1948 17' White Company Canoe

Rick Fehr

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I'm considering buying my first wood/canvas canoe. Found this White Company boat listed here on the west coast and would appreciate input from members regarding this boat. Will need to travel pretty far to see it and am a bit concerned about what appears to be ridges or cracks on the underside of the hull. Does this indicate that replacement of the canvas is needed right away ? How big a project is that for a first timer and/or in what price range would it cost to have new canvas installed professionally. Any other comments welcome.
Thank you,
Rick Fehr
San Francisco area


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Welcome, Rick

Looks like a beautiful canoe!

Appears to me that the "ridges and cracks" you're referring to are simply what happens over time to the finish that's put on over the canvas. It's often possible to continue using the canoe as-is, and others here should be able to give you fix-up tips to keep her going a while longer without re-canvassing.

You should be able to do the canvas-job yourself, if and when it comes to that.

With a new-old canoe, a good place to start is with Stelmok and Thurlow's book, "The Wood and Canvas Canoe." Lots of canoe-history in there, as well as repair and maintenance information.

The cracks are not only in the paint but through the filler too. If it isn't leaking yet it soon will. Aside from recanvasing I know of no way to properly repair this problem. I have tried unsuccessfully only to conclude it would have been just as easy to recanvas. As a rule a good recanvas job will be about $1000.00 if you can't do it yourself.

I agree with Dave too. My father had a 1940's vintage Guide with similar cracks. We sanded it down and gave it two coats of marine enamel and got another 2 years out of the original canvas. Then it started to leak, so we recanvassed it at that point.

Don't be afraid of trying a canvas job yourself. It is mostly the sanding and finishing that take time. The good folks here at the WCHA can help out.

Good luck with the White.

Looks longer than 17 feet, 18 1/2? Longer? Anyhow, make double sure its not fiberglass you see. Otherwise, sweet boat. I had an 18 1/2 foot EM White Sport, fastest canoe I ever paddled.:D

This is an adventure, but not nearly so demanding of skill as the woodworking that new ribs, planking, etc. involves. Your canoe looks remarkably healthy in those respects. Absolutely, obtain Rollin Thurlow's book noted above, and be prepared not to be sure exactly what to do next, but to do it anyway. In the end, it will probably turn out well. Labor is the main investment--filling and painting. We did OK. All the best!

That is a very nice canoe.

Don't worry about new canvas, it's not a bad job.

Looks like somebody already did the wood work (for you) and never used it.

Keep us posted.

Looks considerably better than other "first time" projects I've seen on this board. If I can make headway in the wooden canoe world, surely you can. Best of luck on what promises to be frustrating, time consuming, more money than you planned on, but a thoroughly rewarding experience.