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Sailing canoe possibly Thames built can anyone clarify who made her?

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by alick burt, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Folks
    I know this is a long shot without removing all the paint but I was wondering if anyone can identify this wide board and batten canoe that my customer has asked me to work on.He has asked me to repair the hole where the keel is broken and also to remove the early resin glass and white finish and replace with clear epoxy and new cloth.
    I have been removing the resin and have uncovered more nasties rotten planking and at least one more hole.How do I proceed with the worse damaged plank is it possible to remove the nails without causing irreparable damage to the ribs?
    Also a the planking and nail heads are uneven in places.Bearing in mind I will be recovering with cloth and resin how should I proceed with the nail heads, some are below the surface others stick up and some are level?
    Where the planking is uneven at some of the joins should I flatten off the higher areas (some have nail heads that would need to be punched in or if possible removed and put back after).
    I am a cabinet maker and have made strip canoes so I have half the skills and some of the knowledge but would be interested if anyone can help identify the maker or answer my technical questions about repairing this sort of damage.Here are some pictures.
    The decks
    [​IMG]
    Stripping off the outside.This green layer is what was left after I peeled off a layer of white and glass cloth.
    [​IMG]
    You can see the hole and keel damage I have to repair here.
    [​IMG]
    There is another I have discovered here and this is where I am contemplating replacing a whole plank to remove the rot to the right of the picture.
    [​IMG]
    Here is some of the uneven planking.
    [​IMG]
    Any help appreciated
    Many Thanks
    Alick
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Be aware that fiberglass cloth will often tend to bridge sunken tack heads, planking cracks or other tiny low spots leaving saturated fabric that looks like screen wire over the recess. It can be extremely difficult to fill and close up these spots, which really needs to happen if the installation is going to be sound and finish-able. Getting it right is usually a much tougher job than glassing the solid, unbroken surface of a stripper. Whatever it takes to eliminate sunken tack heads, or bring those standing proud down to a smooth, flush surface is a lot less work than trying to fix these spots after the fact.

    The job is also substantially easier if you drop the notion of a clear finish. Most of the good fillers available for filling and fairing these irregularities before glassing are not clear. You can fill with clear resin (especially after it has started to cure and thicken up a bit) but cured resin is so much harder than cedar planking that it is really tricky to sand plain resin fills down flush without dishing the hell out of the cedar surrounding those spots. Colored fills made from resin/filler mixtures that do sand well, are going to look pretty nasty under a clear finish. Combine that with the fact that the old, weathered wood is never going to clean up and look nice under a clear finish and it makes a pretty good case for using a proper filler and once done, a good paint on the glass. It also provides the UV barrier that the resin demands.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
  3. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Assuming there are no thwart tags to identify it, since the one just looks like a rectangular steel plate, thats a pretty old boat judging by the 3 boards per side and the solid decks. Where are you located, i would guess this is an early Canadian built boat. Looks like it took a hit since the repairs were done with strips, have the ribs on the inside been repaired as well?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  4. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    I'm with Andre about its origins; also looks to me to be Canadian-made - possibly Peterborough or Rice Lake? maybe Lakefield?
     
  5. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Andre
    I am located in the UK but have heard lots of Canadian boats were sold to our country.I am beginning to think you are right about it having been repaired with thin strips too.I have uncovered more of the hull and done some sanding and you can clearly see what looks like a repair.
    [​IMG]
    I didn't notice any repair in the glass layer so I think it may have been glassed at the same time as the repair was done and have gone back to thinking it may have been painted dark green like the colour of the stuff I have been peeling off.I will have to have a look at the ribs in more detail though everything is covered in thick white paint on the inside.
    Comparing it with other pictures of old boats it does look a bit like a peterborough or lakefield in hull shape and their are no inwales though the deck coamings don't have much of a curve to them.
    I will keep my eyes peeled for labels.I haven't looked closely at the thwarts and will insect them for pin holes to see if there is any evidence of where a plate may have been fitted.
    Cheers
    Alick
     
  6. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Roger
    My first thought was Peterborough but I don't think the decks (particularly the coamings) are quite right you might be right about the other makers.Do you have or know of any pictures of their boats that are close to it?
    Cheers
    Alick
     
  7. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Alick:
    Dick Persson (Buckhorn Canoe Co.) is another to whom you should speak. He has a great wealth of knowledge about the older wooden canoes of the Peterborough/Lakefield area, and is a far better authority than I. Both Peterborough and Lakefield canoe companies shipped products to England in the late 1800's/early 1900's; many of the latter were handled through Strickland family connections, founders of Lakefield Canoes (father in England, son in Canada). Too bad the identifying tags are missing. A few other potential names in the mix might be Gordon, English, Brown, Herald. It's a process of elimination, hoping to find a close resemblance. Andre, Dick and the others who have actually worked on them are the best sources for clues. A source for pics is the old catalogues; there are cd's available through the WCHA store. Good luck. Roger
     
  8. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Roger
    Thank you for your information.Those old catalogues sound interesting too.My sanding today uncovered a few more clues.I think it is now safe to assume the patches are repairs as I discovered nails that are very close to the edge of the original planking where the new bits have been cut in.
    [​IMG]
    I also discovered some neighbouring bits of wider rib that have been put in and they are only present in the places where the repairs meet the original wider planks.
    [​IMG]
    finally I found evidence of red paint could this be another colour it was painted or was it perhaps a red oxide primer.Whatever it was it was removed before the green stuff was applied and is only now present in some hollows.
    [​IMG]
    Many Thanks
    Alick
     
  9. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Hi Alick, almost certainly a canadian boat, and an early one as I've mentioned with 3 boards per side and solid decks rather than two piece. Is it iron or copper fastened? The lower grade boats were iron and painted while better grades were varnished and copper. Looks like basswood rather than cedar, but it's early and didn't look too closely. Shelf gunwale is what that style is typically referred to, great job of stripping it, such a lot of messy, tedious work!
    Andre
     
  10. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Alick - Agreed with Andre and Roger - looks like an early Canadian, all-wood, board-and-batten canoe. Three boards per side, solid one-piece decks, and mast ring (the fact that its there and its style) all point to an early Canadian canoe. And it looks like the hull is made of basswood. These canoes came fastened with iron or with copper nails. Yours is copper fastened. They weren't covered with fabric (one early patent mentions a fabric covering, but if that was ever done by the builder, it was apparently very unusual). It would have either been varnished or painted, but it's impossible to know which way your canoe was originally built. And yes, the apparent repair is a repair - the canoe didn't leave the factory with those narrow strips.

    Hopefully you'll find a way to make this canoe functional and beautiful again. I personally wouldn't avoid paint given the hull's appearance as it is now, but if it were me, I'd make that decision after I had it fully cleaned up. What I would never do is fiberglass it if it were mine. But that's just me. There are plenty of fiberglass and other artificial material canoes out there. Why go to all the trouble of applying fiberglass to an antique canoe like this, particularly after you've gone to so much trouble to clean it up and learn about its history? But if what you want is a canoe-shaped vessel that's waterproof and you've got a canoe-shaped vessel, covering that 130-year-old (or so) wooden hull with fiberglass and resin applied to it can make it waterproof.
     
  11. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hi Alick,
    I agree with previous posters - it is an early Canadian Board-and-batten canoe. I am leaning towards it being a Gordon or a Strickland. Check the thwart blocks for a serial number, also check the underside of the thwarts and decks for numbers.

    Dick Persson
    Buckhorn Canoe Company
    www.buckhorncanoes.com
     
  12. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Andre,HE and Dick
    Thank you for all your help this is fascinating information.She is copper nailed and between bouts of sanding in another 5 hour session today I took a few more pictures.
    The first shows a few paint layers on the deck.
    [​IMG]
    I also took one of the underside and wonder what the pin is for (attached to it) is it perhaps a sail making needle for repairs?
    [​IMG]
    I took this one of the small rear thwart
    [​IMG]
    and this of one of the brackets.
    [​IMG]
    Thanks Dick looks like I will have to take a closer look at the thwart blocks,decks and under the thwarts when I am back on Tuesday.I am off to a canoe festival for the weekend.
    Many Thanks
    Alick
     
  13. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi folks
    Today I started cutting away the rotten timber in order to make repairs and noticed yet more red paint.
    [​IMG]
    I also had a look under some of the thwarts whilst I had the air bags out.There was no sign of any markings but I have yet to look at the small thwart at the back and when I take out the rear air bag I will also be able to see if there are any marks under the rear deck.Fingers crossed...
     
  14. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi folks
    Today I continued with the plank repairs and whilst they were setting I decided to remove the plates on the thwarts to remove the resin and cloth from under them.
    [​IMG]
    Here is a plate before removal.
    [​IMG]
    I thought they were original and cleaned them up.
    [​IMG]
    but it appears they may be replacements as under them is the mark from a smaller oval plate a possible clue to the boats origins??
    [​IMG]
    There also appear to be more fixings in the area so perhaps the thwarts themselves have been moved or replaced.
    I also examined the rear thwart and found no marks or labels but under the rear deck there were a couple of screw holes.Perhaps these were for along lost tag.
    [​IMG]
    Cheers
    Alick
     
  15. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Alick - Your thwart tag ghost looks like Peterborough or possibly Rice Lake. The shape and the position of the screw holes are like Peterborough and one form of the Rice Lake tag (but not some others including William English, Lakefield, etc.). Wm. English tags were shaped this way, but the ones I've seen have the crews close to each other and farther from the ends of the tag.Others may know better, but Pete seems more likely - they made many canoes, and Rice Lake may not go back far enough to have made such a 3-board-per-side canoe with one-piece decks.
     
  16. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    We have to be a little careful here when discussing lineages and dates. Rice Lake canoes actually pre-date Peterborough, when taking into consideration that Rice Lake (incorporated in 1899) was formerly Herald Bros., and that brand was itself preceded by Daniel Herald, which takes that particular canoe-manufacturing line back to around 1862, some 30 years before Peterborough began, under that name. However, when doing that, one equally then has to consider that Peterborough was something of a follow-on from Ontario Canoe Co., which bought patents from old John Stephenson (in 1879), potentially taking that lineage back to as early as the late 1850's. Peterborough Canoe always claimed that its origin could be traced to 1879, even though it actually commenced under that name 14 years later. Now, what that's going to mean when trying to trace the origin of Alick's thwart plate, I'm not sure. It may suggest that thwart plates by Dan Herald, Herald Bros., Ontario Canoe and anything related to John Stephenson should also be reviewed. ....... Just to muddify the speculation, of course.
     
  17. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Alick seems to be looking for the manufacturer of his canoe specifically, from which if he wishes he can study the maker's history. That's why I wrote "Rice Lake" - the manufacturer, not the lineage. The Rice Lake Canoe Co. tags I've seen don't have the shape of the ghost shown in the photo. Dan Herald and Herald Brothers are different entities - all the same lineage but earlier iterations of the Rice Lake Canoe Company. And on several Dan Herald canoes I've never seen a thwart end tag; same for Herald Brothers (2 of them) - tag on coaming but no thwart end tags. If anyone has seen one it would be great to have photos posted here.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  18. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hello H.E. Pennypacker,

    Dan Herald started building canoes in 1862, after his death in 1890 his sons took over the company, operating under the name Herald Bros. In 1899 the Herald Bros. changed the company name to Rice Lake Canoe Co. to use the general brand the company had become known for. All three companies produced the same model lines of canoes, built on the same forms, by the same workers and at the same place, Gores Landing.

    However, in 1919 the Herald brothers sold the company and the new owners moved the factory, its forms, equipment and some of the workers to Cobourg.

    Thwart tags were used by Herald Bros., a very simple hand-stamped tag with rounded corners. With the change to the name Rice Lake Canoe Co a more elaborate tag was used (see picture below) this tag was also used by the Rice Lake Canoe Co in Cobourg.
    Rice Lake Canoe Co, Cobourg, thwart tag.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  19. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hi Alick,

    Here is a catalog picture of an early Lakefield Canoe Co built, board-and-batten canoe for comparison to the one you have.

    The Lakefield Canoe Co was created by the amalgamation of the companies Th. Gordon Canoe Co and The Strickland & Co.

    Lakefield Canoe 1908.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  20. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes


    Yes, all correct. Three different names for three different iterations of the company (only the last of which is named Rice Lake - the Rice Lake Canoe Co.), and uniform tags with profile like Aleck's were used only on Rice Lake. Your photo shows the tag that is on my two Rice Lake canoes, and its shape matches the ghost of the tag on Aleck's canoe. Thanks for posting the details, Mr. Persson. For comparison to the Rice Lake tag, attached here is photo of a Lakefield tag. The shape is a little different - it's convex on the top and bottom, while the Rice and Lake Pete tags are straight, and the ends of the Lakefield tags are a bit narrower, a bit "pointy" (it's subtle, but Aleck's ghost looks straight-sided and with circular profile at each ends). Some people may generically call all of these Rice Lake canoes, but Rice Lake is the trade name of only one, started in 1899. I've never seen a Rice Lake with one-piece decks, and if my impression is correct that the one-piece decks are significantly earlier than 1899, then that should rule out the Rice Lake Canoe Co. as the builder.

    EDIT: Now I see the reason for your response, Mr. Persson! I just re-read my post above and see that I made a major typo, writing "Dan Herald and Herald Brothers are different companies - new iterations of an old company." Oops! I meant that Herald Bros and Rice lake were new iterations of an old company [Dan Herald / Herald & Hutchison]. I'm a big fan of the whole Herald/Rice Lake lineage, so I'd love to see a photo of a Herald Bros. thwart end tag.

    I'll correct the earlier post above to avoid confusion.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 9, 2015

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