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Keewaydin Expedition Canoes

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Murat V, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Murat V

    Murat V LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Not sure if this has been posted yet. Apparently a group of young men are planning a 65-day paddling voyage from Lake Dunmore in Vermont to the James Bay in Ontario. They are part of the Keewaydin camps and are building their own WC canoes for the journey. Their website, has some nice pics and videos including this one of their building process.


    Around the 2:07 mark they are installing these tiny top ribs that they've called riblets to protect their boats from their traditional tripping wannigans and other tripping gear. Thought it was a neat idea to the traditional alternative of double ribs sometimes seen on Keewaydin tripping canoes. Here's a closeup pic from their site...

  2. jwil

    jwil Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    wonder if they are taking the Northern Forest canoe trail it comes right through here and there are some sweet campng spots along it
  3. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    Excellent project. I love how fast they can work! I checked out their seat caning video, too. Nice. I wish that I could cane a seat in 4 minutes and 34 seconds, too!
  4. Scott Rowe

    Scott Rowe Random Adventurer

    Exciting project. I want to go! They'll pass right by my old hometown.
  5. greenvilleguy

    greenvilleguy '42 Yankee OTC

    I watched the caning video and now I have a question. It didn't appear that they had vanished the frame first. Wouldn't you vanish the frame before weaving?
  6. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    I usually varnish the seat one or two coats, then cane. I add a couple more coats over the wood and cane to finish it off. Others have their own ways.
  7. Glen Toogood

    Glen Toogood Builder/rebuilder

    I just sand my seats ready for varnish, then cane them, then varnish 4 coats. Including the cane, except camp canoes, which I lace with 180 lb. nylon braid.

    The 'double ribs' are known as wannigan ribs. 5/16" x 1 1/2", six of them, three on each side of centre thwart. Very robust. Keewaydin Temagami uses them exclusively. I prefer them to the 'riblets' which can bust out or loosen under trip stress and there's no good way to refasten them without taking the skin off.
  8. BCam

    BCam Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'm a beginner but, based on what I've read on these forums, I thought epoxy was a no-no when it came to wood/canvas canoes. According to their website, they're coating the canvas with epoxy.

    Did I miss something?
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  9. Glen Toogood

    Glen Toogood Builder/rebuilder

    Not Keewaydin Temagami. They are 100% wood/canvas. I know, I'm their rebuilder and I've built for them also. They use 17' Fraser Prospectors and Cruisers, off the original Chestnut forms, also 17' Manitos and Mojos, from my design (basically a modified Cruiser).
  10. BCam

    BCam Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here's a quote from the expedition's website, regarding the epoxy so I'm still wondering:

    Canvasing and The Drying Game
    Posted on November 3, 2011 by 2012ogima
    All of the expedition boats are now nearing completion – after we packed up the shop on Lake Dunmore, we drove down to Schuyler Thomson’s workshop in Norfolk, Connecticut to canvas, epoxy, and paint them (in addition to getting started on the fifth and final boat). At this point all of our boats are in canvas, and soon only green paint will separate them from completion; however, the epoxying is a slow process, and each coat needs 12-24 hours to dry – fortunately Schuyler’s shop is equipped with a climate-controlled curing room where the canoes can dry without interference from the weather.
  11. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

  12. Glen Toogood

    Glen Toogood Builder/rebuilder

    Well, that's Keewaydin Dunmore. Keewaydin Temagami is the original camp, been in Temagami since 1903, and still does things 'old school'.

    Now I've looked at the web-site, I would say that techically, they are not wood/canvas canoes. There's no canvas, some fabric like fiberglass, say, and epoxy. The rest of the canoe is built more-or-less traditionally, then finished hi-tech.

    Regular canvas is so easy to patch with an old bandana and a tube of Amberoid.
  13. Dylan Schoelzel

    Dylan Schoelzel born in a canoe

    This project is being done by Dunmore which is a separate camp from the Keewaydin in Temagami even though they all fall under the same nonprofit foundation.

    Keewaydin in Temagami was the original camp formed in 1893 in the states. It moved to Temagami permanently in 1903 where it has been ever since. Keewaydin had several different camps throughout North America. One of these was Dunmore that began in 1910. Dunmore was and is not a canoeing camp like Temagami but canoeing is deeply imbedded in their roots. In 1938 the conglomerate of Keewaydin broken up leaving Dunmore and Keewaydin in Temagami two separate entities. They remained separate until 2001/2002 when the then private owners of Temagami gifted the camp to the then nonprofit Keewaydin Foundation at Dunmore.

    Now we all reside under the same umbrella again but the camps have different programs. Keewaydin at Temagami still remains a canoe tripping camp using wood and canvas canoes like it has since 1893.

    I don’t have anything to do with the expedition project other knowing about it because of my affiliation with Keewaydin in Temagami.

    The canoes for the expedition are in fact wood canvas canoes covered in canvas. They are using epoxy filler. The epoxy is not the type of epoxy that most people are use to. It is a slow curing epoxy that is not really meant for bonding two objects together. It does not adhere the canvas or anything else to the hull but soaks into the weave of the canvas like an oil base filler. Like any other filler, it has its’ strengths and weaknesses.
  14. BCam

    BCam Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the info. Although I'm new to this forum I've done a lot of research on it and this is the first I've heard of the epoxy filler.
  15. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Dylan --

    Have you used epoxy filler? Are you able to comment further on epoxy filler? Who makes it? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

  16. WoodNCanvas

    WoodNCanvas LOVES Wooden Canoes

    As an aside re: epoxy filler: a young builder in Toronto area, Marc Russell is building wood canvas canoes using epoxy filler....his company is Gull Lake Boatworks....and his Kijiji ad says that the 'canvas is impregnated with 4 layers of W.E.S.T. system epoxy and filler'....I was curious about this so asked him online: why do you use W.E.S.T. epoxy on canvas????.....don't you find that takes away the flexibilty of canvas????....the elasticity????

    His response was: epoxy+canvas....this technique was, to my knowledge, pioneered by Ron Frenette (my teacher and "mentor") and Ted Moores. Canvas + Epoxy, vs. traditional fillers: C+E is generally lighter, better-finishing, longer lasting, and more resilient. The E adds a rigidity not found in traditional fillers, but maintains a flexibility that allows impacts to deflect. And, unlike any synthetic wovens - like fibreglass, when impacted the C+E will will not "shatter" like a synthetic. It has more pliability when paired with. C+E also allows for complete seam-sealing of hulls with gunwales, keels, stem bands, etc.

    I was still curious to know more so I asked: I thought epoxy/canvas would eventually cause cracking ('spider web') of paint.....and less elasticity....that's why 'traditional' filler used by most wood canvas builders I'm aware of is linseed oil based

    Marc added: As for epoxy-on-canvas, I have yet to experience any problems myself (famous last words), but Ron Frenette et al. assures me that cracking/spiderwebbing, etc. is not a problem in his experience, either. I tend to err on the side of Ron, as he has not yet led me astray. But almost everything has it's advantages and disadvantages, no? I should probably sometime get some experience with more "traditional" fillers.

    I had to admit that Ron Frenette is definitely a good teacher (I had built my first wood canvas canoe in one of Ron's classes)....and was obviously a good mentor to Marc....I have no experience with epoxy/filler....I use linseed oil based "traditional' filler....but was curious to know more....what I've seen of Marc's canoes I do maybe the epoxy filler works....

    Other builders I know don't use....sticking to linseed oil based I had spoken to thought it might create 'spiderwebbing' and the canvas might not be as pliable (hence my questions to Marc about using epoxy)....

    But I would like to hear other's opinions....or experiences....
  17. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I have spilled epoxy on my jeans.

    The resulting spots are bullet proof..well at least extremely durable.

    Hey, wait a second......Eureka!!:)
  18. Johnny Clore

    Johnny Clore Builder/paddler

    As one of the Expedition 2012 members, and the leader of our boat building process, I can offer clarification on several points:

    As for the epoxy, we use Gluvit epoxy (not WEST system) to impregnate the canvas and fully seal it. It is specifically designed to flex with the hull and therefore does not compromise the flexibility or elasticity of the canvas. The first coat is brushed into the fabric. Coats 2-4 are mixed with a bit of microlite filler and applied with a squeegee. My experience has been that it provides a durable, highly waterproof finish. Furthermore, it provides a beautiful surface for painting, allowing for a very smooth, shiny final product. The majority of the boats in use at Keewaydin Dunmore are sealed with Gluvit and we have never had any problems with cracking or spider-webbing.

    As for the seat caning and varnishing, we do in fact give the seats several coats of varnish prior to caning them. If the seat in our caning video doesn't quite have the fully varnished luster, that's probably because it was an old seat that I was re-caning for camp, not one of our new ones.
  19. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'm curious about the epoxy... since it gets put directly onto the canvas, doesn't it soak through, and stick to the planking? Does this create issues when it's time to re-canvas?
  20. Dylan Schoelzel

    Dylan Schoelzel born in a canoe

    Yes, I have had experience with this filler. It is not my first choice for a filler and it is not what we use.

    The product they are using is called Gluvit. It is not made, nor specifically marketed as a filler. It is a three step process that takes anywhere from 3-7 days to fill a canoe and once the third coat goes on it is ready for paint in about 2 weeks. The draw backs as I see them are:

    -It is not cheap. In fact it is quiet expensive 5-6 times that of oil base.

    -It is toxic and labor intensive. The fumes are rather intense but they disappear much quicker than those of oil base fillers.

    -The learning curve for a smooth streak free finish is high, but in reality the learning curve of oil base filler, in which one knows all the ins and outs, is high too. In fact achieving a knowledge about oil base filler, its application, and predictability is perhaps even higher.

    - It also somewhat labor intensive from the time you first start to apply it until that first coat of paint goes on. Not only is the application and sanding more physical than oil base, there is twice the amount of labor involved in terms of man hours.

    -It requires about 4-5 times the amount of sanding compared to that of oil base filler.
    -During application and curing, it does not like to encounter sub freezing temperatures. Once fully cured, about 2 weeks, and when that first coat of paint has gone on it doesn’t matter what the temperatures are.

    -It’s somewhat finicky about how it gets mixed. If it is not done well, and you apply it to the canvas, forget it. There is nothing you can do short of tearing the canvas off and starting all over again.

    - It is more difficult to patch when torn because of how the canvas reacts to being torn. Under/over patches are doable but not nearly as easy with a canvas that has been filled with oil base filler. It is nearly impossible to sewn the canvas back together if the tear is big enough. It has also been my observation that when the canvas tears due to hitting a rock the tear will be longer on canvas filled with gluvit and will be shorter with oil base..

    So what in the world could the benefit of this goop as a filler possibly be? Predictability and stability. There is absolutely zero guessing game as to how it will fair. It is eons more stable than oil base filler. It is rugged, the paint never blisters, never peels, and never cracks. You can fill your canoe up like a bath tub and let it sit for months and you will never experience paint blistering or lifting. This cannot be said for other fillers especially ones that contain lots of linseed oil. Heck wet grass can cause blisters to form on oil base filler.

    Good points WoodNCanvas. I know of builders that use West System as their filler and they report good results. I do not have experience with west system as a filler so my comments are not based toward this product.

    I was still curious to know more so I asked: I thought epoxy/canvas would eventually cause cracking ('spider web') of paint.....and less elasticity....that's why 'traditional' filler used by most wood canvas builders I'm aware of is linseed oil based

    Yes, some might think this is too hard of a filler, that it doesn’t have enough flex. There is no doubt about it that it makes the canvas/filler system a more ridged covering or shell but it retains enough flex.

    If you think about it the epoxy is stronger than the canvas so the flexing of the canvas is not going to break or crack the epoxy filler. The epoxy retains enough pliability to allow the hull to flex. Because nothing is bonded or adhered together nothing cracks or breaks.

    I have never seen Gluvit prematurely crack under normal conditions or but have seen it do so under extreme conditions.

    It (including the canvas) starts to become brittle in about 15-20 years. What happens is the canvas will start to pull apart in random places like someone slit the canvas with a knife. This usually only happens in one or two places and is isolated to 1-3 inch long slits.

    The epoxy canvas shell does not like it when high amounts of moisture are trapped between the canvas and the hull. Normal conditions seem to be fine but because the epoxy acts as such a bomber barrier against liquid water and water vapor, when it is exposed to prolonged periods (an accumulation of years) of moisture being trapped inside, the canvas will start to crumble.

    Oil base fillers seem to do a better job when moisture is trapped because of their ability to let water pass through them. But, this ability can also be a serious disadvantage………

    No, the epoxy does not soak all the way through the canvas to the hull. The weave absorbs it just like oil base filler. In fact the weave of the canvas may absorb slightly more oil base filler than the epoxy because of the difference in viscosity of the two.

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