Canoe Therapy

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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
A friend of mine suffered a pretty bad back injury. He will probably never work again, and for a guy with his work ethic, it was not only was a blow physically, but it got him down mentally.
He had a history of childhood camps with Old Town wood canvas canoes, but his adult interest had turned to Kevlar Kayaks, and he owned a beauty. Recently, he mentioned, he sold the kayak and he figured his paddling days where over.
He also mentioned he had bought some high end wood working tools and machines and planned on spending his now ample free time making bird houses and small projects.

At a recent birthday party for our granddaughter (his daughter is married to my son), I mentioned that I always thought he was a wood canvas type guy in denial and somewhere deep inside, his true love was an Old Town canoe waiting to be restored. Lucky for him, I had an Old Town 16' 70 year old OTCA in my barn loft waiting for his loving care.

He accepted my offer, the next day I delivered the old Old Town, but we put it in the back shed and he thought it might be 6 months before he started on it. OK by me, I know how that works, that canoe would be calling out to him for attention, and the next morning he called, the canoe was in his shop on horses, thanks to a neighbors help.

Move forward a few days, we loaded the canoe back onto my truck and brought it over to Schuyler Thomson's shop in my town, Norfolk, CT.
https://www.google.com/search?q=sch...tvLNezjsASJjIBo&ved=0CEoQsAQ&biw=1086&bih=632

We spent an hour and a half talking canoe and this canoes needs with Schuyler, the plan for it's restoration was set, we would use Sky's heated shop for a reasonable fee with his assistance, buying the needed parts through Schuyler also.
It's a good plan, the canoe has alot of potential, I'm pretty excited about working with Schuyler again, but better, my friend has a project to take his mind off of his current issues.

I will follow our progress in the future, and post here with pictures and story.
 
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Dec 1, 2012
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Altoona, Pennsylvania
Nice! Look forward to hearing about the renovation. Maybe you could give a brief description of what's ailing the canoe now that everyone has gone over her bones?

Barry
 
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A thoughtful and generous deed from a friend; nice decision Robin. It'll be interesting to see where this Old Town renewal will take him. You may well have started him off towards many happy wood shop days, and perhaps a few more canoes. The restoration sounds like a great team project .
 
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"Maybe you could give a brief description of what's ailing the canoe"

The canoe is a 1944 Old Town OCTA, which makes it 70 years old. The canoe was part of a deal I made with a member of this site years ago, it was thrown in to sweeten the deal on a very old Chestnut Bob's I acquired.

Years ago the canoe was fiberglassed, which some considered a good idea at the time, but 30 years later proved to be the death of many wood canvas canoes. Fortunately, this canoe fared well and and I was able to strip the old glass off in a few hours. The resin left on the plank would require some attention, but not enough to consider the canoe a loss. I had also removed most of the old interior varnish.

So yesterday, we arrived at Schuyler's shop and the inspection began with Schuyler and his assistant Frank. It was a quiet few minutes as they ran their hands under the canoe feeling the plank for defects rather than look for defects. They knew exactly where to look for problems and they found them. 8 ribs had cracks and need replacing. I was surprised, I never really took a close look at them (the ribs) and thought they where good. We knew both inwales where suspect, and the consensus is they need replacing. Two new decks will be needed, along with new gunnels. Finally, both stems will need some work as the are rotted 5 inch'es from the decks down.
The resin can be ground off of the plank where needed, but it's a touchy job as the plank is 5/32's of an inch thick and a hole can be easily made if not careful.
Finally, canvas and resin needs to be applied, sanded and painted, stem guards, and a few coats of spar varnish inside.

First job at hand, remove remaining varnish from the inside, then pull off the old decks. The OCTA has turned up ends so both the decks need to be formed. The decks will be grinded from blocks of wood, the rails will be steamed and bent in forms Schuyler has on hand.

 
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
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Clearwater, FL
Not a canoe trip, but definitely a canoe adventure. sounds like this will work out good for everyone. any chance we will see this at the WCHA Assembly @ Paul Smith's?
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
I hope to see it at WCHA too. Any year!
Just a thought...I have had some students with back injuries take up canoeing and pass over from kayaking as it proved too painful. Kneeling is particularly easy on the back. Not so much on the knees in a ribbed canoe..but there is good paddling available.

Or perhaps simply the ability to sit with feet lower than bottom ie normally as in a chair will be sufficient. There could be hope he can get back on the water.

Kneeling on the ground holding a clinching iron is a good start.
 
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Jan 8, 2014
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Minden, NV
These are the kind of stories I love to hear. Redefining the meaning of true friendship.

I have a 1951 OT Guide 18. She is kind of beat up but functional. I have entertained the notion of new canvas, and repairs to ribs and new gunwales. But then I would probably be less inclined to take her on rivers. It is a confusing situation, and I would like to hear from those that have restored their old canvas and wood boats.
 
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Raymond, ME
These are the kind of stories I love to hear. Redefining the meaning of true friendship.

I have a 1951 OT Guide 18. She is kind of beat up but functional. I have entertained the notion of new canvas, and repairs to ribs and new gunwales. But then I would probably be less inclined to take her on rivers. It is a confusing situation, and I would like to hear from those that have restored their old canvas and wood boats.

Do it. Wood Canvas canoes are meant to get wet. With broken ribs you have less structural integrity. I am in the process ( and it IS a process!) of restoring a 1900 ish Robertson. Its never been restored in its over hundred years.

Fixed and sort of kept fixed( you don't have to worry about an occasional broken rib or plank) a wood and canvas canoe ought to be good for at least another hundred. It is more fun if you have like minded folks around to help and have fun with.

Don't think there is a WCHA chapter in Nevada but here is the website.. www.wcha.org. Lots of old restored boats go on trips.
 
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Warren, Manitoba
I've done a couple, first one I sold, second one, my Chestnut I use as my solo boat, third got canvas last Autumn and the filler is drying. I have 4 more awaiting power and heat in the shop, which likely won't come until Spring.

If ribs are cracked you may not need to replace them entirely, you could do a behind the rib repair if the crack doesn't go all the way through... remove the planking, route a groove across the crack, glue in a new piece of cedar or even thin hardwood, shape to match the rib, replace the planking, if you use hardwood for the repair, pre-drill for the tacks.



After that first river trip it looked like this, just needs a scuff and new paint.

 
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What we did on the Robertson was apply pressure on the rib on each side of the crack to spread it wider and inject epoxy.. then after it hardened let the rib resume normal shape. The crack did not go through the rib entirely.
 
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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
any chance we will see this at the WCHA Assembly @ Paul Smith's?

I don't know, I tried to get him to join, but $40 a year scared him off. It's a good deal imo, but it will take him a while to find that out. The web page WCHA.org is a wealth of knowledge for someone working on a canoe.
 
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Mihun 09 said:
"If ribs are cracked you may not need to replace them entirely, you could do a behind the rib repair if the crack doesn't go all the way through... remove the planking, route a groove across the crack, glue in a new piece of cedar or even thin hardwood, shape to match the rib, replace the planking, if you use hardwood for the repair, pre-drill for the tacks."

That is a good idea, I saw it done on a Grandlaker (20' square stern) in Maine and plan on doing that to some ribs in a canoe I will be working on eventually.
 
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I don't know, I tried to get him to join, but $40 a year scared him off. It's a good deal imo, but it will take him a while to find that out. The web page WCHA.org is a wealth of knowledge for someone working on a canoe.

Hopefully when he becomes involved in the restoration he will be inspired to do another or learn more and join WCHA. Do you still have the duplicate last issue of Wooden Canoe..it was no accident we got two!
 
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Bob called yesterday, he spoke will Schuyler and we are set for next Tuesday. Schuyler is ripping the spruce inwales today, he will steam them and place them in his forms to get the correct bend for those upturned ends on an OCTA. They will be ready for us on Tue. Here is an un-canvased OCTA (not Bob's OCTA) and you can see the high ends and the need for forms to get them correct.



Bob had finished stripping the interior of old varnish this weekend and he also had removed the decks and seats. He left the thwarts in for stability, and he also removed the top layer of plank. We will install the inwales first. Bob reported that he found some damaged rib ends and was concerned that he might need about 7 more ribs added to the 7 Schuyler found needing replacement. I told him rib tips are easy to replace and not all that uncommon on old canoes.

Canoes always got turned over after a days use and the tips, especially in the wide part of the canoe where left to lay in wet sand or grass. Roy soon developed. I was taught to lay a board or stick under the canoe rails to keep it off the ground.

Starting Tuesday, we will be working in a warm shop and I'll take some pictures of the progress.
 
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Yellowcanoe,
Thanks for the encouragement. I have done some repairs with epoxy and wood flour on the gunwales. The broken ribs are far apart and some have been repaired by the previous owner. I am familiar with WCHA and I found a guy that lives 2 hours from me that has lots of experience with restoration of wooden boats. I don't have a good indoor space to work in, and I still have some fear about using the boat on rivers once it is restored.
 
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Today Bob and I arrived at Schuyler Thomson's shop with the 16' Old Town OCTA. Schuyler had a 4"x1" 17' piece of spruce for the inner gunnels pre bent on forms that fit this canoe.
He went over the stem repair needed and showed Bob what sort of curve the canoe would end up with after the stems where repaired. After the the measurements where taken, we cut the pre bent inner gunnel material into 2 pieces, sent them through the plainer, formed them by hand for the taper at each end and removed the old inner gunnels.

The OCTA with inner gunnels removed,



Bob forming the taper in the inwales by hand



adding the first inwale (innergunnel)


Both new inner gunnels installed, the canoe looks so solid, what a difference they make,


Some other projects in Schuyler's shop,
A canoe inside it's new canvas, the canvas being stretched by rocks and come-alongs


Another canoe waiting to get varnished,
looks like it had alot of ribs in one area, tough to keep the canoes original form with so much repair in one area.



A bunch of other projects in the paint room. Schuyler has a few other local guys working on their canoes and he lets them store them in his shop, but some are these are his own customers waiting for completion. Come April, everybody has to be out, he gets very busy with folks needing their canoes done asap and he needs all the room for his work.



We had a good day, heading back tomorrow to install the decks and maybe cut some ribs.
 
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Is that Sitka Spruce or just everyday run of the mill spruce, like they use for house framing?

I am working on the seat frames for the Canadian and managed to get the shop "up to" -2c before routing the edges and doing initial sanding. My issue is frostbite avoidance. Finish sanding will be done in the kitchen. I want to have them ready for caning maybe next weekend but this oak takes more coats of varnish to fill the grain.

Someday I will have a shop like that, next winter I should have heat and power.
 
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Today we installed the Mahogany decks, it went well...



We then needed to make 12 new cedar ribs. We started with 3- 1"x4" 6' cedar boards and ran them through the band saw to get 12 cedar ribs which we needed to plaine to size, then Bob cut the taper into the ribs with a nice jig they have in the shop...



Then I used the router to get a nice curve on the edge...


Here's some canoe shop humor...


 
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