Hiawatha 15- Long term build

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Well, I have decided to start a thread about my canoe build. I have been thinking about doing this for a long time now, but really didn’t have the forum to do it. Now I do…

First, the history…This build was started about 20 years ago. Yep, that’s right, 20. No, it’s not a typo. You read it right. I’m really not sure what I was thinking at the time; I had started a custom furniture business two years prior, and was trying to put my new bride through Vet school. Not exactly a free schedule and that was even prior to kids. It was started in my second shop, and has been moved 3 other times beyond that, all while in pieces. At one point a friend made up a sign and posted it on the side of the canoe that said “S.S. Minnow” I guess he got tired of seeing the massive gaping hole in the bottom where I hadn’t finished the stripping. A lot of the time, the boat lay dormant in the corner under blankets quietly calling out to me. It longed for water. I guess though, in many ways it has travelled many miles without ever having seen a drop of water.

My time is still very limited with a business, 3 kids, and a disabled wife, but I’m hell bent to finish this in time for next season. We have long cold winters here in Southern Ontario, and my garage is not heated, so the plan is to try to get as much done as possible while the weather is good. It will then have to go on hold for a bit.

The design...This is the Hiawatha 15 model from the ever popular Canoe Craft book. It caught my eye one day in a book store. I happen to have the 1983 edition if any of you would like to purchase this vintage copy when I’m done. It has been read more times than I can count. I’m not sure what the newer editions have in them, but my version just has a table of offsets to draft out the forms. At the time, I don’t believe that Bear Mountain boats offered plans, so it was just a matter of following this book, almost to the letter.

In case you are interested, here are some of the specs, and blurb about this canoe. It is taken directly from the Bear Mountain web site.
Hiawatha 15
A light displacement easy-paddling canoe
• Length 15'
• Maximum beam 33.5"
• Beam waterline 31"
• Beam gunnel 33.5"
• Bow height 21.5"
• Centre depth 12.25"
• Draft 4.25"
• Displacement 320 lbs.
• Wetted surface 24.2 sq.ft.
• Weight to immerse 115 lb/in
• Prismatic coefficient 0.525
• Weight 40 to 50 lbs.
• Keel-less or shoe keel

This traditional looking Bear Mountain design has a sheer-line and bow profile reminiscent of the early 'Canadian' style canoe. Below the waterline, the hull is a more up-to-date shape for paddling efficiency. The hull is a shallow arch with a moderately flat keel-line that flows into a shallow vee to become a fine deep vee at the bow for directional stability, speed and maneuverability. The vee is carried as far back as possible, acting as a keel, it contributes to directional stability without sacrificing maneuverability.

The Hiawatha is a general purpose recreational canoe of light displacement, designed in the tradition of contemporary American cruisers, achieving its optimum waterline shape when paddled level, rather than heeled over. A good solo canoe, it is also very fast and responsive with a double blade paddle
.

Ok, so fast forward to today. I am ready for the fiberglass. It has been block planed, sanded with 80, then 120 grit paper on a flat sanding block (by hand), and finally 120 grit with a DA sander. I chose to laminate hard maple strips for the outer stem bands. This is actually my second attempt at the outer stem bands. The book instructs you to glue up the inner and outer stem band at the same time on the bow and stern forms. I did this, but when it came time to fasten the outer stem band in place, after stripping, it had sprung too far out of shape to be useable. So, I just glued them up in place. Brass screws and maple plugs complete the glue-up. The outer stem bands were shaped with a combination of block plane and belt sander. I know that the use of a belt sander sounds a little scary to most, but I have learned to tame the beast. I use the big 4” x 24” monster. It’s an arm workout in itself .
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My apologies for the pictures not showing a better angle of view. This is a single car garage that just barely fits my canoe, bench, table saw, and a little walking room. It’s a little full. To work on the side that is close to the wall, I just push the whole thing over.

Generally, most builders try to use an accent strip or two a few rows up (down) from the starter strip. I chose instead to use some furniture inlay to create a similar look as a nod to my custom furniture days. It comes in 36” lengths and comes in all kinds of widths and thicknesses. Mine is 3/8” wide by 3/32” thick. Inlay doesn’t take a great deal of fine work or great skill to pull it off. I just set up my hand trimmer router with a 3/8” straight bit, and ran it along a long straight edge temporarily clamped in place. The depth was set for just a hair LESS than the thickness of the inlay. It gets epoxied in place before the final sanding.

If you look closely, you can just make out the pencil line of the final shape to be cut off the top edge once flipped over. I hope it isn’t too much of a radius for the gunwale material to bend. It may have to be steamed. We’ll see when I get to that point.

My hope is that you’ll get something out of this thread. I’ll do my best to inform and entertain. Stay tuned.

Momentum
 

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Next time, when you bend up the inner and outer stems, if you aren't going to use them for awhile, just lay em up on a board and run some nails along the edges to stop them from relaxing and losing the curve. Basically lock them in place until you need them.
 
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Looks good! I have had outer stems settle into a variety of bizarre configurations. I just got rough with them and wedged them into the trough on top and used tie down straps, screws, whatever it took to more or less straighten them out while glueing. Yours look fine. When are you going to fiberglass? Fiberglassing the outside is quite easy, nothing to be concerned about. Have you decided on what brand of resin? You getting to from Noahs?
 
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Memaquay, I'm trying to carve out the time to fiberglass on Saturday. I have chosen a 4 oz cloth (purchased from US Composites) and Epoxy from AeroMarine. I'm generally not hard on canoes, so I'm hoping that the 4 oz will do the trick. I'm considering adding extra layers at bow and stern. Those hidden rocks can be tricky buggers.
 
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Thanks Mihun. I'll have to remember that trick for the next round. Not sure there will be a next round for a while though. There always seems to be lots of projects backed up behind this one. My son wants to build an off road go cart next :( And I know nothing about welding, or engines. Wood is my thing.
 
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Will the four ounce completely cover the hull or will you have to overlap it? Last time I ordered 4 ounce it only came in 50 inch widths, if you have found a source for 60, that would be good news.
 
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Really good question Memaquay...It has been quite a while since I ordered the glass so I just went out to the garage to have a look and do a quick measurement. It looks as though I may have screwed up. I think the hull at its widest point needs 52-53". I have 50" glass. Oh boy.
Should I make the hull shallower by cutting off a strip on both sides? That would give me 1 1/2". I plan on rabbeting out the gunwales to have them cap the top edge of the hull.
If I was to overlap it, do you have suggestions where I should or should not do this? Would it make more sense for me to try to run the glass the opposite direction?
What a bummer, but thanks for pointing that out.
 
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What if I were to split the 50" down the middle length wise, separate it and buy a roll of 6" wide glass to fill in the center? Would that do it?
 
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Momentum,

Too bad about the narrow glass. I'm sure you could add the extra width piece right down the keel line, you might want to have a double layer below the water line anyway. The hull and your stripping look nice, I like the inlay. A boat buddy did a South African flag inlay on his decks!
BTW, I have the exact same book, given as a gift to me in 1986 from one of my boat building buddies.
 
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I would just over lap two pieces on the bottom. The outside edge will disappear when you put your fill coats on. However, if you only ordered enough glass for one sheet inside and one sheet outside, you will need more glass………………...or the other thing you could do is put patches of glass along the edges that aren't covered. You will have a lot of glass left from the stern and bow, and if you cut it off before you glass, and then make patch sized pieces to fill in the blank spots, it will not affect your strength, as long as you overlap. Also, the patches will be close to the gunwales, and may not show at all. On the inside, you can run the glass in three horizontal pieces, instead of one big piece, and you will have no problems there.

This might sound confusing, but the glassing is actually one of the most forgiving parts of the process.
 
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Thanks Mihun. I'll have to remember that trick for the next round. Not sure there will be a next round for a while though. There always seems to be lots of projects backed up behind this one. My son wants to build an off road go cart next :( And I know nothing about welding, or engines. Wood is my thing.

Welding is pretty easy. Stick moreso than MIG. You could likely pick up a stick machine off kijiji fairly inexpensive and you can even get rod from Crappy Tire. It is the easiest method to learn and necessary for thicker steels.

Yup, another thing I can do I'm not supposed to.
 
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The whole fiberglass process seems quite intimidating. It's so final, without a great deal of effort to get back to square one if you mess up.
In thinking about my conundrum today, I think I'm going to get some 6" wide fiberglass and apply it over the keep line. I'll of course have to cut my 50" material down the middle, but I think it makes the most use of the material I have, as well as my time.
There's a store in town that sells fiberglass. I'll hit them tomorrow.

On another note, Memaquay- I PM'ed you. Did you get it?
 
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Welding is pretty easy. Stick moreso than MIG. You could likely pick up a stick machine off kijiji fairly inexpensive and you can even get rod from Crappy Tire. It is the easiest method to learn and necessary for thicker steels.

Yup, another thing I can do I'm not supposed to.

I know this thread is not about welding and neither is the forum. I just wanted to chime in real quick since that is something I have experience with. You can PM me if you want more details. Another option besides stick welding (aka arc welding) and mig welding is flux core welding. It is inexpensive to get into also, and easy to pick up. My brother is a certified welder and could point you to some good how to videos on youtube. We use arc welding, mig welding, and occassionally flux core welding in our business. We prefer mig welding due to the strength you get from it, but it is the most expensive and difficult option. Stick welding is a very good alternative for a go-cart though.

Anyways, PM me if you want more details or have any questions if you decide to undertake that project.
 
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I'm impressed you could go 20 years without saying "screw it" and tossing it out!

It look great and I like the detail with the inlay. I wasn't aware that you could buy inlay in premade strips. I'll have to look into that sometime.

What did you use to fasten the strips to the form? It looks like the strips on one side only have a single puncture hole. Or are my eyes deceiving me?

Can't wait to see it with the fiberglass on. Like Memaquay said, it's really not that big of a deal, especially the outside. It can be a bit intense when you're getting ready for it because you know that there's no easy way to reverse this step but the actual work of putting it on is pretty easy.

Have you ever used fiberglass? If not you might want to find something to practice on, even if it's just a scrap piece of sheet stock or something small with a slight contour. Not that you really need to practice but it will show you what the cloth looks like as it wets out and how you can and can't manipulate it, and how much time you have. If you're a little anxious that might ease your mind a bit.

Alan
 
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What did you use to fasten the strips to the form? It looks like the strips on one side only have a single puncture hole. Or are my eyes deceiving me?

Alan
You are seeing a single hole because at one point my stapler bit the dust, and I had to fasten them with a single nail while in the middle of epoxying each strip to the previous one. I used epoxy to fasten each strip. There wasn't any readily available water proof glue at the time. That was stressful.
Maybe the glassing won't be so bad after all.
 
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I used epoxy to fasten each strip. There wasn't any readily available water proof glue at the time.

I hope I'm correct, because it's what I used, but I think regular wood glue is fine. The glues only job is to hold the strips together during assembly. Once it's fiberglassed that's what keeps it water tight and holds everything together.

Alan
 
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Alan, I think there are 2 schools of thought here...

One says that you should use epoxy because it will keep the cedar together in the event of a fiberglass de-lamination. Moisture of any kind will compromise the joint, then you have a major issue.

The other school of thought says that you can use a regular wood glue, because as you say it is only there to hold the strips together until the fiberglassing is done. If there is a de-lamination or puncture while using wood glue, you have bigger problem than just the glue anyways. It saves a heck of a lot of time and money though.

I followed the book, so I'm not sure which side I'm on. I took it at face value that there was some merit to what Ted says.
 
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Just got back from Hog Town last night, what a drive! I got your message, thanks, I'm going to wait on making a decision, I'm packing for a trip today and heading out Sat for a week or so. I have always used wood glue, seems to me if you wee sloppy with epoxy, and I'm sloppy, it could really make sanding more difficult. I have punctured my canoes, split them open, a variety of traumas. I just dry them out and recover, they keep on going until they die. one have reached a point where they are done, and I canabalize parts off them after that.

You make a date for fiberglassing yet?
 
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I was going to tackle the fiberglassing this weekend but something has come up, so I'm hoping for early next week.

In the mean time, I have done a little work on the gunwales. Yes, I know I still have to go through the anguish that is sanding the interior and getting it fiberglassed, but at least in my mind it's a step forward. I will post pics shortly.
 
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While I wait for a full day to magically appear so that I can epoxy/fiberglass the outer hull, I figured that I would start doing a little work on the gunwales.

I have a little stock pile of furniture grade material I have left over from my building days and found some fairly straight grained white ash. I don’t have a planer anymore ;( but my buddy does, and he owes me big time ;) I have decided on ¾” X ¾” for both inwale and outwale. I have also decided on scuppers. Now before I go any further, I know some of you are not fans, and some are of the infamous scupper. Please don’t hold it against me if you are not in favour, and for those who are, I hope I do them justice. More on that later…

My material was only 9ft long so scarf joints are in order. For those who don’t know what a scarf joint is, it is simply the joining of two pieces of material by using an angle butt joint. The process is that you determine how long you want to make the joint by the factors at hand (type of material, thickness of material, type of glue to be used, application and location of wood to be installed, etc) Scarf joints are determined by a ratio of something to 1. So in my case, I chose a 6:1 ratio. It simply means that for every 1” of width (or thickness) you measure over 6” in length. I used a hand saw for cutting my angled ends quite simply because of the magic that happens when you cut joinery by hand. Don’t judge me. My joints were pretty good, and just needed a little touch up with the belt sander.

Now, my apologies for the lack of the “before” pics. I kinda got carried away so here’s one of my clamping set up and the after the glue had dried shots. Sorry. I hope you can see the joints clearly enough.

I also started laying out the scuppers. I did a couple mock ups to see which one works for me and I think I found a winner. See the pic with my scribble on it. It is essentially a 6” wide by ¼” deep slot. For my mock up I used a 3/8” bit in the drill press. Drilled a thru hole at each end, and then connected the dots with a jig saw. I’m not sure which method I will be using to make the final cuts, but this was a quick and easy way to figure it out. I plan on having a full 6” space that is uninterrupted for where the yolk will be installed, and will be mounting the seats on some sort of support rail mounted to the inside of the hull. The seats won't be mounted to the gunwales. This will leave an uninterupted pattern from bow to stern. I haven’t figured out yet, exactly where the scuppers will end when they get to the decks. I’ll figure that out once the epoxy/fiberglass is complete on the inside.

I think I like it.



Stay tuned for a little blurb about who came to visit me today...
Momentum
 

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