Another Chestnut(?)

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So I took a road trip to Woodstock, New Brunswick this week and picked up this old wood canvas canoe. Seller says it was built in the Chestnut factory in 1923 by the previous owner, story goes that he (the first owner) had a friend who was a canoe builder for Chestnut and they built it on a never before used form after hours. This could be true as Chestnut Canoe Company was introducing a new line of canoes after its devastating factory fire. The guy I bought it from has a written history of the canoe buried in some papers somewhere and promised to send it to me when he finds it. I hope he does.
The canoe has many “old” Chestnut features, scupper seat frame, tapered ribs, seats attached directly to the inwales, no spacers. The thwarts are of better quailty and finish than newer Chestnuts, and the decks are heart shaped, but not under cut like they should be, even slotted screws in the gunnels vs. Robertson drive screws. All this could be wishful thinking, but it will be good campfire banter this summer.
I needed another tandem for a planned Maine canoe trip with my daughter/SIL and their two boys this summer, this canoe is still seaworthy but in need of a restoration this winter. It should be a perfect for what I need now.
It has some poor repairs on the ends, and even some fiberglass patches on the old canvas.
16’ x 32 1/2” plank to plank under center thwart & 12 1/2” deep.
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Nice lines on that boat, I'm sure you'll turn it into a beauty. For a boat 12.5" deep I see no need for seat drops IMO, plus I like the look.

I think everyone will be happier on your trip with the boat in it's present condition rather than if it had already been restored. I hope it goes well and look forward to the report.
 
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I like the dimensions.. seems to be built for speed. Were the metal plates put in to strengthen cracked ribs? The bottom looks funky in one pic. Nice scarf job on the stems. I'll bet it has never been restored. Just fixed to do the job.
 
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Hi Glenn,

I found this on the Buckhorn Canoe website:

How to recognize a prefire Chestnut.​



"As mentioned above look for considerable tumble-home and high bow and stern profiles, closed gunnels or as here open gunnels where the rib tips are tapered and feathered along the decks to taper and close up the distance between inner and outer gunwales. Take also note of the peculiar notching of the stem tips. The thwarts should be nicely shaped with tapered ends. Seats might have sculpted frames and should be bolted directly to the gunwales without spacers. If your canoe is a pleasure model it should also have heart shaped, crowned and undercut decks and of course an old style decal if present."

I used the wrong word, it should have read Sculpted seat frame rather than "scupper seat frame". The pre-fire seat frames looked like someone routed a nice edge on them, not sure how they did it then. After the fire, (1923) Chestnut just made rectangular seat frames without the routed edge, not nearly as nice as before. Same with the thwarts, they got worse as years went on. Very clunky.
Tapered ribs just meant that on the floor of the canoe the ribs were 2 & 1/4" wide by 3/8"deep, as they started up the side of the canoe they narrowed down to be only 3/4"wide. They still maintain the same thickness, 3/8", except towards the ends, they narrowed down to get the rails closer together at the ends, This is/was very popular in the high-end canoe makers, for eye appeal and weight savings I would think.

Others here, (like Fitz) might have more or better information on Pre-fire Chestnuts, I'm just learning about this myself.
 
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I like the dimensions.. seems to be built for speed. Were the metal plates put in to strengthen cracked ribs? The bottom looks funky in one pic. Nice scarf job on the stems. I'll bet it has never been restored. Just fixed to do the job.
I agree, I don't think it was restored, just patched. When I pull the canvas, I will know if it's been restored by the amount of canvas tack holes in the stems.
The story is, that the original owner built it to race on the St Johns River in Woodstock, New Brunswick. Those metal plates are old-school rib repairs, I'll find a place for them on the shop wall. The bottom is funky, lots of paint and fiberglass patches.
 
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Here's an example of post-fire Chestnut seat frames. As Robin said, they are square edged and rather clunky! I had to disassemble them, clean and sand the parts, then re-assemble with new dowels. The original hole spacing is rather crudely done as well. I'm about to embark on my first effort at hand caning these frames.
0F9D8DA4-1AD7-4F91-8C41-078E2BDDF79F_1_201_a.jpeg

In a related subject, after a number of local outings in the 15' Willow canoe I restored last Fall, I've decided to move the dedicated solo seat forward since trimming the bow down -even with about 35# of water in a flexible container- has been difficult. This necessitates making a new seat frame. I had some tiger maple stock available so that's what I'm using. Mortise & tenoned joints with cane hole layout to follow once the glue sets up.

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Glenn MacGrady

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They still maintain the same thickness, 3/8", except towards the ends, they narrowed down to get the rails closer together at the ends, This is/was very popular in the high-end canoe makers, for eye appeal and weight savings I would think.

Alex Comb at Stewart River Boatworks does this. From his website:

"You may notice the weights of our boats are often considerably less than some other builders’. We have rethought the traditional wood and canvas canoe and found several places where materials could be pared down without sacrificing strength. For instance, 5/16″ thick ribs, necessary in the middle of a tandem canoe to keep it from “oil canning,” are planned thinner near the ends, thus maintaining the proper stiffness in all areas of the hull. The outwales are shaped to a half-round, eliminating the corner wood and the decks, crowned on top are hollowed out underneath. These touches not only lessen the weight but give the canoe a “soft feel” when you pick it up."
 
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Good luck Robin… this looks like a bunch of fun! To be able to do this with the family in mind down the road… makes it even more exciting!

Enjoy!
 
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Life is a succession of projects. This one needs a lot of TLC. Can't wait to see pictures of it once restored. I'm sure you will enjoy those cold winter nights, by the wood stove, bringing her back to a better condition.
Enjoy the process.
G.
 
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I've caned seats once Patrick, not too bad, keep the cane nice and wet though.

That does look more like a pre-fire than post-fire Robin, quite the rare find if it is.
 
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Others here, (like Fitz) might have more or better information on Pre-fire Chestnuts, I'm just learning about this myself.
I am afraid I am no Pre-Fire expert. In fact, I bet I have never seen one, but some I have seen were close to that age. Yours looks like a good candidate. I have never understood the cant rib spacing that seems to be diagnostic to some. What do yours look like?

Any trout in those ponds of yours?
 
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Fitz,
The cant ribs on this canoe are more like ribs vs my other cChestnuts, on them the cant ribs are like wide planking. I measured my other Chestnuts, all the cant ribs are 3 & 3/4” wide. This new canoe, the cant ribs are 2 & 1/2” wide, the canoe ribs are 2 1/4” wide. It also appears to be 3/8” thick, like a rib.
I won’t be taking the canoe apart till late fall, hopefully I can get a good look at the stem joinery, although that might have been altered from previous repairs.
Going with new inwales and pre fire joinery on the stem.
Andre from Ravenwood Canoes liked the flat bottom and tumble home look of a pre fire canoe
Thanks for your thoughts.
No trout in the pond, but plenty of bass, perfect for my youngest grandson.
 
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