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1942 Old Town Guide Restoration

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Mark747, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. Mark747

    Mark747 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    picked up my canoe today. It’s in better shape than I even dreamed. Looking forward to bringing it back to new condition. Any advice on where to start would be great 6C70E187-53F0-4193-A398-B321FBA57E34.jpeg 79CF62AE-D68E-426E-9662-ED9C78E41466.jpeg 8B13AFA8-FB6D-4CF9-ABEE-F2EFA371D7CD.jpeg C269F336-12ED-4ADB-A803-98ABD2178894.jpeg E3AF0DD5-5119-438F-836D-8D48497A2016.jpeg
  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Mark, start with tear down... remove the seats, outwales, stem bands, outer stems, and old canvas.
    Then assess repairs.
    Mark747 likes this.
  3. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    To add to Dave's list above, also remove the decks.

    Be sure to use straps around the canoe to keep its shape once the thwarts are removed - I prefer the lever-action ratcheting type. Place them where the thwarts were and use enough force to get the canoe into the same it was when the thwarts were in place. I think I see 3 thwarts -2 straps should be enough.

    Then break out the paint/varnish stripper. Use a type that can be cleaned up with water. I use Dad's: It uses methylene chloride so use only in a well ventilated area. Dad's works well, and can be cleaned up with a water/TSP solution. Use plastic scrub pads to work the paint goop off the wood. Then dunk pad frequently in the TSP water to get the goop off the pad. After stripping a few feet use TSP/water with hose water to clean up the wood. Then repeat on the next few feet. You'll likely need several passes - I sure do - you'll want to get every spec of old varnish off. DO NOT CLEAN UP WITH MINERAL SPIRITS - I believe the mineral spirits soak deep into the wood and carry dissolved dirt with it. Once that happens you'll never get it out!

    After the above I use bleach & cleaner to brighter the wood. I use Messmer's Part A & B.

    Once the varnish is gone you can better see which ribs need replacing. That's a whole 'nother topic...
    Mark747 likes this.
  4. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Mark , You might consider making some temporary thwarts and even some seat rails from scrap and put them in.
    They will apply force as the originals did and will not try to round out your bottom as straps can. Have fun. I use Snappy Teak 2 part as a final process. Super stuff. Dave
    Mark747 likes this.
  5. OP

    Mark747 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Is there any additional value in letting it all original. A friend who has been selling kayaks for 30 years says leave it as is
  6. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    By leaving it all original, I assume you mean doing nothing to it.
    I personally don’t think there is any particular value in leaving it as is. It is not rare. It is not museum worthy.
    From the few photos, it looks like the only compromise is the broken outwale. That won’t prevent you from paddling it, if you just want a paddler.
    The only value that I see in leaving it as is, is saving a bunch of work.
    Actually, it will probably be worth more if a good restoration is done on it versus leaving it original.
    Mark747 likes this.
  7. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I rarely ever see a reason to remove the thwarts. I do however remove the diamond head bolts to clean them up and polish them. I put in flat head screws temporary in place of them and put the diamond bolts back in at the very end. It makes sanding easier. If you don’t remove the thwarts, you won’t have to strap it or make temporary thwarts.
    Mark747 likes this.
  8. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    In addition to asking questions here, there are three good sources of information about canoe restoration that you would do well to get, or at least look at before undertaking any repair or restoration of your canoe, -- "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok, and/or "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok.

    The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe and its construction, and the third is a great history of the company and its canoes. These are available from the WCHA store, are often on eBay, or from Amazon.
  9. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    I think Greg meant to include as his third recommended reading "The Old Town Canoe Company: Our First Hundred Years" by Sue Audette. All these and more fascinating canoe-related items are available at:

    Your canoe appears to be in very good original condition. The damage that it does have is readily repairable. Already you've found one of the very best resources anywhere - these forums. Members of the WCHA can provide a great deal of advice and may even provide actual assistance. In addition to joining the WCHA (and enjoying the Wooden Canoe magazine), you should consider connecting with your local WCHA chapter to meet and enjoy the company of fellow wooden canoe enthusiasts. Find chapter information at:

    People here would enjoy hearing about your progress.

    Mark747 likes this.
  10. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Its your choice as to what to do, so as for "where to start", the first thing should be a careful assessment of the canoe's condition and a decision on what you plan to do with it. You can certainly keep it as is for now and it will always be there for repair or restoration later as long as you keep it safe. If you plan to use it, is it water-worthy? Any damage such as the tip damage shown in one of your photos, and any damage to the canvas (or an old, worn-out canvas) will allow water intrusion and other potential problems that will hasten deterioration of the canoe. If or when you decide to restore it, you'll learn a lot more about the canoe, learn some new skills, and end up with a product that will make you very proud.
    Mark747 likes this.
  11. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    If it's paddle-able as it is, I'd recommend paddling it while you read as much about canoe repair and history as you can so that when you need to repair, you will have a good knowledge of what to expect and how to progress. Of course you might be tempted to dive in and start repairs already - I know that's what I did with my first cedar / canvas.

    Mark747 likes this.
  12. OP

    Mark747 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Started the stripping process

    Attached Files:

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