Help Wanted - Outwale and Keel...


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Hi - from my prior postings, some of you know that I'm restoring a 1967 '15 Old Town Trapper. Over the past 3-4 months, I've gotten the hull restoration work done, recaned the seats, built new decks, and sanded it down like crazy. Purists will hate me for this, but I reglassed it (it was originally glassed and made of a thinner cedar planking to account for this, and I felt that glassing it would be both structurally appropriate and restoration accurate). Plus it was fun. I'm probably the first person on WCHA to argue that fiberglassing is fun;)

Where I'm stuck is replacing the outer rales / outwales, and will also need to replace the keel (normally, I wouldn't keel the canoe, but it already has the holes drilled in the ribs for it, so I don't see much of a cosmetic choice).

My problem is that I don't really have the wood, equipment, or experience to do a good job making the outwales and keel. Actually, I could probably do the keel, but that seems like such a minor part of the problem so it might as well just be done together. I had prior arrangements with someone locally in Connecticut to help out with the outwales, but have had a really, really tough time getting back in contact with that individual to actually get it done. I've considered just buying them from OTC, but that'll take a few months to have them made and delivered to a local retailer (and I didn't order them a few months ago as I thought I had this figured out). Frankly, I'd even consider buying a table router if I had the right wood, but I'm a little worried about not bending them correctly to fit and having them tear off later - I'd rather do this right.

Any chance anyone here in the CT, MA, RI, Eastern NY area would be willing to spend a day on this very limited project? Have canoe, will travel... and will obviously pick up expenses for wood, screws, bedding compound, etc...but I don't have a good supplier for wood so that would have to be something worked out ahead of time.

Feel free post or just email me directly. My hunch is that I'll just have to order from OTC and wait, but I'm SOOOO close to finishing this, that the thought of sitting around is less than appealing. Plus I'm just inherently curious in how they are actually made to fit correctly - seems like a shame to pay OTC a lot of money but never actually get the experience out of it.

About your issue of not wanting a keel but the ribs having holes in them from before, maybe you could just cut the heads off of the screws and epoxie them in place along with the washers so that from the top it appears normal. You get your cake and eat it too. No unwanted holes and no keel... Just my 2 cents worth.

Ebeeby - I LOVED the photos of the restoration - if only I had the patience to document things so well. And Ken - the idea of sanding off the screws is something that hadn't occurred to me, but it would certainly work. I think I'm still leaning toward replacing the keel (have never owned a canoe with a keel before - plus I think it'll work well with the stem bands that I have) - but I'll consider that for sure.

It looks like I have the construction issues with the outer rails taken care of now - thanks for the feedback and everyone at WCHA, this site has been a big help, as nobody I actually know in person has any knoweldge whatsoever about boat restoration - unfortunately that includes me!!! ;) I'll post the before and after photos once it's complete (maybe just a month to go now)... For a first-time restoration, I'm pretty proud of seeing this through.