf cuts for the Morris I mentioned.

    At Mike's insistence (for originality sake) I used copper tacks for ribs/planking and copper nails for the rail caps (Jamestown Distributor 2d/#15 x 1"). I had to use a 1/16" drill to pre-drill the holes which greatly reduced the nail's holding strength, but the soft copper nails always bent when I tried smaller pilot holes. If I were to do it again I'd consider #15 x 3/4" silicon bronze ring nails.
  17. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thankyou Mike and Howie.

    There will be more to come!

  18. ticonderoga

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    Howie, Beautiful job on your Rushton restoration! It's nice to see another Indian restored to it's original glory. I have a grade A, 1902 ish Indian and its nice to see the B grade to be able compare the two and see how they are the same and different. In just a short time there are differences in the gunwales, seats, deck design and woods used, yet the overall dimensions remained the same. At some point Rushton started to number his canoes, maybe as they became more popular. Mine does not have a number. He must have been trying different methods for his canvas canoes until he found what he liked as seen in the early Indian Girls. Did yours have any evidence on the stem extending above the deck? Its great to see another piece of history saved! once again, great job. Joe
  19. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks for the kind words Joe. When I first got the canoe someone had already worked on the front deck area, so evidence of a stem extension there was gone. But the aft end looked untouched, and I could see no hint of the stem extending above the deck, nor could MGC/Mike when he came over to drool. The decks are not what some would expect to see on a Rushton Indian, so perhaps both the decks and stem extension were later ideas. And at serial #84 this has to be an early one.
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  20. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    What type of wood did you use on the rail caps?

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