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1914/15 OT AA Charles River Gunnels Profile and Mahogany / Mahogany Alternatives

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Douglas Kestell, Aug 31, 2021.

  1. Douglas Kestell

    Douglas Kestell Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I recently purchased a pretty rough 1914/15 AA Charles River that is in pretty rough shape.

    I am under the assumption that this canoe came with closed / capped gunnels - the ribs taper down to almost nothing at the tops.

    The inwales are present, but look roughly square in cross section, the outwales are completely gone. I am wondering if the gunnel cap and outwales are 1 piece or the gunnel cap is its own thin strip. A piece of long thin stock with lots of nails came with the boat and has a curve in one end that roughly looks like it could be a gunnel cap, but I'm not sure that it is original or not. A member shared picture of the outwale cross section from a 1911 with them being one piece, but I'm unsure what profile on this vintage should be.

    Also, there is a significant curve to gunnels at either end am considering Spanish Cedar as replacement material for these as well as one of the decks. I have read about the difficulty of steam bending "Mahogany alternatives" due to their density and everything I have found is kiln dried. Likewise Spanish Cedar appears to be more sustainably harvested.

    Last, the planking rather has rather large gaps - 1/16" at their worst. Note I haven't applied thinned Linseed oil yet, so they may swell a tiny bit. Should I consider replacing every other plank with one slightly wider to cheat the gap with the adjacent planks?

    Last - the carriage bolts suspending what is left of the seats are rusted. Not sure OT used steel for these way back when. There are several small ring shank nails around the gunnel areas as well, and not sure if these are what was used as well.

    Lots of question - but I really appreciate any insights you could provide.

  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Hi Douglas,

    The 1/16" gaps are nothing to be concerned about; that's not at all unusual.

    The cap rails and out wales were separate pieces. The long piece that came with the canoe may very well be part of it. Pictures will help!

    The seat hanger bolts... you can check with a magnet to see if they're steel; they probably are. Are they actual carriage bolts, or are they "Fin-necked" bolts? These would have small "fins" projecting from the shaft, up by the rounded heads.
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Your canoe described at came with double mahogany gunwales. These did not have rail caps like the more common closed gunwale. See and for more about this type of construction. Good luck,


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