My first wood canvas canoe, Chestnut Pal

Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
My first wood canvas canoe. I visited Schuyler Thomson’s Norfolk, Connecticut shop sometime in the 80’s looking for guidance, I wanted a wood canvas canoe, a tandem but one I could solo, a user to take north. I’ll never forget the smile on his face. Schuyler had restored and built many wood canvas canoes, some really beautiful canoes, but few where used for tripping. Many ended up on a rack or in a barn, used sparingly. He did restore many wood canvas canoes for Keewaydin Canoe Camp in Vermont and it was a great to see these old Chestnut Cruisers in his shop being given a new lease on life, then all loaded on a trailer come spring for another few seasons of hard use by young campers headed for far northern canoe routes.
He took me out back and uncovered an old Chestnut Pal, he said it was just the canoe I was looking for. To my inexperienced eye she looked good, just needed some paint. Ha, I had a lot to learn. I bought the canoe and part of the deal was he would let me work in his shop doing any repairs I thought it needed. Was I ever in for a surprise.
Long story short, I managed to get her seaworthy after a few new ribs, some plank and some splices to the rotted inwale tips, new canned seats, new gunnels, canvas and probably the worst paint job ever,
My first trip was an early visit to Lows Lake, NY ADKs, with my sons and my Old Town Camper,
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Soon I was taking her to LaVerendrye in Quebec for many trips,

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many canoe in deer camps with my wall tent too,

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Some river trips in Quebec and Maine too,

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Two weeks in Woodlandand Caribou was her final trip before I started using my Chestnut Chum,

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She sat on the rack for a while till I decided to give her a total makeover, replace all the old damaged ribs, new inwales too. As sometimes happens, life got in the way and she sat for more than a few years.

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So now she sits in my small pond, I’m letting all those new ribs soak up some water before I place her on the driveway with some weighed down 2x4’s to sort of smooth out the hull. She was so beat up that I had to replace a lot of ribs and some ribs just don’t match the neighbor. I’m hoping to smooth things out. It’s been a good canoe, I hope to do her right and have her back in “tripping” condition soon.

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Joined
Mar 21, 2015
Messages
433
Soo... the Used Canoe Salesman suckered you into a repair apprenticeship in the bargain? :D That's hilarious.

Lot of stories in that canoe. She looks.. happy, just floating there, even with half her planking missing.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
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1,297
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
It sounds like it was a great opportunity to jump start your W/C restoration skills, and with all of those trips you did I'm sure you got a lot of practice.

I look forward to tripping in one of my w/c boats, but lacking your repair abilities I think I'll stick to easy well traveled routes and use a synthetic boat for anything that may encounter difficult portages or whitewater of any consequence.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,692
Location
Appleton, Maine
Lot of stories in that canoe. She looks.. happy, just floating there, even with half her planking missing.

I think there is a certain point where Schuyler told me it’s not worth rebuilding, unless the customer has lots of money or the canoe has some personal value. I don’t have that kind of money, it’s a personal thing.

Al, while I can put one back together, my canoes will never win any “atta boys” from the pros ;)

Thanks for the like Abkgn, appreciate it.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2015
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192
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Northern NH
You forgot to list "if it's a personal challenge". I've got a 20' White Guide that was gifted as a challenge. After 39 ribs, two stems, new in and out wales, and lots of planking, she's as good as new.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,692
Location
Appleton, Maine
You forgot to list "if it's a personal challenge". I've got a 20' White Guide that was gifted as a challenge. After 39 ribs, two stems, new in and out wales, and lots of planking, she's as good as new.

Is that what your poling in your avatar? I had an 18' Old Town Guide for a while and it was great with my wall tent outfit. Big canoes are fun!

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Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,297
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I think there is a certain point where Schuyler told me it’s not worth rebuilding, unless the customer has lots of money or the canoe has some personal value. I don’t have that kind of money, it’s a personal thing.

Al, while I can put one back together, my canoes will never win any “atta boys” from the pros ;)

Thanks for the like Abkgn, appreciate it.

I wouldn't expect a canoe that is used for tripping to be perfect, and if it was it wouldn't stay that way for long. I'm sure your boats are useable and seaworthy and still get a lot of compliments. I could never understand why so many w/c boats are advertised as being restored and never been on the water since. But now I know that if you put it on the water once it is highly likely that it will not be pristine anymore.

I have an 18' OT Guide and a 20' EM White, while both are big they are two totally different boats. The OT, like the old catalog states is a very well behaved canoe. The White on the other hand is more of a wild child that needs to have a paddle in the water to keep on course, but it is capable of almost anything. When paddled solo from the stern with a non paddling passenger in the bow seat it remains very maneuverable, which is probably why it was popular with Maine guides.

I want to take the White to Lake Lila as I don't think it will be a problem to carry a third of a mile. The OT unfortunately needs new canvas.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
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Warren, Manitoba
I have a 1905-1909 Morris for my retirement as it needs inwales, outwales, 38 ribs, canvas, some planking... I figure it will take a year

Karin
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2015
Messages
192
Location
Northern NH
The canoe I'm poling in my avatar is an 18' White Guide. That one only needed a new stem. Previous owner, apparently, forgot it was on the vehicle while backing up.
 
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