Relaunching the Racine Chippewa


Curious about Wooden Canoes
After months of start and stop, and a few weeks of furious work, I finally got the Racine Chippewa in the water today and she paddles like a dream. I am not an expert canoeist, but she seems really fast. This was confirmed by my son who spent two summers guiding for the Boy Scouts in the BWCA.

I was totally negligent in posting pictures (and I don't even seem to have any "before" shots), so I will post a few of the project along the way. I used Rollin's #10 treated canvas, but used the Ekofill alternative filler method detailed in the various other threads. It was very easy to complete, shaved weeks off the time to complete and seems to have created a nice surface for the marine epoxy. Although my painting skills need some refining (just could not get rid of the ridges between sections). It will give me something to work on over the winter.

Repairs included replacing the tips on all the outwales and the outer stems, replacing two broken ribs, repairing one cracked rib, and replacing one poorly installed forward rib (it appears that it was bent improperly in the original build and just not fixed), replacing about 15 feet of planking, repairing the center section of the starboard outwale, rebuilding the keel, and recaning the seats. One interesting thing I did was preserve the serial number. Of course, one of the broken ribs had the serial number. So I cut out the number from the old rib and inlaid it in the new rib. I worked out really well, I think.

Color is Kirby's Bottle Green and I used Captains Z-Spar varnish for the bright work. The canoe came with sponsons, which I did not reuse. I like the lines much better without them (If anyone is looking for a pair of Racine sponsons let me know. They are just taking up space in my garage/shop.) The only real change from the original constructions was the seats. They came with manufactured caning that was installed with battens. I drilled holes and my wife, Joy, recaned both. They look great and Joy claims to have enjoyed the project (and may consider doing the same for other members, for a small fee, if asked nicely.)

This was a great project and even better as the canoe seems beautiful both to look at and paddle.

Now to my next project - repairing the hull on a 1950ish cedar strip row boat. It was built, I believe, in Canada for my father-in-law's cabin in NW Ontario. All I know about it is that it had decals on the side with the name Drycraft. Anyone ever hear of this line of boats? It is white cedar shiplapped hull over oak ribs and about 15' in length. In the mid 1990's I rescued her from certain death by having a new transom built, installing some sister ribs in the bow and rebuilding the deck. 15 years later in really needs to be restripped in parts and the ribs fixed properly. P1000828.jpgP1000830.jpgP1000793.jpgP1000825.jpgP1000746.jpgP1000829.jpg
Let me try this picture thing again. Seem to have missed some the first time.


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Unfortunately, I cannot make the Assembly. I am at my cabin in NW Ontario right now and these two weeks are pretty much using up my vacation time for this year. I will try to make an Assembly one of these years.
What a fine job you have done on a grand old canoe. Not many "before" pictures are needed to imagine the effort you invested in this restoration. Time and circumstance can bring anything to ruin, but only caring human hands can rebuild. Well done and congratulations! Paddle this boat often, and enjoy.