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Cedar Strip Repair Advice

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by Torch Red Tulsan, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Torch Red Tulsan

    Torch Red Tulsan New Member

    After several years of dreaming of building a cedar strip canoe, I was fortunate enough to inherit one this past weekend! It been passed from person to person over the last 15+ years with each one intending to fix it up. Now it's my turn, and I REALLY want to get it back on the water. I am an absolute amateur though. I've spent the last 3 days reading the forums and watching videos to get a better understanding, but I wanted to get as much advice as possible. About the only thing I'm pretty sure on is that I'd like to use West Systems' epoxy products.

    Here are the pictures of what's going on with the canoe. I'll post a list of everything going on, but I'd like to prioritize and focus on one thing at a time as it's all going to be a learning experience.

    Here's the list of what I see, my best guess at how to correct it, and my best guess at the order of priority.
    • Hole in the side - Epoxy filling
    • Crack in floor - Epoxy filling
    • Delaminated fiberglass - Sand down and remove/replace fiberglass
    • Darkened wood - Rotted
    • Split inwale(?) - Epoxy
    • Weathered decking - Sand and varnish
    • No thwarts

    Now for the pictures


    Crack in floor

    Delaminated Fiberglass

    Darkened Wood

    I have more pictures that I can share, but I'll just leave it with these for now so I don't blow up anyone's bandwidth.
  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Just what is "epoxy filling"? There are all sorts of things that can be mixed into epoxy resin to make fillers for specific uses but unfortunately, none of them are for plugging large holes in wood strip canoes or repairing and reinforcing cracks in their bottoms. These spots need the local wood replaced or restored to original strength and new fiberglass patching inside and out.

    Without climbing too far up onto my soapbox, the "fixing up an old, weathered and abused stripper" thing comes up frequently both here and on the WoodenBoat Forum. In almost every case, the outcome is not pretty (literally) and most would be considered a waste of expensive materials and effort. If you are seeing that much weathering, cracks, water stains under the fiberglass, delamination or rot your best bet is to walk away. If there is that much visible damage, you can pretty much bet that the resin which is actually holding the boat together has some serious UV damage as well.

    If you have the skills, dedication and money to rebuild this boat you would be better off building a new one. It is not that difficult if you can simply follow the directions in a book. In many ways, it is easier than this bass-ackwards job of trying to un-build one enough to rebuild it (and still end up with a crappy old boat). It is absolutely possible to put several hundred dollars worth of new materials into one of these old beaters and even if you do a good job, wind up with a boat worth $75 (if you can find a sucker to buy it).

    If you've dreamed of building a stripper, get a copy of "Canoecraft" or one of the other good books, study it and then build yourself a boat you can be proud to be seen in. Unlike the wood/canvas boats here that can be rebuilt and restored piece by piece as needed, strippers are a different story. Once they get neglected to the point where they need much more than some touch-up and minor repairs, they simply aren't worth messing with.
  3. Jim Dodd

    Jim Dodd LOVES Wooden Canoes

    X2 Todd's advise !

    Repairing takes a lot of time, tools, materials, and money, not to mention skill !

    The gunnels need to be replaced also, going by your pics.

    Making it look new, forget it.

  4. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I agree with Todd and Jim but..

    If the hole happened in 76 when your uncle was paddling in the back you were in the front and you hit a rock,The split in the gunwale was there because your mumm backed the car into the boat when you left it on the driveway and the thwarts are gone because your neighbours dog ran off with them I can see there is some sentimental value so go ahead with your repairs but if you can get a cheaper brand of resin use it as the boat won't be perfect in any case.
    Good Luck
    Alick :)
  5. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The other thing which seldom gets addressed in these situations is simply "Is it a good canoe?" I can tell you from experience that spending a whole lot of time, energy and money restoring a boat, getting it finished, and then finding out that it is a lousy design, or handles like a barge, or is tippy as all get-out and for no good reason, etc. is very disappointing. If you can't establish what design a stripper was built to, you have no clue what it will do once you have spent all that time and cash fixing it up.

    This even happens to pros. For example: In the early 1970s, Moore Canoes in Indianapolis decided to add a pretty little traditional 16' canoe to their line of fiberglass canoes. It was an old design and somewhat Morris-ish looking. They cleaned up and faired an old original enough to pull a fiberglass mold from it and their "Labybug" model was born. We got one at the dealership unfinished and installed rails, seats, etc. It was indeed a pretty little boat. The only problem was that it was extremely twitchy and nobody who test paddled it had the faintest desire to ever own one. What had happened is that the ribs had rounded out on the bottom of their old original, and both it and anything built from their shiny new mold were very round bottomed and extremely tippy because of it. Unfortunately, they hadn't test paddled the old boat before going to all the work of replicating it. Not knowing how any canoe behaves and blindly going about investing time and money in it is pretty risky, aside from all the construction issues and the fact that it will never really be clean and pretty again.

    I noticed the exact same thread posted on WoodenBoat's forum. It got mostly responses saying how simple it would be and to go for it - just remove the fiberglass, fix the cracks do some filling and re-glassing and it will all be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, I know for a fact that most of those guys have never built a canoe........ or restored a canoe....... or even repaired a stripper.
  6. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'll add a fourth voice to the "walk away" vote. If someone brought that to my shop, asking if I could fix it, the response would be on the order of, "yes, but it'll cost more than buying two new ones." And I'd want a large cash down payment up front.

    What Todd said... get Canoecraft, or one of the other strip canoe books, and follow directions. It'll look far better, and you'll be a whole lot happier with it.
  7. Jim Dodd

    Jim Dodd LOVES Wooden Canoes

    There is always a demand for Canoe Shelves !

    Years ago at the Mid West Mtn's Spring event and canoe auction. Bought a Cedar stripper. It was in pretty poor shape. I gave $50 for it. Didn't have my canoe hauling truck(with a rack). Did have my big truck with a topper.
    Went into Mid West, and bought a cheap folding saw. Proceeded to cut that canoe in half. You should have seen the attention it drew.

    When I made it home, I turned one half into a shelf, and gave the other half to a friend, who planned on doing the same thing. Finished mine, then sold it for $350, to a guy and his wife. They wanted it for their lake home cabin.

    Take a good hard look at that canoe ! You've been given a lot of ideas ! But remember YOU will be doing the work !


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