Restoration, Merrimack Osprey, red, August '84'


New Member
Hello! Just wanted to start of by saying hello and thanks for all the wonderful contributors to this site, I've learned so much already by browsing threads; it's been a great help!

I'm still apprehensive about starting on my project until I have a full understanding of what needs to be done, so here goes! Thanks for any info or advice, all appreciated :)


I've gotten myself into quite a project.

Picked up a red Merrimack canoe from an antique store for fishing trips with my big ol' oldie Weim dog and the occasional guest. HIN dates her to August of '84. No decal, but she's an Osprey model.

First, the interior: the fiberglass mat Merrimack puts in at the bottom of the ribs is not flush with the rest of the ribs, which I don't think have their resin coating at all anymore. Definitely need to resand and coat inside, (based on research). Some cracks in ribs at the bow. Not sure order of process, and do I layer over the mat that is left at bottom of canoe? Already have #400 sandpaper as described on manufacturer website for restoration recs as well as Watco Teak Oil, also rec'd by Merrimack.

the big one: the bottom bubbles up when I tested her in the lake. Visibly. All through the bottom of the ribs. From research this may be classified as oil canning, not sure though. Seems restoration on inside as mentioned above will help restore stiffness, though whether enough to completely eliminate the "bubbling" I'm not sure. It's quite a pop up when afloat.

She's beautiful though! No leaks or cracks. Light as a feather
for solo transport. Stable enough for standing and a 75 lb. pup. Only one small dent/light scratch at the stern. Needs a new gel coat on the hull I think. Not entirely sure I can accurately tell this, but if she's at 30 years, pretty likely I would guess?

Lastly, was unsure of how to tell if the waterline was too high. Any idea how to test? I'm sure stiffening the boat back up will bring her up on the water instead of down in it, but just curious :)

Above is all conjecture and may make ZERO sense but have done my best to research. Know I can also get in touch with manufacturer but have read mixed reports of his availability via email/phone.

thank you thank you! I can't wait to get started. I'm a teacher so summers require extra projects! Realized that, if I can't hike close to home, I can certainly pack and paddle around here

Will post pics as soon as I find some internet to use :)

Thanks again!!


Unrepentant Canoeist
Putting another layer of 'glass on the inside will stiffen the hull somewhat, but will add weight. I don't know how much either will be affected, but both will happen to some extent.

Given that the ribs are fiberglassed to the hull, replacing the cracked ones may not be a simple option. It may be possible to "sister" pieces to them, to support the original pieces. Without pictures, it's hard to say what to do on them.


New Member
Thanks so far!!

Thanks for the link lennart!! I don't know why I didn't do that originally, I meant to. This afternoon I will find somewhere to get on the internet and directly post them on here.. My laptop died yesterday so I now have to find a device to use as well..

Is it a safe start to sand and oil the inside? The weather is beautiful and I've still got some of summer left before it's back to teaching.

Pklownski, thanks for the reply as well! As the boat is very light and I'm fairly capable, a little extra weight to get the boat in shape wouldn't kill me. I am thinking of fashioning some kind of ladder-slide out of PVC pipes (with protective padding) for easy rooftop loading. Pics are linked now and will be posted directly this afternoon hopefully, sorry they were not there originally!


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
I rehabbed a Stowe Merrimack this past spring. It had similar rib problems. As far as I could tell, the ribs serve very little purpose - mostly decoration. They are only 1/16 th inch thick. I filled the cracks with epoxy thickened with wood dust and then sealed some of them with CPES (penetrating epoxy sealer) and then varnished the interior with marine spar varnish. I am not sure I would worry about oil canning. Most plastic canoes do it. That is why most of us paddle wood!!