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Stem repair questions

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by instructor74, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Okay so I have a question about repairing the stems on my canoe with the exception of the last 1/4 inch on top the stems are free of rot. The front edge is quite beat up from all the tacks that have held the canvas in place. 20160801_205534.jpg is it better to just use longer tacks or is there a filler that can be used and still give the tacks something to bite into
     
  2. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    There are a variety of solutions. You could fill the cracks and holes with epoxy, but with so much open space as yours has, this could lead to a stem too hard for new tacks to be driven into. You could also glue in tiny slivers and other bits of wood - tedious but at least you'll have mostly wood. You can also attach a false face of wood to the stem face, then shape it down to be fair with the stem and planking. That also gives you good wood to tack into. Best to fill all those cracks and holes, though, before attaching a false face, because water that gets trapped in remaining voids can lead quickly to full-blown stem rot. Worst case, replace the whole stem - this can seem challenging if you haven't done it before, but it's certainly doable.

    There have been discussions about this here previously. Here is one I found with a quick search of the forums, but there are more:

    http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.p...oo-many-tack-holes-in-my-stems&highlight=stem

    Hope this helps,
    Michael
     
  3. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    A recent fix to both stem faces on a rare JR Williams: cut a hardwood dowel the width of your stem face in half lengthwise ( hee-hee ) and about 3' Use a dremel with the wide cutting bit to rout the face to receive the half dowel. Use a rat tail course file to true up the depth of the concavity and go right out to the very edge of the stem. soak the 1/2 dowel in boiling water to form to the curve and clamp. Next day remove, dry and epoxy and clamp. ( Remove some plank fasteners one side to get just a few small c- clamps on. ) Clean up where necessary and true up the face and there she be....a new face, true and hard with all the holes filled and only a few planks removed. Where the stem blends into the bottom hull surface just taper the concavity to receive a tapered end of the dowel and that is a clean end. At the top of the stem just blend in the dowel to a new BEAK and you will have essentially all new wood for the tacks. Hope this helps. Most importantly, have fun.
     
  4. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Dave, thats brilliant. Will be stealing that one...
     
  5. Paul Scheuer

    Paul Scheuer LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I had started a thread in early May on inner stem repairs to my Morris, but I didn't follow up on it.

    The pics are the result.

    I inserted a rectangular section about 3/8 th thick steamed cedar. The thought was that I could hand carve a rectangular cavity better than using a router. The carving was fairly simple. I cut the sides of the cavity with a hand saw, and chiseled out the 3/8 in. recess.

    Unfortunately I deleted the shots of my clamping method which involved a set of cords spaced around the arc and tied with trucker's hitches and taut-line hitches, all anchored to a center point on a board clamped to the hull. The inserts were steamed on a separate bending form to the approximate shape.

    Excuse the distraction of the outwale clamping. They had been off the boat for several years and I want them fixed in position without fasteners.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I would be inclined to do as Michael suggested and glue in splices and plugs. The stem is really not that bad looking. It certainly does not look bad enough to replace and unless there are other issues that you need to sort, there does not seem to be anything that should compel you to pull the planking apart...
    I would use Titebond III to do the plugging and then follow with a bit of West Systems G Flex to fill any remaining small cavities. If you happen to end up trying to put a tack into the G Flex you may find that it will turn your tacks...no worries, just poke a small starter hole with a small awl and drive the tack.
    Taking this repair approach I would use a 5/16th or possibly longer tack.
    You should be able to put at least a couple more canvases on that boat before you need to do anything else to that stem.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you everyone for the input there are a lot of great options I will really have to evaluate the condition and use what is best
     
  8. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here is another question does anyone have a good photo of how the stem attaches to the inner gunwale? All the photos that I have seen show a complex joint, notching both the gun Wales an the stem. From what I can see on mine it appears that the stem buts up under the gun wale. There appears to be no notching of the gun wale at all. The outer gun wale is proud of the front of the canoe by about an inch and the keel continues from the bottom wrapping around the end of the canoe all the way up and between the cut out in the outer gunwale. Since I have to repair the decay in this area I would like to do it correctly using as much of the original wood as possible. I will post some photos later today
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
  9. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    It sounds like you have a canoe with outside gunwales. Old Towns typically had the inwales running over and mating at the top of the inside stem. After canvassing this arrangement, the outside stem would be screwed into place on top of the inner stem and running op to the level of the tops of the inwales (at its "southern end", the outside stem is scarfed to the keel). The outwales were then attached with their ends "capturing" the top of the outside stem. See the attached photo on an OT Otca from 1916.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Okay so here are a few photos of the outer stem 20160805_180233.jpg
    With the outer stem removed you can see the inner stem 20160805_180412.jpg 20160805_180449.jpg 20160805_180456.jpg
    I don't know why some of the photos rotated or how to fix it but hopefully you can get the idea of what I have going on.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    So today I removed the mahogany stern deck to get a better look at the inwals and the inner stem. It is a very interesting design. In all the photos I have looked at I 20160811_180134.jpg haven't found one that looks like this.
    20160811_173244.jpg
    20160811_173255.jpg
    Notice the shim added on top of the inner in wall 20160811_173328.jpg 20160811_173314.jpg 20160811_173405.jpg
     
  12. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    None of the previous posts in this thread indicated what kind of canoe you were asking about, but these photos suggest that this is the Kennebec from your previous posts - is that correct? The junction of the gunwales and stems that you asked about earlier should be plainly apparent from this end of your canoe - everything looks intact and original. The other end was most likely done exactly the same. The construction of your decks is not unusual for a canoe with this style of decking, and likely perfectly normal for this model.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    You are correct it is a kennebec I wasn't really thinking about it in this post. Michael thanks for the input I was fairly sure it was original there where no signs of any previous repair work done that I could find. I was just blown away by the attention to detail esp the bevelled shim under the deck to create the shape of the upper deck, the thickness of the structure that appears to have all been steam bent and trying to figure out what I can save and what I have to recreate. I think that it is solid enough I only need address the split near the one end and fix the last inch of the structure and about the same on the inner stem
     
  14. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    So today I started the repair to the stern inner gunwale, and inner stem since they where the most intact. Please note these have not been shaped or sanded to their final shape and are still a bit ruff looking 20160813_223515.jpg 20160813_223525.jpg 20160813_224050.jpg 20160813_224105.jpg
     
  15. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Hope they hold up, that's a pretty short joint, it's been a while but isn't a 4-1 the minimum? That's about a 1.25 -1.

    Dan
     
  16. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    OH MY ! I would redo these joints, for sure. ...and use the bird beak approach....and use more material on the stem piece to get the curve to the deck point correct. If I can find a pic, I will post here. Keep up the fight....I have had to do more than one REDO over again, and so it goes. DSCN2005.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

  17. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  18. Paul Scheuer

    Paul Scheuer LOVES Wooden Canoes

    With apologies for disregarding historical Morris construction, here is my inner-stem-tip bird's mouth scarf, incorporating a hanging knee and filler material for the deteriorated inwale ends and inner deck (breasthook) tip. Carved from mahogany. Fortunately the outer 36" decks and center battens were in better shape than the inner construction.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Paul I saw your photo somewhere it may have even been on here when I was researching how to go about repairing mine it looks like you reinforced the the area quite well
     
  20. OP
    OP
    instructor74

    instructor74 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Okay finally had a little time to do some repair work to the stern this weekend. This peace of the inner deck had split where the screws had rusted. 20160904_130724.jpg 20160904_145641.jpg 20160904_145655.jpg
    Will have to get it back into place to finish shopping it.
     

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