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Old Town Otca - worth restoring?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by brownwolf, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. brownwolf

    brownwolf New Member

    I began restoring a 1922 Otca 15 years ago and then the project sat, indoors, for 14 years. I am now planning to complete the restoration process but am concerned about he condition of the wood. The canvas and outer gunwales have been removed and I have replaced 3 of 6 ribs that need replacing - all done 14 years ago. I am trying to determine if the canoe is restorable without replacing the planking, except for obvious cracked pieces. My concern is that the cedar planking seems very dry and much of it has 1/8 inch space between planks. Does the majority of the planking need to be restored? Or is this canoe restorable without replacing the planking? Is there a way to recondition the planking... and all the wood for that matter?
  2. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    Dry wood in a 90 year old canoe is normal. Complete the carpentry work first. Space between planking of only 1/8 inch may have come from the factory that way. Don't replace otherwise good wood to close those gaps. Even cracked planks can often be kept, maybe with a few extra tacks. The wood is just a frame over which the canvas is stretched. After wood repair is done, sand/fair the hull. There has been much discussion on these forums about whether, or not, to treat the old cedar with linseed oil. Some of us paint 1:1 turpentine/boiled linseed oil on the cedar planking prior to re-canvassing. On the inside of the hull, after cleanup and sanding, and maybe staining new wood to match color with old wood, a couple coats of 1:1 turpentine/spar varnish, followed by 2 or 3 coats of spar varnish will have it looking good. Tom McCloud
  3. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Short answer - YES. If your question is about dry planking and gaps between planks, these aren't a problem. Search these forums and you'll find this question asked and answered many times. Gaps are normal - some canoes have wider ones and some canoes have narrower ones. "Dry" planking on an old boat is also the norm. Because the planks are very thin, the thinned varnish you apply to the interior and whatever you apply to the exterior (vrnish or boiled linseed oil) will alleviate a lot of that apparent brittleness. So no, you don't need to replace all the planking. And remember that the filled and painted canvas adds much to the structure of the canoe.

    Read the currently active thread entitled "OldTown sn8886" for a similar discussion on an old Morris that was fiberglassed. Different issue but same general question and same answer.

    Finish the restoration - you'll be glad you did.
  4. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

  5. OP

    brownwolf New Member

    Thank you all for your insights and recommendations. Very helpful. I have restarted the restoration of this piece of history.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013

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