BN Morris Project (maybe) S/N 12655

Scott Rowe

Random Adventurer
Hi all, a couple years ago I got my feet wet regarding canoe history and restoration with a smooth skinned lapstrake half canoe which made a nice bookshelf. I was unable to identify the maker but it did wet my appetite for a future project. Yesterday I acquired a restoration project that I tried to avoid but the seller was insistent. As this is a Morris, I feel it was worth the gamble for a "first" restoration project. This is what I've got; It was advertized as a 1912 BN Morris, the rounded corner rectangular metal tag mounted parallel to the keel on the splayed stem is S/N 12655 (which from what I understand can be 1912-1915?), length is 17 ft, width at the rails is 35 inches, minimal tumblehome, depth is 12 inches, decks are heart shaped and have some vertical contour to them, open gunnel (no rib notching evident), evidence of a missing center thwart. Deck, seat frame and gunnels appear to be mahogany. The tapered ribs and planking are very very dark. The floor grate (?) is held in places with what looks to be stem band material. The full length keel is screwed in at every rib. There is only one rivet left on the inner stems and outer stem band is aluminum-ish. That's the good news. The bad news is that I'm positive the outer hull has been glassed. At first I thought it was a bad fill job on a re-canvas but I'm sure its glass. I'm afraid I may have bought a hanger if I can't get this off. Notice I didn't say bookshelf.

I'm located in WNY and I'd like to get it inspected by a local expert to see how and if I should pursue this (any volunteers?).

Other details of note; the inwales at the tips of both stern and bow have three inches of spliced in material, the inwales at the bow and stern have small nail holes at three inch intervals extended down past the heart shaped deck for a total of about 23 inches suggesting it may have had extended decks at one time (?). There are about eight small metal patches on the planking slipped inbetween the ribs for repair (they are not nailed in placed). One thwart has diamond bolt heads the other does not. The seat frames are snugged up against the gunnels with fairly long round headed bolts (I was thinking they may have been mounted lower at some point).

I will be lurking and researching, using this site to slowly bring this project to fruition if I can get past the first hurdle regarding the glass. Wish me well and please please chime in with advice!

PS my favorite digital camera is broken and awaits replacement. I may borrow one and post pics that I know you all like to see...or maybe a video.

Thanks for your time,
First it's blue, then it's green

That canoe might be a challenge for a first time....but it has good bones. It was once a real nice canoe.

I can send you pictures of it.
When I first saw it the canoe was painted blue over fiberglass.
I passed on it and it was sold later that day to Todd, the person you bought it from.
Todd cleaned it up a bit and painted it minty green. Todd listed it on CL and I guess you must have looked at it after I did.
For me it was pretty comical to look at the same canoe twice......on opposite sides of town. I got sucked in by the altered appearance.
My wife and I had a pretty good laugh about that, after she stopped yelling at me about looking at yet another canoe.

It's pretty rough but restorable. The glass needs to be removed.
The inside rails are damaged and have been repaired in an earlier not so well done repair (the tin patches).
The rails are broken near one deck and ought to be replaced.

It needs at least 8 to 10 ribs and a good amount of planking. I stopped counting once I decided I had no interest in fixing it.
One of the seats was poorly repaired and needs to be sorted out.

I'm not sure how you will plug the character holes in the deck, but I think that can be sorted out.
The aluminum bands need to be tossed out. They are not correct.
The bulges that you see will be easier to figure out when you remove the glass. They should come out with new ribs and planking.

The serial number actually dates it to 1916, not 1912.
No big deal really, it's still an old canoe and blessedly won't be turned into bookcases..

PM me if you would like to discuss the canoe.
It won't be turned into a book case, will it?
Afternoon all,

You know polyester doesn't stick to wood very well. I've removed glass faster than canvas many times. Worst case, it was put back together with epoxy. Heat softens epoxy quickly and it falls right to the floor (with a little coaxing). Just my 2 cents...

Welcome, Scott

You may be interested in back-issues of Wooden Canoe with articles on the Morris-- the numbers are: 139, 144, 146, 148, 166, and there may be more but those are the ones I know of for certain. I'll provide a link to a couple YouTube videos where there may be some blah-blah that provides helpful information.

Since about 1905, all B.N. Morris canoes have been trimmed in mahogany. The 17 and 18 footers had three thwarts-- the middle one on wing nuts so it could be removed, which permitted it to be left in the grass at the side of the river or in the garage when the family moved.

Diamond head bolts are not original to Morris canoes. Hang on to the one that came with yours and someone restoring an Old Town will be happy. Morris used an L-shaped bolt-- I'll hunt up a picture.

Open gunwale Morris canoes have a D-shaped outwale, if original. All Morris canoes originally came with a floor rack, and yes-- that's stem-band material holding it on-- that appears to be a common way to do it among the old builders.

Most Morris canoes were stained a dark mahogany-color on the interior-- that appears to be standard. Some Morris canoes have a light interior and my guess is the buyer had to request that.



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I looked at it the fiberglass may be a fiberglass cloth and epoxy, I saw a weave in the glass job and it was thin and smooth. The good news is when you pull it off the bad planking may come off as well, two birds with one stone. When I was running away I heard the owner say that if I didn't buy it that someone else called and wanted to make a book shelf.
When I was running away I heard the owner say that if I didn't buy it that someone else called and wanted to make a book shelf.

I was trying to run...he kept lowering the price and said he thought it was canvas not glass. He told me the same thing about some guy wanting to make a bookshelf (honest I never said the b-word). I counted at least three different remnant colors on it, red, blue and lime green. MGB described it quite accurately. He definitely took a close look. I plan on trying to get the glass off....we'll see. Also, it does have "D" outwales, a rather nice shape. Well....I'm doing what I do best, that is getting in over my head!
A closer!

he thought it was canvas not glass.

Quite an amusing story....he's a car guy....he sealed the deal:)
Yes, there was some red too. I think that predated the glass.

Here are a few pics:

Some details:


As I noted earlier, the canoe has good bones and can be restored. The resin is not deep into the gaps between the boards and will come off pretty easily (I think).
The trick is to decide what to do about the inside rails. That is the clincher as far as how complicated fixing this one gets. They are mahogany so it's a nice canoe. have more pictures of my canoe than I do. Perhaps you would like the canoe to go with your pictures! What do you make of the small nail holes on the top of the inwales near the deck? The inwale replacement you refer to is to address the poor slice at the ends? I was planning on leaving the hole in the deck for drainage. This will be a learning experience; the first lesson, if it looks to good to be true, take another look.
Todd told me on the phone that the wood was perfect. lucky for him there isn't a lemon law on canoes. Todd called two times on the way home. I told him if it ends up as a book case a mob of sixty plus year olds would pay him a visit. have more pictures of my canoe than I do.

Here are a few more:

I'm not sure what holes you mean. Send me a picture of that or confirm if they are the holes in the top of the rail near the deck. Those look like they held a rail cap.......
The deck hole was for a rope to go through. If you zoom the blue canoe picture (the one with the dog) you might see a piece of sailing hardware that had been mounted on the deck.
Did he give you the hardware that he removed?

The in-wale dilemma are the fracture/puckers near the deck. The deck screws broke out through the rail. It might be OK if it's near the top only. You might be able to pull it down and reset it. I did not look that over too well since I was not planning to repair it.
The replaced tips..not done too well but that would be easy to overcome.

Lemon law...ha-ha. Look at the tomato garden that's being studied in another current post.
Your canoe can be fixed.


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What do you make of the small nail holes on the top of the inwales near the deck?

It had rail caps - a throw-back to closed gunwales. You can see them in the attached image on the canoe to the left...


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Yes-- MGC is right about the rail cap-- Morris used a little trim-piece (as did Kennebec and some others) on top of the gunwales from the tip to a point beyond the deck-- I'll try to find a picture.

The attached image is of a Kennebec, but the Morris rail cap was similar... this is just to give you an idea of what was there.



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Those look like they held a rail cap....... .

The small holes in pic #1 of your last post, they are at exactly 3 inch intervals and stop at about 23 inches from stern/bow ends. There are no other holes in the rest of the inwales. And as Kathryn pointed out the open gunnels were "D" shaped, which these are, not sure that profile would mate with a toprail. I thought I read somewhere that Rushton used a short deck under his long decks. Is that an accurate recollection? Did Morris do that? No matter...just talking here until I get the nerve up to get the torch out to remove the glass. Oh could I forgot about that nasty pucker on the inwale. BTW I was just kidding about the drainage hole in the deck . I imagine it should stay as part of its personality.

Also, the seller didn't give me the extra hardware. But he did share that the original owner was an elderly women who said the boat had been stored in the barn for 65 years. A familiar story? She must have pulled it down at some point for some glass work!
It had rail caps - a throw-back to closed gunwales. You can see them in the attached image on the canoe to the left...

Whoops. How did I miss these last two posts regarding the caps. Disregard my last inquiry to them. And thank you very much for the picture of them. This may help with a couple of issues near the deck; the poor inwale splices (or were these always there and covered by the rail caps?), and the puckered inwale near a deck mounting screw. A rail cap would cover these up once everything is strengthened.
Nice pic. Nice look. Puzzle pieces are coming together. Now I need to order that restoration book and prepare a work area. I was thinking of enlisting my old strongback that has been sitting in my garage for thirteen years. I figure I'll mount some horizontal pieces to it and set the Morris on it to work on. BTW nice vids on Morris.
I told him if it ends up as a book case a mob of sixty plus year olds would pay him a visit.

To his credit, he did make sure I was not going to turn it into a bookcase. It seemed like he cared and did appreciate the fact that it was a nice boat once. In fact it is seaworthy as is. Ain't no water gonna get through that glass.
Here are a few more:

Lemon law...ha-ha. Look at the tomato garden that's being studied in another current post.
Your canoe can be fixed.
Easy now...that happened to be a very stylish garden...and they're flowers, not tomatoes!:eek:

Also, here is a Morris after my own heart. Someday, I may be soooo lucky!
I would highly recommend you get a heat gun rather than using a torch. More control -safer! Don't rush and it will work just fine.
good luck, Denis
Thanks Denis. I think I saw your video of glass removal? I also read a thread (did I mention I'm a professional lurker :)) from someone who professional removed glass "all the time" and used a torch. Perhaps I should start slow with a gun. Here's a question; would it be a good idea to do varnish removal with the glass still on the hull? I'm thinking that with the solid support of the glass I would not stress the hull so much as I jockey the boat back and forth etc.
The glass is coming off quite easily. I'm excited. Kind of. BTW there is a Message to Garcia on the hull. Who is that guy?