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Huron stem treatment?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Howie, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I'm just starting to look at a canoe I picked up a few years ago that's been identified by WCHA'ers as a Huron. Note the arrow-head deck. My question is: how were the outside stem areas treated on these things?

    As you can see from the pics the stems are quite blunt shaped and are sort of roughly sanded to a round profile. Were stem bands used? - I don't see screw holes for them but I'm guessing they had had to have been there. If so, were they the 3/8" wide stuff available today or something wider?

    3/8" seems too small/narrow for this... I'm thinking of making an external stem to bring the end to a sharp profile. Guess I'd cover it with canvas - not sure the canoe is worth the effort of a varnished external stem.


    2015-03-31 15.07.19.jpg 2015-03-31 15.07.47.jpg 2015-03-31 15.07.06.jpg IMG_3334.jpg IMG_3336.jpg
  2. bluedcanoed

    bluedcanoed LOVES Wooden Canoes

    You could thin the plank ends down a bit, and/or add wooden outside keels. I'd attach them after canvasing and paint them same as the canvas.

  3. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I believe when external stems are present they extend down to the keel and actually become the keel. As such they would never be covered by canvas - you'd never get a water tight seal. But I'm considering adding material to the outside of the existing stems (like an external stem) just to correct what I consider to be an ugly design. So I wouldn't paint them - they'll be invisible once the canvas is on. If I do this I'll make it look like the canoe was designed with more streamlined ends. And I'll be able to use 3/8" wide stem bands. Guess I'm talking myself into it...

    I know... Got too much time on my hands...
  4. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I think you are on the right track with making a more elegant looking stem. If you add an extension onto the stem, tapering it finer to accept a standard 3/8" stem band and canvas over it, it will look better than the original blunt end.
    If you plan to have a keel, I'd make the stem external and butt it into the keel. IMHO, an external stem looks pretty cool when finished bright. You could also make an external stem and taper it down or nothing along the centerline at the bottom of the hull. I think I have seen Martin Ferwerda do this on his new built Thompson canoes. You'd never know there was no keel when it is in the water, but could have the cool look of an external stem.
  5. Claude Delisle

    Claude Delisle Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi there,

    Mike Elliot has dimensions for Huron's at this site You'll need to scroll down to the section on the Huron's. He shows a 3/8" stem edge.

    Hope this helps
  6. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Dave - Mine never had a keel. Thinking of keeping it that way.

    And thanks for reminding me of the Elliot site. I had found it when I got the canoe 2 years ago but had since forgotten about it. And yes, the outer edge of the stem measures 3/8", but there's also planking on both sides to take into account. That brings the width to 0.69"... which is why they rounded the planking edges more than normal. Clunky.
  7. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Hi Howie,
    To answer your original questions the Huron canoes had 1/2" wide x 40" long brass stem bands. They never used 3/8" stem bands or had external stems. Assuming you leave it original it will all come together nicely once it is canvased. Although they paddle great these were not high end canoes. The fact that they were actually built by Huron Indians makes them a nice collectable and worth restoring. I have a couple of Huron canoes listed, with pictures, on the WCHA classified site which might help.
  8. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks for the info. Any idea if 1/2" wide stem bands are available? as mine are long gone.

    And I agree with you on their construction. While the wood one inside on the canoe looks nice enough, from the outside you can see knots in the planking & scanty use of tacks. Looks like they only sanded the inside woods & even that was roughly done.

    I haven't decided about the external stems yet, but I'll likely make new seats with woven cane and the decking needs replacing & make more shapely thwarts. And I'll use 2 thwarts to make it easier for one guy to carry. Not sure whether to use ash or cherry wood though. Guess unstained ash would blend in better with the other woods...
  9. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I get 1/2" brass stem band material from Jamestown Distributors
  10. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks Dave! I just checked Jamestown - the stuff I found there is flat on the side making contact with the canoe. Doesn't that cause problems? The cove shape on the 3/8" bands I've used in the past allow the band to conform quite well with the canoe tips as it tends to hide small bumps. No chance to do that with a flat edge though. I suppose you could use Bondo or something to smooth out the bumps prior to painting... but you'll never get it perfect. Sounding like adding external stem material would ultimately be easier...

    Hope the decals worked out for ya.
  11. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Yep, you have it right, Howie....
    I've used Quick Fair to fill in and square off the ends on wide-stemmed canoes/boats to accept the 1/2" flat backed stem bands.
    Quick Fair is a 2 part fairing compound from Jamestown. It sticks to anything.... It's like Bondo, but for marine applications.
    I use it on narrower stems on occasion, too.
  12. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    And here's how it turned out. I added wood to the stem & tapered it to match 3/8" brass stems.
    IMG_20150718_115922.jpg IMG_20150718_120117.jpg IMG_20150718_120636.jpg

    Attached Files:

  13. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Looks like a fine job, at least from here!
  14. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Nice, Howie!
    Adding another layer on the stem is a good way to narrow the stem and get a finer looking entry on those blunt ended canoes.

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