An Overweight American Canoe

Treewater

Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
I just did a limited restoration on a 17ft Old Town, 1948, sponson canoe with sailing rig. I changed nothing. The 1948 Catalogue says this canoe, a AA grade, should weigh about 103lbs. It has a weight problem. it weighs in a 132 lbs, 29 lbs over. True, it has a sail mast step, a sailing mast seat, rudder grudgeons, duck boards, but w/o rudder, leeboards or sail it is well overweight. Anyone guess what is wrong or how to diet a canoe? I can't lift it to the car top alone
 
Did your limited restoration include new canvas? If not, the weight is likely in years of paint, filler, (and some sand) although 29 pounds seems excessive!
 
No, it was never glassed. I got it when the paint was peeling and the filler was "dusty." I sanded and cleaned of much of the original paint to the filler. I stripped and refinished the four wales. Refinished and re-caned the seats. It is a mahoghany canoe and what I suspect is the catalogues are for a spruce finished canoe w/o floor rack or any sailing add-ons. Even at that I suspect they misrepresented and lied about their weights. Perhaps the original canoe did exceed a hundred and thirty pounds and a CS grade sponson canoe about 120#. It is a disappointment. I'm studying old catalogues for weight looking for the ones at the low end of the weight realm.

Thanks,
Tim
 
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I don't think they would lie. wood is so variable and I think they would want to list the lightest weight they can. 140# may not be bad for a 17' sailing canoe with sponsons. A wood canoe can gain alot of water weight too. Trailex and Malone make really good quality trailers. I have one for my 18' sponson canoe. Yakima has a bar extension that really helps alot in loading a canoe.
 
Thank you Dave. Poor choice of words and my apologies to Old Town. I don't think they lie about weights but I do note Rushton in his Indian Girl catalogue shows a ten pound range of weight for the 17 ft grade A. If I add eleven pounds to my basic sponson canoe, add the floor rack and sailing hardware that ups the weight to over 120 lbs. Add my gallon of turpentine nad linseed oil, new paint, and soon you can get to 132 pounds. I think overall it is just a slightly obese canoe, if there is such a thing. The next one could be ten pounds lighter or more. I was optimisticaly viewing the catalogue and planning to car top the boat. Your advice is good. I'm now looking for a trailer.

Thanks,

Tim
 
Tim,

You're not alone in being disappointed in a canoe weight after a restoration.
And I suspect that the weight comes on quickly and "quietly".

My 1st was a nice 16' Thompson Indian that should have weighed in 65 per the catalog.
Without knowing better, I put on "plenty" of oil/thinner, and made the new seat frames a bit thicker (I'm a "big" guy), and tried a home made filler which was very thin and really soaked in before I topped it with some OT filler, just to get a smooth surface, the bottom line, it came in at about 72lbs. :(

My 2ed was similar, a 17 ft'er that was supposed to be about 75-80, came in at 92lbs.

On a canoe you have to watch every piece that goes on it and not allow anything extra.

Dan

ps, I have a sort-of mate to your's, a 1935 HW CS 18 ft'er w/sponsons and sail rig. The catalog says 120 lbs, it's not getting the sponsons back. :)
 
Thanks Dan,
These ideas and experiences all come together. I will be more careful with restorations and as well look askance at factory weights. Years ago it would have been easy to weigh several new canoes and pick the lower weight. But that was years ago. As we refinish the weight just piles on. It's a typical American problem with age. :) As I move on in years I've decided the canoes have to lose a pound each year for each year I put on in order to continue those portages. I'm dealing to downsize the fleet.
As for those big sponson canoes, I have not had it in the water ( I need a trailer) but it sure looks unsinkable. We'll see.

Tim
 
Canoes being heavier than the listed catalog weight is nothing new. Call it what you want, but the weights in many catalogs, and from many manufacturers over the years have often been "optimistic" at best. The manufacturer may at one time have built one that weighed that much, but it certainly doesn't mean that they all will.
 
As Todd says, manufacturers' weights have always been optimistic. One year I brought a scale to the Assembly for members to weigh their canoes. Very few took advantage of the opportunity to find out what their canoe really weighs. Maybe it was for the same reason that people avoid scales, they don't really want to know. I did not bring the scale this year, maybe for next year. Then, people could fill out that blank on the canoe sheet. Also, people forget how accessories can really add up, like that really neat portaging thwart that adds 8 lbs over the original thwart.
 
Mark,

Just curious, how do you put/get the canoe on the scale?

I have one and weigh each canoe as it's finished (as a minimum), but I've yet to find a good way to put a canoe on the scale.
My current methed is that I made a pyramid shaped frame that I set on the scale and then the canoe on it.
But it's a 2 person job and getting the canoe to balance on the frame takes some itterations.

Dan
 
Mark,

Just curious, how do you put/get the canoe on the scale?


Dan

Step on scale, note your own weight. Pick up canoe, step on scale and note combined weight. Subtract first from second, equals canoe weight. You might need someone to help read the scale.
 
Thanks guys,
I come to agree. Manufacturers get pretty optimistic about their product. But a scale to the Assembly? I'd weigh every canoe I have. That's what your back is lifting when you put it in the water or on top the car. I just cut a new mast thwart for my "50 pounder" which will dispense with 3 lbs of caning and wood. Since no one will ever sit in the forward seat why the extra weight not to mention the obstruction to stowing gear. Yes, all those extras add up and I find those big two piece portaging thwarts ridiculous.
 
I have a flat platform scale with a remote digital readout. I set it on a wooden platform to get it above the surrounding grass and set the canoe upon it. It does usually take two people to center it but it doesn't take much experimentation. It helps if one can find a level piece of grass. Obviously, one must turn the scale on and allow it to zero. Then place the canoe on the platform, step back and read the readout. It is best on a calm day as the wind will move the canoe around and cause the reading to fluctuate. It is important to write down the weight because the memory is short and soon one cannot be sure which canoe weighed what. Maybe I can bring it next year to the Assembly and we can set up a weighing station if there is any interest.
 
Dan,

If I only could. :)

For us "big boned" guys, this isn't possible, as usually, the normal bathroom scales don't go up high enough.
And if it did, I'd not trust it's resolution.

I use a digital "shipping" scale that is graduated to 1/4 lb, or "something" kgs. It's about 10" x 12".

For smaller items, I use a 5 lb postage spring scale, it reads to 0.1 oz.

Dan



[QUOTEStep on scale, note your own weight. Pick up canoe, step on scale and note combined weight. Subtract first from second, equals canoe weight. You might need someone to help read the scale. ][/QUOTE]
 
Tree,

Those must have been very “stout” seats,
the last set I made of cherry/machine cain were 2.425 lb ft and 1.875 lb rear.

Not sure what you mean by “big, two piece portaging thwarts”, here in MN/BW/Q most folks use the (for here) traditional portage pads, which go on a shaped yoke.
In the past I’ve made my own, while they don’t look the greatest, they are comfortable.

Attached is a pic showing them, the canoe on the left.

Lately in the interest of light weight, the latest “pads” used here in the BW/Q are the Chosen Valley sling pads, very comfortable and very light, 12 oz.
Web site is http://gear4portaging.com/yokepads.html
A pic of them is also attached.

Dan

"I just cut a new mast thwart for my "50 pounder" which will dispense with 3 lbs of caning and wood. Since no one will ever sit in the forward seat why the extra weight not to mention the obstruction to stowing gear. Yes, all those extras add up and I find those big two piece portaging thwarts ridiculous."
 

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