bending ash ribs and restoring cedar


New Member

I am refinishing a Peterborough Lakeside Runabout ca. 1940s and need some help...

Steam bending the ash ribs (1 inch X1/2 inch round), how long should I steam the ash for? What kind of grain should I look for in the wood, wide or tight?

The cedar planking is a dull grey colour, what are some techniques to bringing back the original colour?


Ben O'Hara
20 minutes steaming should be lots.
Be sure to "back" the ribs when bending them on the form/canoe ie. cover them with a piece of steel banding or something that will even out the pressure and prevent splitting where there is grain runout -as often happens with ash. Tight, straight grain is less likely to split, but you would likely want to match what was used originally -likely tight, straight. Even better if you can split, rather than saw the stock for ribs.

For my Peterborough Royal, I soaked the ash for about a week and then steamed the ribs for about 50 minutes. The rule of thumb is 20 min for every 1/4" in thickness. How many ribs are you replacing? Did you take the keelson out? I had to replace ALL the ones in my Royal. I still have to replace a bit of planking too, and the transom, and the decks and, and, and!

As far as the cedar goes, try a good 2 part teak cleaner. The first part is an acid that actually eats away the top layer of wood, and the second part is a basic that neutralizes the acid. Another option is oxalic acid. Of the 2, I prefer the 2 part teak cleaner.

Last edited:
thanks... will try the 2 part teak cleaner (do you know a dealer in the Toronto area?)

I have to repace the back 30 or so ribs... completely rotten at the transom and then they get better towards the front.

it is in rough shape, but got it for $100 outside Sudbury... it will be a nice fishing boat when its done...

Ben O'Hara
It should be mentioned that the grain on the ribs should be oriented as flat sawn relative to the face of the rib for the best bending results. A strip of polyethylene works very well as a backing strap if bending over a male form.
If your bending directly into the boat, it really helps to first overbend the rib onto a male form with the backing strap just to take the fight out of it. The form needn't be very accurate to the boats shape, just approximating the same curves. With the rib still hot you can then fit it to the hull with less stress on the planking and even re-steam the rib if it doesn't fit just right. I always play with the shape of a rib over my knee before offering it up to the boat for fitting.
Allo Bohara. I think that the article written by Gregg Germain should give an answer to all your questions. Good luck with your project. Give us some feed baxk on the bending result. Bye for now. Sandpiper
if you are still active on here and can pm me some pics of your 40's Lakeside, I would love to compare them to what I think is the same model my boat is...