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Repaint Tips?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by ghlittle, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. ghlittle

    ghlittle Curious about Wooden Canoes


    I am a WCHA newbie and new to ownership and care of canvas over wood boats, too. With the help this past weekend of some very nice folks in the WCHA research forums we've identified the craft as a 16 foot, 1922 OT double-ended row boat, (it has a pair of rowing stations and four oars),...although it looks like a canoe to me.

    The paint on the bottom of the boat is cracked a bit and several areas are bad enough that the paint peeled away leaving exposed canvas, (see attached photo). The boat appears to me to be structurally sound otherwise. My hopes are to be able to seal the boat back up with a repaint so it can be used this summer with plans to send it off somewhere for a professional refurbishing next fall. I have some experience repainting cars and appreciate the importance of proper surface preparation. So far I have scraped the loose paint off the hull with a putty knife. My next step will be to sand the entire hull well and feather the edges where paint meets exposed canvas, trying not to touch the canvas to avoid disrupting the filler.

    Here are my questions:

    1.) Are my surface prep techniques acceptable?
    2.) Is there a particular solvent I should use to clean the hull between sanding and painting, or will Simple Green soap and water do?
    3.) What primer should I use, and can it be used over the exposed canvas as well as the rest of the painted hull?
    4.) What type of paint should I use?

    I thank you in advance for any guidance you might give me,


    Attached Files:

  2. WoodNCanvas

    WoodNCanvas LOVES Wooden Canoes

  3. OP

    ghlittle Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you for the links and the very quick reply!
  4. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Before making any decision about how to repair or restore your canoe, you would do well also to get, or at least look at, "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok, and/or "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok.

    The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe. Whether you intend to do any work yourself, or to hire someone to do it for you, these books provide the information needed for you to decide what needs doing, and how it should be done.

    “The Wood and Canvas Canoe” is currently out of print, but copies can often be found on eBay or through used book sellers, or maybe through your local library. “Building the Maine Guide Canoe” is available through the WCHA online store, or from ordinary retail book dealers.

    Here are some links to some discussions in these forums of painting over old cracked or chipped paint, when you want the paint to last only a season or three before re-canvasing: see pp. 2-3 of this thread!&p=40689#post40689 starting at post 12, on bondo spot putty

    My experience suggests that, at a minimum, removing loose, flaking paint, and then brushing on a coat or two of paint, either water or oil based, will get you through a season or two of paddling for only a couple hours of minimal work, until you have the time and the inclination to spend the time on a proper restoration. A coat or two of paint, over either bare canvas or crackly paint, will prevent most, if not all, leaks and give you a serviceable canoe. But discretion being the better part of valor, it may be wise to have a small roll of duct tape along if some of the old paint/filler under your newly-applied paint decides to flake off. But even without a duct tape repair, the resulting leak will likely be very slow and will likely not interfere with a day of paddling.

    More sanding, more spot putty, more primer will give you a somewhat better looking surface, with almost no improvement in function – at the cost of whatever extra work you wish to undertake – but while you will have a somewhat better looking boat, you will not be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. To get that “silk purse” look, you will need to replace the canvas and then do a proper fill and paint job, when you have the time and inclination to do it right.

    My Old Town 50 pounder seen in some the pictures in some of the links above has seen 3 seasons of use with old canvas, chipped filler, crackly paint, and a few unrepaired cracked ribs and planks, for just a few hours of necessary paint work (and a few more winter hours just messing around with unnecessary painting of triangle designs). It will go for at least one more season, and maybe two more, in its current condition.

    My preference has been to use most of my limited canoeing time paddling rather than painting - but when I have more free time in the future, I will then spend the time and energy needed for a proper restoration.
  5. OP

    ghlittle Curious about Wooden Canoes


    Thank you for the links and comments. I'll look for a used copy of the book...and make sure to carry a roll of duct tape with me!

  6. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    In your second picture there appears to be a sail rig in the background. I presume this DE boat was rigged to sail as well as row. I would be curious to see the various parts and how this boat was set up with a lateen sail, spirit sail etc. Thanks.

  7. OP

    ghlittle Curious about Wooden Canoes


    The DE came with a set of lee boards, a rudder which slides into receivers attached to the stern stem band (see the first and second pictures attached), and a sailing rig (which includes the sail attached to a pair of equal length poles (see the third pic). I suspect I am missing a third pole...the mast...based on the fourth attached picture; an old photo found on the internet of a similar boat set up for sailing.

    There is a bracket attached to the front seat of our boat for mounting the mainsail, but nothing for mounting an aft sail, nor do we have a second sail for this boat. Looks like I may have to craft a few sailing bits myself once I get the hull repainted and in rowing shape!

    Hope this helps,


    Attached Files:

  8. chassegalerie

    chassegalerie Curious about Wooden Canoes

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