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Fix or repair 2.0

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by Tellico, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Tellico

    Tellico Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have a 15' Old Town that was built in 1949/50. It was used regularly from the 50's until late 70's by my uncle, but had not been in the water at all since the early 1980's. This past summer, we took it for a test trip. After an hour in the lake, there was a half inch of water sloshing around in the stern. So it leaks, but not in any obvious place.

    As far as I know, it still has the original canvas. There are numerous old repairs on the outside of the hull that have been done with paint and resins. The surface has tiny cracks like an old painting. On the inside there are about 5 cracked ribs and some attempts to repair or stiffen them with fiberglass and resin. That said, the boat seems to be pretty solid and not in terrible shape.

    I am sure this canoe would benefit from a full restoration, but time and resources are limited.
    I am wondering if it would make sense to thoroughly sand the outside and put a few coats of new paint on the hull? Or is that a bad a idea and I should just leave it alone until I have the opportunity to do the full restoration.

    I asked this question in another post some months ago, and someone suggested I post photos. I got super busy with work and dropped the ball. So finally, here are some photos.

    I will greatly appreciate advice so hopefully I can have this canoe ready for summer.
    PS I think this is a really cool organisation and have joined today. I am looking forward to becoming more involved.

    Attached Files:

  2. Mark Adams

    Mark Adams all wood nut

    Where are you located? Most of us are like crack dealers; We'll help you on your first one for free, then make you good deals until you are hooked. That said, there is almost guaranteed to be someone close to you that would be happy to help. Restorations really aren't that expensive. Your canvas looks to be toast. the interior would REALLY benefit from a strip, and revarnish with a couple of ribs thrown in. You are looking at maybe 4-500 MAX in materials. There is really no point in trying to "patch it up" when you'll get far many more years of enjoyable use with not a whole lot more in time.

    Just my .02!
  3. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Quote:"I am sure this canoe would benefit from a full restoration, but time and resources are limited.
    I am wondering if it would make sense to thoroughly sand the outside and put a few coats of new paint on the hull? Or is that a bad a idea and I should just leave it alone until I have the opportunity to do the full restoration. "

    Mark is right, you might even be able to restore for even less ($200-$300), plus about 40 - 60 hours of effort.
    But, you could thoroughly sand, then prime, then paint and used rustoleum enamel you might spend $50. and 10-15 hours and you might get another year or two, or three.
    But does it make sense? The making sense part is not my specialty, so ......
  4. OP

    Tellico Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Dave and Mark,
    Thanks for your responses. I sort of figured that full restoration is the best choice. I don't want to spend time doing a a half baked repair that will not last long anyway. My hesitation is partly because I don't have much (or any because I run a small business) spare time and secondly because I am an artist/blacksmith, not a wood worker. My wood working experiences are making patterns for cast iron or bronze and making a couple of canoe paddles a few years ago. I have watched a some videos on restoring these boats and while it does not look that hard, I am sure there are tricks, and people with experience can make anything look easy!

    Can either of your recommend some good how to books? I saw there were a few listed on the WCHA store. I am in Southern Illinois and Mark I a sure you are right that there are people around who have done this work before. I think there is a guy in my town even. I also have a couple of friends that are real deal wood workers if I get in over my head.

    Any suggestions will be appreciated.


    PS Mark, there is a wood working school in Indiana Called the Mark Adams school. Any connection? I was going to teach a class there last year but I had a wrist injury.
  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Welcome to the WCHA.

    Replacing canvas and refinishing the varnish are considered routine maintenance on a w/c canoe, somewhat like replacing tires on a car. Painted and filled canvas can last a long time, but there comes a time when replacement is called for.

    Scraping to remove any loose and chipping paint, and sanding to improve the surface can delay the inevitable and give you a few years -- at most – of use without major restoration. The links below discuss this at some length. Having used our Old Town 15’ 50-pounder for five seasons in spite of cracked ribs and planks and other wood needing work, covered by a canvas with cracked and chipping paint, I would normally say (as I do in some of those links) that sanding and painting might allow for a couple of years of paddling before doing the necessary repair/restoration work. A couple of coats of paint would likely stop your slow leak.

    However, the interior picture of your canoe showing some of the planking gives me pause – the planking looks quite deteriorated – whether from rot or from impact(s) is unclear – and the extent of deterioration is unclear. If this planking is rotted, I would not use the canoe, as getting the wood wet will only further the rot. But if this is only badly-applied resin and fiberglass, I would be less concerned. see pp. 2-3 of this thread!&p=40689#post40689 starting at post 12, on bondo spot putty

    Mark and Dave are both right, and either approach can make sense – if making sense is something that worries you (we have 9 canoes, most not in useable shape, so "sensible" is not a primary concern for us when it comes to canoes).

    I'm in the process now of restoring our 50 pounder -- I've retired, so I have the time, and we got another usable canoe, so there is not much time pressure, but I was glad to have the use of the canoe for a few years when I didn't have the time to work on it.
  6. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    In addition to asking questions here, there are three good sources of information about canoe restoration which you would do well to get, or at least look at -- "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok (very recently reprinted), and/or "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok, and "The Old Town Canoe Company" by Susan Audette and David Baker.

    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.
    Sue Audette also sells her book directly ( ).
  7. OP

    Tellico Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the advice and links. I think most of the damage to ribs and planking is from impacts but one or two of the planks do feel a little soft. Maybe there is a some rot too. I will purchase some of these books and make some plans. I have no doubt that doing the full restoration is likely the best thing for the canoe. It was just wishfull thinking that I could take the course of least resustance.
    Like you, I have other canoes, so if I don't get it finished right away I can still go paddling. (I have not gone as far as getting 9 canoes though but when it comes to bicycles and power hammers, I have 0 self control!)
    Thanks agsin for all of the help!
  8. Mark Adams

    Mark Adams all wood nut

    Nope! the ***** stole my name and is now making a killing.

    I'm in Nevada, by way of Utah and Wyoming. I am actually finishing up my cert in Industrial Arts. I hope to be a shop teacher for a couple of years before I really call it quits on working.
  9. OP

    Tellico Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Mark, I think the other Mark Adams came by the name honestly, but it sure gave me a start when I first thought he was the person responding to my post. good luck with your endeavors. I will go ahead and go for broke and do the full restoration. It will take forever because I have a lot going on. When it is done I will post pictures.
    Thanks again,

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