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She floats but leaks a survey does your all wood canoe leak?

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by alick burt, May 24, 2017.

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Is your all wood Canoe Leak free?

  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  2. No

    4 vote(s)
    66.7%
  3. sometimes

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hello folks
    Having completed Felix's Canoe see "a find in the UK" I took her for a paddle and she leaked.It wasn't enough to cause alarm and was easily dealt with using a sponge but it got me thinking.
    Is this always going to be the case or will it be cured with more paddling soaking the planking and further coats of varnish or will it be a permanent condition?
    So how many of you have an all wood canoe that doesn't leak at all? Do they always leak some of the time or is a truly leak free boat a possibility (Excluding epoxy covered creations of course!)

    20170521_151500.jpg

    Please respond to the poll I think this could be interesting :)

    Many Thanks

    Alick
     
  2. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I look forward to seeing your sponging technique develop so that you can sponge and squeeze with the same grace and style as I do. I was thinking of running master classes but couldn't find people whose boat leaked properly!!

    Sam
     
    alick burt likes this.
  3. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Ho!Ho!
    I have perfected the j stroke sponge squeeze combo :) but I have given her three more coats of varnish on the outside since her last outing and she will have one more beforeI leave her to set till Beale Park.
    Alick
     
  4. Etienne-Henri

    Etienne-Henri Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Alick,
    Just my experience. Some people must know much more than I do.
    My two all woods canoes leak. That is my (apparently) nicely preserved mahogany canoe leaks badly while my ash and spruce battered canoe leaks slightly.
    I mean I am not sure the combination of such different species in your Thomas Gordon canoe is the smartest option conservation wise. Just a thought.
    Besides, those old canoes have seen many years of use and cycles moistening > drying > moistening again > drying again, etc. which has altered the inner characteristics and qualities of the wood with the resulting alteration of the initially superb adjustment of the planking. The way the hull was wetted for waterproofing may have been irrelevant in the past, resulting in a growing and definitive although invisible damage. Although it may be useful for some other reasons, I am not convinced some more varnish will ever help - at first because varnish will not have the flexibility to deal with the planking movements and distention. Some builders used calker of some type, which has altered for years and years of use, and of course can not be replaced in situ. This has motivated some people to use modern calkers with very questionable results.
    I just accept my canoes as they are - OLD. I prepare them with moistening the hull with wet fabrics for a few hours. I never fill them with water as some people do, as I believe it does distort the hull. I never let them in the sun. "only used at rainy fall evenings".
    Just a question : how did you prepare the wood for varnishing ? Which varnish did you use ?
    Etienne-Henri
     
    alick burt likes this.
  5. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    IMG_20161108_101110417.jpg Here's a wide board canoe last fall. It had been a decorator piece in a house for 20 plus years. Very dry. I was out over a week. Keel leaked badly. I used gutter sealant, (white) two spray cans, and slowed the leak dramatically. As you see, I also put gorilla tape on the seams. No leaks there. I was eventually able to go out several hours and only get minimal leaking that I never bothered to bail (had no sponge).
     
    alick burt likes this.
  6. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

     
  7. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Treewater
    Nice Canoe,
    Do you think the wide board canoes are more susceptible to leaks than narrower planked strip boats?
    Thanks
    Alick
     
  8. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Don't know. I've never had a narrow plank. Obviously the wide board had issues. They tried metallic battens but I don't know it they really worked. BTW, thanks for doing a survey. I thought I was the only one with a leaky boat.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I'm thinking wider boards must have more movement because of the bigger distance between fixings allowing less room for movement as there are fewer gaps.So on a strip boat the gaps would be more in quantity but less wide on each gap...
    I'm sure there are plenty of leaky boats out there I would be interested to see if there are any that are totally leak free without any tape or fixes other than good ol varnish :)
     
  10. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    I usually guarantee Peterborough style cedar strip canoes to leak after restoration. I do use lots and lots of varnish, and mix wood flour with varnish to fill any missing laps or holes . One customer called to report that the canoe did not leak so I told him to bring it back and I would drill a hole in it. The one I have for sale now and the one I sold this month were listed as decorators because of their ages.
    Peterborough claimed their cedar strip canoes would last 30 years. Many of these are 3 or more times that old, and they are still good canoes.
     
  11. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Well, Mr. Denis St. Bernard would be shocked to hear these complaints about all wood canoes. He wrote an article titled "Hints for Choosing a Canoe" in the April 26th, 1900 edition of "The Youth's Companion" that said "canvas is not , in the opinion of many canoemen, a desirable material for covering a canoe." He closed the article by saying that "if one chooses a canoe sixteen feet long by thirty inches wide by twelve inches deep, built of cedar or basswood, smoothskin, and with or without tumblehome, he cannot go far wrong."

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 25, 2017
    alick burt likes this.
  12. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I love it!! I also feel much better with every post. As to the historical ideas.....we all know birch-bark leaked. So what was the big deal? So the all wood canoe leaked a little? If you don't want to get wet, stay on the shore. People today are so soft. :rolleyes:
     
  13. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I think many don't appreciate the grace, skill and dexterity involved in the use of a sponge.

    Sam
     
    alick burt likes this.
  14. Etienne-Henri

    Etienne-Henri Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Benson,
    I am certainly not complaining ... and do not consider to be so far wrong. Well I am only talking about my wooden canoes ...

    Etienne-Henri.
     
  15. Etienne-Henri

    Etienne-Henri Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Alick,

    Thank you for those details about preparation and varnishing. Close to what I do, except I apply shellac before varnishing.

    Etienne-Henri
     
  16. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    here's a little update on Felix's Canoe.
    Last weekend Itook her to Beale Park Boat Show. To begin with the first time I took her out she leaked a little around the stem that I didn't do the varnish pouring around on!
    However after a day on and off the water the leaking stopped and the following morning as I paddled out in the mist she was leak free.Over the weekend she was paddled on and off by myself and others and when I have dried her out again my plan is to do a varnish pour around the other stem and give her a coat on the underside for luck in preparation for her next outing.Here are a few pictures from the weekend where there were also other wooden canoes to enjoy.

    Nick's Skiff (covered left) Felix's Canoe (centre) Dabchick (my latest wood strip creation)

    20170603_070047.jpg

    The owner of this one (below)said it was from around 1910 and it has Canadian Canoe Co tags. I think it looks very much like the Sunnyside Cruiser illustrated in Ted Moores Canoecraft book which I have made a woodstrip version of. 20170603_183848.jpg
    Sam's wide board canoe "June"
    20170603_070117.jpg

    Nick's Chestnut.

    20170603_070125.jpg

    Sam in Felix's Canoe with me taking the picture from Dabchick.

    20170603_210515.jpg

    Cheers

    Alick
     
    MGC likes this.
  17. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    A few weeks of drying later and I have started pouring varnish around the second stem.Read all about it here.https://www.woodencanoes.uk/single-post/2017/06/29/Felixs-Canoe-Sealing-the-second-stem

    If I can my goal is to get her leak free.Not because I am worried about a little water in the boat, far from it but more because I want to get the planking to a stage where it is not expanding and crushing the fibres every time she goes in the water.:)

    Cheers

    Alick
     
  18. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Alick, RE: the canoe that you refer to as Felix's - are those decks one piece of wood? What kind of wood? Are they old or part of a restoration? What are the dimensions? Are they flat, or carved so there is a crown on top and cove underneath? If a cove, are there braces underneath? Just curious. Mighty pretty pictures, Tom McCloud
     
  19. OP
    OP
    alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Mccloud
    They are the original one piece decks in butternut.(I think).They were very lightweight and soft particularly on the tips and edges when I stripped them but have firmed up a bit with applications of stabiliser and varnish :)
    They are very thin ( in places down to less than half an inch) and cambered.
    Cheers
    Alick
     
  20. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I took the Lakefield out for a paddle tonight, and no leaks after an hour, I was pleasantly surprised. No load though so she was sitting very high.
    What did surprise me was that the thwart is not in the center, but set back a foot. Good for solo paddling from the center, but hard to carry!
    I did put 2 coats of varnish on her last year and WCHA member Colin's wife re-caned the seats for me over the winter. Good to go.

    LakefieldJuly.jpg
     
    Andy Hutyera and alick burt like this.

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