1927 Oldtown HW Restoration.

Phil K

Curious about Wooden Canoes
This boat has a bit of history which I may expand upon later. Long story short, it was rescued from a NY lake bottom in the early 80's, given to me, partially restored by myself, finished by my Dad, driven across the country, stored in various locations including some time outdoors, and is now in a friend's garage where I plan on bringing it back to its full glory. It is actually in quite decent shape for the most part. I hope to get some help here along the way.

Two questions kept me awake in bed last night: To re-skin or not? It's actually in OK shape, and skinning looks like a long process. Do-able, but it would add considerable time and expense. Rebuilding the outwales. Dear ol' Dad's efforts were noble but unsatisfactory, and these Need replacement. I want to stay with the mahogany theme, either Honduran or equivalent, or an African variant. I have serious doubts about bending the stuff and have considered strip laminating the parts. I worked for years in high end cabinetmaking, so have a good skill set and small but well set up shop.

More to come, including pictures!
Factory colors. This had started peeling so... gone.

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To be replaced.

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Restoration bound.

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Current state.

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Interior; not bad!

Outwale cross section. Assuming I do a strip lamination, I wonder if I'll need to do a compound curve, ie: bending up and inward. That would be a trick. And, I haven't puzzled out how to mill this shape on bent parts.

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I would urge you to recanvas it. If the factory paint was peeling, the filler may be failing and unable to hold paint.
I would also urge you to steam bend new outwales. I suppose laminating may work, but after 20 years at this game, I’ve never seen it done. In my opinion Honduran Mahogany steam bends better than other varieties.
Your sketch of the outwales seems a little off. In general I have found Old Town outwales to be 7/8” tall and 3/4” across the top.
From the photos, those are my observations to return it to “it’s full glory”.
Thanks Dave. The drawing is based on what came off, which I know is not original. I'm certainly open to making adjustments as I get more information.
Hmmm, maybe bending is the way to go. I do have access to what our local supplier calls Genuine Mahogany from Central America.... at $23/BF current price (!). It's highly unlikely I'll find 18' boards.
Maybe a reach out to the Northwest Chapter can help you score some mahogany. There may be members in your area.
I’ll admit, if I hadn’t fallen into a little good luck several years ago, I’d have been looking for mahogany as well. It may be available in 10’ length and be scarf jointed to make full length gunwales. Scarf seams can be nearly invisible if the grain is reasonably matched.
I'm sure I can get the material in 12-14' lengths and figured that a scarf joint would be quite acceptable. That will simplify working with parts in my 10x20' shop, and the soaking/steaming apparatus.
Read the books - 'This old boat' and 'The wood and canvas canoe'. While re canvassing may sound intimidating, it's really quite straight forward.
For your rails, I'd use proper central american mahogany - steer well clear of things like sapele which doesn't like to bend at all. With you experience it sounds like a long scarf joint would be no problem at all.
The first phase of this project is complete; I now have a workstand. Everything but the locking casters comes from salvaged materials, and I particularly admire the old style 2x4's which are about twice the density and 15% chunkier than the wimpy-yet-expensive ones available for purchase. Now I can move the boat around the garage, and easily switch from suspended upright mode to gunnel side down on carpeted, removable cross braces.

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I am almost certainly going to re-canvass. There would be just enough repair needed to the old canvass to annoy me, and any chance of the new paint job failing is just unthinkable. From discussions here, and the fact that this canoe is likely to be used fairly infrequently, it seems the lighter #12 canvass should be just fine. The existing varnish is in quite decent shape, and I'm hoping I can avoid stripping that. I'd be interested in hearing opinions on that matter.
Phil K, regardless what you do it appears we will be quite entertained by it. look forward to your project. I look forward to your posts as you work through the restoration.
The wood and varnish really do look quite good. That is a nice looking canoe.
Regardless, as long as you have the canoe in the shop for a canvas, I would lean towards a fresh coat of good quality spar varnish. From experience, if you canvas and paint, the beautiful fresh finish will contrast with the scratched rails enough to make you wish you had done it. If the hull does not get fresh varnish, at least do the rails. More often than not you will find that the backside of the rails are untreated wood. While they are off, give them a sand and a couple coats.
You do not need to strip the hull to varnish it. Simply sand enough to give the varnish some tooth and lay on a few good coats. Do not use steel wool. It stays with the canoe and can rust and stain.
Yes, it will at the very least get a scuff sanding and fresh coat of varnish.

Here is another question for later down the road; does anyone know from what wood those luggage racks would originally have been made?
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Brief update and a question: I'm definitely going to re-skin this and have canvass on order. It looks like a come-along purchase is in my future; how macho a tool do I need? Local supplier has 1200# and 4000# models available. Do the folks here reckon the former would provide all the stretching power I need? (That's my guess.)

I think the only structural repair needed is to address one plank that took a whack from something with a sharp corner. The damage doesn't go all the way through to the inside, but the wood is partially splintered and punched in about 1/2" across and 3/8" deep. I thought I'd flatten out the fractured wood from the inside, rout a shallow cutout from the outside and epoxy a cedar mending plate into that cutout making sure to work some glue into the shredded fibers. Once dry, I fair in the outside plate with the existing contours it will be plenty strong and nearly invisible from inside.

I've also located a supply of 16'-18' Honduras Mahogany through Edensaw in Port Townsend, so can do the outwales in one piece.
Asked a similar question as I am very slowly building a workshop. My question was about supports ie the frame, of the shop being able to support the come alongs. Most thought a few hundred pounds was adequate, to include the canoe and weight inside the boat while stretching the canvas,
I tend to overkill it but i figure better too much than not enough. As we have said in my line of work, when in doubt overload. BTW, is Edensaw in NY. Looking like some suppliers are unable to go to the Assembly, looking to get supplies!
I've thought about anchor systems for the stretching operation, and since I'm not building a permanent workspace may just find two stout appropriately spaced trees. Edensaw is in Port Townshend WA.
A tree and a trailer hitch or bumper work well for anchors when stretching canvas. I’ve done a few that way.
You’ll need to do the “upside down” method with horses.