OT SR #148784 18 Restoration Project by dugkim


LOVES Wooden Canoes
This thread shall serve as my place for restoration discussion, as I am about to embark on my journey restoring my 1947 18' Old Town Guide. I already have so many people to thank from this forum and I am sure that I will owe many more before I am complete.

To kick things off, I have been reading the Thurlow book on the Wood and Canvas Canoe. A couple of questions have arisen regarding oiling:

1) oiling should take place after all the restoration work is complete on the interior and exterior and before varnish and canvas...correct?

2) i about choked when i read that i need to let the canoe dry for 4 WEEKS after I oil and before I begin varnishing?

If #2 is true, it totally blows my initial completion date out of the water (pun intended)! Currently, the canoe has been very carefully cleaned with TSP and a power washer. All my parts and supplies have been ordered and the canoe has been moved into my new "canoe workshop".

Work presently known as "needed" will include inner and outer gunwales, bow and stern decks, upper stem on bow and a few hull planks. Ribs look fine, but we'll see about that after the oiling or first coat of varnish. Of course, varnish, canvas and paint to wrap things up. Ready or not...here I go...
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Initial Photos

For documentation purposes under this thread a review of the photos are attached.


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About oiling.... Don't oil the interior, just cut your first coat of varnish 50% with thinner. Second coat 75% varnish/25% thinner and subsequent coats thinned 90/10 or 95/5 varnish/thinner. If you oil the interior with linseed oil, the oil will darken with time. Tung oil won't darken, but costs enough that you might as well just start with varnish.

If you oil the exterior (and I am not convinced it is neccessary in most cases), oil it after the interior is varnished. That way any that bleeds through the seams won't show under the varnish, and you can easily clean up any that does. If you are using an oil-based filler for your canvas, there is no need, in my opinion, to delay canvassing once the oiled hull is dry to the touch (a day or two). If you are using a water-based filler (like Cecofill), then either don't oil, or wait to canvas until the oil is cured, which can take weeks.
Thanks Dan

A couple follow up questions. My hull is pretty dry to the point that it creaks when you pick up the canoe. When do you know if oiling is needed? As for the filler, I ordered the OT but I don't know if that is water or oil based?
Was looking at your photo posts....Luv that new "workshop"...I am using the same thing . While looking at your canoe stand (sawhorse) I found when I visited Rollin Thurlows shop last summer that he uses a cross brace at the base to stabilize it from developing a "wabble" I did that to mine and it made it really secure. I extended mine a few more inches past the legs to make it more "tip proof"....Cant wait to see it when its done...not gonna wish you good luck becasue I sense determination to make it right;)
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Gil, you may remember this post awhile back with the pictures of my project.
In the hands of a professional...

Just wanted to update everyone that I have turned over my "project" to Gil Cramer and am excited about his work.

Despite my best intentions, I gave up on doing the work myself for a few reasons:
1) OT has continuallly messed up my parts orders, resulting 4-5 weeks of delay two times going now;
2) OT failed to send at all the gunwales that I ordered to the local canoe shop that I arranged for them to send them to. Their excuse was the order was never placed;
3) my lack of confidence in the ability to splice in the stem tops...and;
4) Even the replacement mahogany decks that i received from OT the second time are not the right ones. Gil thinks he can use them anyway...we'll see

In addition to the above, my job has us moving and we have to put the house up for sale...and movers...and...well, now you see my predicament.

I feel so much better knowing when I am beat and handing it off to a professional like Gil. Can't wait to paddle next season.
dugkim said:
Despite my best intentions, I gave up on doing the work myself for a few reasons...and...I feel so much better knowing when I am beat...

Personally, I think there's absolutely no reason to explain WHY you "gave up" and KNOWING your limits and WHEN to give up is a very fine quality to have.

Everyone, at one time or another, takes on something that for some reason doesn't pan out...no big deal. One can run into major problems when you start to cut corners and jerry-rig things and try to rush to the finish line; much better to admit it's too much to do right now, and hey! what the hell, there's nothing stopping you from trying again in the future!
Thanks for the encouragment...

Hey Dennis, just wanted to say thanks for the encouragment. If feels like a failure, but I do know it is the right decision.
Go for it!

You don't have the time...so what! Instead of letting this canoe sit in the rafters for 10+ years, you are doing something about it and hopefully will get out on the water sooner than most. Voice of experience here...I planned on restoring an Old Town 10 years ago and have it in the water 9 years ago...guess what, not in the water yet! In a few months, you will have a professionally restored (that's a plug Gil) canoe ready to go and a value that it should have. No bookshelves, no bonfire...another one saved.

Enjoy your soon to be prized canoe,

Progress Photos

Got calls and emails from Gil Cramer periodically thoughout the restoration process. The latest is that she is done and ready for me to pick up. I will be heading to Gil's the weekend of the Michigan v. Ohio State game to pick her up. I couldn't be more excited about it.

I thought that I would attach the photos that Gil passed along. Keep in mind that they are low-res and sometimes blurry; it must be Gil's way of building the anticipation :) Well it worked!

I will shoot some high-res photos when I get it back to the house and post for all to see. In the meantime, enjoy Gil's work...I know I am.:D


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Finished Product!

Delayed but not forgotten...Thanks goes out to Gil Cramer for his outstanding work for the restoration of this canoe. I couldn't be happier with the outcome. Here she is in all her (red) glory...


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Some Pics...

A few more...


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