Opinions wanted on 1924 Otca


David Parmelee
My very proficient 16-year-old daughter and I just removed the canvas from this 1924 Otca #82092 17. 17 ribs are cracked, minor or major. Gunwales, seats, thwarts (center missing) are good to excellent.

--I would appreciate opinions on repair or replacement of the inside stems.

--Also, mainly for curiosity's sake, opinions on what has been done to the planking and the canvas over the years.

--Also, If planking is showing cracking from the (stripped) interior, but not from the exterior, should it be left alone?

Attached are photos of several patches to the planking and the inside of the canvas, hidden until now under paint. I can only assume the boat was recanvassed perviosuly, unless holes were cut in the canvas, planking was patched, and then the canvas were patched.

We are about to start the exciting process of Dremel-ing off the clinched tacks in order to remove the cracked ribs. Is the a better way?

Fine woodworking begins March 23rd (to be done by someone competent!) to repair inwales, a deck, bits of the gunwales, adding new ribs and outside stems. I'll post photos.

Thanks, everyone, for your invaluable advice!

David Parmelee


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The stem tips? I'd just splice them. It doesn't look bad. If you are removing tacks you can pull them right out. Find out which way they want to curl out and go in that direction. It is the path of least resistance. Tack pullers are available or you can grind an old screw driver. file the blade like a chisel. Slip it under the tack head. Twist/pry. Path of least resistance. YOu can feel it. Using a dremel may be overkill. Don't know what the patches are. I'll bet you and industrious daughter could do the whole thing. This is a great site and lots of experts and amatuers like me willing to offer advice. But there is something to be said for taking it to a restorer. I did once and am glad. You've proabaly paddled a w/c before but incase you haven't, I can tell you it is an experience.
Thanks, Dave...

Thank you, Dave! That is helpful. With any luck, our restorer, an excelent builder who works on many Christ Craft, will do the "skilled" parts while the remainder will be my adventure.

Started digging out tacks after Dremeling and there is some damage to the surface of the cedar planks. I am using a mini-Wonder Bar and a small screwdriver to get the first little gap (the tacks are all sunk deeply) and then an excelent tack puller called "The Exhumer" from Dead On Tools to pop the rest easily. Tomorrow I think I will grind a screwdriver into a less damaging, thinner blade. It is time-consuming, but then, they have been in place for 83 years.

Thanks for the advice on the stems. I was not looking forward to replacing those inside stems. The ribs are bad enough.

I think the patches in the planking and the canvas are signs that re-canvassing was done. It seems that they did it without filler, but with thick paint only. Some of the color bled onto the planks.

Though I am not as experienced as so many on this forum I'll venture a couple of comments.
The patch marks on the planking and patches on back side of the canvas indicate to me that the canvas was holed and repaired by inserting a canvas patch through the hole with a cement or perhaps paint to adhere it in place and make it waterproof.
As to removing tacks. There are tack pullers available at local hardware stores. They may have to be modified to make them more suited to our purposes but work quite well. Once you raise the tack head a bit a modified pair of diagonal cutters [one cutter edge is rounded so it doesn't cut the head of the tack off - but leave the tip sharp].Using these cutters role the tack out. If you are replacing the planking in that area you can just use the tip of the cutter to dig under the tack head and then roll it out. These methods are for ribs that are being replaced. For those that are not you can use a small punch and give the curled over tack tip a sharp rap to raise the head above the planking. Then use the cutters to roll the tack out.
These are the methods that I learned from Pam Wedd and have since used successfully.
Good luck, Denis:)
I forgot to mention - yes it is a slow process so just keep plugging away. Take your time, don't rush it, because if you do that is when damage is done. Think of it as a Zen exercise.
I like Chris Merigold's method of getting tavks out. You simply use a nail set and punch most of the length out from the inside. Then you use the tack puller to finish the job. The rib is toast anyway, so holes punched in it won't matter anyway.


Yep that's pretty much what I said except I think rolling the tack out with the cutters may lessen the chance of damaging planking that you want to keep.
Lee Valley has a really nice punch on page 237 "A" Japanese Nail Set - $ 6.50.
It is in the Tool catalog 2006/2007
Good advice

Thanks for all the good advice.

Tack heads are sunk far below the surface of the planking in most cases, so the tradeoff is between gouging and compressing the outer surface of the planking with a prying tool (the sharpened screwdriver is pretty good) or sometimes splitting or tearing the plank slightly as the tack head is punched out from the inside.

There is no damage-free method with a lot of these "buried" tacks. I hope that the small gouges and compressions will not show after re-canvassing.

Could and should they be filled?

Do you use the same tack holes when rebuilding with new ribs?

Who knew these tiny matters could be so puzzling?

Thanks again!

I just used the "Merigold Method" that Mark and Denis describe in the previous posts. To locate the tacks easily I used an angle grinder with a sanding disc to knock down the surface of the rib . The tacks can be identified easier this way. Then used the punch or modified nail set to pop the head up above the planking. Don't punch all of the way through! You can use a side cutter to pull the tacks pretty successfully or a pair of pliers will work too. Just pull....No damage!

I had actually always used a tack puller in the past. The problem that lead me to ths method was the fact that there was so much varnish between the planks and ribs on an OT Lightweight, that I couldn't get the ribs out without destroying all of the planking involved since they were basically glued by the varnish to the ribs.
Once the tacks were punched through and pulled, I was able to carve the ribs out of the canoe using a traditional crooked knife and chisel.......Worked great, but not before I destroyed four planks, did I come up with what worked.

To get the dings out from the tack puller, drape towels over the canoe and saturate with HotHOT water. Most of them will be reduced significantly. I do this a few days before stretching new canvas.

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Pam uses a filler but I don't remember what it is. Perhaps she'll respond and we can all have the mixture.
We did not use the same holes as I recall. The new tacks were put in close proximity though, so as to basically maintain the tacking pattern. I think if you use the same holes the tack may sink into the planking too far.

Dave O.
I assume you ran a razor knife along the edges of the rib then used a flat bar like the one made for removing trim around windows. There is one made by HYDE that is very thin and made of spring steel. You can get it from HYDE or they used to supply the True Value hardware stores. We don't have a True Value up here any more but perhaps you do in your area. It this method works it sure beats carving it out. I don't know if it does - just a suggestion.:eek:
"...our restorer, an excelent builder who works on many Christ Craft.."

Ahh, the Christ Craft. Finest boats on the water, as they never need waterproofing... they just float slightly above the waves. Your restorer isn't that Jesus fellow, is he? Heard that guy is quite a carpenter! :p