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

Chestnut Bob's Special questions

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Mud Bug, Aug 17, 2021.

  1. Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    This is my first post here. Please pardon any social blunders I might make before knowing you good folks on this forum.

    In June I bought a Chestnut Bob's Special. I absolutely LOVE that canoe! I grew up paddling a 16 foot Old Town Yankee, and I have two Yankees of my own (an 18 footer and a 16 footer) and this Bob's is far more maneuverable and versatile. It can be pulled sideways with ease; it turns on a dime; it is more stable; and it is wonderful solo, since the rounded bottom allows you to sit off to the side and rock the other side out of the water. (The flat bottomed Yankees don't do that well.) That makes it, effectively, narrower and slimmer to paddle. It's also far lighter. I can pick it up off the water and swing it over my head, and I'm not a big fellow. It's my dream canoe, can you tell?

    Chestnut is new to me. Most of what I've learned has been over the last two months, and I'm full of questions. Here are some, organized and ordered in a male mind's manner:

    1) The ribs are closer together than is listed for them to be (about half inch apart) and there is a screw through each rib to the keel. Most I've seen pictures of (and also the Yankees) have screws through every other rib. Would this one have been a special order? Seems strange that a lightweight model would be ordered with extra weight. Any thoughts?

    2) This canoe came with three paddles, one is solid, the others stripped, each marked with a Chestnut decal. Is this unusual? I've not seen any other Chestnut paddles. Is it criminal to use them? (My daughter refused to use one today, which got me to thinking...)

    3) The seats are rawhide. How do I care for them? Should they be touched up with spar varnish just like the rest of the canoe at the end of the season? Oil? Do rawhide seats help to date this canoe?

    4) The inside of the canoe seems to have been sprayed with lacquer. (Grrr!!!) It bubbles up in the sun and turns kinda white in humidity or when it gets wet. Any recommendations on how to remove this without stripping the varnish beneath it?

    5) (May I please keep going??) The serial number ends in EXL. Any idea what this stands for?

    6) I've read (on this site, posted by someone I hope to get to know) that the Bob's Specials had heart shaped decks til the end of Chestnut and not just before the fire, which takes that out of the lineup of dating details. Were the cant ribs/half ribs also kept narrow, the same as the full ribs, til the end? Mine are all the same width, with the same spacing. Is this usual?

    7) (Oh, I know there'll be more questions, so I might as well keep numbering.)

    Thanks folks.

    P.S. I'm not always this windy--mostly when I've had two months of questions a-building about something that's as exciting as a new canoe.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. bluedcanoed

    bluedcanoed LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Re #2, I think it's only a misdemeanor in Canada;)
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Oh I see. Well then, I'll be sure not to bring them on any north-flowing rivers.
     
  4. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome, I don't know much about Chestnut canoes but your comment about having an Old Town Yankee model that is 18 feet long interests me. I've not come across one of those before. Can you provide the serial number so I can find the build record? It would also be interesting to see a picture of the full serial number on this Chestnut. See http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/16917/ for some speculations about Chestnut serial numbers. Thanks,

    Benson
     
    Mud Bug likes this.
  5. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks, Benson, for the welcome and the link.

    The Old Town's serial number is: 182336 18. (Sorry no picture--camera has issues in the dark.) I need to recanvas that before it goes back in the water. Ugh. I hope I get to it now that I have this Chestnut. My other Yankee is already taken apart.

    The Chestnut is: 3820 15 EXL. (See picture)
     

    Attached Files:

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Original Cnut paddles have some value. I once had someone tell me that the ones I own are worth as much as what I paid for the canoe with the paddles. They are decent paddles and in that I have so many others, I have decided not to use them. Having said that, it's not a crime to use them. They aren't museum pieces or particularly scarce. Use them if you want to. The ones that have been painted would be the ones to use.
    The peeling finish may be polyurethane over spar varnish. The only true cure to the bubbling is to strip it and refinish it. Good quality spar varnish is preferred. Short of stripping it you might try sanding the hull to give it some tooth and sand off the bubbles before varnishing it. Maybe you can improve it that way as an interim "fix"
    Babiche seats should be varnished to keep the gut from getting wet.
     
    Mud Bug likes this.
  7. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hey, thanks, MGC. The seats look dry, so I'll varnish them today or at least soon. The paddles look quite new. The long one is the longest paddle I have, which is a length I like. I've been meaning to make my own but haven't gotten around to it. Seems like there'd be more paddle makers in this world who reproduce the old shapes. Know of anyone?

    I looked at the chart you made up on the other thread, Benson. That's neat. Have you made any new versions of it with new information since then? My canoe's number is four digits, but your chart shows five digits; yet you said earlier in the thread that 7228 was made in the 50's or 60's. Guessing mine would be earlier, or is the "15" included in the number?
     
  8. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    Welcome to the Club!

    Bob last paddle 2020.jpg
    I have a 1970 Bob's and it is my favourite solo paddle. Not fast but responsive and fun to paddle heeled over.
    1) Interesting serial number and I can't explain the "EXL" part- first thought was extra light but that hardly seems appropriate with the rib spacing. Your deck would indicate it is a significantly earlier build than mine.
    Mine has cane seats and screws every second rib for keel.
    2) As others have noted Chestnut paddles aren't rare and come in various shapes and sizes; they are usually decent paddles . I have 5 or 6 that I use sparingly, preferring to use newer oiled cherry over the maple and ash ones I have. I have a beauty that is birds eye maple- beautiful but HEAVY. The decaled paddle shown has a Late Chestnut Oromocto decal- not noted as a great time for Chestnut in general. Perhaps that paddle has some rarity value?
    3) Varnish on rawhide to seal them - without it, everytime they get wet the rawhide stretches.....
    4) already answered
    5) see above
    6) No. Heart shaped decks were not on all Bob's till the end. See photo above.

    Enjoy your canoe!
    Bruce

    Bob and Pal.jpg
     
    Mud Bug likes this.
  9. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Oooo, those are nice canoes, Bruce! But I guess I don't have to be jealous now. Thank you for the information and pictures. Very nice of you.

    As for paddling and speed, often I hear or read people saying such-and-such a canoe is slow, or their canoe is fast. It seems to me that's like wanting a fast horse. If you want to go fast, another vehicle would get there sooner. Controllable is far more important. I've never heard of someone crashing their canoe because they couldn't get over the rapids fast enough! And I've never heard someone complaining say, "I wouldn'ta been on that darned river so long if I'da had a faster canoe!" Maneuverability is what's important on a river. On a lake, well, a narrow, straight-tracking arrow has its advantages, but that's not where most people I know put their canoes, and it's not where I want to paddle. When I was ten I made a wooden boat and put it on the crick on the farm. It sank within 25 yards! My grandpa felt sorry and bought me wood to make one proper, and then my dad and I made an 8 foot square-ended boat which we apply named The Cork because it darted around and wouldn't track for beans. Why, you can turn it in a circle on its center! But it was (and is) a very handy boat on that little stream--far handier than his 14 foot boat he made in the 50's, which tracks and is fast. A boat that steers is what a river needs, in my opinion, and this Bob's seems to be great for that. I wouldn't consider trading it for a narrow, fast canoe. Not at this point at least.
     
  10. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Welcome, nice canoe, but, are you sure it's a Bob's?
    My understanding is the Bob's is a short, wide, flat canoe, and that one is well arched.
    Waiting for one of the Canadian guys to pop in.

    The Yankee, this is OT's rental canoe, also short, wide and flat, and slow.

    The comment about fast or slow, don't think so much as speed but effort required to get from a to b.
    Here in MN, while we have some rivers, most (I suspect) canoeing is up in the BW, which is primarily lake travel, you don't see many short boats up there, and if so, they are usually solos. For years, the most common length was 17 but I suspect it's now 18 or 18.5.

    Dan
     
    Mud Bug likes this.
  11. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    My guess is that the 15 in your serial number indicates the length. I've not found any more confirmed Chestnut serial number dates to improve that serial number chart. The build record for your Old Town with serial number 182336 indicates that it is an Otca model as shown below. This has a flat bottomed hull that is similar to the Yankee. You may prefer the more round bottomed hull of the HW model. See http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/hull-x-s.gif for a comparison, although the differences tend to be very subtle.

    Benson



    182336.gif
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
    Mud Bug likes this.
  12. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    As far as paddling speed goes, I always thought the last one off the water was the winner...
     
    Andy Hutyera and Mud Bug like this.
  13. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well I'll be daggone, Benson! I didn't even know what I was paddlin. Thank you very much. So any guess as to the date my Chestnut was made?

    Dan, The 1/4" ribs and the dimensions are what makes me think it's a Bob's. It is a little deeper than they say it should be, but otherwise it's really close. I'm open to ideas from anyoone though. Its measurements are:

    15' long
    36 3/4" wide to outermost tumblehome, plus or minus
    13" deep (might be 13 1/2, depending on how you measure)
    3" planking
    Ribs are 2 1/4" to 2 3/8" wide (but quite tapered, so how to measure?) and 1/4" thick.
    3 to 4" rise
    5/8" to 3/4" keel
    One thwart

    Bob's Special is said to be:

    15' long
    37" beam
    12" deep
    ribs 2 1/8" and 1/4" thick
    One thwart

    And, Dan, I've found that a straight canoe/boat is harder to get from A to B than a short curved one, when A to B is sideways. Not everything is dead ahead on a river like it can be on a lake. But it's pointless for anyone, anywhere, to say one canoe is the "best" because that varies with what you're doing. My 18 foot (now known to be Otca) will float in water that's crazy shallow (I'm talking a couple inches) where this Chestnut wouldn't have a chance. A flat bottom is better in shallows.
     
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  14. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Say, Benson, I forgot to comment on the link you gave showing the cross sections of Old Town's different models. That's interesting. It seems like they're all quite similar, with none of them having much round to them. And the Yankee is even flatter than the Otca. I wonder why bother with the different models when they all have such similar hull designs. Thanks for the link.

    Mud
     
  15. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    " Seems like there'd be more paddle makers in this world who reproduce the old shapes. Know of anyone?" Endless variety. Anyone can carve any shape or size.
    Round bottom is pretty common in Canada.
     

    Attached Files:

    Mud Bug likes this.
  16. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    There is much more to a canoe hull's design than can easily be captured in one amidship cross section as you probably recognize. Minor differences that are not easy to see can often become exceptionally obvious once you start using a canoe on the water in various conditions.

    There are a broad variety of paddle makers reproducing old shapes as shown at https://www.woodencanoe.org/builders-suppliers here. See https://www.shawandtenney.com/ for the oldest example.

    My knowledge of Chestnut canoes is very limited as I mentioned before. Therefore, I will let the more informed here guess the age and/or model of your canoe. Good luck,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
    Mud Bug likes this.
  17. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Those paddles are nice, Rob. And the canoes. What are they?

    Thank you for the links too, Benson. I agree with you that minor differences can make a big difference in performance. Same with a longrifle or any other tool that needs to fit you just so. I was actually quite surprised how differently this Chestnut handles, even though at first glance its hull does not appear radically different than the Old Towns I've paddled. The differences seem slight until it's in the water.
     
  18. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Mud Bug likes this.
  19. greyghost

    greyghost Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Very nice Bobs .
    I asked a former Chestnut employee about the code and this is what he said , 'the 15 EXL means 15 ft. extra light.'
    I have many of the companies paddles , some are solid and some laminated . I think the laminated ones are from the 70's as the older ones all seem to be solid. One of my paddles is from the Queen Street store , very old - 'Manufactured by R. Chestnut and Son's Fredericton NB'
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021
    Mud Bug likes this.
  20. OP
    OP
    Mud Bug

    Mud Bug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hey, thanks, Greyghost. That's good information. But still, like Pook said, I wonder how it can be extra light with the extra ribs all close together like that. Still, it's light enough for me to swing over my head, so I'm happy. I appreciate your reply.

    Mud
     

Share This Page