New Christmas tree ornament—a Chestnut Chum

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Uh... I think I'm gonna need a bigger tree!

15' Chestnut Chum, a project for warmer temperatures- my barn is unheated! This canoe (based on the deck decal) dates at minimum from before 1972 when Chestnut relocated to Oromocto,N.B., Canada. Keen eyed observers will notice that the gunwales don't form a 'fair' curve. They're kind of lumpy. I believe that when a previous owner worked on this canoe, they installed a center thwart (this model was built with only one thwart) that was too small. I think it pulled the sides in too much and at the same time created the tumblehome in the canoe sides. Once I get to work on this canoe I'll experiment with a wider thwart and see if I can't return the canoe to a more shapely appearance.

I briefly unfastened the outwales, which have incorrect modern phillips head screws, and observed the apparently original red paint; or maybe that isn't even the original canvas. Who knows? Should be fun getting into this one, and learning how to cane the original seats.

Now... where do I get in line to learn the secret Chestnut handshake?

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Welcome to the Chestnut club!

Were the seats kept off during extended storage? It sort of looks like the hull relaxed a bit where the seats were located. That interior patina looks quite old, unless it was stained to look that way.

After '67, Chestnut widened the form on their pleasure hulls by around 2". If your boat was built after that time period, perhaps the previous owner was trying to recreate the narrow hull of the pre-'67 designs, used a thwart that was too short and pulled in the center too much.

Should be a great spring project. Keep us posted.
 
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Besides the gunnel shape issue the canoe looks very good, the ribs and stems look great. Nice find.
I bet you’ll have no problem figuring out that little issue.
I hope you like it as much as I do mine, I think they make a great solo tripping canoe.
I’m looking forward to sharing that secret handshake.
 
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Thanks fellas.

Murat, yes, the seats have been out of the canoe for years. They are the original seats (and I'm a little surprised at how crudely they were built!). When I lay the bow seat over the gunwales I don't see anymore than 1/4" of deflection in the outwales from the varnish lines on the seat. The gunwale irregularity is nearly all astern of the center thwart, and the stern seat is so far back that installing it will do little to 'pull' the gunwales into a fair curve. I think a little experimentation with the thwart may be called for. Maybe add a quarter thwart if necessary as well.

Robin, you have a good eye. The ribs and particularly the stems are in good shape. There is a little planking damage- maybe two planks, no more than 4' of damaged planking. Other than the typical spider webs and accumulated dust under the decks, I see absolutely no rot in the inner stem faces or the stem tops. The other thing I notice is the particularly fine entry width of the outer face of the stem. The stem bands (which were painted over) are exactly the same width of the canvas surfaced wood stem- unlike my other two w/c canoes which are a little fatter at the stem than the bands. I think that once this canoe is reconditioned, it will live at my son's house in Vermont so I can take my grandkids paddling and fishing. This canoe is much more flat-bottomed so will be more stable than my very tender solo canoes. Maybe an Allagash trip in this canoe is in order for next Summer, in which case maybe I'll swing by to get your approval and that handshake!
 
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Thanks fellas.

.......Maybe an Allagash trip in this canoe is in order for next Summer, in which case maybe I'll swing by to get your approval and that handshake!
My door is always open here in mid coast Maine, please plan on stopping by, plenty of room and if your looking for company I’m up for an Allagash trip next summer, but if your set on going solo, no worry,
 
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The thwart is likely original, even if it is short. Sometimes they weren't all that particular about the length of the thwart they were throwing in canoes at the factory. You could probably splice some ends on it to make it longer if you like the shape of the thwart.

Nice find.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I wonder if Patrick Corry likes wood-canvas canoes. (Plural!)

In the hysterically fictional world of me restoring a w-c canoe, I'd get rid of the shoe keel. In my opinion, they are more of a hindrance than a benefit for many things I like to do in a canoe. Nor are they necessarily traditional. Chestnuts could be ordered without keel, with a 1" narrow keel, or with a 1/2" x 3" shoe keel that tapers in width toward the ends. Keels could be added after factory manufacture.

According to the 1921 Chestnut catalog (p. 24), the shoe keel was a recommended addition for "rocky waters", and any keel cost $2.00 extra from the factory.

 
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Glenn, you are correct. I do like wood/canvas canoes. They appeal to me on many levels; their utility, history, the artistry with which they were (and are currently) built. As a casual student of history, they have great appeal for the place they occupy in the culture of indigenous peoples of North America as well as the fur trade and exploration of the north. As a carpenter and boat afficianado, they appeal for their clever construction and ability to be almost infinitely repairable. Lastly, they are a joy to paddle and in which to spend time outdoors.

I find myself in a curious moment in my life. After 50 years actively working hard in the residential construction business starting as a laborer in 1971, to the present as a building contractor self-employed since 1976, I now find myself not working with the same single-minded zeal to keep producing. I always reminded myself that when that day came I would return to canoeing since I didn't need partners like I did in my active climbing time (note my avatar photo- that's me atop the Aiguille de L'M in the Chamonix Aiguilles, one of the peaks in the French Alps which I climbed with my son).

So, now I'm filling my more relaxed schedule doing what I like, part of which is working in my barn on these beautiful canoes. They aren't just works of art or sawhorse queens for show; they are to be actively paddled. This most recent acquisition will live with my son in VT so I can enjoy it with him and my grandkids.

Here's the progress so far in the last couple of benign weather days (read: not freezing cold in my barn!) I experimented with spreading the beam at the center thwart. I disconnected one end and installed a spreader to result in an additional 2" of beam, with the result of 33.25" of width at the canvas/rib position. This is within the range of Chestnut Chum dimensions found on several company statistical charts.

Spacer installed at center; I think the gunwales look a little more fair now.
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Removing the canvas, which requires removing stem bands, outwales, and shoe keel; all of which revealed the original red paint. This is clearly the original canvas and color, as I see no evidence of a previous skin, i.e. no previous fastener holes from another skin. So, now I have to consider her final color.... red, green, or Chestnut Gray which would have been available for their "pleasure" grade canoes.
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And finally, canvas off! The planking seems particularly good with just a few repairs needed, and no broken ribs found yet.
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Full skin displayed atop the hull.
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Keen observers will note that the 'canoe shop' space is reduced. There's a kitchen cabinet project under wraps, and a hardwood flooring job in the way. I gotta figure out this semi-retirement thing to put my priorities straight!

And then there's this on my tree. It even has a proper carrying yoke.
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I would be curious to learn what the rib spacing is on your Chestnut Chum. I am also in the midst of a Chestnut Chum restoration and my measurements tonight revealed that they are 1.5". This makes me wonder if in fact I have the Chestnut "Doe" which per Mike Elliotts "This Old Canoe" would indicate that I have the "Economy" Chestnut Chum. I will soon be sharing my photos as a thread and look forward to watching your progress on the Chum restoration.
 
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I would be curious to learn what the rib spacing is on your Chestnut Chum. I am also in the midst of a Chestnut Chum restoration and my measurements tonight revealed that they are 1.5". This makes me wonder if in fact I have the Chestnut "Doe" which per Mike Elliotts "This Old Canoe" would indicate that I have the "Economy" Chestnut Chum. I will soon be sharing my photos as a thread and look forward to watching your progress on the Chum restoration.
Good morning. The fun, or perhaps exasperating, thing about identifying Chestnut canoes is the apparent casual approach the company had to maintaining unique specifications for each canoe model they made. I have several Chestnut catalog charts which give conflicting dimensions for rib width and spacing- at least for the Chum model. See below:
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Here's my Chum (or, at least that's what I'm calling it!). Rib width is 1.5" and the spacing is 1.5" as well. It's not precise. As you may notice each 'unit' of rib and space should add up to 3". At the 12" mark, the combined units add up to about 12.25" and I imagine that would continue to 'grow' over longer measurements. There's a similar disparity with width, depth, etc. among these canoes along with the results of distortion due to storage, abuse, and incremental repairs over time.

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I would be curious to learn what the rib spacing is on your Chestnut Chum. I am also in the midst of a Chestnut Chum restoration and my measurements tonight revealed that they are 1.5". This makes me wonder if in fact I have the Chestnut "Doe" which per Mike Elliotts "This Old Canoe" would indicate that I have the "Economy" Chestnut Chum.


Mike Elliot's comment about the Doe is derived from Ken Solway's earlier book, The Story of the Chestnut Canoe (1997). Ken makes the general comment that the Fox / Doe / Deer are basically the 14 ft Playmate, 15 ft Chum and 16 ft Pal but with narrow 1.5" ribs ,spaced 1.5 " apart.

This isn't precisely true. The Playmate / Chum / Pal were Standard Pleasure models which in fact were originally made with these narrow ribs as early as the mid-1950s. The Chum isn't listed in the 1953 Chestnut catalog but does appear in the 1956 edition. It is listed with caned seats and dimensions of 15 x 33 x 12 with 3/8" x 1.5" ribs spaced 1.5" apart. Weight is listed as 65 lbs. This is just like Patrick's 2nd image.

Then in 1961, the catalog mentions a subtle change. The new dimensions are 15 x 34 x 12 so the beam is 1" wider. See below:

61 Chestnut Pleasure Canoes.JPG

The Fox / Doe / Deer don't officially appear until 1966. The dimensions are the same as the Playmate / Chum / Pal with the only difference being that the Fox / Doe/ Deer came with slat seats (more economical to make) than hand-caned. Both the old Chum and newer Doe have the 1.5" ribs and are listed with the 34" beam. Here is a shot of the listing of when the Doe first appeared in '66:
66 Chestnut Pleasure Canoes.JPG
Under the Finish column you can also see that the Playmate / Chum / Pal group used "Enamelled a high gloss red or green outside" while the Fox / Doe / Deer group simply used "Enamelled red or green outside" which might also explain why these were viewed as the Economy version

This all changes in 1967 (3rd catalog photo posted by Patrick), when now the Fox / Doe / Deer line is listed with the narrow ribs and now the Playmate / Chum / Pal have gone to wider 2-3/8" ribs. After this date, the depth has also increased by 1/2" on the Chum and new weights have been listed. The Chum and Doe are now listed at 68 lbs. This seems consistent with the belief that the forms were altered around this date.

All this means that you could still have a pre-1967 Chum even if your ribs are 1.5" wide. If the beam is quite narrow it might reflect the models from the late 50s to '61 when it seems to have been widened. But after all these years, the outward forces of the ribs might make these catalog measurements quite inaccurate.

If you can confirm that your canoe came with original slat seats and narrow ribs, you might in fact have a relatively rare '66 model Doe which appears to have been listed only for that year.

Keep us posted about your project!
 

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The Fox / Doe / Deer don't officially appear until 1966. The dimensions are the same as the Playmate / Chum / Pal with the only difference being that the Fox / Doe/ Deer came with slat seats (more economical to make) than hand-caned. Both the old Chum and newer Doe have the 1.5" ribs and are listed with the 34" beam. Here is a shot of the listing of when the Doe first appeared in '66:

Under the Finish column you can also see that the Playmate / Chum / Pal group used "Enamelled a high gloss red or green outside" while the Fox / Doe / Deer group simply used "Enamelled red or green outside" which might also explain why these were viewed as the Economy version

This all changes in 1967 (3rd catalog photo posted by Patrick), when now the Fox / Doe / Deer line is listed with the narrow ribs and now the Playmate / Chum / Pal have gone to wider 2-3/8" ribs. After this date, the depth has also increased by 1/2" on the Chum and new weights have been listed. The Chum and Doe are now listed at 68 lbs. This seems consistent with the belief that the forms were altered around this date.

All this means that you could still have a pre-1967 Chum even if your ribs are 1.5" wide. If the beam is quite narrow it might reflect the models from the late 50s to '61 when it seems to have been widened. But after all these years, the outward forces of the ribs might make these catalog measurements quite inaccurate.

If you can confirm that your canoe came with original slat seats and narrow ribs, you might in fact have a relatively rare '66 model Doe which appears to have been listed only for that year.

Keep us posted about your project!
Murat V, this is all fascinating research and thank you for the resources that you have provided. I can not confirm that the original seats were slat seats as they were caned with no evidence of any previous slatting. Coincidentally I started a new thread tonight
 
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Good morning. The fun, or perhaps exasperating, thing about identifying Chestnut canoes is the apparent casual approach the company had to maintaining unique specifications for each canoe model they made. I have several Chestnut catalog charts which give conflicting dimensions for rib width and spacing- at least for the Chum model. See below:
View attachment 129230View attachment 129231
View attachment 129234


Here's my Chum (or, at least that's what I'm calling it!). Rib width is 1.5" and the spacing is 1.5" as well. It's not precise. As you may notice each 'unit' of rib and space should add up to 3". At the 12" mark, the combined units add up to about 12.25" and I imagine that would continue to 'grow' over longer measurements. There's a similar disparity with width, depth, etc. among these canoes along with the results of distortion due to storage, abuse, and incremental repairs over time.

View attachment 129233
Patrick, looks like we have very similar specifications. Here is the same illustrational pose indicating my "Chums" rib spacing. There is also the growing number involved with my chum. So fully agree with your take on that. Rib spacing.jpg
 
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