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Rotten stems and planks- what to do?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by svenbob, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. svenbob

    svenbob Curious about Wooden Canoes


    New to the forum! What a goldmine of information and seemingly the brain trust for w/c canoes in the world!

    Was given what seems to be a Picard 16'. Had been glassed over and used as a sailboat. Only a couple of cracked ribs but lots of split planks, rotted inwales and the stems/decks are a mess. I think I can handle the inwales but what to do with the bow and stern planks? By glassing them in moisture rotted just the edge an inch or so back- do I tear off all the planks back two feet? Do I just make the boat shorter? Lol. Do I add some more ribs closer to the stems? Do I add the solid triangular stem and shorten the planks? I really would rather not buy/steam/install that much plank. I'm just going to get it floating (with canvas of course). What do you all think? (Note how wide and irregular the planks are - does this give a clue to its pedigree/build year? No serial numbers that I can see.)


    Attached Files:

  2. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    If you shorten it, you change the performance in the water, drastically.

    Other than the ends, the canoe looks in decent shape.
    You can put in new stems and replace the planking in the ends relatively easily. Note for structural integrity you should stagger which rib the new planking ends on.
  3. OP

    svenbob Curious about Wooden Canoes


    Thanks for the quick response! I can stagger the planks- I assume I don't have to match the plank width- they vary from 3.5" to almost 6"?
  4. Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

    Rod Tait (Orca Boats) Designer/Builder

    All that look fairly straight forward to restore. If putting in new stem and don't want to steam, then I would consider laminating one. Planking is easy and most look to be the same width. Maybe the narrower ones were replaced at some other time to just replace the rot. If the whole in wale is not rotted, then just scarf in new pieces at the ends. If you have not done this before, then take at look at YouTube for help. I have some on my channel.
  5. OP

    svenbob Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the advice- your YouTube videos are very helpful! Looks like the wood is good about 1/3 the way up the vertical on both ends of the canoe- can I scarf this low? Should I shape a back brace to go over the top of the bottom of the horizontal part of the stem? If the curve of the scarf piece is really not that significant can I just cut a curved piece of white oak to follow the contour?

  6. Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

    Rod Tait (Orca Boats) Designer/Builder

    I have cut stem pieces from solid and just cut the curve into the piece. Not as strong as bent due to grain orientation and possible run out, but this area is not that critical for strength. And with planking attached, it will be solid enough. I have seen various repairs in which a large back brace piece of wood is installed, but in the end I wonder why they did not just fix the original stem. Not that much more work or harder. And if you leave the old stem in to just rot some more, it will eventually degrade. I like to replace with new rather than add something on.
  7. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Again, sorry bout the upside down photo, but you get the pun intended.
    I cut a piece of hard wood to match the cutoff stem angle. The longer the angle the better. Then I epoxy and clamp a backer strip to the hard wood. When cured, I epoxy the whole thing on the stem. Seems to work well for me.
    You can also put a screw through the angle if you want, too. However it seemed when I was doing that, I always ended up having a stem band screw need to go in the same place .
    I used to try to cut "bird mouths" in the hardwood, but could never get them right. This simplified it for me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2017
  8. Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

    Rod Tait (Orca Boats) Designer/Builder

    The backing that I have encountered on restorations have been much larger than Dave's photo. Almost like a knee under the deck. I am similar to Dave but with a dowel into the two pieces to hold in place while epoxy sets.
  9. WoodFloats

    WoodFloats Curious about Wooden Canoes

    A picture is worth a 1000.... Thanks Dave, I have somewhat the same issues with my restoration project (OT #173346) as does "svenbob".
  10. OP

    svenbob Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Great replies! I'll dig into it this weekend!

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