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Resurrecting OTCA # 123968

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by toolbox, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. toolbox

    toolbox Curious about Wooden Canoes

    View attachment 47044 Ed Moses talked me into hauling this unlit bonfire out of his backyard about a year ago. I was close to finishing my first restoration ( see http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/16-e-m-white.5437/#post-29274) and beginning to panic that I had no follow up project to occupy my solitary retirement time. Ed recognized my mental instability and has been a real enabler with his knowledge and materials in exacerbating the lunacy I will here relate Thanks, Ed! He has since talked me into removing two additional trash piles from his yard. He is a good friend.

    Thanks to Benson Gray, I have the build sheet from Oldtown (see attached).

    Late this summer, I started assessing the breadth of the labor I had assumed. Definitely used hard and put away wet, the damage is extensive and previous repairs were very coarse. A cursory exam identified revealed split and rotted stems and decks, broken and gouged inner and outer gunwales, at least 34 broken ribs, split thwarts, rotted and punctured planking, gaping holes and no seats. Pools of epoxy resin covered some of the rib fractures. The hull had at one time been fiberglassed and had numerous patches still attached

    There are so many broken ribs, I decided to forego anything beyond a hose out of the interior as a fool’s errand. I’ll clean as I find something worth cleaning.

    Undoubtedly, the repair list will expand as new horrors are revealed.
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    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
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  2. ppride

    ppride Canoe Builder

    The nice thing about this a canoe in this condition is that the restoration won't be over too soon.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    toolbox

    toolbox Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Having removed the big pieces of trash and hanging parts, I have moved the hull into the operating theatre (my cellar). Exploratory surgery has revealed that about half of each stem is still sound thus preserving the serial #s. Let the games begin!

    I previously found in restoring the White that bending stems is a frustrating and material destroying activity. Since all this is a “learning experience”, I will try a different technique repairing the stems. A scrap of well sawn red oak will serve as the basis for laminated stems. I resawed the 4 ft. piece into 1/8” x 1” strips and built a form of scrap rough pine cut to the stem profile. The strips were butter on one side with Titebond, stacked with a steel batten and bent to the frame. I planned to make them one at a time (easier with 5/4 pine). Went real slick! Two days later, I discovered that a layer of masking tape between the oak and the form would be a good idea. The second stem was much easier. To my surprise, there was NO rebound once the stems were released from the form.

    From there the new stems went to the shaping bench to be spoke shaved to bevel and thickness. I had to build the bench first. More rough pine. I use strips of colored duck tape to mark the limits of the taper and bevel on the stems. Takes a bit of setup, but I think it is worth it. When the spokeshave hits the tape a white line appears and defines the required edge. Saves a lot of looking.

    I prepared the stems to be 1/8” thicker than the original stem so I could craft a birds mouth scarf to the remaining stem. That 1/8 “ extends on top of the stem a couple of inches beyond the joint to stiffen and support the mend. After gluing, 5/8” ring nails were predrilled into both top and bottom of the joint. Seems very sound.
     

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  4. OP
    OP
    toolbox

    toolbox Curious about Wooden Canoes

    5 more pics
     

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  5. OP
    OP
    toolbox

    toolbox Curious about Wooden Canoes

    So, what’s next? Gunwales.

    Steam bending against the existing gunwales will be necessary, but with the bow and stern rotted away, I had to erect pillars clamped to the new stems with cleats at the appropriate height to recreate the final curve for the deck.

    We all lament the dearth of lengthy sticks of N. White Spruce, so I was resigned to scarfing the new gunwales. Then Ed Moses (he’s back!) showed me an 18’ stick of superb Sitka. I was entirely beguiled. This presented a profoundly serious problem, however. There was no way I would subject this beautiful piece of wood to my jobsite table saw. A tool worthy of the wood was required. So, as you can see, Ed is responsible for my acquisition of a new shop saw. Thanks, Ed!

    After flawless rips, the inwales were properly profiled and ready to bend. When I was restoring the White, I had to steam and bend each end of the inwales one at a time. Difficult to presoak and a long tedious process with an 8’ steambox. A 20’ box was out of the question. The WCHA Forums Provided a possible solution with Greg Nolan’s post: http://www.wchththha.org/forums/index.php?posts/66199/. I recommend it to you. The whole process appealed to my lazy nature as heavy objects weren’t required and didn’t need to be moved. I conjured up several variations I felt might streamline the operation (if they worked). Found the tubing on Amazon. I decided to try it as a container to soak the wood for steaming. I clamped the midpoint of the inwale to the existing inwale and draped the ends outboard of the hull. With each end bagged with about 8’ of tubing and the bitter ends sealed with staples and supported by sawhorses, I filled the tubes with water by hose. The open ends just wrapped around the wood and clamped. A couple of periodic top ups with the hose and 3 days later, they were ready to steam. Got a bucket and emptied the tubes just like my hip boots. With tubes already in place and supported, the insulated hoses from the Rockler style steamers were inserted about 18” into the plastic tubes, wrapped and clamped as when soaking. I deployed one steamer for each end.

    THIS PROCESS IS HOT!!! LONG SLEEVES, INSULATED WATERPROOF GLOVES AND EYE PROTECTION IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! TUBING IS SCALDING HOT!!

    Developing steam expands the tubes perfectly. The draping of the gunwales drains condensate to the ends were an awl created a seep hole to drain to a strategic pail. I figured about an hour for steaming. At the half way point, I insert the steam hoses another 4 ‘ ( now about 2/3 the way into the tube and re-clamped). The idea being to concentrate more steam at the area requiring the most bending. At the end of an hour, the ends of the gunwales were elevated and positioned in the cleats erected on the stems. A steel batten was inserted above and below the gunwale to distribute stress. Steaming has not stopped! Working from the midline, the gunwale is clamped in place with clamps positioned to accommodate the steam hose still running. When all is clamped, I let it steam another 5 minutes before shutting done the generators. The hose and tubing can stay in place till all cools.

    Since this procedure seemed to work, I set the other side up and when the clamps came off 3 days later, the second side was ready to go. If I owned enough clamps, I could have done it all in one shot (what a concept-enough clamps).

    The results appear to be first rate!
     

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  6. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    With this canoe you get your PhD in canoe restoration. PhD, that's for Pretty Hard Doin's
     
  7. OP
    OP
    toolbox

    toolbox Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Ribs!

    Since this hull is significantly compromised, I have opted to bend new ribs on the exterior of the hull as Mike Elliot suggests in “This Old Canoe”. I have tried to stabilize the hull with lengthwise battens on the interior and ratchet straps at the thwarts. Still is a pile of scraps flying in loose formation.

    I can only bend 6 ribs at a time as I only have 6 metal straps. I can’t remove the old gunwales until I have a few strategic replacement ribs ready.

    After the necessary prep work (measuring, ripping, planning, tapering, rounding, and sanding), I soaked the ribs in sets of six for 48 hours. A 6-inch diameter PVC pipe worked well for this. I want to preserve as much of the planking as I can so am replacing ribs at intervals, inserting them as I split out the old ones using an oscillating saw and chisel, nipping the clinch nails with side cutters as I go.

    The new ribs are inserted and clamped to the old and new gunwales hopefully retaining the hull profile. I started at midship removing about 4 feet old gunwale while keeping the new gunwale clamped to the remaining sections of old gunwale vainly hoping to maintain the profile.

    My hope of preserving much of the planking is fading into the mist as it is suffering mightily in this process. Manipulating the hull has revealed more damage and removing old ribs has resulted in further damage. At this point, there are 3 more ribs to replace, 3 cants, and half a dozen rib tops to scarf. The very dry and brittle planking is suffering. I am glad I didn’t waste effort trying to clean it.

    The bow has been easier to deal with as it is in much better shape with sound ribs. The stern is somewhere at the other end as all connection is purely theoretical. The old hull has proved to be unstable in forming new ribs resulting in some being distorted and misshapen. The new gunwales are meeting at what appears to be a random point in space. Hanging the new ribs to the gunwales and aligning the stem has proved to be interesting and has occasionally exhausted my vocabulary. The interior battens were helpful but not completely successful.

    The gunwales, stems and new ribs are now in place. Getting things aligned and plumb has been a never-ending game of whack a mole. This has taken several weeks. Many hours have been spent with battens, clamps and squeeze blocks fairing the ribs. Never enough clamps.
     

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  8. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    You're making great progress!
     
  9. OP
    OP
    toolbox

    toolbox Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Y marks the spot

    Without the benefit of a construction frame or any stable hull structure, bringing a repaired stem and new inwales together in space requires about 5 hands and a true appreciation of the absurd. And a laser level.

    I started with a free-standing pillar (2X4) clamped to the stem establishing height and alignment referenced from the stable end of the canoe. A temporary spacer was placed to establish deck width and taper for the gunwales. This spacer also served as an anchor to pull the stem into proper alignment with the bottom line and the length of the hull (see pic). I then marked and rough trimmed the stem to height (at least ½ inch over) with the help of the laser.

    I then separately brought each gunwale into rough alignment with the stem and the centerline of the hull and the other stem top. Each had to be tapered to sit exactly on half of the top of the stem. Love that laser!

    Using an X-acto razor saw, palm plane and fine rasp, the gunwale ends were matched to each other and the stem top and the gunwales married with glue. When cured, height and alignment with stem were reexamined and a rough mortice to accommodate the stem top was cut into the bottom of the gunwale joint (about 1/3 the thickness of the gunwale).

    The stem top was then gradually shortened to rough fit the inwale mortice. Fine trimming of both stem top and gunwale mortice will inevitably result in a good fit. Breathing exercises and meditation also helps. And a sound- proof room.

    It is my understanding that Old Town did not employ a mortice at this joint, just two finish nails vertically through the gunwales into the stem top. I employed the mortice for greater strength and stability in this wreck.

    When all is aligned with the chosen point in space so carefully selected, I clinched my jaw and predrilled 1/16th inch pilot holes through the gunwales into the stem top, glued the joint and drove in lubricated 1 ¼ inch anodized hardwood finish nails. Tight work.

    The center of the universe has been defined!
     

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