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Would LIke Opinions On Something I Found Strange

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by HEBlumer, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I am starting restoration of a 1935 17' Old Town, serial number 113769 and found some modifications of the inside gunnels that don't fit with any purpose that I can imagine. Take a look at the two attached pictures where near each end of the canoe the inner gunnels are beveled to make the inside of the canoe wider in those spots for some reason. My first thought was that someone did this to allow for some sort of backrest for seats, but I have never heard of putting a backrest on the rear paddlers seat and if they put a backrest at the front where the bevels are anyone sitting on the floor with such a backrest would have no place to put his feet except on the traditional front seat. I then thought of some kind of frame for a sail might work with a mast base in front and some sort of rudder adaptation to the rear of the rear seat, but none of that seems logical... There appears to be a single screw hole in the center of each of the bevel recesses, like something was attached to the inside gunnel with a single screw on each side. The previous owner has no idea why those bevels are there...the canoe was used at the time his family purchased it two generations ago.

    Would appreciate some guesses or other opinions from you folks...

    I found something else interesting with this canoe... Its first restoration involved it being fiber glassed.. A second restoration required the fiber glass to be removed so as to replace two broken ribs... it was then restored with Cotton Canvas... Some time ago I removed fiber glass from a canoe during a restoration and decided to never do it again... It surprised me to find another canoe that someone had cared enough about to pay the costs of that glass removal.

    Have attached another picture... I have twin 50 year old sons and found twin canoes to restore, one for each son.. One is a 16' 1915 CR Old Town and the other is a 16' 1924 OTCS Old Town.. Both have been restored with their original green color... a note worthy difference between the canoes is that the Charles River unit did not use the traditional diamond headed bolts for the thwarts and seats...The bolt heads were countersunk with wooden plugs set in to the counter sunk holes.

    Love these old canoes.... have for most of my life.... Harold

    Attached Files:

  2. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    As to the beveled inwales... It sure seems like they were adapted to make room for seat back - maybe a home made one. I wonder - do you think the canoe originally might have had long decks with a coaming strip? See pics below of a 1937 Otca I'm restoring at the moment with this type of deck. The inwales of these canoes have a scooped-out notch to accept the ends of the coaming strip. Your pics show the wood to have more than just a 'notch' - maybe someone removed the notch during a previous restoration. I also see a carry thwart in your pic - I suspect they aren't original either. I wonder if they now sit in the area that used to be covered by the long-deck.
    IMG_20161124_080543753.jpg IMG_20170103_145303076.jpg

    And yes, Old Town in the early days did use counter sunk bolts covered with a wood plug for seats and thwarts. Same with Carleton canoes. At some point they switched to the diamond heads - can't tell you when - no doubt Benson knows the dates.

    Attached Files:

  3. mccloud

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

    If someone was frequently carrying rigid pack baskets, bear barrels, etc. while canoe camping and needed just a half inch more to allow them to fit, I could see them thinning the inwales to make 'just enough room'. You or I wouldn't do that, but then a previous owner glassed it. Tom McCloud
  4. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Maybe an adaptation for a motor mount? The space between the inwales may have been too tight.
  5. OP

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    HOWIE... YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD SQUARELY.... I am continually amazed at the depth of knowledge out there and the number of people who watch and respond to these forums. I thank you all again. There are screw holes spaced 2 to 2 1/2 inches from the center of the bevel back toward each end which are no doubt left over from the missing cowling strips. I found the remains of two of the notches you talked about, one at the front and one at the rear.. the front one was 28 1/2 inches from the end and the rear was 26 1/2". All four ends of the inner gunwales have been replaced extending back from 6 to 13 inches and with that loss of strength and with the shortened decks the restorer opted to put in the carry thwarts which are definitely not original but add strength to his repair. The decks appear to be original...i.e. they are no doubt factory made replacements. The top 6 to 8 inches of the stems have been replaced and secured with screws and no glue.. All of this made the top ends of the canoe very weak resulting in breakage and accelerated rotting.

    Now I have to decide whether to restore with the existing replacement decks or strive to make replacement long decks. The inner gunwales must be replaced regardless.. I thought this one was going to be easy... it looked good as far as the ribs and planking was concerned. Again, Thank you. Harold

    Another question pops into mind. To make the elongated decks did they simply cover the standard deck with a molded veneer like was done on the BN Morris I restored, or was there in fact a solid Oak enlarged deck put in place... The pics you provided look like the thin covering was possible. Thanks.... HB
  6. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The long decks on the Otca I did were one piece mahogany.


  7. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Yay! What's the saying - even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    One of the longdecks in the Otca I showed my reply was original - the other I made. Mine were made from one piece of mahogany. Making one wasn't too too tough. I first traced out the existing deck on paper then hogged out an oversized version from mahogany - taking care to leave the pointy part at least 2" wide. Then I steamed it for 90 minutes. Meanwhile I made a made a form out of scrap wood adding about 10% more curve than the original deck to allow for springback. I clamped in place with a backer and left it for a week or so. O - and a hint: get hold of an electrical industrial heating blanket like the one shown in the pics - it'll convert the moisture trapped in the wood after steaming into more steam while the wood is bent. You need to chose a blanket with enough wattage to reach at least 212deg - mine got to over 320deg so I need to be careful to only leave it powered for a short time else I turn the wood to charcoal!

    The 1st pic is the form I used for the longdeck Otca; the 2nd is another form for a Carleton's deck; and the 3rd pic is the electrical blanket I used.
    IMG_20170225_225407001.jpg IMG_20170225_225347457.jpg IMG_20170225_225438322.jpg
  8. OP

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Howie.. The process of steaming and bending 3/4" Mahogany or Oak is a bit overwhelming for me in my two car garage shop. If I have to bend that type of wood I will cut it into thin sheets, soak and boil it for a couple of hours, put the sheets in a preshaped press or jig and let them dry and then glue them together to make a plywood deck... since all the edges are covered no one will know it isn't a one piece unit identical to the original. But more importantly my canoe has spruce gunwales and the standard sized decks that are there and those listed in the original invoice from Old Town are Oak.. There is no indication in the invoice that the unit originally had elongated decks at all. Never the less there is no doubt that at some point in time this thing did have elongated decks. My next step is to go to our chapter's Canoe Heritage Museum a few miles from here in Spooner WI and see if they have a 1930s Old Town with elongated decks... If they do I can trace the shape to make a pattern, examine closely how the original was made, and find out what wood was used. From the picture you sent there is no doubt that the Mahogany deck was one piece and of uniform thickness on your unit, but I'm still in doubt about mine... I'm still hung up on the way BN Morris built their elongated decks... they built an extension substructure on to the existing standard size deck and then applied a preformed sheet of 1/4" Mahogany veneer on top of the existing deck and the extended substructure.. That sure would be a lot easier but if I can do it, am going to restore to the original once I determine exactly what original was. Howie... You have been a great help.. Thank You.. I will try to report what I find at the museum.
  9. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Well, just so you know, I work out of an unheated 2-car garage and have a small wood shop in my basement. Sound like your situation? Clearly the forms I made are simple enough to make. And I assure you mahogany is a lot harder to bend than ash or oak. So if a dummy like me can do it... Just sayin... The advantage I do have is 1) I'm retired and don't mind wasting time, and 2) a buddy has a ton of oak & ash he lets me have so I can afford to make mistakes. Though I don't think I ever had a deck crack on me while bending. It truly is easier than it may seem - although getting the bend to be close to the right angle can be tough.
    O yeah. When bending decks you want to have a ton of c-clamps at hand, and you want to sandwich the wood between the form and another piece of scrap wood to spread out the load. Here's some pics of a tool I made to make this easier. It's just scrap wood left over from a keel I made duck-taped together in the shape of a deck. Once you have one clamp in place don't have to fumble about for the other backing wood pieces.
    IMG_20170226_075659280.jpg IMG_20170226_075711225.jpg
    If you like I can trace the shape of my decks and send it off to you via snail mail. Just need an address...
  10. OP

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    The shape of the decks tracings would be great. Harold Blumer, 2155 9th Street, Cumberland, WI 54829. My 2 1/2 car garage is fortunately heated... it has to be as we get many days below zero in this country. Am age 81 and am intending to phase myself out of canoe restorations... I recently fell with one on my shoulders moving it around in my shop and decided to go back to my first love which is wood carving... I wasn't hurt nor was the canoe damaged but it made me face the reality of getting old. This one will be my tenth restoration plus one Cedar Strip Boat and I think I've done my bit to preserve the wood canoe legacy... There is a much larger market out there for canoes that need restoration from guys like us who love the challenge and doing that kind of work, but the market for the finished product is very small.. I've made enough from the ones I sold to more than pay for the materials I have used in all of my restorations, but very little for the time I have put in. The two Old Towns I finished this winter will be gifted to my twin 50 year old sons and this canoe will probably be sold back to its previous owner, but then I am done... would love to mentor someone who wants to get into canoe restorations and will be advertising that fact at our spring museum boat show in Spooner.. Keep up your suggestions and counsel. It's great to have folks around like you and who make themselves available. Harold
  11. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Ok. I'll get it out to you in a few days - the canoe just got its 3rd paint coat so I can't do the tracings for a few days yet. Do let me know if someone else sends one out to you first!
    Too bad you're so far away - it'd be great to meet & talk.
  12. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I like a 2 piece form and hydraulic press. I think I have the old decks laying around. I'll Look.

    Attached Files:

  13. OP

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Howie... I found pictures of a 1946 Old Town long deck on EBay this morning... it gives me everything I need.. The decks are as you said, one solid piece with coaming... It too is Mahogany as are the gunnels.. My gunnels are Spruce and decks are Oak so will attempt to find two pieces of Oak almost 12" wide. It is interesting that Old Town produced in 1943 another elongated deck model which construction involves a thin 1/4" molded layer on top of the decks as I described was done with the BN Morris that I restored. The pictures of the 1946 long deck unit also shows an external front and rear Oak Stem.. I wonder if my unit at one time was produced with external wood stems...nothing in the original shipping invoice that would indicate thinks I will ignore that issue. Don't think I need the templates you offered.. Thanks again.. Harold
  14. OP

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Craig.... Sure would be great to trace the shapes from the old decks.. Let me know if that is possible. Love this forum... Thank you all. Harold
  15. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Ok. Have fun!
  16. Splinter

    Splinter Wood Girl #1186

    Oak? Ash?

    Frequently, restorers mistake Ash for Oak. As the grain of Oak and Ash have similar visual qualities, it is easy to mis-identify these two species, especially when they are weathered. Ash has a more "controlled" looking grain; Oaks grain may appear a bit more irregular. Please take care to use Ash when ever possible. You will notice on many build records that the decks, thwarts and other parts are often Ash. Why does this matter?
    Decay Resistance.
    Red Oak is not decay resistant.
    White Oak is decay resistant as it has a closed cell structure. Ash is like that, too. This is why it makes nice paddles, gunwales, decks, thwarts, and split Ash baskets.

    Make sure you're using the right specie of wood.
  17. OP

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Howie and Splinter.... My inquiries result in valued responses to many others beyond me and my concerns... Your response is an excellent example.. I am very familiar with Oak and Ash and am using white oak only because I have lots of it harvested from my own property... I have to buy the Ash if I use it. In the old days farmers used split cedar for their fence posts and when that wasn't available they used White Oak... I own property with at least a hundred year old fence where some of the White Oak posts are still intact... Thank you again for your responses.. Harold ... an aside from the type of wood, because I have very thick Oak I was able to actually cut out the bent shape of the new decks and didn't have to bend them... I know that aint original but only you pros will be able to tell the difference in the finished product.
  18. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I would argue that the use of ash in a boat should be limited, why - because it grows mold way too easy when it gets wet, and it gets wet when the varnish in not maintained.

    It has very good mechanical properties, but.......

    If I have the choice between WHITE oak and ash, I'll take the oak every time.

  19. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I agree..... the nice thing about ash is that it's very readily available and relatively cheap. Long sections are really easy to get. If you are working on crafts that require splitting it lends itself well to that. I have used it for snowshoe frames. Ash has founds it's way into modern canoes as a seat, thwart and rail material mostly due to it's low cost and availability.
    But, ash rot's quite easily and it blackens with water contact. Oak is a more durable wood. Rails on some of my oldest boats are (white) oak and they have held up really well. I've never run across an old boat with ash rails...spruce, mahogany, cherry, oak but not ash.

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