New gunwale fastening

merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi looking for some advice
Replacing the gunwales on the 18' Chestnut Ogilvy. Should I use the existing holes as though I am putting the originals back on or make new holes in the alternating ribs. Now that I think of it it might be hard to actually use/lineup the old holes !
 

dtdcanoes

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Hi, Merk...... So, I know the problem, wonder if the solution I found for another similar issue might help. I had to put three new brass strips approx. 3/4" wide and the full length of the bottom board. The were fastened with No. 4-5 brass screws x 1/2 -3/4" , countersunk and 2 " apart the full length. It came to me that clear, nylon-reinforced pkgg. tape in 3/4" width had zero stretch no matter the length.
The previous straps left good witness marks at to their placement and I set the tape down for the whole length. The tape easily conformed to the very minor curvature to the outer edges of the center board and was simple to lay the tape down for the center strap. I pushed the point of a magic marker with increasing pressure as it center itself into each visible old screw hole for a perfect black point for later drilling in the brass and countersinking for the new screws. The tape was marked for location and pulled off and set down full length on the 3 brass strips, drilled, countersunk , cut to length at each end and installed. Se Bon ! They fit perfectly in every way. This would work for you for most of the gunnel length and all he way if the curve can be accommodated . You also might need a 1" wide tape and it goes on the outside of the new wale. And this, you will have to pay close attention to the old screw hole drill angles which if not perpendicular to a new wale , might be compensated for by using a smaller drill for the new wale hole, allowing for adjustment when you install. I have done this for a shorter new wale fix but seems a whole wale could be done as well. Sorry for the lengthy bit, but you might be surprised. Have fun. DAVE
 

Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

Designer/Builder
I place tape on the inwale and mark where all the holes are and try to set new screws in old holes. But often, the new screws just will not bite into old holes, hence you may have to fill the holes by driving in home made hardwood "toothpicks" with a bit of glue. If going into other ribs, then you just have to map out the sequence so that screws are evenly spaced and you don't end up with a bunch of screws together at the ends.
 

Howie

Wooden Canoe Maniac
Merk: It will always be better to screw into new wood. But this usually isn't possible if you intend to use the original gunnels without modifying them. I mean, you could try swapping the gunnels left-to-right & right-to-left to see if all the holes in the gunnels line up reasonably well to the center of the ribs on the new side. If they do, and the gunnels conform well enough to the shape of the canoe, then go for it. But when ever I've tried this I've had some screw holes that don't line up with a rib at all. But if yours do then great.

Another thing to do screw into new wood is keep the gunnels on the original side but shifted left or right maybe 1/4" so the hole lies over new wood. However you'll need to lop off gunnel tips on one side and splice on new tips to the other end.

Whatever you do check to make sure you're not relocating screws that will interfere with seat or thwart bolts.
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
these are new gunnels, thanks for all the great responses. We covered it in dacron yesterday it went smoothly. Onto gunnels. Lastime I did a boat I used hot air heat duct to make a steamer... worked like a charm. We swapped out hot air for radiant heat... I was planning to just throw the new gunnels in the pond for few days.. Any luck with this method?
 

Dave Osborn

LIFE MEMBER
It’s always easier if you steam them, but without much rise in the sheer, you may be ok depending on the grain in the new gunwale.

Also I try to fill all existing screw holes before installing new outer gunwales.
Often on reinstalling existing gunwales I will go one screw size larger to go into existing holes and I start getting “spinners”. A #9 screw in place of a #8. The difference to the naked eye is negligible.
 

Dave Osborn

LIFE MEMBER
The trick, of course, is finding odd sized screws this day and age.
Odd sized screws may be tricky to find at big box and hardware stores, but easy to find online.
eBay, Amazon, as well as fastener distributors across the country offer the #7 and #9 sizes that I typically use when oversizing.
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Tried a soaked gunnel yesterday, will steam them, they did not want to bend to the rise in the sheer...without what I considered wood splitting force.... Will do the plastic bag method...
Should I put the final final coat of paint on first or leave the last coat until the gunnels are on?
 

Dave Osborn

LIFE MEMBER
I would wait to do the final coat. You may likely scratch the paint or goof something up with the steam.
If you ever do another canoe that needs gunwales, I’d suggest that you bend gunwales much earlier in the process.
I bend gunwales after all other repairs are done. Before canvas, before paint, before varnish, etc. I bend them and leave them on so that they take a “set.” I sand and varnish the inside of the hull, as well as the gunwales while attached. Only when the interior is done and the canoe is ready for canvas do I remove the gunwales.
There is a million ways to skin a cat and your mileage may vary, but that sequence has been the best for me.
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Great Advice. My second boat and my first replacement gunnels.... a mere grasshopper, learning from the experienced of many many projects.. Thanks Dave...
I would wait to do the final coat. You may likely scratch the paint or goof something up with the steam.
If you ever do another canoe that needs gunwales, I’d suggest that you bend gunwales much earlier in the process.
I bend gunwales after all other repairs are done. Before canvas, before paint, before varnish, etc. I bend them and leave them on so that they take a “set.” I sand and varnish the inside of the hull, as well as the gunwales while attached. Only when the interior is done and the canoe is ready for canvas do I remove the gunwales.
There is a million ways to skin a cat and your mileage may vary, but that sequence has been the best for me.
 

Fitz

Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
Maybe I missed it in the thread, but what wood species are you trying to bend? Kiln dried?

The nice part about the plastic bag method is that you can test the bend without removing the steamer. Sometimes you can see the wood droop and realize it is time to bend. If it is hardwood, I would soak the rails for a week and try again. Apply good hot steam for 40 minutes to an hour.
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
not the first choice of wood, its fir... Good news is, when I reefed on it a bit the was no split out or grain tearout... it is a 20 ft kiln dried 2x4
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi all
Update on Gunnels and more questions... Steaming the fir in the bag went well. Used my pressure canner and beer making burner. Must be patient, hurried the first end and had to re-steam... it was fine. other end I was patient and a friend stopped by... huge plus another set of hands...
OK so now, it looks great but I need the clamps to do the other gunnel. How should i handle that. What will happen to the bent gunnel? Will it keep its bends? Should I fasten it? clamped it yesterday and hope to do the next gunnel tomorrow (wed). Thoughts?
Also having learned that I should have fitted the gunnels way earlier in the process, the boat "relaxed a bit without gunnels on it and the new gunnel has put a little flex back into it. This has put minor wrinkles in my painted dacron covering... Not bad but I see them...I'm not worried about it, but its all part of the learning curve... So it goes...learning
 

samb

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Hi all
Update on Gunnels and more questions... Steaming the fir in the bag went well. Used my pressure canner and beer making burner. Must be patient, hurried the first end and had to re-steam... it was fine. other end I was patient and a friend stopped by... huge plus another set of hands...
OK so now, it looks great but I need the clamps to do the other gunnel. How should i handle that. What will happen to the bent gunnel? Will it keep its bends? Should I fasten it? clamped it yesterday and hope to do the next gunnel tomorrow (wed). Thoughts?
Also having learned that I should have fitted the gunnels way earlier in the process, the boat "relaxed a bit without gunnels on it and the new gunnel has put a little flex back into it. This has put minor wrinkles in my painted dacron covering... Not bad but I see them...I'm not worried about it, but its all part of the learning curve... So it goes...learning

I steam and clamp one side then drill and screw it, then use clamps for the other side.
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just drilled and screwed it and it came out nice... there was almost no spring back in the wood and it fit up well. I was able to adjust the height of the gunnel in relation to the rib ends leaving it a 1/16th proud for sanding...doing the other side in the morning... thanks
 
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merk

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I think what has happened to my dacron is when I clamp the super heated gunnel to the sheer plank its melting the glue underneath and relaxing any tension on the dacron.... causing a wrinkle or 2.. it refastens, but not tight like it was....the learning curve...
Another great reason to fit your gunnels earlier in the process. So what would be an alternative? Could I bend the second gunnel by clamping it under the first one? Will that bend transfer to the other side? Then it can be installed cold! Any thoughts... Aren't we having fun? Thanks, I really appreciate the forum feedback...
 
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