Hole Punch


Wood Girl #1186
Recently, my 1946 OT 13' #50 suffered minor damage from inexperienced/enthusiastic paddlers. Damage inventory to bottom of bow includes: Canvas-8"clean tear, Rib-1 broken, Planks-2 busted at parallel edges. Should I spot repair (Somehow?) or take apart and recanvas the whole thing allowing for new ribs and planks while it's naked?

Imagine my dismay when this little show-off, some clown who fancies himself some sort of restorationist/preservationist/purist opined that the current repair consisting of a piece of birchbark secured in place with Gorilla Tape is not only aesthetically unpleasing owing to the general color/texture contrast with the original red paint, but would also be considered temporary or just for an emergency (who knew?!?) and not a prize winner (disappointing).

While it is not a museum piece, (the canoe, not the birchbark patch) I plan to keep it in good condition, touching up the varnish and paint as needed and paddling and fishing from it until I die face down in a plate of donuts.

Should I strip off the canvas and begin anew with the ribs and planks or try to delicately attack just those individual repairs? I value all your input and experience highly. With Gratitude, Splinter
the fabric probably ripped, in part, due to weakness and any repair will be limited by the weakness of the surrounding fabric, it could be patched any number of ways, but you will always see it as a patch. If you are up to it, recovering the canoe is a rewarding project, and will be a source of pride and accomplishment whether you use the same or an easier and more durable fabric routine. The repairs to the ribs and planking can be done to your satisfaction and will not be a continuing reminder of the damage done.
Leaning that way

Thanks for your input Peter. When they landed the canoe and I first saw the hole, I thought "recanvasing" right off the bat. But after thinking about how isolated the damage is, I wondered if I really needed to involve the whole canoe. Still, while the canoe is not a museum piece, it is worth the time it takes to tear it off and repair the planks and rib and recanvas.

There have been a lot of viewings of this Thread but surprisingly little replies. I would like to hear more thoughts on this as it is a good way for me to explore all the possibilities before starting the project.

I have not used any other fabrics besides the traditional canvas and wonder what others think of trying out another type of fabric on this canoe.

Please, feel free to spill your guts.

What you do depends on whether you want to spend your time paddling or in the shop...

Traditional field repair for torn canvas is to work a scrap of canvas into the tear, coat it with ambroid cement, and maybe at some time hit it with a splash of paint. It's effective and keeps you on the water.

I once paddled with a fellow from northern Wisconsin who had a simple repair method - he just slapped on some duct tape, then coated the tape with a few coats of shellac. There were lots of these on his hull (an OT guide with shellaced bottom); clearly his canoe could have stood being recanvassed but he'd rather paddle, and he probably gained 5 years or more of life in that tired old canvas...

As to alternative coverings, they have their place. Depends on whether you are doing a restoration (requires use of original materials) or a repair, and whether you want to experiment. When I work on old canoes, I usually stick with original materials and techniques. When I do deviate from that, the "experiment" must be easily and 100% reversible. In a rare case, I'll do something that is not reversible, but not without thought to the reasons why and the history of the subject canoe.

Still leaning toward recanvasing...

Thanks for the input Dan. I had thought about that simple and traditional patch method and really, that would be fine considering how little time I have to actually be on the water, it would last decades. But it does not solve the problem of the rib and planks. Since it only solves one problem, sort of and not all 3, I am still leaning toward full recanvas and new plank & rib. Besides traditional canvas, is there another favorite fabric that takes a little more of a hit? Considering the condition of the river bottom in front of my house, it looks like dealing with rocks will be a reality for as long as I live here. Splinter
I have covered canoes with canvas and dacron and have found that the previously posted layered routine with dacron more durable and resistant to damage than canvas, as well as the fabric is more stable, lighter and rot resistant. Having done both routes (canvas and dacron) I have found the heat shrinking dacron easier and faster (it is really easy to do). It is a bit more expensive and may show imperfections in the planking but worth it when you are carrying it. Please don't consider fibreglass/epoxy. You are more likely to miss the recovering project, when you finish it, rather than regret having started it. peter
I have 3-4 rips tears in canvas of an Ogilvy restored 16 years ago that I've repaired with various methods. I'd be on the 4th recanvassing job if I hadn't gone the quick fix route.

As to rib plank fixes, depends upon how serious they are. If rib is cracked, splice in dutchman. If planks are just cracked, they are likely ok too. If rib break really distorts hull, that might be another matter.

Just went to the hospital to look at the canoe and it does not have any distortion where the rib is broken. The broken rib is the 5th one from the bow, putting it just outside cover of the deck so it is visible. The 4th rib is fractured but you can't see it so that one I think can be drilled with dentil drill and injected with epoxy. The planks look bad. Pretty chewed up. No clean breaks there. They would have to be replaced at least for about a 12" section or less. I'm not a huge fan of shortcuts where something like this old canoe is concerned. Since the planks are really the worst of all of it, I don't see a good way to piece it in. Tell me more about heat shrinking dacron. (Heat gun? Hairdryer? Blowtorch?) Is this the same dacron our sails are made out of? Since I will have to move the boat around myself and get it on top of the car myself a lot of the time, I like the idea that it would take some weight off the boat. Splinter
the dacron is aircraft dacron, the same fibre as sails but a different stage of its production so it will still shrink with heat, and there are postings in this forum with the layered routine I have used. As to the heat source, I used my wife's iron, which is now for my exclusive use, although getting your own one at the start would be smarter. The trouble with injecting epoxy is contoling where it is going or not going.

Good point about the epoxy, I've done it many times before and I cna handle that alright. I have 3 irons so I will just dedicate one to the project. Thanks. Splinter
Hi Splinter,

Going over the old posts and realized we do not know what you decided to do about the damage and the final result. I wonder if I would smooth the planks as much as possible and then laminate a thin piece of cedar onto the rib and another onto the plank. I might use gorilla glue. It would be reversable and I'd do it right some other day. When the fish aren't taking clousers and Zonkers.
Executive Decision

After weeks of deliberation, I have finally decided to go with Dacron. This will give us both a chance to learn the possibilities of a new material. It's reverseable, and the canoe will be lighter. So, where do i find the step by step instructions? Splinter
I have posted the routine I have used under "pa's guide project" last post Mar 17 06, and under the "canvas vs dacron" thread last post Mar 9 06. I would be happy to pass on my mis-steps or advise. I have posted on other threads witch can be searched as well, you may also note the intense feelings that some people have about canvas. I feel that I benefited from starting my canoe and kayak building/restoration before the books and internet advise made it seem intimidating. If I don't reply for a couple of weeks....... its summer and the water has beckoned.

OK, I will be as much reading as I can and then I will be in touch. I have ordered materials and will start July 4th weekend. Splinter

Where did you find Dacron? Do you tack it on? Can it be painted (if so, w/ what)? Have you completed the project- any advice/suggestions, any pictures?
The 2.7 oz fabric can be had from homebuilt aircraft suppliers in decent widths. I would support using the aircraft glue as the manuals suggest. There are painting routines with compatible paints but the MEK base (used in the 'stits' routine) have incompatibility problems with a lot of paints. The aircraft paints come in great colours but are not designed for abrasion. The addition of multiple layers of fabric with epoxy and graphite seem to make up for that, and almost any paint can be used on epoxy.
Thanks for the clarity

Thanks for taking time to talk to me about this last night. I have a better feel for this and am excited to give it a go. I will be in touch again no doubt.
Delaying repair

I have decided that I will not do the repair work on the 1946 OT #50 this year. I will just work on the Otca this year with dad and take time to learn about the new materials and methods for the dacron work starting in 2007. One canoe at a time. Currently we all have enough on our plates as it is.