Linkanoe "rib" construction?


"Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac
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I've recently acquired a Linkanoe, which I have been inspecting and learning how it was constructed. It was a surprise that the 'ribs' are not bent wood, but rather a laminate made from multiple thin pieces and obviously some sort of adhesive. My question is how and why? What type of wood? What type of adhesive? Any idea of the sort of machinery that was constructed to fabricate these wood strips? Tom McCloud
The "Why" isn't too difficult, either. Thinner laminates bend easier, and are less subject to breaking during the process, so you're less likely to throw them away. Even without steaming, you can put a pretty tight curve on a set of very thin laminations much more easily than on a full-thickness part. If you bother steaming them, it'll take a lot less steamer time to get them pliable than it would a full-thickness piece.

Bent laminations like this are used a lot for stems on strip-built boats; back in my younger daze I built arched entryways in red oak like this. It's labor-intensive, but works well.
Bent laminated ribs will also be much stronger than steam-bent ribs. They will require making a different form for each rib pair however. Justifiable in production work, more questionable for one-off use. If the laminations are thin enough no steam is required. There will be a bit of spring back in the fibers of the wood, minimized the thinner the individual strips.
Linkanoe rib construction

Thanks to those who have already replied. For other readers who have not seen a Linkanoe, it was made in 10 sections that clip together, the outside covered by a watertight skin. This wood laminate that I've called 'ribs' is used along the edges of each of these sections, plus some additional 'ribs'. This wood is made of about 10 laminates, and is about 3/4 x 1 inch. Consequently, about 100 linear feet of this laminate is used to build the Linkanoe. If I was setting up a factory to produce hundreds of boats, as Edwin Link did in ~1945, I'd want to build a machine to crank out this material in long lengths, but cut and bent over forms prior to the adhesive setting. A resorcinol-type glue is a good guess for the adhesive used at this time. I'm curious to know how this wood laminate was built, and bent, at the Link factory, if that information is in an archive somewhere.

I'm seeing some delamination in my canoe, particularly at the corners where there is stress. A couple of the 'ribs' are cracked, but I hope that can be repaired by regluing with epoxy rather than totally replaced.
Mr. Link was a pretty neat guy. We have a fair bit of info about him and his enterprises in the ABM archives (but so far as I know, not much about manufacturing processes). We have a couple of Linkanoes and a Link Rowboat in our collection, as well as the only Link Seaplane Trainer (and apparently one of the earliest known hydrofoils therein as well...) in our collection.

My own Linkanoe is in good shape with respect to the ribs, but the hardware can stand to be cleaned and re-plated, and the decks have delaminated, and a new skin is order. Still I am happy to have it, although I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Hockersmith thinks he got the better end of the deal.
Linkanoe "rib" construction

The literature I have indicates that the ribs were made from Maple. Very nice workmanship overall. Keep in mind that the canoe was a sideline of the flight simulator business. Ed Link used the tried and true construction techniques that he used to build the simulators. If you ever get a chance to compare the two side by side you will see the same wood ribs in the "blue Box" simulators. Regards, Bob
Linkanoe construction

Ed Link was an interesting and accomplished guy, holder of at least 73 patents, but only one that I've found about canoes: US patent 2,406,085, titled 'Sectional Canoe or the Like', patented Aug.20,1944, and unfortunately it does not answer my question about wood laminate construction. It does have other interesting detail. There is a lengthy biography of Ed Link at From this I learned one key detail: in order to sell aviation trainers to the British, they had to be manufactured in a British Commonwealth country. Thus, the establishment of a factory in Gananoque, Ontario, in 1937. Eureka! (not to be confused with the tent company) the reason for manufacture of Linkanoes and boats at Gananoque, ON, and probably using much the same equipment and employees. So it is probable that there are construction and matrials similarities with the Link trainers, as Bob has commented. I have never seen one of those. And I've not yet made it to Dan Millers museum, but hope to get there soon. My own Linkanoe had been "strengthened", and not in a pretty way, by the previous owner, but I have yet to decide how much restoration to original I might do. And like Dan's, my hardware could use replating. Dan, do you know if it was nickel or chrome? Tom McCloud
Have you decided on what to do or finished restoration of your Linkanoe? My canoe needs some "strengthening" to the ribs as well to fix a few that are damaged, a new canvas sock, and half of a buckle. I did find an old ad in a newspaper that states the buckles were chrome plated.
I have done a "restoration" of a sort. Damaged ribs were rebuilt with multiple layers of wood, though not so many as the originals. Wood was stripped, sanded, revarnished. The micarta hull was also stripped and revarnished. And I sewed a new boot for it. Tom McCloud
Interesting discussion of Mr Link. As a child, (8 years old), I sat in a Link Trainer at the 1939 World's Fair in NYC. I still remember the experience vividly (though I may not remember what I had for dinner tonight). After that, I wanted to be a WWII fighter pilot, but they weren't taking 10-12 year olds. I did finally get a pilots license and own an airplane later in life (you think boats are expensive). I had never heard of the Link canoes until this thread. Thanks.