Gates stem repair

Ron Hill

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have a ~40 year old Gates, Milford Nova Scotia made, with rot in bow and stern stems, top 20-30cm. They are laminated with 4 strips of ash. Plan is to splice in a solid piece. Wondering if anyone is aware of any issues with this? Could do the 4 laminations as well.


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Short of excavating the entire stem and making a new one, here's what I would try first.

Epoxy and clamp the laminations together to return them to a single unit. Then cut away the top 6"-8" (or more if necessary) on a steep angle (scarf joint) and glue in a new single piece of wood. The initial scarf cut can be done with an oscillating saw easily, then refined with a belt sander to get a consistent angle to mate with the new wood. I have used maple or ash. On my last repair I also glued a tapered "backbone" of oak, tapering from 1/4" at the top to a feather edge at the bottom over about 12" of length, thereby joining the new scarfed top with the back side of the existing stem as well as the glued scarf face. Final shaping of the added piece can be done in place, so the only critical shaping initially is the interface between new and old wood.

It might be a good idea to open that up farther to see how far the delamination goes. It would be a shame to attach a splice to a dicey stem.
Consider what might have been used for an adhesive 40 plus years ago. TB3 was not around and most of the epoxies were not as refined and predictable as they are now. There is a pretty good chance that the delamination extends beyond what you can currently see.
I would consider taking few more pieces of planking off to have a closer look.
Thanks, like the idea of an oak reinforcement as well.
A decent piece of ash also makes a better stem than a laminated piece, in my opinion.
Either one is relatively easy to steam and bend. You can take the shape from the other end of the boat to make your bending form.
I'm pretty interested to learn that Gates laminated the stems. I have sort of a funny connection to Gates/Cyr, but very minimal actual knowledge. Post some images of the boat as you go.
Thanks, this is what I plan to do from comments/discussion with a local builder and I picked up a copy of “The Wood and Canvas Canoe” from our library. Good information on stem replacement in there as well. I will do my best in posting progress pictures
The Wood and Canvas Canoe has been a go to reference and inspiration for quite a few restorers. There are some gaps in the flow, but most of what you need is in there. What you might also find interesting (at least I do) is to watch the doings in author Rollin Thurlow's shop. He has a live "Canoe Cam" aimed at the working area. You can learn a lot by watching how they work. The image this morning is a perfect one for you showing a hull opened up for a stem replacement (I think) and also a few ribs taking a set on the hull.