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1915 Morris restoration/gunwales

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Barry Christenson, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Barry Christenson

    Barry Christenson Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have been slowly working on restoration of a 1915 (best guess) Morris. Someone had put fiberglass in years past and it had already been removed when I acquired it. But the resin remained and I have way too many hours into removing it from the planking and gap between the planks. At last that project is nearly complete. Which brings me to the outwales. They appear to have been left intack when the hull was fiberglassed - the glass was simply put up to the bottom of the outwales. Removing the outwales has proven difficult. With lots of patience and gently prying I have pulled one outwale about 1/2 way off. It is held on by steel nails which go through the inwale and rib and into the D shaped outwale. There are screws added on either side of a thwart and the seats. Along side the decks the nails went through the outwale and into the deck. In most cases I have pulled the outwale far enough out to cut the nail. In some cases the nail came out of the outwale. Has anyone done this aspect of a Morris restoration? My concern at this point is removing the remaining part of the nails that are in the gunwales and rib. Should I try to remove them or just work around them? Also, when reinstalling the outwale, what have other members done? I am inclined to use then screws to make future maintenance easier, but that is not how Morris did it. Thoughts?
  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    After you cut the nails off you can probably use a punch or pin of some kind to tap the nails out of the outwales.
    If fiberglass or resin is sticking to the gunwale and holding it fast on the canoe, heat it up to soften the bond.
    The nail remnants in the inwales can be left there unless they pull out easily. I know steel nails can be a pain.
    I see no reason not to use brass slotted flat head screws in the outwales when reinstalling.
  3. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Barry, seems you want to respect the original fastening and I agree. If you used the same steel nail ( assuming the same steel as the antique material ) your canoe probably would never see the same use or exposure to the elements . But you could use stainless and go modern in material and " historically correct " in esthetics. I find the problem with the old steel is the black staining on the inner face of the wale whether it is the head that is there or the tip that may have broken the surface when driven from the outwale side. It is impossible to get that out when the wale is spruce and you wanting to leave it natural when finishing. If your Morris was heavily stained on the inner wale surface you may not have an esthetic issue. Dremel has a round tipped little grinding bit that would get out the nail left in the outwale. If the hole is left too big, just epoxy in a piece of dowel for the new nail and there you go. I know the approach takes some time, but it is only two or three times in a hundred years.
    I hope we see the boat when you are done. Have fun !
  4. OP
    Barry Christenson

    Barry Christenson Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Update on the outwale removal: yesterday I finally got the first outwale off. As my technique is refined the process naturally goes more quickly. Basically I use two stiff 1" putty knives and work them between the outwale and the planking - always on or near a rib. With gently prying I can open enough gap to cut it with my Dremel or a hack saw blade. In some cases, a 25% or so of the total, the outwale pulls off the nails completely. Once the outwale was off I went back and pulled those intact nails through using a vise grip braced against a thin block of wood against the hull. They pulled out without any damage to the inwale, rib or planking. Whoever put the fiberglass on the canoe cut the canvas at the outwale and just glassed down from there. I removed the old canvas once the outwale was off. But looking closely at the nails I removed it looks to me that they may not be original to the canoe. They sure look like modern finish nails - not something from 1915. So now my best guess is that the original canvas was replaced once (or more) before the fiberglass was put on the hull. The last person to canvas the canoe used those finish nails - about 1.5" in every rib. Does anyone know how Morris held the outwale to the hull in 1915?
  5. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  6. OP
    Barry Christenson

    Barry Christenson Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Benson and Dave and Dave. So it looks like those "modern" finish nails might be original. Either way, they are still hard to remove. I have one outwale off and am working on the second. Going more slowly trying hard to remove the outwale leaving the nails intact. That way they are easily removed. On the first outwale, the ones I cut proved almost impossible to pull through (not enough length to grab). They did not punch through either. So I will try to remove it without cutting as many of the nails. Thanks for the advice.

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