BN Morris Restoration


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
A couple of weeks ago you folks helped me identify a Torpedo deck BN Morris with serial number 16433, produced about 1918. I now have this unit dismantled and am beginning my restoration... Ribs & Planking are pretty much ok. Am replacing the gunwales and am using full length mostly clear Spruce. I will not be able to find full length Mahogany for the top and outer gunnels which will mean doing some splicing and laminating. All the deck wood and two of the three thwarts must be replaced. I read in Kathryn Klos's book where Morris did some special order productions using other exotic woods which gave me the idea of using native Wisconsin Butternut to replace all the top wood except the inner gunwales. I could make exact copies and do the seats, thwarts, decks all in Butternut. This wood closely resembles Red Oak when finished and is absolutely gorgeous. It helps that I have a life time supply of Butternut wood sitting in my barn which I use for wood carving. I have decided to keep this canoe for my own personal use which will be mostly for show. I would like some input from members before I make that decision. Am I doing heresey... am I destroying a priceless antique... whatever... Harold
Harold. It has been about 100 years and now she is in need to go for another century. It doesn't seem appropriate to make such a shift in the original construction of the boat. The changes mean that at least for this boat, we will loose forever a lot of what she was about. And if she is to be a SHOW boat......I think I can hear the judges now... " the boat is not original at all, really too bad " and on . Full length mahogany ? I think someone said in this forum recently...." I have full length stock for whatever you may need. You may have to hunt and pay, I know.....but for a Morris it seems an acceptable " extravagance " . It is just one man's opinion and in the context, of course, of a budget that can tolerate the approach. Have fun ....Dave
I have an older Morris which needs new inwales and I cannot find spruce at all. Not 18 feet, not even 10 feet to do a scarf on. I still need to look into Mahogany for inwales although this one came with white spruce. I want to do it original which is why I haven't done much on it the past 8 months as I try to source spruce.

Karin.. My research found that Douglas Fir and Yellow Pine were acceptable substitutes for Sitka Spruce that was used in many canoes years ago. Regardless, I found Spruce imported from Canada at a Building Truss manufacturing plant near my home... It is not Sitka Spruce and it does have a few very small knots but nothing that would cause warping and cracking like our locally grown white Spruce... I cut an 18 inch diameter White Spruce tree from property I own and had it cut into 20' boards from which I hoped to make canoe gunwales... The knots were impossible... the entire pile of lumber cut from that tree will wind up as fire wood. At the Truss plant the manager allowed me to sort thru several piles of long 2x4s and I was able to pick what I think is Spruce (three different types of wood are delivered to the Truss Co. in this category... one is Spruce) and select only the ones with the grain that compliments my intended use and that is virtually knot free... The cost was less than what I would have paid at Menards for select pine... I think the guy gave me a wholesale price as he seemed caught up in what I intended to use the wood for. The Truss companies also use Douglas Fir and Yellow Pine.

Dave.. Thank you for your response.... When I decided that this canoe was going to be mine versus something I intended to sell I sort of lost track of my commitment to restore to as original as possible. At my age.... 79... what someone does with the canoe after I'm gone seems unimportant. The cost of the Mahogany is not a problem it is the availability of the long stuff... even wood that is thick enough to make new thwarts without having to splice and laminate... I would appreciate knowing where I can buy 18' long Mahogany boards... There is nothing I can find in our area including St Paul & Minneapolis, Duluth & Superior, Eau Claire, etc. I'm in no hurry and can arrange to pick up the stuff myself if I don't have to drive to East or West Coast to get it.
Butternut can also be stained to look like Mahogany.

Kat in Manitoba, you can get clear spruce out of British Columbia although it might cost a bit in shipping.
Jan... I love you! I've used Butternut in my wood carving for more than 25 years and never thought of trying to stain it to match something like Mahogany. No doubt your are right.. I am going to have to try it. Thanks to Dave Osborn however, if he has an 18' Mahogany board he will sell me I will finish this old bird with original wood.. Harold
Harold, use the non grain raising dye stains. Be sure to use a dark mahogany colored grain filler after dyeing/staining. Rub the filler in well and when dry "burnish" slightly with scrap canvas or burlap. Seal well with cut shellac, white or amber which ever you prefer. Then varnish away. Do not worry about being to dark with your coloring. I would try a mix of "red mahogany" and "dark brown mahogany" tending more to the dark with just a hint of red. Fool around outside in good light to really see what your colors are dong on scrap.
Harold....I hope you are set with another DAVE. I would love to see the boat when you complete the adventure. PATIENCE CAN BE MORE THAN A VIRTUE, NO ? Dave
Can't sell a whole board, but can sell enough for a couple of 1/4" strips for you to make an out wale and cap rail. Email or private message me.
Dave O.