B.N. Morris update

Lyle Lemon

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Well I haven't had much time to work on my Morris canoe but lately I have started to make some progress. I did end up finding the serial number under the bow deck, #15281. Since it was in such good original condition I decided to do the minimum amount of reconstruction.
I started by using a heat gun and putty knife to remove the old varnish from the gunwales and decks. Although a bit labor intensive it came off fairly well. The bits that remained I removed using the heat gun and a coarse stripping pad with handle. I then tried Formby's Furniture Refinisher with fine steel wool which dissolved the remaining finish and ended up evening up the stain, covering the nicks and scrapes and evening out the color.
The heat gun worked so well that I then tried it on the canvas with good results. The original filler had cracked and opened up and then someone had slapped a coat of red paint over it all. The red paint adhered to the canvas better than the filler and where the filler must have been thin the original green paint adhered well also. I eventually got most of it off and the canvas seems in surprisingly good condition. There is one hole that was repaired with some kind of tar/resin and one pencil diameter hole. I am thinking of repairing the small hole with a little epoxy although I know it will bond itself to the planking. Maybe I could get a little piece of wax paper under it.
The next step will be to glue the splits in the decks back together with some thicken epoxy. I don't think there is any way to get them to close completely. The interior I am just going to use a little oxalic acid on the spots where the varnish was worn off and turned black, then a wipe down with little Fromby's before varnishing the woodwork.
For the canvas I am thinking of just going ahead with a couple of coats of the primer / lightweight spackle combination since the canvas is still pretty filled. And then paint, hopefully all before the end of the summer.
I'll attach a few photos and any comments would be appreciated.

PS. I enjoyed seeing my decal pictured in the article in the April 2011 issue of Wooden Canoe - Thanks, Kathy


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  • Bow Deck.jpg
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  • Stern Deck.jpg
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Remind us again why you are not considering a new canvas? Maybe there is a good reason, but you have done most of the hard work. I think you might be happier with new skin.
I was just thinking to keep everything as original as possible. I know the keel would have to be replaced if I removed it and I was worried about removing the stem bands and stems. The gunwales should come off without too much trouble. But I figure this way I am really only out the time spent stripping, priming and painting the canvas if I decide to re-canvas later. Most of work done to the woodwork should survive a re-canvasing except for some touch up of the gunwales and stem.