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Chestnut Canoe ID

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Kevin French, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Normally i'd try and save original wood, but if you dump time and effort into a full restoration i'd do rails for sure, it will give you a nice, sweet shape. Looking at one of those top pictures, the rails are wavy and lumpy as is. Long ash shouldnt be too hard to locate, and you'll be glad you did. Plus no fugly scarphs....
  2. Jan Bloom

    Jan Bloom LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I doubt that Chestnut even bothered trying to glue those ugly scarfs in the 70s. I think they just drilled some holes and jammed some screws in. At least that was the way it looked on the Playmate I had. I sold it because it weighed over 60 lbs. Just way to heavy for a 14 ft craft. I had the outwales off once or twice. There was no indication of any glue just screws.
  3. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Well just be real sure you want a Cruiser. New outwales is pretty simple, but new inwales is a long complex job. I suspect the inwales are nailed to the rib ends with ringed nails – a bear to extract and can leave you with real beat up rib ends. Might be just steel nails, but those rib ends look pretty snug to the inwale for a late 70s Chestnut. Investigate that. Try extracting whatever is fastening the inwale to the rib tips.
  4. OP
    Kevin French

    Kevin French Paddler

    Inner and outer gunwales have rot at the stems and need to be replaced. There was no evidence of glue at the splices.

    Judging from the 'fit and finish' and the estimate of a late 80's edit: (I meant 70's) construction, this is a sad production canoe. I'm sanding the blade marks out of the seat now, the top edges were not rounded over on them. The undersides were not finished nor are the thwart and all hung with steel carriage bolts. All the planking has gaps between them, filler added at the ends where planking comes together to make up for the poor joinery and the hull overall is rough with little fairing, no sanding of rough planking.

    Having said all this, it is my first repair of a W/C and my first Chestnut but, I've restored several wood trimmed canoes. I don't believe the great name of Chestnut was based on building this grade of canoe.

    If I'm wrong, please let me know. I want to end up with a better canoe.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  5. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Chestnut folded in January 1979, and at that time they were struggling. It comes as no surprise that quality of the last canoes was not up to par with those built during their heyday. I used to own a Prospector that was shipped January 1979, one of the last to ever leave the factory, and it exhibited the same issues with workmanship. That being said, the designs are timeless, and Chestnut canoes are among the best paddling canoes ever designed.

    Keep in mind that the Cruiser, Prospector, et al, where the so-called "commercial canoes" - they were the pickup trucks of the water, not Charles River courting canoes.
  6. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I’ve got a late 60s prospector and a mid 60s Ogilvy. In the Prospector there were some signs of poor quality construction, such as you describe, saw marks, etc. The later you get in the 70s, the greater the decline in quality, with spliced rails being about the acme (or nadir). This was all due to the company’s economic problems and attempts to cheapen cost of production to compete with aluminum canoes.

    So to me it’s always a toss-up whether to attempt to restore a Chestnut from that era. Mind you, folks around here love their Prospectors and Cruisers. If you are aiming for a learning experience, then restoring that one will do the trick and you will end up an enviable canoe.
  7. OP
    Kevin French

    Kevin French Paddler

    And that's the thing here. I've been working towards a W/C and this one is a good one to repair and learn from. I'm not worried about the money, it will just take a bit longer.
  8. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Like Dan said. These canoes, in their day, were not intended to look pretty but were used as utilitarian vehicles which they did well. After restoring over 40 Chestnuts to date [ just completing two more ] I would like to make these observations. The canoe you are working on has survived for about 40 years. If you restore it back to the original construction, scarfs and all, how long do you think it will last before it needs to be restored again since materials and storage are better now? Say 50 or 60 years? Consider how old are you now and where will you be in 50 or 60 years. Why beat yourself up trying to make it better than it was? :]
    1- All Chestnut oak outwales and inwales with scarfs WERE factory glued.
    2- They did not intentionally screw the scarfs.
    3- Oak was preferred to ash, spruce or other materials.
    4- Chestnut used common nails to fasten the ribs to the inwales, never ring nails.
    5- If you cleanup the old inwale scarfs and use a good glue/epoxy it will be better/stronger than original and save a lot of work rather than replacing the inwales.
    6- It is easy to scarf new inwale tips to the old inwales and it will not compromise the structural integrity of the canoe. Carefully use a belt sander on the inwale top surfaces to finish up the scarfs and match the decks to the inwales. The new oak tips can be easily stained to the old oak.
    7- I would replace the outwales with new scarfed oak since new outwale tips don't work well. Retaining the oak will match the many other oak parts rather than adding a different wood. The new outwale scarfs can be located away from the old inwale scarfs. If you use new oak outwales they will help to straighten out the inwales where needed.
    8- The new canvas will cover a multitude of perceived sins.

    Hope this makes sense and helps. Trust everyone had a great Christmas and will enjoy all aspects of canoeing in the new year.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  9. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Like Dan said. The thing to realize is that these Chestnuts were beaters, utilitarian canoes that were tools for people who knew how to use them and needed them. If they ended up beaten to death in the bush, they had done their job. The folks who built it would likely be amazed that after 40 years it was still in one piece. Don’t feel obliged to turn it into something worthy of museum display.
  10. OP
    Kevin French

    Kevin French Paddler

    Thanks Dave for the information especially about scarfing the ends of the inners.

    There are no plans to make this display canoe and will most likely be flipped it in a year for another project canoe.
  11. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    There’s an excellent item in the forum knowledge base about how to do “tip” repairs (that is, what Dave suggests viz splices to tips of inners and tops of stems).

    I have a question for Dave and Pam. How much extra time and money goes into a canoe restoration once you get to putting in new inwales vs. having good inwales in place?
  12. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Hi Larry, I restore wooden canoes as a retirement hobby. Granted it is a hobby that has gotten out of hand. [ According to my dear wife. ] There are a few ways to replace inwales but I will stick to the basics. Once the new inwales are made you will need to make a form to steam bend the ends. Make sure that the replacement inwales are at least 12" longer than the old ones. Remove the decks, thwarts and seats. Replace one inwale at a time but first clamp the new inwale in place on the old one. Mark where the bolt holes will have to be drilled and the end cut off length AFTER the inwale is has been completely installed. Remove the new and old inwale. If the rib to old inwale nails are hard to remove spread the rib/inwale slightly, using a chisel, and cut off the nails with a hack saw blade. When installing the new inwale you will find that the added length will allow you to torque it to match where the old inwale was. Allowing $50 in materials and 5 hours per side [ seems there are always unplanned issues ] would be reasonable.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  13. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Thanks, Dave.

    Do you install a batten to keep the ribs in place after you have the inwale out? I have this image of the ribs spreading out of control after the inwale is out.
  14. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    No batten required Larry. Assuming most of the planking is on and properly fastened there are no issues. Always nail from the center working out to the ends. Pe-drilling is usually required if copper ring nails are used.

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