Lost Canoe thread and seats


Canoeist, Scouter
Welcome back! I am glad to see that this forum is back online, but dissapointed that the old postings are not there. I was a recent subscriber and posted one thread for the ident of my old canoe. Some pics were posted but were rather smallish. I will try and replace them. In the mean time i have been doing a lot of reading on the net and have come to the decision that this particular canoe should have a canvas cover in lieu of the current fibre glass. I still have not started to take it apart for further investigation as i wanted to take a few more pics first. I have determined that I need to replace two ribs and three planks, both stems and both decks, inwhales and outwhales front to back and new canvas or fibre glass. Any one have any pointers, things to look out for? i also would like to replace the seats. They appear to be in good shape, but are all wood in a lattice design. They look very uncomfortable compared to the cane seats I have seen.
My in-laws have a Bill Brigdon fibreglass canoe with seats made from the nylon stapping found on old lawn chairs and they are very comfortable. An one know of good comfortable seat designs?
How about making some cane seats? They certainly would be more traditional than some choices and can be very beautiful as well as comfortable. I use and like the plans found in the "Seats" chapter of Gil Gilpatrick's "Building a Strip Canoe". He gives plans and caning instructions with pictures. The only change I make is to construct the seats 10" deep instead of the suggested 15". I find the seats very comfortable and a lot of people fuss over the look. I like the trapazoidal look, but the rectangular shape would be even easier to construct and is a more traditional look.
Thank You John i will look into this option. Does anyone else know of an all wood seat that would actually be comfortable.
I agree that it's a terrible shame that a great wealth of information is missing from the archives. Perhaps some of it will be recovered. In the meantime, judging from the questions you are asking you really ought to acquire two books: The Wood and Canvas Canoe by Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow, and The Art of the Canoe with Joe Seliga by Jerry Stelmok with wonderful photos by Deborah Sussex. These two books contain all you really need to know. If you have other questions, as you've already discovered, the folks here are always willing to help.
As far as cane seats go, the Seliga book illustrates how he makes his seats using prewoven cane. I've done it this way and they look great and are very comfortable. As for wood seats, my Prospector has wood slat seats in it. They are just thin wooded slats fastened to cross pieces. They are perfectly comfortable and very serviceable. If you're reallly interested I'd be glad to post a photo of them.
If you could plan a visit with Pam Wedd in Parry Sound I think you'll pick up some valuable information and opinions.
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I already have " The wood and canvas canoe", and you are right, it is a valuable source of info. I will try to locate the other book as well. I am also going to try to see Pam next time I am in Parry Sound. Should be a few weeks from now.
If you could post the pic of your wood slatted seat i would appreciate it. The seats in my canoe just "look" uncomfortable, I have not had a chance to try them out yet.

I am also going to set up a Webshots album so others can view my progress over the winter on this canoe.
As Andy says, the Chestnut-style slat seats are not as uncomfortable as they look, and indeed are more comfortable than a caned seat that has sagging cane... Given my druthers, though, I'll opt for a Tom Seavey-made Saddle Seat any day.

As for the fiberglass, we used to have a couple FAQs about this, and will again, but suffice to say that f-glass is bad, very bad, for canoes that were not designed to be glassed (and this rules out just about everything except modern-day strippers). If you are taking the old glass off, then you really should recover with canvas. It's better for the canoe, makes it more pleasurable to paddle, and (believe it or not) is easier than glassing.

Here are a couple of photos of the bow seat and stern seat of the Chestnut Prospector. Hope this helps.

I would echo what Dan said about canvas versus fiberglass. Canvas is really much easier to work with. No stench or runs! Fiberglass is a terrible thing to do to a nice old canoe.


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Thankx Andy, Those look like my seats, I wonder if I have a Chestnut Prospector? I think that I will be going with canvas by the way. I never did like the fibreglass anyway.
Once you decide it is a Peternut*, you can use the dimension information on the Wood Canoe Identification Guide (http://dragonflycanoe.com/id/) to determine which model its.

*Peternut - any of a number of canoe models built by Chestnut Canoe Company, Peterborough Canoe Company and Canadian Canoe Company that are essentially identical and can be found with any of these decals on them.
How do I go about measureing the size of the canoe? Is the beam from out to out on the gunwhales? My canoe measures 16'-7" from the outermost points, so would this be a 16' or a 17' canoe? What about depth or height? Do I include the keel? Is it measured at midship and at the bow and stern and from the ground? If I know how to measure I will better be able to compare the charts on Dragonfly's Page.
The "proper" way to measure a canoe is "length between perpediculars" (i.e. the distance between two lines perpendicular to the baseline that are touching the outermost extension of the stems), maximum beam (where the canoe is widest, which is not necessarily at the gunwales) and depth from the outside of the hull (not counting the keel) to the upper face of the gunwales at the canoes deepest point.

In practice, we usually measure depth from the inside surface of the planking to the upper face of the rails - either adding in or ignoring the 5/32" planking and canvas. Either way it is close enough. In the case of a Chestnut, the tumblehome is approximately equal to the width of the outwales, so measuring across the outwales is an ok approximation. This is not always true. If you want to be accurate, measure the beam with a pair of framing squares.

That said, you then take your measurements and compare them to catalog listings, tossing in a grain of salt. Some companies were more accurate than others. Sometimes lengths are exact, other times they are rounded to the nearest foot. There may be variations amongs canoes that are otherwise the same model. Some catalogs don't measure canoes using the "standard" method (especially earlier Morris). Some catalogs give dimensions that are outright wrong (the beam for Peternut 14' pleasure canoes, e.g.).

What to do? Post your dimensions here, measured best you can as outlined above. Some better resolution pics would be helpful to. We first need to be sure it is a Chestnut (or isn't) and we can go from there.

for what it's worth...

I have a 15'8" Bastien Bros. Huron that I am going to restore this spring. It has what i believe are called "babiche" seats. These seats have a very canoe-appropriate look- they are done with woven rawhide. Talk about a traditional look! I haven't sat in them yet though... Perhaps somebody out there knows something about the comfort of these seats. I think they are definitely worth considering and would not be too hard to weave ( the strips of rawhide are not so fine) once you manage to obtain rawhide (perhaps try a local meat processor). Good luck with your project.
I've seen lots of those rawhide seats in the Huron's. Lots of people like the rustic look of them. Me, I don,t like them. May as well be sitting on 24 grit sandpaper. Not to mention how the surface of the weaving in halfway down the frame, top to bottom, so your butt is being pinched into the hole of the seat frame.
Two things come to mind

1 - To repair the babiche seat buy a dry leather dog chew from a pet store [ has a clear yellow appearance ], soak it in water over night then cut it into strips . You now have all the babiche needed with a very small investment . 2 - I am restoring a 15.5 Huron . Relocating the rear seat and replacing the babiche seats with machine cane seats is a serious consideration . Any other ideas or suggestions ?
I like the babiche just fine. You can get the lacing from an outfit in Edmonton called Herford Hide.
One reason many babich seats are rough is because they are often varnished. Oil them instead and they can be quite comfy.
I would hand cane before going with machine cane. It's easier than the babiche snowshoe lacing patern.
Other all wood seats

The Willits all wood seats run the slats in the other direction from the Chestntut. I have never sat on the Chestnut seats, but I do prefer the Willits wood seat to any cane seat.

I have attached the best picture of the seat I have available.




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Whatever seat you decide to go with, get yourself a piece of blue closed cell foam,cut roughly to the seat dimensions.Then when going paddling -do not leave home without it should I repeat that nah.Makes any and every style of seat no matter what the construction very comfortable.Thicker the better.
I once stopped a freight train along a lake that had just the right piece of foam washed up on shore.
Foam pads

For kneeling or sitting , inexpensive foam pads can be aquired at any garden shop . They work great .