Restore Canoe, Make Unknown

If the gunnels are not broken or cracked thru, then I would save them if at all feasible. Complete inwale replacement is a very tricky and extensive job. Plus all those heavy ribs means the canoe wants to spread much more than most canoes. Take an inwale out and you might really loose the shape fast.
I would have to respectfully disagree with Larry that replacing gunnels is a big job, or one to be avoided. I have been restoring for almost 30 years now, and I have NEVER spliced a gunnel for fear of replacing them. Personally, I detest the look of a spliced gunnel. Replacing them is, even for someone doing it for the first time, a 1 day job, if that. As with anything, the devil is in the details, and in the planning.

With the canoe you have, I doubt you would have to steambend the new ones. This makes it a simple in/out job. I use a Fein Multimaster to cut off the old nails, cutting into the old gunnel from the top down through the nails. I cut about 1/8 an inch into the gunnel from the rib. The Fein wood/metal blades work great, or the new Imperial titanium coated blades work even better.

Once the nails are cut, the rib will usually part ways from the gunnel with a little persuasion. Then, it is merely a matter of clamping the new gunnel into place using a ton of clamps. (I use the little Bessey "F" clamps, 3" throat. I have about 60 of them, if memory serves) Then, just nail the new gunnel into place using bronze ring-shank nails. Having as many clamps as I do, I usually do both sides at the same time. After that,it is just a matter of getting the new decks fitted and installed, which is even easier if the old ones are in good shape.

***To back up a bit, when I am making new gunnels, I will usually cut out a bit of the old, right in the center. This allows me to get a accurate profile for determining the bevel on the outboard vertical face of the gunnel.***

I would encourage you to NOT splice the gunnels, especially if there are many punky spots. Again, it is, with your canoe, a pretty simple, straight forward job. And, as my father hammered into me as I was growing up, "There is no sense in doing a job, if you are not going to do it right," plus, "Never be afraid of a little hard work!"

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Yeah with 30 years of experience and a shop, it wouldn't be a big job for me either! For me and most first timers, I don't have 1/4 of the tools you mention. An 18 foot Ogilvy I would be doing out in my back yard!
Ohh, I don't have a shop, just a garage now. An 18'er I'd have to do in the back yard.

The second canoe I restored was a 16" grade A Rushton Indian Girl. The one with the pocketed ribs. It needed both inner and outer gunnels replaced. THAT was a challenge. But, an Ogilvy really is a simple fix. As I said, even for a first restoration, with planning it would be a one day job. Were it needing steambending on the gunnels, then I would suggest a different approach, and encourage him to try and avoid replacement as you have. However, it really is nothing more than popping the old ones out, and bunging new ones in.
I have one and I’m pretty sure last 3 feet of both inwales and outwales would need some steaming. Stems are a b . . . to do as they have a lot of recurve.

A Rushton is one thing, a runathemill Ogilvy is another. Not a high end canoe. If he wants to do inwales for the experience or to show off his skills, that’s one thing. If he wants the easiest cheapest route to canoe he can use, that’s another. Can he git 19 foot long clear straight grain spruce even?
I'm fortunate enough to be able to get this in my shop. I have all the tools needed to do the woodwork. I own roughly 30 small clamps so I'd do it one side at a time. I'm not in a rush to get this finished. More of a pastime.
I may have a local boat builder with 20' spruce for sale. If not I was going to go with ash and splice midway.

You mention it is easy to replace the outwale but what about the inwale? Would I do both at the same time along with new decks? this is the detail that I'm not sure on. I'm just going to use the existing parts as a template to make new.

I'll try and grab a picture tonight to show the damage and get your guys opinion.
Are the stems in good shape? You haven't said anything about them. If the decks are shot, then I suspect the stems too are punky.
Inwales are just as easy. in my post above, that is what I was referring to, the inwales. The outwales are the same. Clamp 'em in place, and bore for screws.

As far as stems go, they are also easy. The tips may be punky, but that is the one place I will splice. Get a piece of 3/4 ash that has some curve to the grain, and try and match as closely as possible the re-curve of the stem. Use a 4/1 splice, and a good epoxy, thickened with sawdust. (like out of the bag on your sander type of sawdust) Splice it and go to town. No big mystery, and nothing to be afraid of. Again, a very simple fix.
Larry is correct about the Ogilvy's pronounced curve on the rails bow and stern .
I replaced the inside (and outside) rail on an 18' Ogilvy recently . What I did after my new inside rails (ash) were cut to size was to soak them down and then clamp them on top of the existing inside rails still in the canoe . I left them clamped in position until dry(couple of weeks) , and then took them off and replaced the old rotted rails with the new . The new rails took the proper shape and made the replacement true to form.
My old inside rails had a lot of rot in many different places , if the rot was only on the ends I probably would have spliced the ends instead .
The inside rails on the Ogilvy are tapered in thickness from top to bottom to allow for the tumblehome on the canoe , I did not taper mine , and lost some of the tumblehome .
When you replace your ribs remember that they are tapered for not only width , but also thickness . This is what allows the Ogilvy to have a flat bottom , I believe the taper is 1/8th" in thickness . You can plainly see this if you look close at the ribs. You can get this taper by making a tapered shim the thickness of the taper , put it under the rib in the proper spot and run rib and shim through the planner .
As others have said , soft stem tops can be spliced . I would only remove the minimum amount of stem (a few inchs) until you're at sound wood and splice in new ash.
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This is NOT what I would call a "pronounced" curve. It is pretty mild. The difference would be that he is planning on replacing the gunnels, with spruce. Spruce is MUCH more flexible than ash, when bent dry. Were they ash, I'd steambend.

It seems that most of the folks posting are busy trying to scare him away, and are saying what can't be done. I would strongly ENCOURAGE him to give it a go. Perhaps I am jaded, but I don't think so. I'd encourage anyone with a modicum of woodworking experience, and a full shop to do the job right, and not cobble together a gunnel made up of numerous Dutchman repairs.

As far as an Ogilvy being different that a Rushton, it is relative. I'd LOVE to have a 17-18' Ogilvy! It would be great out here, (WY, UT, NV, CO) where the rocks can be a bit exciting from time to time. I'd give one just as much care, and quality workmanship as I would a Rushton, Old Town, Willits, Peterborough, or any other canoe.
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I’m honestly not trying to scare him away. He asked for advice and his posts show that he is not 100% confident he knows how to do this.

I have seen people post here with a picture of a canoe lying in the weeds that looked like the remains left over from an ancient Egyptian burial and some have advised “GO FOR IT!” That’s not helpful in the long run or encouraging, especially for a young kid in love with the idea of getting his dream canoe on the cheap in exchange for a little sweat equity.

Most Chestnuts were built to be used hard and eventually buried in the bush. Most of their owners did not have the means to lovingly restore them and keep them in like new condition. Just have a good look at the Keewaydin crusier Norumbega restored. Building a new one would have been cheaper and better than putting into it what it would have taken to get it back to like new shape.
I'm confident with the woodwork not the order of repairs. I was worried that it would spring open too much if I removed the in/out wales same time.

I had a thought last night. Anyone ever use bent lamination for the gunnels? You take multiple strips ~1/8" thick and glue together. Clamp to a shape and when it sets it retains the shape. What about if I did this on top of each gunnel before I removed them. Was thinking about using ash with a strip of walnut in the middle. This is what I've done to make fishing dip nets.
If I anticipate not being able to get the new gunnels in in a day, I'll take rope, and weave it back and forth across the canoe, looping it around the ribs, using every 3-4 ribs in the center, and 5-7 ribs apart towards the bow and stern. This works well.

Bent lam gunnels would look interesting, but I'd be afraid of the ring nails used to secure the ribs to the gunnels blowing the lams apart. I really think that with spruce, you'll not have any issues at all getting the gunnels dry.
When it comes to customizing or individualizing the sky’s the limit.
Personally, in woodworking, I am a conservative, figuring that folk before me and more experienced long ago figured out the best way to do it and innovation is asking for trouble. Pre-war Martin guitars, for example, are the best ever made, now seldom equaled and never excelled. Likewise the Native American pounded black ash packbasket - perfect in shape, materials, performance.

I will go out of the groove a bit. I shellacked the bottom of my Prospector, which is not a Chestnut or Canadian thing, but from Maine guide tradition and very useful for me. Also a small 12-string guitar with a second sound hole on the side. Jim-dandy! Projects the sound up at me.
I started in on the canoe this weekend. Here are some reference pictures.
The stems have some rot on the top quarter. There is a run of 5-6 rib tips that will need to be done.
I've included a snap of the inwale. I'm still leaning towards replacing all of them but would like all your opinions.
You can still see pain on the ribs. This is after three attempts with stripper and scraping the past summer. I'm going to paint it beige between the ribs and sand the ribs themselves before a varnish. Just have to make sure I don't sand off the cliches.


Also, here is the backside of the "cracked ribs"

Should be able to strengthen these with a hidden dutchman.
Made a bit of progress.
I have the 16' gunnels cut. I need to splice in the last 16". I'm planning on having these in the stern. Does that make sense?

Here are the 10 rib tips I have replaced along with the dutchmans.


I'm splicing in the stems now. This isn't too bad after you dive into it. Hardest thing about this so far has been trying to get the multiple layers of paint off (which I've already given up on).

A search of the forum should yield plenty of posts about stripping. It is a tedious, hazardous, nasty job. I do small sections of the canoe at a time with nasty methylene chloride based gel stripper. For me it takes about 2 gallons of the stuff. I put it on heavy with a paint brush over a 2 or 3 foot section of the hull and let it work. Probably about 45 mins. Not much will happen with the first coat. I scrape what I can. Then I reapply the stripper to that section and put the first coat on the next section. Give each coat plenty of time to work. Leap frog sections down the hull. Keep everything wet with stripper. Use plastic scrapers and plastic brillo, and toothbrushes. It may take 2 or 3 coats per section. With a little practice you can do a canoe in 4 hours. Use all necessary safety precautions. MSDS is your friend.

Usually, the paint was applied over the original varnish. The varnish is more easily removed than the paint, so with luck, the paint will come off with the underlying varnish.

Good luck with your project.