It's official: I'm insane


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Greetings folks!

It's been a while since my last foray into the forum. Hey, it alliterates!

I spent last summer learning how to manoeuvre my 18 foot Chestnut Ogilvy around. The on-the-water part was easy! Solo loading and unloading now, THAT was an adventure. The Queen Mary Jr. as I call it has been residing in my unheated garage all winter, awaiting warmth for rebuilding. To that end, I purchased what might be a home built mongrel canoe to use this summer while Mary is undergoing reconstructive surgery.

The canoe I picked up was a wood and fibreglass job of unknown age and origin. To call the fibreglass job rough would be an understatement. My plan was to rebuild this canoe, or at least remove the fibreglass and canvas it NEXT summer. So, I take it out and plop it in the open water for the first time.

Imagine my surprise upon discovering that it floats like a sieve! A serious lack of resin is strategic areas allowed the water to nearly FOUNTAIN into the boat! 5 min of paddling in very COLD water had about an inch distributed along the bottom of the canoe, my pant legs, socks, feet, etc. FYI, I kneel, I don't perch, er, sit in the canoe...

Good thing I haven't started the restoration project on Mary yet or I would be canoeless...

Tonight I fired up yea olde heat gun with yea olde putty knife and start the dirty task of removing the fibreglass from the mongrel. So far the planking looks good, albeit with some fairly large gaps. I don't know if it was caused by shrinkage or the original construction quality, but I've got gaps of about 3/32nds of an inch between some of the planks. Other places they are butted up nicely against one another.

So I have a lot of heating, peeling, scraping, tapping of tacks and sanding ahead of me. As well as some probable wood repairs along with a few I knew about already.

So, folks, you will be seeing a fair bit more of me as this project progresses. I'll pose my first question now: How hard should I try to get the old resin out of the gaps between the boards and should I consider caulking them with something? Bedding compound perhaps? I'm NOT going to consider oakum! Of, since the skin of the canoe will provide the water tight properties I need, just leave them alone?

I'm attaching the first of many photos to come.




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I have a similar situation with my Current Shell Lake Deluxe. My plan is to religiously remove all resin recklesly residing between the ranks of the planks. Otherwise it may pop off later and find its way under the canvas. I suppose the odds of that are small but still, that's my plan. Besides, it doesn't belong there and it looks bad. I have been chipping it out with a flat screwdriver that has been ground to a chisel.

Gaps between planks are normal. I think flat sawn cedar shrinks in width if used for planks.
Check out Fred Capenos' canoe loading device in "Wooden Canoe" issue 149. His design can be easily modified to suit your own vehicle or rack system. I just made my own version and it works like a charm.
Thanks for the replies


Thanks for the replies. Come good ideas there and many which I will probably use.

I just got some more pictures off my camera and thought I would append a photo of the mongrel trying to emulate a submarine. Anyway, more to come.

Cheers all!



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Sorry to break it to you Craig but that's actually one of those experimental submersibles or "Subanoe" that were in vogue during the 1970's and 80's. I have one that I picked up last summer, except mine was an older model covered in canvas. Great paddling characteristics once one gets the hang of the various, effective but little known, underwater paddle strokes. BTW! A hint...Be sure to pack your lunch in double zip-loc baggies...ain't nothing worse than a soggie ham and cheese.;)

Actually, I bet that will be a pretty little boat once you get it water ready again. Nice choice!

I second the dentist pick idea. Great inventions for woodworking. I use them all the time. See if you can talk him/her out of some of the wider ones also.

Keep us posted on the progress.