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Thompson Hiawatha

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by fred capenos, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    Here are the measurements and images detailing a ca1950 Thompson Hiawatha with narrow ribs:

    Serial number (on stern stem only) appears to be DX 11631 but the 116 is questionable. Will need to confirm when I strip the interior.
    ID plate on bow deck has no number nor does the original bow stem.

    LOA 16'
    Tip to tip of outside stems 176"
    Max beam (tumblehome) 33"
    Max beam of outwales at center thwart 32"
    Inside beam inwale to inwale at center thwart 28-1/8"

    The following lengths are referenced from the tip of the bow outside stem (hook of tape wedged between stemband and OSS):
    Tip to leading edge of bow seat frame 49-1/2"
    Tip to CL of bow thwart 63-1/4"
    Tip to CL of center thwart 88-7/8"
    Tip to CL of stern thwart 114-1/8"
    Tip to leading edge of stern seat frame 132-1/2"

    CL of center thwart is slightly offset toward stern by about 3/4". I'm not sure if this was intensional, accidental, or just poor measuring on my part. CL of either qtr thwart is approx 25-5/8" from CL of center thwart

    Thwarts are 2-1/8" x 3/4" stock, 27" longest dimension of qtrs, center thwart is 29-3/4" long
    Decks are 14" from tip to tail measured along the sides, tail is 6-7/8" wide
    Seat frames are 3/4" stock x 1-3/4" for long rails and 3" wide for side rails, dowelled construction, machine cane held in place by an inner frame
    Bow seat blocks are 2-1/2" x 10-1/4"
    Cane openings measure approx 6-1/2" x 10"

    Thwarts and seats fastened using steel round head slotted machine screws. When I removed the stern seat to inspect how it was put together all 4 nuts sheered off.

    Another tidbit: under each deck is a brass strap running across under the deck from inwale to inwale.

    Hope this data helps! Someone who has seen more Thompsons needs to chime in on the seats - original or not? Seems rather unique construction.

    More pictures to follow (6 image limit).

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  2. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    More images

    More images of Hiawatha

    Attached Files:

  3. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    and still more

    Hiawatha continued.

    Note the underside of the seat and how the cane mat was installed with a frame. The seat frames were dowelled and are all loose. Appears to be mahogany but poorly constructed. The bolts match the rest of the boat and had to be sheared off to remove the seat. I need confirmation that these seats are original type before I go about rebuilding them.

    Attached Files:

  4. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Great pictures, Steve! Thanks!
    I've never seen a Thompson canoe seat that used machine woven cane. These appear to be the same vintage as the canoe, so they are probably original. The other notable things are the seat bolts are not countersunk and plugged like a typical Thompson. And the aluminum tag indicates that this Hiawatha was built well after the disappearance of the model in the catalogs ('43 I think).The tag indicates a Peshtigo build, so the theory that thes narrow rib hybrids were not a product of the Cortland plant.
  5. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Which could very well mean that these narrow ribbed canoes are "Strong And Sturdy" Rangers (late 1930s-1950s) or "Double Floor Model" Indian (1949-1953).
  6. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    I studied your notes on Thompson models on your site but I don't know these boats well so I'm not sure what it might be. It is definitely no more than 33" at its widest point with pronounced tumblehome so that rules out the models listed with 35" beam - I guess that would make it a narrow rib Indian model with half ribs? Let me know if I can provide more specific details to help ID these narrow rib boats. Nice work with timberframing btw!

    Other than the odd seat configuration, the other thing that seemed strange was the stembands terminated at the top of the outside stems instead of continuing onto the decks to help protect the tips. The stembands had a screw in each end but otherwise were attached with ringnails.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  7. OP
    fred capenos

    fred capenos Canoe Pilot

    Everything works except the beam. I can get it, but the canoe groans a lot if I pull that hard. Also, our numbers are on the bow stem, and the deck straps are galvanize steel and varnished. There are or were holes at every location you specified. Any chance the owners would know what model they bought? Thanks Fred
  8. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    I'll take another look at the straps, they're likely galvanized. This boat has pronounced tumblehome with the 33" max beam about halfway up the sides. I would think if yours complains that much it may be one of the models listed with 35" beam. If that's the case, and it's 16' OAL with 14" long decks I would expect that the width of the decks would be slightly larger than the 6-7/8" I have. Even a small variance here would spread the rails midships. Based on my numbers and the published difference between 33" and 35" max beam, try pulling your inwales to an inside measurement of 30" (instead of my 28") and sight along the inwales to see if you come up with a fair curve. I've asked the owners to look for any original paperwork listing a model to help us figure things out. Obviously if yours is supposed to have a 35" beam the lengths of the thwarts and seat frames will vary but at least it sounds like we've located the correct positions for you. Let me know if I can provide any additional help.

    I noticed that a 16' Indian could have either a 33" or 35" beam based on the year it was built in looking through the data Dan has posted on his site.
  9. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Couple of things:

    1) catalog dimensions are certainly useful as a guide, but certainly not gospel. For example, Chestnut never reported the beam of their 14' pleasure canoe correctly.

    2) Maybe you are looking at a "Camp Canoe" - 33" maximum beam and lots and lots of tumblehome. See attached. (This is where that fantastic Thompson Bros catalog CD available from the WCHA Online Store really helps...)


    Attached Files:

  10. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    The profile looks right but the USFS specs call for mahogany gunwales and decks plus no steel fasteners. The only mahogany in this boat is the seat frames. I wouldn't think the narrow ribs would be appropriate for this model based on USFS desire for durability. This particular canoe seems to be a bit of a puzzle! It appears to be all original and has been in the same family for its entire life. Maybe they will uncover some paperwork that will help us out.
  11. OP
    fred capenos

    fred capenos Canoe Pilot

    And the plot thickens. Our canoe has mahogany gunwales and decks. the seat and thwarts that came with it were not correct so we can't comment on them.

  12. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    This one may turn out to have mahogany rails but I won't know for sure until remove the gunk.

    Not sure about the normal-ribbed Thompsons but in this narrow rib model the half ribs and side trim rails were clench-nailed as a floor rack and then tacked into the bottom of the boat. Plus nails were driven into the trim rails where they crossed each full rib. These nails were driven between tacks in the tacking pattern and easily removed from the outside. I had two options for removing the floor trim rails so I could replace a couple of ribs: either remove all the tacks from each half rib and pull the floor rack out or use my oscillating cutoff tool to cut the trim rails free from the ends of the half ribs. I chose to cut them free.
  13. OP
    fred capenos

    fred capenos Canoe Pilot

    DSC07190.JPG DSC07187.jpg

    Ta-dah..... We are ready for canvas
  14. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Hi Fred. It is amazing. you sir are an artist.
  15. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    Looking good - I better get that tag made for you!
  16. Canoeal

    Canoeal Canoe/kayak builder/resto

    I have a mostly original Thompsn Indian. Someone added half ribs as an after thought, but the rest of the structure is original there are some pics in the classifieds of it but I have more if they are any help. Let me know. Al
  17. OP
    fred capenos

    fred capenos Canoe Pilot

    Thanks for the offer to help Al. Our Hiawatha is what it is now. I plan to put canvas on it this Friday. And thanks to all of you who helped bring this one back. Fred
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012

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