*&%!/? Fiberglass!

James Duclos

Canoeist, Toxophilist
Well, I've done it again, folks! By trusting a stranger's memory instead of my own instincts,I find myself in quite a mess again. I just bought a 1924 Old Town Guide that was fiberglassed in the 60's. The seller told me that he remembered it being done for him,and that he was absolutely positive that the glass was applied over the canvas. Well, I figured it would be fairly easy to remove both at the same time to restore it to canvas, so I bought it.
Of course, after the six hour drive home from Long Island, I loosened enough of an outwale to see how easily the canvas would separate from the wood, and, you guessed it!, NO CANVAS! The glass is epoxied directly over the planking.
My question to you, gentlemen, is: Is this boat a total loss, or does someone know how I can get the fiberglass off without ruining the eighty year old wood beneath?
Any thoughts you might have would be helpful, Thanks,
Jim D.
You're bound to get more educated answers than mine, but... I have been told that unless the red cedar planking was treated (with lye??) before the application of fiberglass, the fiberglass will not adhere. My experience with one canoe is that it just peeled off. I have read, on this site, of the use of a heat gun to accelerate the removal.
Good luck, Tom
Hi James

A friend and I just de-glassed his canoe. It's easy. But you are going to need a drag line.
Step one dig a pond (drag line)
step two fill it with water.
step three, sink the canoe for a week.
When we did it the 'glass came right off except a couple spots which we 'warmed' with a small propane torch used judiciously. the stuck stuf popped right off. 99% came off without heat. The pond water in theory was to keep the canoe from catching fire.
Too Bad we don't have the prior posts on this subject.

I have a 16' Otca I got for $50. I soaked it in my swimming pool for about three MONTHS. The glass would not budge. I used the heat gun and scraper and got about 1/3 the glass off and quite. It is still sitting outside and the glass hasn't budged.

It can be done, but the quality of adhesion needs to be tested before you close the deal. I too had a previous glassed canoe that I removed that glass in about 14 minutes.

Heat gun and scrapers is the answer and losts of time and lower back muscle relaxers. (and I don't mean just a few beers)

Good Luck,

Jim don't give up on it. The previous posts regarding the heat gun will remove the glass particularly if it's the old type cloth that was used. You need to slowly and carefully heat small areas at a time and insert the putty knife under the glass and SLOWLY peal it away. It does work. Don't rush the job as you'll likely lift some of the planking as well. Some of the resin probably has also leaked into some of the spacing between planks. This too can be mostly removed with the heat gun and running the blade of your putty knife along the seam. You can get most of this out this way. It can be a slow process but once done and canvased no one will ever know it's been glassed previously.

Bottom line - no matter what - the fiberglass has to come off if you want too restore the canoe . It usually comes off easily . Follow John Greers' instructions . I might add that if you score the fiberglass with a knife first into length wise strips it may assist in the removal . You will get a feel for it once you get started . Good luck.
Thanks, guys, for the encouragement . I'd like to be able to say that I don't have experience with a putty knife and heat gun, but my last restoration project was a '62 Lightning (Saybrook, Cedar Planked) which had had the deck canvas removed and was fiberglassed over 3/8" Marine grade cedar plywood. It was well stuck, but I managed to get it off. I did, however damage perhaps 3 or 4% of the plywood surface. I was hoping to never again have the pleasure!
As for submerging the canoe, that would be a very difficult thing for me to do. Being a lifetime woodworker and crafter of all sorts of outdoor items, I have spent a condsiderable amount of time finishing things so the wood doesn't get wet. Pond soaking? Whoa, I'll have to think about that one for a while.
I once bought a quantity of Pacific Yew logs from an old gentleman in Oregon for making English Longbows. I was concerned about drying defects appearing as I dried the green logs, so I asked the fellow's advice. "Boil them", he said," Make yourself a boiler big enough to fit one or two at a time, and boil em just like a potato. The bigger they are the longer you cook em.Those you have, I'd give about eight hours" !! He was a passionate Muzzleloader maker, and he claimed he'd never build a stock out of a piece of wood that wasn't properly boiled! He says that boiled wood cures much quicker, and does not twist, warp, or check while drying! I believed him, but I didn't boil my logs. Anyone ever hear of this before?
Thanks, again,
Jim D.