repaint , strip, or recanvas


New Member
I am currently finishing the work on a 60's 20ft. Maine Grand Laker, sanded the inside and out, just waiting for a chance to use a friends garage to varnish in an indoor location. After replacing the gunwales I'll be ready to go. No questions there, but yesterday I bought a gorgeous 1930 16 ft. one-of-a-kind canoe/rowboat that is in excellent condition except for the paint and varnish.

1. It is so beautiful but the paint is heavily cracked and alligatored, varnish is lumpy and blackish. I don't want to ruin the value by stripping since all is original, but my husband thinks it should be completely redone. What is the correct protocol?

2. If not repaint, should I just bite the bullet and go for a recanvas?

3. He's looking for his heat gun so I need advice fast! Thanks, Pat Ogden Thompson


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Museum or use


If you plan to put it in a museum, don't do anything.

If you plan to use it.(my vote) Then you need to strip and refinish all the wood and replace the canvas.

This in not a Colonial HiBoy(or whatever they call those tall dressers).

The boat will be worth more restored that as it is.

Happy stripping,

Fast typer

Hi Gil,

You must type faster than I do.

I think we were typing our responses at the same time.

Great advice.

Looks like a great purchase, I am interested in how much it weighs? The short scarf that seems to be in the port gunwale could be fixed as a 10:1 scarf at the same time as the recovering.
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I bought a wood/canvas boat at an auction and it had been painted light blue inside and red on the outside over canvas that also was old,cracked and alligatored....Instead of trying the "easier,softer way" I nuckled down and stripped the canvas off, removed all the old paint and varnish from the inside and sanded and bleached out all the trim...It was time consuming but I am now ready to re-canvas,fill, and paint...As I look at it now... I am so glad that I decided to put the effort into it...It may not be a collectors item....but I am certainly going to enjoy using it and my little 5 1/2HP motor will push it just as good as the 25 did on my "plastic" boat that I have since sold...Good looks like a fun toy to cruise around in
Any manufactures name or serial #on it? Looks a little like a Penn Yan I did a while ago.
Definitely needs new canvas. Looks like the interior may be laquered rather than varnished. If it is you may have to use methyl hydrate instead of paint stripper.
The scarf that is on the canoe looks like an angle scarf that is 2 to 3 times length/width of the gunwale. The curve of the gunwale is broken by a weak join of the two pieces of wood that make up the gunwale (this may have been a production shortcut or a cheap and nasty repair). To join two shorter pieces to make the length needed for the gunwale and not have a weakness is not a problem, if the scarf is long enough, that is 10(in length) to 1(in width). It is trickier to repair in situ, but worth doing at the same time as the new fabric cover, to make the gunwale structurally sound. peter
Thanks for all the info. I am new at this, and can see that I can't do this by myself like I did the Grand Laker. I can do the inside, but not the rest of it. This boat was custom designed and made for the needs of a registered Maine guide, and part of the deal was that he witness the destruction of the jig. It has a brass plaque stating it was made in Guilford, Maine by Lupe Lyon for 'Taxi" Cross, 1929 to 1-1-1930. The builder repaired the stern some years later after a tree limb fell on it. It was in the same family until 5 years ago. I just got it, and want to do the right thing restore it, and then be able to enjoy it in the water. Thanks again for all the great advice. Pat
If you can iron a shirt you can do a dacron recovering. Although more expensive than canvas, a lot less than having it done by someone else. the scarf needs to be approached slowly and methodically with a trial set up or two. peter