Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Morris #158 "Outside stems and a substantial keel" questions

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by gfatula, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have Morris #158, a 15' rowing pod. I just filled its new canvass and am preparing to build a replacement keel and outside stems as per the description in the Morris catalog. Any help with this step will be welcome. Photographs of Morris keel and outside stem construction will be a big help.

    I plan to take the stem profile, build a bending jig, steam the pre shaped, coved, stem pieces, nail the bent outside stems over the canvass joint, fill it with Dolfinite and lap the "substantial keel" ends under the "trailing" ends of the stems. Whew!

    I have the original outwales and think they were nailed on with brass finishing nails? Any help with any of this will be appreciated.

    Last coat of filler/ first coat of paint is next.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  2. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I'm a little confused by the approach as written, but will give this a go. I'm very familiar with Morris canoes, but not Morris rowboats... but they're probably built much the same. The stems of Morris canoes were riveted on, not nailed on. Given the tendency of steam-bent wood to straighten out if not held in place, your outside stems should be screwed or riveted on. And did you mean to say you would somehow "nail the bent outside stems over the canvass joint, [and then] fill it with Dolfinite"? Not sure what that means, but the outside stem would do well bedded in Dolfinite.

    As for the keel, yes, bed it as well. And the outwales... on open gunwale Morris canoes, the outwales were nailed on. In my experience, the nails were steel finishing nails, but using non-ferrous metal would be a great improvement. On closed gunwale canoes, the top and side caps were nailed on with brass escutcheon pins.

    Finally, is your serial number really 158? Kathy will surely chime in here, but I don't recall hearing of any 3-digit Morris serial numbers. Perhaps there is another digit on one or both ends.

    It would be great to see some photos of your boat at any stage of its restoration.



     
  3. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hello, and thanks for the reply. Sorry about the confusion. The bedding would be under the stem prior to nailing it in place. I would be interested in learning how rivets would be applied to the outside stem. I am planning to add a half oval brass strip that gets screwed to the outside stem. Perhaps using long screws for the brass bash plate would help fasten the stem?

    Yes it is #158. That same question was asked of me 30 years ago. Kathy has several photographs of my boat including one of the brass number plate. I will be glad to post some photographs here, too. Any photographs of Morris stem construction will be welcome.
     
  4. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I just checked my notes and have something about a single canoe (or boat?) with a 2-digit serial number. But it belonged to someone else and I never saw it, so I can't really vouch for it. By the 1901 catalog, double-ended rowboats (I assume that's what you have) were not shown in the catalog, but there is a page that mentions boats.

    Whatever it's year of manufacture may have been, do it still have it's original inside stem(s)? If so, look for a series of holes drilled all the way through. These would be the rivet holes. The rivet would have been inserted from the outside, a rove put on the rivet from the inside and then the end peened over. Usually this leaves, in addition to the hole, the disc-shaped impression of the rove on the inner face of the inside stem. An easier approach would be to bed the outside stem and attach it with countersunk brass screws, but I wonder if Morris used rivets because he worried that the screws could pull of of the soft cedar inside stem more easily than from the hardwood inside stems used by other builders.

    The brass stemband would be put on with its own set of screws. As built, these didn't penetrate through the outer stem and into the inner one; they only went into the outside stem.

    Hope this helps. Looking forward to seeing your Morris.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  5. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    George's Double End Canvas Covered Rowing Canoe Is featured on pages 80, 81 and 84 of "The Morris Canoe" and was offered in the catalogs from 1917-1920. The serial number is indeed 158-- as with the Kennebec Company, Morris had separate serial number sequences for each style of boat they produced. The B.N. Morris canoe, the Veazie canoe, this double ended canoe, and any of the other styles Morris built all had their own serial numbering. This boat doesn't have a splayed cedar stem-- the stem is narrow and made of hardwood-- so riveting the outside stem in place would not be necessary.

    Kathy
     
  6. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks, Everything helps.

    Yes, the inside stems are fully intact as is all the original planking, the ribs, the inner gunnel and the breast plate with the Morris decal "burned" into it

    I "found" this boat on the Machias River about 30 years ago. It was being used by a trapper and its owner sold it to me. I replaced a couple of planks and re canvassed it then. I discovered its identity, too, but was discouraged from pursuing it when a, then WCHA, correspondence suggested I must be mistaken because of the low number. I am since convinced that it is #158. A beautiful old boat. Before I re canvassed it originally, I took its lines, built a plug, a mold and 5 copies out of fiberglass or Kevlar. I still have a tough Kevlar copy I use every year.

    When I removed the last canvass (my original re canvass), several years ago, I purchased tacks and brass finishing nails. I think the nails were purchased purposely to replace the ones removed when I removed the gunnels. It sat waiting for re canvassing until this last fall when we added some new tacks and stretched a new canvass which is now filled and waiting for paint. I do not think I removed an outside stem when I re canvassed it originally. I would expect it had been re canvassed before I owned it. It had been used hard for almost 100 years. There were 5 bullet holes in planks a couple of which remain. If it originally had an outside stem that is what I will do. There are no holes in the inside stem that go all the way through from the outside.

    Do the outside stems thickness taper at their top ends? How thick would the top end be?

    I do not have access to the photographs at this computer. When I get back to them I will post some.

    Thanks again,

    George
     
  7. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Sorry you were given misinformation, George, regarding the low serial number on your boat. We know so much more about Morris now. One reason I wrote the book was to consolidate all that is known (or suspected) regarding the Morris Company and their products. The lowest serial number on an existing B.N. Morris canoe is 70, and there are a handful of canoes that never had a serial number because they pre-date serial numbering.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yup! I am amazed by how much more I know than I did 30 years ago. Ha!

    I have a growing set of photographs of #158's progress through re fastening and re canvassing I can share if there is any point. I don't want to clutter up the blog with my records. Is there a reference section where they would help? I can share a link to a photobucket file.

    George
     
  9. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Go ahead and post here-- you won't clutter it up. These threads can be valuable teaching-tools, and it's nice to have everything in the same place.
     
  10. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Yes, MUCH more is known now, largely because of Kathy's (and Dennis') hard work. But even with all that, is there another known example of such a Morris boat? Without something to compare yours to, it may be hard to know the exact details of its construction.

    So how do you know this is a Morris? Does it have a Morris label? There are cuts of boats in old makers catalogs that are absolutely identical from one manufacturer to another, suggesting that some builders used images that they didn't produce and that may not have matched their own products. At least one manufacturer claimed in writing that other builders stole their images and/or text. I'm not saying you don't have a Morris; just asking out of curiosity how you know it's a Morris.

    About an outside stem... If it did have one, it would have either been riveted to or screwed onto the inside stem. Kathy says it wouldn't have been riveted, which may well be true but how do we know? If your inside stem hasn't ever been replaced and an outside stem was riveted on, you should see holes all the way through and marks of roves. If it was screwed on, there would be evenly-spaced screw holes in the outer face of the inside stems. But then again, those screw holes could be from the stemband. That is, there may have never been an outside stem. But it seems that most rowboats like this (in my experience) did have outside stems.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    The Morris decal image burned into the breast plate and the brass tag, the patent oarlocks the correspondence I had with a grandson of Morris??? I don't really have any PROOF! Kathryn seems to think it is a Morris. I suppose her opinion counts.

    There were screw holes in the outside face of a fairly well used stem, (original, I am sure), they were filled with an epoxy based wood filler I used to give the canvass tacks a fresh surface to bite. There were holes I had assumed were from the screws used to attach the brass strip. It will take a little work to add an outside stem. I think it should have one.
    re
     
  12. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    George's boat is the only example of its type that has been submitted to the Morris database. As it was produced only in the final years of the Morris Company, many of them may not have been made in the first place. George's boat has a Morris decal on the bow deck, so we know it's a Morris... and it's pictured in the existing 1917 and 1919 catalogs-- I'll post the image. Note the catalog description states that the boat has outside stems. Because there are currently no other known examples of this particular Morris boat, looking at similar boats from the same era that were manufactured by other companies might provide answers. Some of the folks who post in these forums may have worked on similar boats and hopefully will jump into this discussion with their thoughts.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    This boat provided an important piece of information regarding Morris serial numbers. We knew the Veazie Canoe Company canoes had their own serial numbering system, which could be explained by the fact that Morris considered Veazie to be an entity separate from the B.N. Morris Company. Because George's boat also has separate numbering (Morris canoes of its era were numbered in the high 14XXXs or greater), it can be assumed Morris placed their different boat-types in separate serial number sequences.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Huh? I must buy your book. Where is it available?
     
  15. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    http://store.wcha.org/The-Morris-Canoe-Legacy-of-an-American-Family.html

    or on Amazon (available as a Kindle download) or Barnes & Noble. Profits are directed to the WCHA no matter which way it is purchased.

    I'll be at the Assembly with a pile of books too. And the regional assembly in downstate Michigan in August and the Jag Lake Adventure in Wisconsin in September.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here are a couple of photos.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 29, 2015
  17. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    A few pictures.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    More pictures
     

    Attached Files:

  19. OP
    OP
    gfatula

    gfatula Curious about Wooden Canoes

    The width of the outside surface of the stems looks "substantial" (wide) enough to fit an outside stem. I have the half oval brass strips and they will cover the tacks completely without an outside stem. I am thinking that along with a new keel, outside stems will look right. With the brass half oval on them.

    Does anyone have any photographs showing an outside stem? Photographs of the keel, stem joint would help as would detail of the top ends of the stems.

    Thanks for your interest and help with this. Perhaps next year's WCHA assembly?
     
  20. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Thanks for sharing all these pictures, George. These threads are valuable research tools.

    You may be interested to know that when Charlie Morris (Bert's brother and cohort in BN Morris Canoes) built boats for his two grandchildren, they weren't canoes but were similar to your boat. Charlie was a fisherman and what he built them were canvas-covered fishing boats 19 feet long. The granddaughter's boat was double-ended like yours and the grandson's had a transom at one end for an outboard motor.

    Kathy
     

Share This Page