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Boiled Linseed Oil

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by Larry Westlake, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. D_Sabine

    D_Sabine Procrastinator

    Last time my father re-canvassed his canoe, he used Bakor. He said it cured quite quickly, finished well, and he got more than 10 years hard use out of it. My brother is re-canvassing a canoe this month and plans to use Bakor. I'm interested to see how that goes - been planning to try it myself.
  2. OP
    Larry Westlake

    Larry Westlake Designer/Builder

    Reliable Fillers

    Dan and Mike Cavanaugh have posted what appears to be a reliable alternative to traditional oil-based fillers in the Ekofill process Dan mentions. When they posted the description, they gave source credit to the people who presumably developed it. I am calling this method "reliable" because so far I have not heard of any failures. But then, we don't hear a whole lot about it at all, do we?

    This kind of research and development of new products can be extremely expensive if you are unlucky. For a pro builder, experimenting on customer's boats can not only cost you time and materials expenses, but customer confidence (which is worth a lot more in the long run). It is understandable that a builder who has gone to a lot of trouble and expense to develop an alternative process would want to keep it as a proprietary system - or at least would not want to spend time carefully and explicitly giving it away for free on a public forum.

    Until someone has built a large number of boats with a product such as Bakor, has worked out any bugs, and has published the essential details, anyone who tries it is risking their own time & money for the sake of knowledge. This is very noble and selfless, but can have extremely awkward consequences. I seem to recall some research fervor on this forum regarding Zinsser products that came to nothing. This forum can reduce the number of victims by publicizing the negative results as well as the positive - its one reason I'm here.

    Dan, I am going to bicker with your light-heartedly provocative statement just because I like to bicker. The same situation exists to some degree for all-wood canoes, that exists for rag boats: materials simply are not the same. The wood is not reliably the same, and some of the fastenings are either not the same or not available at all. Some of the fastenings are available in forms that I consider counterfeit.

    Larry Westlake
  3. Cliff Ober

    Cliff Ober Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Larry, would you mind expanding on this a bit? My experience is with all-wood construction in the Lakefield/Peterborough style; I own both a 100+ yr old canoe and a 70-80 yr old rowboat/outboard, both of cedar strip construction. While the canoe is in pristine condition, I'm currently (slowly) restoring the rowboat. Finding quality wood is tough (rock elm for ribs for example) but not impossible if you're patient. There are also alternates that were also used originally (ash or white oak) that are readily available now at good quality levels. As for fasteners, I've had good luck finding the types that were used on my boats; are the W/C canoes that much different?

  4. OP
    Larry Westlake

    Larry Westlake Designer/Builder

    Out West here, for some of the woods needed for faithful restorations, the patience of a saint is required - and sometimes divine intervention as well.
    Much wood shipped sight unseen turns out to be unusable.
    Even our plentiful Western Red Cedar is hard to find in the sizes and quality needed for some types of boats. It is not unusual for old rowboats to have garboards or sheerstrakes of flawless perpendicular grain (no conspicuous radius to the rings) cut from boards over 14-inch wide. Allowing for removal of heart & sapwood, that requires a tree 4 feet or so in diameter. Such of those available now have 4 to 6 growth rings per inch, not the 10 to 20 RPI of old-growth wood. The 'young' wood also lacks the extractives that impart rot resistance. The difference is profound.

    Fastenings are an interesting case. two examples:
    * I measured and recorded one old rowboat (of an extinct commercial type called a hand troller or handliner that I am much interested in) that was put together with 1-1/4" skinny tack-type fastenings that are definitely iron, but which are still quite sound after 60 or 70 years (exact build date uncertain). The boat has been in frequent use for most of its life, always in salt water. I badgered existing manufacturers for information on what these fastenings might be, even dragging some old guys out of retirement to correspond. Nobody could tell me for sure what they were. The best guess I heard was that they are some kind of "Swedish Iron", a sort of wrought iron that was in use by the Vikings, which rusts very, very slowly (it apparently surface seals, like corten steel). Restoring this boat with original-type fastenings appears to be impossible unless I chose to have replica fastenings hand-forged and formed. A Vancouver chandler's catalog from the late 1940's (which was probably available to the builder of the boat in question) listed fastenings referred to as "tinned iron tacks" that might be the thing used, but no manufacturer or other helpful info was listed.
    Tinned iron tacks were also used on the cheapest grades of wide-board canoes.
    * Canoes on the West Coast here are frequently used in salt water, so should really be put together with all copper and bronze fastenings, not brass. Proper canoe tacks with round/domed heads do not appear to be available in copper anywhere now. They used to be. The flat heads of available copper tacks are less satisfactory - they require an extra step to set down properly, and are far more vulnerable to accidental head removal during later repairs & refinishing - the heads are thin enough to be easily sanded off.

    Larry Westlake
  5. Cliff Ober

    Cliff Ober Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes


    As I'm sure you're well aware, the issues with the quality of present day woods goes across the board for just about every desirable species. Furniture makers too have fits finding suitable tight grained and large dimension planks.

    Out of curiosity I did some digging after reading your message and found numerous references to "Swedish" iron used for nails, and also Russian and Baltic varieties. I also found a few references to good corrosion resistance for the material. I'd bet that if you had a metallurgist analyze those nails from your boat you'd find very pure iron with almost no carbon, and possibly with more phosphorus than usually found in steel nails. I've found a few small iron nails in my rowboat, but most are pretty well deteriorated; they're probably not the same as what you've found.

    I've never seen the domed copper tacks you mentioned; my canoe and boat are both constructed with flat headed tacks/nails. The heads are smaller in diameter than what's available now. The issue of sanding off the heads during refinishing is something that can be prevented by properly setting the nails during manufacture. The heads should be set slightly below the surface when they're clenched. It's desirable to set them without damaging the wood fibers; soaking the wood with warm/hot soapy water prior to clenching will allow the wood to compress below the head without tearing. Note that I know this only in reference to cedar strip construction as was done for Lakefield type boats, but it's possible that others have also used the same technique.


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