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1949 Old Town HW model Restoration

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by John Janicek, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hello to all the knowledgeable folks on this forum. The information you're all willing to share with a world of would-be canoe restorers is really gratifying to read...and I've been reading a lot lately since I'm about to embark on my first restoration project; a 16' Old Town, HW model, CS Grade canoe. She's in pretty rough shape but not nearly as bad as some projects I've seen on his forum so I'm feeling somewhat confident that I'll be able to pull it off.
    I'm pretty sure this will be my first post of many as this project progresses. The restoration will include new gunwales (inner/outer), new stems (not sure yet if full or partial), new decks, many new rib tips (the full ribs are actually in very good shape), new planking at stems and along the shear. The remaining hull planking is in very good shape except for only few isolated cracks. I figured between 70 to 80 lineal feet of new planking. And of course new canvas and finishing.
    My first question is about cleaning the interior before diving into repairs. There is no evidence of any existing shellac or varnish but the wood is extremely dark/discolored. I plan on washing the interior with a mild TSP solution (to remove the heavy grim) and then after rinsing, follow up with a two-part teak cleaner for the final cleaning and to restore the natural cedar coloring. Is this an acceptable approach or do I risk damaging the wood?
    Then, while the canoe is drying out, I'll tackle making forms for the replacement inwales (which will likely be my next post). Thank you in advance for any and all replies.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
    Dsliger likes this.
  2. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    It looks to me like you do you have a layer a very old varnish on the interior, and your cleaning and bleaching will work much better if you strip the canoe first. After stripping, move forward exactly as you described. The TSP will take out remaining grime and sludge from the stripping process, especially if you do it while the stripping is still fresh. The two-part cleaner/bleach will do a great final cleaning and will make the wood beautiful. You certainly won’t be hurting anything.

    You have a big job ahead of you, but one that is doable with time and forethought. You will be an expert by the time you’re finished!

    Have fun,
    Michael
     
  3. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Michael. Thanks for the quick reply. The fact that I didn't see any flaking varnish or anything remotely shiny led me to believe that there wasn't any varnish at all. But I also know that doesn't jive with the typical construction and/or maintenance associated with wood & canvas canoes. So I'll take your advice and first use a water-soluble stripper and scrub lightly with one of those coiled metal scrub pads or steel wool (I don't see what there is to actually scrape) then proceed as above.
    Quick question. Sourcing good air-dried red spruce is difficult here on LI so I am planning to search the lumber yards for some (relatively) vertically grained SPF or SPFs KD lumber (Jerry Stelmok of Island Falls Canoe suggested this to me). I'm thinking 2x8 x 20' should provide the necessary pieces for the four gunwales. Have you, or anyone else, had good luck with using this as acceptable gunwale material?
     
  4. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I would encourage you to consider brass wool or a plastic scrub pad. Steel wool is known for leaving bits of metal behind that rust later and make a mess. Good luck,

    Benson
     
  5. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    A strong second on avoiding the steel wool. It will do a great job, but sometime later under your varnish you will likely see numerous black spots, one where each tiny fleck of steel wool embedded in the wood. Alternatives include the nice brushes that come with Snappy Teak-Nu kits, surgical scrub brushes, Scotchbrite pads, etc.; something not containing iron.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Roger that. Thanks for the feedback
     
  7. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy

    SPF works fine. Try to find a dealer that will let you sort through the pile to find boards with long clear streaks to enable ripping the size you need. I tend to look for very light colored light weight in hopes that I'm buying spruce. Also don't be afraid of shorter stock that you can scarf joint into usable lengths. Have fun!
     
  8. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Andy. On another note. I do have access to a local mill where I could likely get green and/or air dried spruce boards cut to length. The only drawback is that they may be Norway Spruce. Have you or anyone else used this species spruce for making gunwales?
     
  9. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    John,
    A good source for all kinds of boat lumber in NYS is Condon Lumber in White Plains. Their website: http://www.condonlumber.net/
    Good luck with your project.
    Jim
     
  10. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Jim,
    I'm familar with Condon as I bought some Sitka Spruce from them awhile back for making a solid 22' mast. It's a great yard and they don't mind at all you searching through their stock for the right piece. Their price list doesn't list regular eastern spruce only sitka but maybe I will give them a call if I strike out with the local yards. They just might have some nice vertical grained red spruce stock laying around. Thanks for the thought. John
     
  11. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well we tackled the cleaning job this past weekend and I think it turned out pretty well. There are still a few areas which need additional stripping and we'll redo those before applying the final teak cleaner application. After that it will be on to the actual repair and restoration work which I am very much looking forward to. I do have a question however about Old Town decals (I know it's a bit premature at this point but I like to plan in advance where I'll purchase all the required parts/materials well before they're actually needed). Anyway, this Old Town came with two fan-shaped slatted backrests (one wide, one narrow) which will require refinishing. On the backside of the backrests there is a small Old Town identification decal for which I have not been able to locate a supplier. Does anyone know where I might find a source for these items? They are about 1.25" wide.

    IMG_1407.JPG IMG_1397.JPG IMG_1396.JPG
     
  12. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I don't know of anyone who has reproduced these. There are three known types as shown at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/4095/ and yours appears to be the middle style. The newer style on the left is still being used today. These are commonly available on eBay as shown at https://www.ebay.com/itm/152884071692 for example. The older style on the right is available from https://www.woodencanoe.org/product-page/old-town-canoe-company-accessory-decal in the WCHA store. I can supply a high resolution scan if you want to get these reproduced yourself. Good luck,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021 at 8:50 AM
  13. dogbrain

    dogbrain I can take this, but not much more

    Hi John, I used Sitka spruce for replacing an inwale and both outwales on my 1928 HW. If you can get it full length it will work fine. I'm pretty sure it was kiln dried, but it seemed to take the bend just fine. I wish I could give you the 2 forms I made for bending gunwales, since it's hard to see that I'll ever use them again. I don't think they're worth shipping from Montana. Good luck on your restoration.

    Mark
     
  14. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Bemson. Thank you for the info. I agree the type shown in the middle appears to be the one (it has a darker, more greenish background tint than the newer one on the left). The eBay decal offer is vinyl as opposed to a slide-off decal. Not quite the same but am wondering if anyone has used the vinyl decals and how they stood up over time? Having the decal reproduced might be a bit expensive for just a one-off application.

    Mark. Thanks for your input. I am going ahead and picking up the full length sitka stock from Condon Lumber in White Plains NY. It definitely would have been simpler to use your forms but I went ahead and made a form for the gunwale. I'm curious though. You said you made two forms...why?
    Did you bend the complete gunwale at one time hence needing a form at each end? I'm assuming, since the canoe ends are symmetrical, that the one form will provide the required bend for both the inwales and outwales...no?)
    I am planning on doing my inwales/outwales in two steps(as recommended to me by Jerry Stelmok); steaming/bending one 6'-7' end (both rail pieces with their bevel side nested together to prevent twisting), fitting it on the canoe and measuring/locating for the other bend, then steaming/bending the other end using the same process. It's does seem like it's a little bit more involved but lacking a full length form to use (the current inwales are broken in several places) I see it as a viable approach method.
     
  15. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The factory has been using the clear vinyl decals since the 1970s and they seem to have survived reasonably well. There are eBay auctions regularly where the Old Town decal is in better shape than the paddle. See https://www.ebay.com/itm/363319574857 for an example. The seller claims that it is from this one is from 1940s but the decal confirms that it isn't older than the 1970s.

    You can get water slide decal paper for a home printer if you want to make your own. It can be very expensive to have decals made professionally for a single example. Good luck,

    Benson
     
  16. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Benson. Just realized I misspelled your name...sorry about that. o_O
     
  17. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I like the idea of printing it myself using water-slide decal paper. If you are able to send me the high resolution scan of the decal/logo in question (the middle one from the http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/4095/post) it would be very much welcomed. Thank you.
     
  18. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  19. dogbrain

    dogbrain I can take this, but not much more

    Hi John, To tell you the truth, I can't remember why I made the second form. It took me a few minutes to visualize what you meant about nesting the bevels together. I keep thinking that one would be bent the wrong way, but I guess it will work, I hope it works? I only had one inwale to bend and didn't have any issues with twisting. My forms aren't very long, only 24" or so. Here's a picture.

    P1430192.JPG

    I did the same and clamped the bent end in place on the canoe and marked as best I could where the other bend would be. Make sure to make reference marks on your form to help line things up. I experimented a little with bending the spruce. I ended up soaking the ends for about 5 days, then steamed for about 30 minutes.

    I bent the outwales together. After cutting out the rabbet, I milled a strip that fit the space exactly and bent the two sides together. That all went well. Installing the new inwale was the most satisfying part of my restoration. Driving those ring shank nails through all the new rib tips turned the flimsy hull into a canoe again.

    Good luck. I have lots of pictures of what I did if you need any suggestions.

    Mark

    P1430203b.JPG
     
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  20. OP
    OP
    John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    If the photo is cropped to include just the decal image then I think a minimum resolution of 600dpi should be pretty good. If you can do 1200dpi all the better but the photo image will definitely need to be cropped to reduce the file size. Thanks Benson.
     

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