Gradations of repair on a Seliga


WCHA member #8947
Some time ago (ahem - too long, I admit) I purchased a 1954 Seliga formerly owned by the Charles L Sommers Canoe Base in Ely. It is sound, relatively, though it is in need of some repair (new seats, a portion of an inwale, some ribs and planking, and one of the decks). My restoration 'expertise' is no match for the workmanship of Mr. Seliga, so a full restoration is unlikely to happen (at least by my hands) at this point. However, it makes no sense to have it continue to hang in my garage completely unused. The suggestion was made in another thread to repair the canoe in gradations, as it were - get it back on the water now and do a more major restoration later when more time and/or money (perhaps farming out the more advanced repair work to those more qualified) may be had.

To that end, one of the first tasks before me would be to repair a completely split (in half) original ash deck. I would like to repair it, as opposed to replace it, as it is still marked from the Sommers base days, and of course, was made by Joe himself... Is there a specific formulation of epoxy, or am I better off doing something else given the structural ramifications of a deck?

If you can remove the deck, I'd just use epoxy on it.
I'd make sure the 2 pieces fix together "cleanly", then clean the joint with lacquer thinner, or maybe something else (MEK) that doesn't leave a residue.
Then coat the wood, both sides, with unthickened resin. Then slowly push the 2 pieces together and lightly clamp, wipe off the excess with a paper towel wetted with alcohal thinner. (This assumes you have a birch or other hardwood deck, if it's a softer wood or the joint doesn't fit "cleanly", include a bit of lightly thickened resin (with wood floor) in the joint

After a day or 2, unclamp and remove any excess resin and refinish the deck.
Finally, re-install with new screws.

Then get her wet and paddle hard. :)


ps, use a name brand marine resin
I agree with Dan's suggestions, if the cracked pieces can be made to flit together. But don't despair if they can't. If the decks pieces cannot be made to fit together cleanly, I would still try to save the deck. After removing such loose splinters as there may be, I would fit the deck together as close to the original shape as you can. Then I would run the deck through a table saw with the kerf aligned to the break, creating two pieces with straight, square sides. I would then saw a filler strip wide enough to bring the deck back to its original width when placed between the two trimmed deck pieces (probably the width of the saw blade), place the strip between the two deck pieces, glue the three pieces together with epoxy, and when the epoxy has cured, trim and clean the new assembly up to match the size of the original deck.

As to the filler strip, you would have two options -- first, to try to match carefully the color and texture of the wood of the existing deck pieces, or second, to not try to hide the repair, but to allow the patching strip to be an obvious but skillful repair to the original fabric of the deck. Either way can work, depending on your own taste about such things.