Old Town Stem/Rail repair

Dan Maxon

Curious about Wooden Canoes
It's been about 10 yrs since I've been a member and regular visitor to the WCHA web site. I'd like to tap into the vast knowledge out there....I'm restoring an Old Town Octa (1929) but both tips are rotted away. Does anyone have a photo/dwg of the detail where the Stem ends, and inwales come together? Other than that, the hull is in great shape. It was restored once about 20 yrs ago, but the canvas split shortly thereafter and it sat around until now. This is my first cedar/canvas project, though I've built a few plywood lapstrake solo-paddle canoes.
 
Point in Space

Hi Dan,

Martin's thread is a good resource, and as is said there, everyone redoing a wood canvas canoe has to deal with tips that are rotted to one extent or another. The quick answer to the question is that the inwale ends sit upon the stem end. If you are dealing with missing stem ends, missing inwale ends, missing deck tips and missing cant rib tips then you have more of a problem finding that point in space where the inwale ends and the stem end meet.

Here's one way to deal with it: Get the deck in place even if you're going to have to replace the tip. Determine in your mind's eye the fair curve of the deck from base to tip and make a replacement end for one inwale that carries well beyond the deck end but maintains the fair curve. Clamp (or temporarily screw) this inwale end in place. To see if you are coming close to the point in space use other pieces of the canoe like the cant rib tips if you have them and the gunwales and the stem band. Sometimes the stem band can be the real key to the location of that point in space especially if the stem band screw hole is still visible in the deck. You should be able to get both inwale tips in and roughly trimmed without having to worry about the stem end.

For the stem end you can usually follow the curve of the remaining stem and pieces of planking to ascertain the location of the stem tip. Again it helps if you have the stem band. The 'bird's mouth' repair of the stem end works well giving an ample amount of gluing surface. Leave all pieces a little over sized for trimming-to-fit.

Now you can take the deck out and repair its tip.

Fasten your new planking, reinstall you repaired deck, sand everything to fit and you are good to go.

We are just finishing a 1936 OTCA which had been apart for some years. The decks were out and had lost some of their curve so I couldn't use this approach to rebuild the ends. Each canoe is a learning experience!

Good Luck,

Dan
 
Thanks Dan, Martin.

The photos helped, though I still wasn’t sure if I saw what I needed. I’ve since spent a good part of the day playing out there. On the bow, it looked like the inwales wanted to butt up against the inside face of the stem end, based on the first attempt at constructing a new stem replacement piece (birdmouthed in). That would also match the detail in the reprint of a WoodenBoat article by Jerry S. I got from WCHA years ago. Also, it seemed if I run one rail out and past the point in space I’m searching for, the other rail would peter out before the elusive point. However, having read Dan’s explanation, I’m thinking these things might have extended longer than I guessed. With a miter an inch long? No wonder they rot. Think I’ll soak some varnish in there on the replacement ends.

One more observation – the canoe pictured in the link provided by Martin is #96801, 1929. My Octa is number 98140, railed Feb. 14, 1929 and shipped March 14, 1929. Could there have been 339 boats put out in such a short time? Were boats not numbered sequentially? Maybe stems were pre-made and grabbed from a pile randomly?

Thanks again for the help. No doubt I’ll look for more.
 
Another Photo

Here's a photo of a 1929 OTCA for perspective.
 

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This may be heresy. A re-designed stem-rail-deck connection - a birdsmouth scarph with an integral knee. (with a little material for the inwale ends)


edde1117.jpg


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Dan,

Since you have a cedar canvas canoe now, it may be time to renew your membership...OK?

The canoe you compare to (96801) was half built on 12/28/1927 and shipped on 2/05/1929...so it sat around for whatever reason before shipping. I believe (?) everything was sequential as far as SN's but delivery was a different matter.

Hope this helps,

Ric Altfather
 

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Dan Maxon said:
the canoe pictured in the link provided by Martin is #96801, 1929. My Octa is number 98140, railed Feb. 14, 1929 and shipped March 14, 1929. Could there have been 339 boats put out in such a short time? Were boats not numbered sequentially? Maybe stems were pre-made and grabbed from a pile randomly?

The stems were pre-made and grabbed from a pile randomly but the serial numbers were stamped on these stems when the canoe was removed from the form. This was noted on the build record as the "Half Built" date and was on December 28th, 1927 for the canoe with serial number 96801. The scan of the build record for serial number 98140 doesn't show a half built date so the ink stamps may have been light or the scans were not done well. Serial number 98121 was half built on October 30th, 1928 and 98155 was half built on November 1st, 1928 so we can presume that 98140 was half built in mid October, 1928 since Old Town's serial numbers were usually assigned sequentially. This implies that Old Town built 1339 canoes and boats between December, 1927 and October 1928. Annual sales during this period were running over 4000 units per year so this is actually a bit low. The president and founder of the company died on April 23rd, 1928 which could explain some of the decline in production during this period. Let me know if this doesn't answer your questions.

Benson
 
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