Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

A find in the UK

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by Blott, Oct 8, 2016.

  1. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Folks
    I had a go at bending some oak ribs the other day because I thought it was the closest in colour to my original ribs but when i removed one of the old ribs today it was clear to me that they are made of something else.I don't think it is elm as the grain is not coarse enough I am now leaning towards cedar but I couldn't smell it today as my nose was blocked from a cold.
    Anyway here are some more pictures so hopefully someone can clear this mystery up for me.I don't want to go to all the trouble of removing and replacing them with the wrong material.
    I am enjoying the bending practice anyway :)
    Removing a rib.
    planed this bit of rib to examine it.
    Here is the end grain.
    and here are some of the others next to the one I removed.
    It was the right decision when you see what the worm has done.I'm glad it hasn't got into my planking!

    Cheers Alick
  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    It seems like you should be able to sort out if it's a hardwood vs. cedar, even with the damage done by the worms and rot.
    What happens if you try to push an awl or a knife into the end section that you just shared? You should easily be able to tell if it's a dead soft wood like cedar or a relative hard wood like ash or oak?
  3. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hi Alick,
    What is shown in the pictures looks like Rock elm. It is definitely not cedar. I will dig-out a piece and send you a picture for comparison.
  4. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Here are two pictures of a strip of Rock Elm. IMG_4081.jpg IMG_4087.jpg
  5. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Dick
    Thank you it does look like the picture you sent me. :)
    The elm I have has much more swirly grain so would probably break but I think I will have a look around for a bit that is straighter and try it tomorrow.
    Many Thanks
  6. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hello Folks
    I have continued picking and sanding odd bits and marks inside the hull and have replaced the three worst ribs but I am wondering if another dose of teak cleaner might be beneficial or would I be wasting my time and getting the hull unnecessarily wet again?
    I have attached a couple of pictures so you can see the stage I have reached.
    In this picture you can see most of it looks ok its just the dark bits (at the top of the picture) that I am thinking of.


    In this one the dark marks are mostly around the bottom planks and are deep in the grain particularly on the cedar.(The mahogany has cleaned up more easily)


    Maybe I am being too picky after all she is over 100 yrs old!

    Many Thanks

  7. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I remember bringing my first Healey to the paint shop to have it sprayed. I had spent months sanding, filling, sanding,smoothing. I was pretty proud of the great job I had done and I was even more pleased that my labor was helping me to greatly reduce the cost of how much it was going to cost to get it painted.
    I had known the shop owner for quite a few years so the conversation was pretty much on point without much time wasted.
    "Mike, how good a paint job do you want and how far away from the car do you want to stand in order to appreciate it?" What do you mean I asked? Danny told me to stand right next to the car and close my eyes. When I did he took my hand and slid it over the finished car. "Do you feel anything he asked?" I did.....what my eyes could not see my hand could feel. He told me the car would look spectacular as long as I stood at least 20 feet away from it to admire it. I paid him to finish the car before he painted it.

    Depending upon how fussy you want to be may you still have some varnish to sort out. I would probably use varnish remover and a soft brush to get after it. I sand as a finishing tactic, not for varnish removal. I would probably pull the ribs you plan to pull and remove the varnish that is under them. It's a lot easier to install ribs when you are not trying to line up on an old varnish line.
    You could follow with bleaching once the varnish is sorted.
  8. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Alick..Mike has your answer. Yes pull the ribs t be replaced first and clean up the exposed ares. My Strickland has slippery elm, same as Dick indicated. If you are going to consider age I would use it this way....the boat is indeed old and it will be a long time after your work that someone else will attend to it. Why not be as fussy as you need to be to get it back to where is was ? I would bet you have residual varnish and other stuff in those ugly spots. Why not just try a couple areas with all you can do and see if the process can be used everywhere you have the issue. Remember, it essentially now or never for your maximum contribution to the next 100 years ! Have fun and keep the pics coming. Dave
  9. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Mike and Dave
    Wise words.I had a go at some of the worst bits this afternoon with some thinners and scotchbrite.I think it may have improved them but will let it dry again and compare with the rest before I go over the rest.
    Meanwhile I got myself a hammer with a nice wide head (from ebay) so I can attend to the tack heads on the outside.
  10. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Hello Alick,
    I'm not sure if "thinners" are the same as paint strippers/removers...somehow it sounds more benign.
    What you are dealing with in the pockets/spots are the worst of the worst varnish for removal. To succeed with them you need to lay on a thick coat of the most evil/toxic/aggressive stripper you can obtain and let it sit until it looks like it is beginning to dry. When it looks like it's starting to dry/gel up, lay on another heavy coat and let that sit even longer. Finally after it's been sitting forever and a half take your application brush (I use a medium bristle semi stiff paint brush) and even more stripper and try working the area with the brush to see if the varnish can be removed by poking, prodding and swirling. It should start to loosen up but if not, allow the stripper to sit even longer. Some folks apply a layer of plastic wrap over the area to keep the stripper from drying out. With enough patience the old varnish will loosen up and release. Your brush will carry it out. Once you start, do not give up and do not allow the target area to dry up until the varnish is gone. Scotchbrite is (IMHO) probably too aggressive and can damage the wood grain in the areas surrounding if you are really working at stubborn old varnish.
    It's truly amazing how impossible it can be to get some spots of old varnish to fold up it's tent but aggressive nasty chemicals and lot's of patience will eventually win out.
  11. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Mmm Interesting maybe I should have another play with stripper.
    Thanks Mike
  12. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Felix's Canoe an update on progress.

    Hello Folks
    I think its time for an update as I finally started varnishing this weekend.
    over the past weeks since my last post I spent another session with stripper.Carefully picking at the last bits of varnish and filled the two gaps on the edge of the outer stems (Where the planks meet them on the bottom and the wood was decimated by the stemband nails!) with wooden fillets.
    I gave her a coat of boat soup comprised of Tung oil,Turpentine and clear cuprinol (I luckily had a can of the old oil based kind.)Then I left her to dry for four to five weeks.
    I begin my blog with the next stage which is a further coat of tung oil (I read Rebecca Wittman's Brightwork which convinced me this might be a good idea.)and then the day after I finally began varnishing.
    Click the link to read the full story.
    Alick :)
  13. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    That's looking really good. Thanks for the update!
  14. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Graham
    You are welcome I will post more as things progress.
    Alick :)
  15. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hello Folks
    The restoration is going well but I have a couple of questions.
    I am at the varnishing stage but still have gaps between joins between the ends of some of the planks. see the pictures below.These are all taken at different stages and I don't have any recent ones but the gaps range from a mm to 3mm max and there are probably only 6 or so on the whole hull.



    I am thinking I might cut some slivers of end grain (mahogany or cedar depending on which plank the gap is on) to plug the gaps, glueing them in with a bit of waterproof polyurethane adhesive before I continue varnishing (I have done two coats).

    Can Anyone see any problem with this approach? Should I leave them unfilled to allow the timber to move ?

    My second question concerns the Thwart tags.
    These are pictures of them when I was taking them off.They all seem to be slightly different shapes.some have rounded ends whilst some have corners cut off at about 45 degrees.None of them had any stamps or markings.




    They are not brass but may have been plated originally most of it has rusted off.I am thinking it would be nice to replace them with some brass ones that are maybe stamped with Thomas Gordon as it was his mark I saw under the deck plate where a flag would go.
    Does anyone know what style they should be and or what markings they would have?
    Also some of the screws were round headed whilst some were countersunk.I think the round headed ones may be original but would they have been brass or bronze?

    Many Thanks

  16. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Felix's Canoe Fitting Decks and a little Backtracking...

    Hello Folks

    Following lots of coats of varnish ( I have done 9 now) I decided it was time to refit the decks.It was whilst i was dong this that I realised the corners I had repaired weren't big enough so I backtracked and did them again. They are very tricky to get right and I even ended up doing one of them twice because I made it too small again!

    You can read my blog here to see the full story.


    Alick :)
  17. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hello Folks
    Today I finally plucked up the courage to test her in the water.
    I put her on my trolley.
    Wheeled her to the waters edge.....
    Put her in the water....
    and slowly she took on water.:(
    The water appears to be coming in at one end where the inner stem meets the planking.
    I could just squirt a load of sealant in the gap and the splits in the stem but my thinking is that this is only like treating the symptom as the water will still be getting in somewhere to the area where the stems and planks meet.
    What should I do?
    My current thinking is that I want to keep everything dry for now and then see if there is anything I can see on the outside that I can fill with a sawdust varnish mix but some might say I need to leave her in the water to swell up.My thinking having read up on the subject is that this is not ideal as continued shrinking and swelling will open up gaps again and that is what I am aiming to avoid by sealing everything totally.
    Perhaps more coats of varnish are required (I have done 9 ).??
    Any ideas on how I should proceed ,particularly on how to find out exactly where the leak is would be appreciated :)
    Many Thanks
  18. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    When I had a similar problem with a small leak, and since the precise location of the leak is uncertain, with the canoe upright I poured a bit of slightly thinned varnish along side the keelson on both sides. Leave a puddle of varnish on both sides, in between ribs, and give it a half hour to soak in, looking for where it might ooze out, then blot out any excess. Give this a chance to thoroughly dry. A single application did not work, but after 3 or 4 applications I had no leakage. Tom McCloud
  19. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Tom
    Thanks for that:) I tried pouring a bit of slightly thinned varnish around the stem where it was wet when I test floated her.
    The leak seems to be under the keel band.It was dripping out underneath and there are some hairline cracks in the planking around this area.
    I have left it to soak in and run through.It seems wiping off excess at this stage probably won't be necessary as it was running through slowly but steadily so I have left it overnight with paper under so I can see where it drips most.
    I shall repeat the process several times and maybe remove the stem band to check under it again it could be the pin holes need filling as they are the old ones reused or maybe I need more bedding compound.
  20. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Folks
    I have given her a few good doses of varnish and she has been drying out for a week or so maybe two but in the meantime I have been playing with new thwart tags and have taken delivery of an engraved plate that documents a little of her history and which I will put on the deck covering ugly holes where a plate (possibly a Thames conservancy one) was before, that is now long gone.
    The tags that were on her were plain and unadorned (probably to avoid import duties)and one was completely rusted and didn't match the rest.
    Having seen pictures of old Thomas Gordon Tags on this site I initially tried to track down letter stamping kits so I could stamp my own lettering.The cost of these turned out to be prohibitive and in order to copy the old style I would have had to buy a separate set for capitals and lower case!
    Thomas Gordon Tags.png

    I decided to contact my engraver who makes the engraved oval plates I put on the wood strippers that I make and he said he could do them for around £4 each but the lettering would be straight. If you look at the old ones they are out of line and what my eagle eye also spotted is that although they are out of line it looks to me like the lettering was all done with one stamp so you have a series of lines of writing all at the same slightly wrong angle.With that in mind I asked my engraver to make the tags just a mm wider!
    Then when I got them I was able to put one of my old plain ones on top at an angle.Mark it out and then drill the holes and file the edges so my writing was sloping just like on the old ones!

    I also decided to clip the corners, give them a battering( I think they need a bit more of this) and rub some wax into them to age them.

    Here's one being filed out of square!


    and here is one of them fitted.


    As I say I think they need a bit more distressing but they aren't bad :)

    With the tags done I turned my attention to the plate I have had made for the deck.Initially I ordered it without holes and with the corners still on so I could check and see how it would look on top of the old holes in the deck. I wanted to cover them but only partially so the brown marks around the holes would still give a look of age and I was unsure of whether or not I wanted to clip the corners.
    In order to help my decision I made a paper template and folded its corners and tested it in place.As it happened this was also useful for marking out the holes.


    I drilled the holes clipped the corners and fitted it in place.I an still unsure as to whether to distress it or not??
    but anyway here it is.


    Now all I have to do is make some bottom boards and check again to see if she floats...


    Alick :)
    Tnic, samb and Benson Gray like this.

Share This Page