15' Willow updates

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The (new to me) 15' Willow restoration has begun. Mahogany outwales have been removed, all the good planks have had their tacks re-clinched where necessary, filler residue has been either scraped off or sanded, quarter thwarts removed for sanding and new varnish. Al Bratton at Woodstrip Watercraft is making 24' of new 1/8" eastern white cedar planking for repairs to the bottom planks, and he will provide #10 canvas for the new skin and new brass stem bands. I decided on #10 instead of lighter #12 or dacron in order to add a little durability as well as keep the outer surface as fair as possible. This canoe will not be a sawhorse queen; she'll be a tripping boat for the little ponds of the ADK's for sure.

The many canvas overlap tack holes in the stems were filled by a little dab of Elmer's glue and a round toothpick inserted. Not jammed tight, just snug. Once cured the excess was trimmed and sanded. It'll provide a more consistent surface for new tacks and stem band screws.

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Here are two shots of the Willow on the left, and my current daily paddler on the right. Same length, 15'. The Willow is 2" wider, but way less full in the bow quarters- much finer entry, and as a whole much lighter built. Without the skin & paint... maybe weighs 40#.

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To the chagrin of some, I did lop off the extended inwales (which were pretty beat up) and sanded back to flush with the outer stem. Once re-canvassed I will extend the brass stem band up and onto the deck, and the outwales will be tapered and faired into the rear edge of the stem band on each side. These photos aren't of the same stem, but serve to illustrate the before and after. To explain my thinking... this canoe is neither a historic canoe, nor was it actually built by the designer Jerry Stelmok at his shop Island Falls Canoe. Ultimately, it's like any restoration of a posession- it's what made sense to me, and improves the utility and, more importantly, durability for real world use.

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Lastly, Al is making me a paddle of his own design, the JBS blade in Sassafras wood. Sassafras grows locally and as a kid on the farm, we used to pull the young roots and make sassafras tea. It's also the flavoring for original root beer I think. The idea of Sassafras for a paddle just appealed to me! In the following picture, it'll be just like the one on the rack two paddles to the left of the dark cherry one. Here's his paddle page: http://www.woodstrip.wcha.org/paddle-order-form.pdf. It should be a good deep water blade, quite narrow and the blade is roughly equal to the shaft length. Very lightweight and flexible, but quite durable apparently. His Herreschoff double blades on the right of the rack are beautiful as well. He makes very nice paddles!


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The mailman just delivered 1/2" planking tacks, stem band screws, and new seat bolts from Northwoods Canoe in Maine. I'm anxious to get moving so I can get this canoe in the water in late Fall!
 
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60” overall. I had considered a 58”, but using the makers rule of thumb method the 60” was correct for my relatively long torso. I’m 5’10” tall.

I think for this particular blade, it’s the shaft length relative to my torso that counts.
 
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I enjoyed that report so far, that's going to be a nice canoe to enjoy those ponds and lakes of the ADK. I used #12 canvass on my little 14' Fox, there is a noticeable weight savings but plank lines show even after some extra care in trying to sand them smooth. Durability will be a concern too. In the end I needed a lightweight canoe for day trips/short canoe trips and the #12 will work with care.
I'm on the fence about what to use on my 15' Chum's next re canvas. It has #10 canvas and has held up well for over 10 years.It took a slice on a northern Ontario trip but I consider that patch a "tripping trophy"
What are you doing for canvas filler? I make my own traditional filler from the recipe in the book "This Old Canoe". I have looked at other types of fillers folks are using but I have seen some reports of experienced builders going back to traditional fillers after trying alternatives.
How about paint? I use Interlux Brightside Polyurethane, I find Epifanes varnish and paint a little too glossy for my tripping canoes, but then I have friends who use Rustoleum with ok results for their tripping wc canoes. To each his own.
I'm ok at painting, but recently tried switching to a 6" foam roller with a 4" foam brush to tip with (I kept reading about the roller here on CT), well, it was the best paint jobs I ever did, proving the old saying wrong, you can teach an old dog new tricks...haha
Nice canoe Patrick, looking forward to more updates.
 
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I admire you guys for tackling a w/c restoration. I thought I would do my own when the time comes but now I'm not so sure. My hands and fingers are weak and get sore easily and my lungs don't need to inhale any more dust then they already have, so the sanding part isn't something that will be easy. I also have a very long history of taking things apart and not being able to put them back together. The least of my problems is finding a place to do it but is still an issue. Patrick I prefer a 60 inch paddle also. I had gone shorter over the years, mostly when paddling tandem, but for solo the extra length comes in handy. I checked out that website and 125.00 for a paddle seems pretty reasonable. I have a couple Shaw and Tenneys that came with a boat I purchased that I am real impressed with, I wonder how they compare. I like the fine edges and the flexiness of the blade.
 
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Robin: I had given a lot of thought to lighter canvas or dacron, but in the end after feeling #10 and #12 side by side on the roll, I decided to go with the #10. I'm very careful with my current canoe, and ALWAYS make a wet exit, sparing the stem and bottom from dragging on the shoreline. Sure, we occasionally miss a rock or two, but for the most part I'm very careful. Even so I think the durability factor and a fair finished surface would justify the #10. I'll be using a traditional mix for filler; linseed oil, silica powder, Japan dryer, white or gray enamel, etc. I understand there are some more modern options that may cure faster, but I tend to be a traditionalist in most things, and I'm patient to wait 4-6 weeks for a good cure. I figure by late October I may be able to take her out for a paddle or two!

I'm wondering what you do to the outside of the planking prior to canvassing? I've read about applying boiled linseed oil, or varnishing- perhaps with a thinned mixture- prior to canvassing. I wonder about the water that enters from inside the boat between the planks to the "back" side of the canvas... rainwater, dripping from wet shoes, mud, or even waves lapping over the gunwales and the possibility of planking damage from that. Again, this won't be a wall hanger or museum piece, she'll see plenty of tripping miles!

I've been thinking of Kirby's #1 Green Gray or maybe the Grayling Gray (can you tell I like gray?) and finally their Grand Banks Beige. Truth is, my current hull has Rustoleum Porch enamel in Almond and it's great. Satin finish.

Al: I was impressed with Woodstrip Watercraft's paddles. Very fine carving and overall proportion, fine edges & a subtle spine on the upper half of the blade surface. The grip choice will be new to me, but the sample felt good in the workshop so I just asked Al to make the grip he likes! It's definitely not a paddle for pushing off from rocky landings: I'll use my spare for that and switch when there's sufficient water for the JBS blade.

Thanks both of you for your comments.
 
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Robin:

I'm wondering what you do to the outside of the planking prior to canvassing? I've read about applying boiled linseed oil, or varnishing- perhaps with a thinned mixture- prior to canvassing. I wonder about the water that enters from inside the boat between the planks to the "back" side of the canvas... rainwater, dripping from wet shoes, mud, or even waves lapping over the gunwales and the possibility of planking damage from that. Again, this won't be a wall hanger or museum piece, she'll see plenty of tripping miles!

I've been thinking of Kirby's #1 Green Gray or maybe the Grayling Gray (can you tell I like gray?) and finally their Grand Banks Beige. Truth is, my current hull has Rustoleum Porch enamel in Almond and it's great. Satin finish.


Thanks both of you for your comments.

I don't apply anything to the outside of the plank before canvassing. I know it's popular to do these days, but Schuyler Thomson told me he never noticed a difference to the plank from ones he restored that had been treated on the outside of the hull and ones that where not treated (with linseed oil). Other restorers might have a different opinion but I always followed his advice.

I like those Kirby colors, either one will look nice with the wood interior.
 
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I agree with Robin. I think people tend to go a little overboard with covering the wood with something. I'm currently working on a canadian canoe of unkown origin that the builder decided to coat every piece of wood with something. It needs a number of ribs replaced, but I stopped after 2 because they are glued to the planking with some concoction of boiled linseed oil or varnish. The builder must have slathered the backsides of the ribs just prior to tacking down the plank. It's a nice canoe but will be recanvassed with a number of cracked ribs. The outside of the hull is even worse. I think the builder or the last person to put a canvas on used way too much linseed oil and it's all a sticky mess. I don't think any of those 10's of thousands of Old Towns built over the last 100+ years had anything put on the outside of the hull, at least it's not documented. It seems that the cedar used in all these boats deals with the moisture just fine unless the canoe is really neglected by being left outside, unprotected and on the ground.

That being said, I did use a very thinned coat of boiled linseed oil on my 1928 Old Town. 1 part oil, 2 parts mineral spirits. Now I might consider something like a coat of 50/50 varnish/mineral spirits if anything. In the end, I think that coating boats with stuff does make the wood less subject to shrinking and swelling, but it also makes it more difficult for a person in the future to do a repair job. Just my opinion.

Mark
 

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From Alex Comb's Stewart River website page on construction:

"The old timer who tells you a wood and canvas canoe could gain 20 pounds in a week is not exaggerating. Both the wood and the canvas can absorb plenty of water, and water weighs nearly 9 pounds per gallon! At Stewart River, we pre-seal every piece of wood that goes into the canoe with a coat of linseed oil topped with a coat of varnish before it becomes part of your boat, so this will not happen. We also treat the canvas to prevent rot. Your Stewart River canoe should not gain more than three pounds when in use!"

Here is Alex sealing cedar planks.

Alex Comb sealing planks.jpg
 
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I have a Stewart river with Dacron covering. I have done a few 13 day trips with it and didn’t notice it getting any heavier from water absorption. It’s painted with Epifanes 23 I think. It would be terrible to have to go through what Dogbrain describes with stuck together parts if you needed to make a repair. I don’t have a garage and I work a full time job so when the boat needs a remodel, I will be dropping it off to a professional. Maybe when I retire I’ll have a garage to do this sort of thing. Maybe I will see the Willow in the ADK sometime.
Cheers,
Barry
 
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From Alex Comb's Stewart River website page on construction:

"The old timer who tells you a wood and canvas canoe could gain 20 pounds in a week is not exaggerating. Both the wood and the canvas can absorb plenty of water, and water weighs nearly 9 pounds per gallon! At Stewart River, we pre-seal every piece of wood that goes into the canoe with a coat of linseed oil topped with a coat of varnish before it becomes part of your boat, so this will not happen. We also treat the canvas to prevent rot. Your Stewart River canoe should not gain more than three pounds when in use!"

Here is Alex sealing cedar planks.

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Thanks Glen !

That answered the question for me, on whether to coat the planking on a Wood Canvas.
This question, has been kicked around before.
I've seen some of Alex's work, and attended a few of his seminars.
I'm impressed with his knowledge and work !
 

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Thanks Glen !

That answered the question for me, on whether to coat the planking on a Wood Canvas.
This question, has been kicked around before.
I've seen some of Alex's work, and attended a few of his seminars.
I'm impressed with his knowledge and work !

Jim, you're a Facebook guy, aren't you. HERE's a link to a recent FB post by Alex about oiling/varnishing his ribs and planks.

For those who can't read FB, Alex says:

"A Mon amie is ready to have its ribs oiled. Oiled, then varnished. This is something I have done on my canoes for over 30 years. I seal the backside of the ribs and the inside of the planking before it is installed to keep water from soaking into the soft cedar when the canoe is in use. This keeps the weight down, especially during a long trip where water will tend to collect in the bottom of the canoe. It also helps preserve the cedar over time."

I don't build, restore or repair wood canoes, so I don't have any experience on which to form an opinion. But sealing the ribs and planks to deter water penetration, weight and rot makes logical sense to me.

Waterdog's Stewart River Prospector doesn't suffer waterlogged canvas water weight because it's skinned with Dacron, which is lighter dry and hydrophobic when wet.
 
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It sounds like a good idea to me. If my 20' EM White gained 20 lbs. on a trip I'm not sure I'd get it on the truck.

Hey Patrick let me know if you are interested in doing a day trip in the Poconos, I know of a couple good ones.
 
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Sorry folks.... I've been unable to log on for some time to reply or add to this thread.

Thanks Glenn for the link to Stewart River Boatworks post regarding planking treatment. I have to varnish the interior of new planks I have just installed, and I think I'm going to apply a 50/50 wipe-on mixture of varnish & mineral spirits to the bottom. Not attempting to build a layer, but rather to impart some minimal protection to all of the planking under the new canvas.

I finally got my new paddle, planking, canvas, and stem bands from Woodstrip Watercraft. 1/2 brass planking tacks & stem band screws from Northwoods Canoe. Repairs have begun:

New materials: 1/8"x3" Eastern White Cedar planking & #10 canvas (60" wide) Blue tape marks the planking courses to be repaired.
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Plank removal
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I made a square marking device for the butt joints out of .024 ga. aluminum:
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Finished repairs: The chalk circles mark tacks that need additional clinching. All existing planks had tacks re- clinched where needed.
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The new paddle on the left, the cherry paddle I carved on the right . Click image for larger version  Name:	fC9OmLQPSzqchcuIyIG49Q.jpg Views:	0 Size:	517.5 KB ID:	126841
The new blade is about 1" narrower than the old one. I haven't tried it out yet (too busy repairing!) but maybe an evening paddle to try it is in order tonight!

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Looks really good Patrick! I really dig the paddles too. I have some cherry R. Kettlebell and Fishell paddles and considering a similar paddle with that Northwoods style grip. The bigger the lake the slower my prospector goes and it’s nice to change up the grip while paddling. I guess the canvas filler will set the launch back to winter or spring? If I understand it right the filler has to cure a while I gather from Robins posts.

cheers,

Barry
 
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Thanks for the kind comments!

Barry, if I get canvassed and filled by the end of August, it will take 4 to 6 weeks for the traditional filler to cure. At that rate, after primer and paint, I’ll be lucky to be on the water by early November. Last November was pretty benign so that may still happen…
 
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