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Help with reining in rails on a Chestnut Prospector

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Howie, Jun 18, 2021.

  1. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I've recently started restoring a 1972 Chestnut Prospector 'Fort', and I've run into a problem that I'd like some thoughts as to how to solve.

    The canoe's inner rails are 'bowed out' a little in the front. This is because the canoe has no thwart close behind the front seat. The canoe does have two thwarts: one placed in the center and another a little ahead of the rear seat, but apparently the center thwart is too far away to prevent the movement. Also, the front seat is lowered from the rails by spacers, so it can't hold the rails in place either. Consequently the rails in this area are bulging out by over an inch. This causes the seat spacers to splay inwards from the rails down to the seat, and I fear that this will do damage to the rails someday.

    20210607_162959.jpg 20210618_133708.jpg

    I'm looking for ideas to solve this.
    1) I could simply add a third thwart behind the front seat. But this would change the 'look' of the Prospector and it would get in the way of anyone wanting to paddle the canoe sitting 'backwards' in the front seat. I could also use wing-nuts to secure the thwart and thus make it easily removable when paddling backward, but the canoe would still look different.
    2) I could modify the existing seat, or make a new seat, to accommodate the wider distance between the rails.
    3) Or I could add some wood to the sides of the seat that would allow me to fasten the seat to the ribs instead of (or in addition to) the rails. Thus the seat acts as a thwart. The front seat in my Rushton is held in place in this way. The seat spans 3 ribs so they ought to supply enough support. And the canvas would cover the screw heads so water leaks wouldn't be a concern.

    Seems to me option 3 is the best as it'll correct the problem, be unobtrusive, and maintain the classic Chestnut 'look' and functionality.

  2. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    I would likely leave it as it is.
  3. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I agree with Gil. It’s the Chestnut Charm.
  4. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Aw gee... don't think I can ignore this - it just passes the problem to someone else down the road. They wouldn't be able to sit in the front seat without it swinging left & right, tearing the seat apart, and eventually damaging the rails. Better to fix it now. What I didn't mention is that the front seat is all torn up already. Sure, they are flimsy, but as you say that's the Chestnut Charm.
    20210619_090358.jpg 20210618_133859_renamed_4024.jpg
    Well, first things first. I've already epoxied the broken scarf cuts (original) in the rails. Next I'll add ring nails to attach the ribs to the rails. Many were never attached to the rails at all, and those that were were with steel (rusted) nails. Then replace 3 or 4 busted ribs. Time enough to give the seat problem more thought...
  5. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    What I finally did was measure the width of the canoe at the rear thwart and compare that to the equivalent spot at the front. The distance is just about equal. That's as it should be, but surprising as there's no thwart to stop it from splaying out. But with that being the case I can't modify the existing seats to pull in the rails - it'd distort the canoe.

    So I'm thinking my seats were made to the wrong size - like maybe they were meant for a shorter canoe? Can someone measure their seats on a 16' Prospector? Here's my measurements for the two outer slats on my seats: Front seat measures 28-1/2" & 26"; Rear seat measures 20-3/8 & 25-1/4"

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I think you are on to something. If you pull the boat in too much it will end up with a pucker in the lines.
    Before your seat revelation I was thinking about a 4th option for you to pull things together.
    I don't recall which of the Huron folks was known for inside rail attached seat hangers, Bastien? If I were trying to pull things in and deal with the lowered seat I would be very tempted to do it that way. A solid piece of wood will provide a much more robust attachment than relying on the bolts to do the job.
    I think you once restored a boat that was set up like that? Here's an image I found on another thread that shows that attachment method. Look at image three posted by Treewater.
  7. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Right Mike... I had thought of that. Both the Bastien and Langford I restored had a one-piece-dropdown-log for seat spacers. I think they're actually a good idea. But not 'accurate' for this canoe.
  8. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I’ll be doing a Prospector soon and will deal with the same issue. No thwart behind the bow seat….
    I once did an Ogilvy that had a severe problem in this regard. Partly, I think, because of closely spaced 3/8” ribs wanting to spread. If my recollection is right, I added length to the seat stiles and hung the seat below the gunwales rather than trying to pull the gunwales in.

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