Life with fiberglass

Daniel Day

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I was trying to get information about a canoe I recently aquired before your unfortunate computer crash. I assume that this question has been answered before but maybe I can get the information again.
I have a 1959 OTCA 17' with sail and rigging. I think it was canvased with a teal blue color. It has been replaced with a clear glass covering. I have had it out and it is water tight. To make a long question short, What can I do to keep the wood from rotting and the glass at least presentable? Any long term effects I should be looking for?
Your information will help. Thank You
Daniel Day
Spokane, Wa.


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Glass & wood


This may sound bad but the only way to prevent the long term problem is don't get the canoe wet.

The better the glass job, the sooner the plank will begin to split as the plank expands and contracts with contact to water. Rot won't be that much of a problem if you dry the canoe out before you store it. But the expansion and contraction of the plank will be difficult to avoid. Even if water does not enter from the bottom of the canoe, water tends to find its way into the canoe from paddling etc. so the plank does get wet on the inside.

It is difficult to tell from your pictures if there is any separation between the glass and the plank now. It appears it may be well attached. If the glass would come off easy, I would remove it and put canvas back on.

Or you can wait and prolong the inevitable.

Too bad we can't access the old treads about removal of glass.

Good luck,

From the looks of your pictures, some of the cloudy areas indicate that either you are experiencing amine blush or you may have some water getting behind the glass.

Paul is right, you are better to avoid the inevitable and replace the glass with canvas. Especially since you have a nice sail rig - I don't know many canoe sailors who don't eventually (within the first hour or so on a windy day) get the entire canoe wet!

To remove the glass, work slowly with a heat gun. Score the glass in a 12" x 12" area with a utility knife. Heat the area by moving the gun back and forth slowly. Once you see the resin begin to soften, work a putty knife under the glass and move the heat gun slowly ahead of the knife to further soften the resin. Be careful - if you try to move too fast, bits of planking will come off with the resin. Move too slowly and you can burn the cedar. The attached picture might help.

Use a hook blade to remove those pesky bits of resin from between the planks.

Good luck, it's not a fun job, but worth the effort.


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I applied a fiberglass patch on the floor of my canoe when we got it in '74. When I started to strip the canoe in 2000, I got under the edge of the patch & lifted it clean off. Glassing over the prior finish kept it from staying firmly bonded to the interior...It's going to be messy but you have a beautiful craft to start with. Strip it and re-apply a canvas. Hopefully the 'bloom' will make it easier to remove some of it...
Stripping the glass and canvasing is certainly the best idea. However, neither of these statements are true:

"The better the glass job, the sooner the plank will begin to split as the plank expands and contracts with contact to water"


"some of the cloudy areas indicate that either you are experiencing amine blush or you may have some water getting behind the glass"
Thank you for the information

It is what I had feared. Removing 70+ sqft of glass is indeed annoying. I do not know how long the glass has been on the canoe. I hope I will get it back in the water by spring time.
Attached is a picture of the canoe early sunday morning on the upper Priest Lake in north Idaho September 2004. Shinin' Times!


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I am renovating a canvas canoe, a some point the canvas has been removed and replaced with fiberglass. I was very reluctant to tackle the job, but removing most of the fiberglass took all of 2 hours. I forced an old chised between the fiberglass and the wood to created an opening for my "Wonder Bar" then pried the fiberglass off carefully. Initiating rips in the fibergalss with tin snips made the process easier. (Goggles and dust mask mandatory) The fiberglass took the surface of the planking with it (Only a microscopic layer) and left the wood below in excellent condition. I imagine that each project would respond differently, but my canoe is proof that in some cases, removing fiberglass can be a breeze.

Denis, you were lucky that the person who fiberglassed the boat didn't do it properly and completely "wet through" the cloth - impregnating the wood below with resin. Otherwise, that method would remove large chunks of planking, especially in areas where the the planking had some grain run-out or was stressed somehow.

Unfortnutely, most removal jobs (unless done over the canvas) are more difficult.
Yes, I was lucky, but I think that it's the fact that the wood had been sealed underneath the fiberglass that made the job easier. I imagine that the old lindseed oil coat kept the wood from soaking up the resin. when I ripped the fiberglass off, it took away an extremely thin layer of wood fibers with it, nothing more.


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Hurray for good luck! I hope the rest of your restoration goes as well - certainly looks like a nice boat.
Thanks again for the information. It seems like just a guess as to how hard the glass will be to get off. I do not have the facilities to take on such a project and I have too many other projects going already. I have been looking for a canoe restorer in the eastern Washington, North Idaho areas but have not found anyone. Most listed on WCHA are on the west side of the state (250 mi away). Any ideas would be a great help.


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I lso stripped the glass off of my canoe using only mechanical means.( prybar, knife and pulling. My wife and I did the whole canoe in about 1 hour. There were several layers to come off with the last being the hardest, also the nicest looking. We only damaged one 3' section of planking which had to be replaced anyway.