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New cedar strip canoe owner.

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by Daniel Day, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. Daniel Day

    Daniel Day Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I recently purchased a 17' home built canoe, the hull is in great shape and seems to be well built. Now a couple of questions.
    What can I use to clear coat the hull? It needs the scratches filled in, etc.
    It does not have stem guards to protect the glass, what can I use?
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist


    I'll recommend picking up this book, available here at the WCHA store:
    Everything you need to know is in there...

    How rough do you plan to be with the boat? Brass stem bands offer some protection, but I'm not convinced that piercing the outer 'glass shell with screws is all that good of an idea, as it creates a portal for water to seep into the wood. You can put some epoxy in the holes before you put the screws in, but then you can't get the thing off, when you need to repair it. I'd be very interested to hear others' ideas on this!

    Got pictures to post? We like pictures...
  3. OP
    Daniel Day

    Daniel Day Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks pklonowski.
    I forgot I had the book "Canoecraft" I will read through it. It will be primarily lake use, but I was thinking about adapting a sailing rig to it. I to am not fond of the idea of drilling holes in the hull. But I need something to protect the hull when I beach it.
  4. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The way you remove screws that have been set in epoxy is to use a soldering iron held against the head of the screw to heat the screw up and soften the epoxy holding the threads. Then once it's hot, you remove the screw with a screwdriver. However, as mentioned, punching holes in a stripper's skin near the waterline is not to be taken lightly and carries a certain amount of long-term leakage risk.

    Rather than mechanical attachment of metal bands, I finally settled on adding a tiny strip of Kevlar felt, directly on the spots of the lower stems where abrasion happens. Kevlar felt is the same stuff that Old Town and other companies use for the Kevlar skid plates on their Royalex canoes. It pretty much stops the abrasion issue dead in its tracks. It's not the most beautiful stuff in the world (dull gold color, but can be painted over if desired) so you want to keep the sizes of the pieces to a minimum and apply it carefully. The best thing to do is to use the boat a bit and find out exactly where the abrasion usually happens. It's quite often concentrated on a very small area, depending on the stem profiles. Sure, you might occasionally hit a rock with the surrounding, non-felted area, but the glass can probably handle that. You're interested in covering those small areas that get abrasion on a regular basis.

    Once the trouble spot is located, it may be small enough that you can cover it with a piece of the felt that's only a few inches long and 1/2" wide or less. We found that we could stop about 95% of the typical stem abrasion from beaching (assuming reasonably careful boat use) with a cigar-shaped piece of felt that was about 4"-5" long and only about 3/8" wide. Application is a matter of removing the varnish in that area, saturating the felt with epoxy and sticking it on. Neatness counts, because you can't sand Kevlar felt (it just gets fuzzy on the surface and that's as far down into it as you will get). If you decide to go with it, we can get into neat application tips when you're ready to install it.

    The felt is style #4580 and can be found here. Not cheap, but a half yard would do a whole fleet of strippers.

    For repair of general bottom scratches on strippers you can cosmetically hide many of them with nothing more than a coat of varnish. Anything that's really deep can be epoxy-filled and sanded smooth first. I usually do occasional varnish touch-ups and then every few years, I'll sand the varnish off the bottom, epoxy-fill any bad scratches that are left and re-varnish. Re-varnishing should be done periodically to renew the UV absorbers and protect the epoxy anyway, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
  5. OP
    Daniel Day

    Daniel Day Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Todd, as always from reading the posts, your information is thorough. Now for another question. I want to put a keel on but don't want to drill, has a glue or epoxy worked well for this?
    Thanks for the info.
    Also, I still want to get your book.
  6. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker intense hatred for keels means that I have to ask if you are really sure that the canoe should have one, because they often don't do what people think they're supposed to do very well at all. In this case, they also can present some pretty serious structural problems.

    You could glue a wooden keel to a fiberglassed stripper hull with epoxy (after sanding off the varnish in that area first and pre-coating the keel) though a more flexible adhesive like 3-M 5200 might work better and be slightly less prone to ripping the glass of the hull if you hit anything hard with the keel. The problem is that you are essentially using permanent glue to attach a temporary part. Keels and outwales are very exposed to damage (and sometimes rot) and they can tend to get beat up and eventually need replacement. If this ever happens to your boat, you will most likely be pretty sorry that you glued them on. Getting them off neatly without damaging the hull and leaving a good surface for their replacements is probably going to be a royal pain in the rear end.

    Using screws and finish washers (or similar) from the inside, combined with bedding compound or a non-permanent adhesive/sealer, makes keel replacement much easier, but obviously increases the risk of water penetrating the hull laminations from either the inside or outside through leaky screw holes. That's not a risk to take lightly.

    I think that if I had to put a keel on a stripper, I would do it this way:

    - I would use bronze screws (not brass, they sheer-off to easily) and bedding compound, but first, I would pre-drill and prepare all my screw holes in the boat's bottom.

    - Each hole would be 2-3 times the diameter of the screw shanks (maybe use a 1/4" or 5/16" drill bit). Then I would take some hunks of duct tape and tape over all the holes on the outside of the hull.

    - Next, I'd mix up a batch of epoxy resin and quickly coat the edges of the wood in all the holes with a small paint brush.

    - Then mix some cotton fiber and/or chopped fiberglass strands into the remaining epoxy in the pot until I got a fairly thick, fiber-rich slurry and then I'd fill all the holes in the hull with the slurry.

    - After all these small plugs hardened, I'd drill holes in them for the screws, just big enough to clear the shanks. What I'm trying to do here is to put a tough fiberglass/epoxy sealing layer and water barrier between the actual screw hole and the wooden edges of the original holes bored through the bottom.

    - The keel would be slightly hollowed on the surface up against the hull and would be liberally buttered with bedding compound and then screwed on through the holes in the fiberglass plugs. I usually use traditional bedding compound, rather than goo in tubes. I think it lasts longer in most cases. I've mentioned before that on some of the old sailboats I've rebuilt, the bedding compound under old fittings was the only thing on the entire boat that was still in good shape.

    - Hopefully, the new keel should be able to be unscrewed, removed and replaced or refinished several times if ever needed, without damaging the plugs or letting water into the hull.

    Will this method work? I have no proof whatsoever and have never tried it for a canoe keel. Running fasteners through slightly over-sized, filled epoxy plugs to keep water out of the wood has been done for years and tested though, and does have a pretty good track record. The results are generally superior to just running a goo-dipped screw through bare wood and hoping that it won't eventually leak. Even so, you still obviously run a higher risk of leakage than a bottom with no holes at all, so are you really sure you want to put a keel on the canoe?
  7. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    New cedar strip canoe owner

    I'd recommend paddling the canoe for a while without the keel, and decide if you really need one. Like Todd, I have no use for them. They're very good for hanging up on rocks, logs, and gravel bars. IMHO, it's easier to make a keel-less canoe go straight, than it is to make a keeled canoe turn. And for a canoe, it's just one more thing to fix.

    And yes, Todd's book is superb.
  8. OP
    Daniel Day

    Daniel Day Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, you guys are good. Yes, I have had it out on a couple of lakes, the Pend Oreille in north Idaho (big lake) and Bull Lake in Montana (small Lake). It tracks well when my friend and I get into sync. I will be going to Priest lake in north Idaho in Sept. Todd, your sequence for adding a keel is notable. For now I will forget about the keel and just paddle.

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