Should I replace all the planking?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I've pulled off the small patches of planking that were added last time the canoe was recovered. Between the new holes and the patches, there are a lot of holes in the planking. Looking carefully at the inside of the planks, there are also many spots that are fairly rotten. I've mapped out the planking plan and marked the bad spots and broken planks. If I replace planks in longer pieces so the number of joints is kept to a reasonable number, I'm afraid I might as well replace all the planking. Is this my best option? If I replace it all, would I remove a little at a time so I keep the canoe's shape?

There are really very few places the planking looks good from the inside. I've stripped and scraped, but I can't seem to get the planking to look good on the inside. Is there a way to get the planking to look good without removing too much wood?

Pictures of the inside are here.
Hi Kurt,

You aren’t getting much response here, so I will put in my two cents even though I am new at this. I don’t see any indication that you have done anything except for using stripper. Snappy Teak Nu or Te-Ka are supposed to be excellent products for this purpose. There are quite a few threads on these two products, and they seem preferable to the usual bleach or oxalic acid.

I enjoyed your website. It is always a pleasure to view a fellow sufferers project.

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Joe is right- clean up that planking before ditching it all. Try a GOOD cleaner/bleach combo (Snappy or Te-Ka). The West Marine brand is pretty much the same just much weaker so better to pay for the good stuff. You could also try oxalic acid, but it won't do much. Oxalic acid binds up positive ions like iron, but iron-based stains aren't your problem. Oxalic acid will clean a little but not much unless you're dealing with tannin-rich woods like white oak. So get some good 2-part cleaner and you'll be amazed at how this planking cleans up. It will get out the gunk from stripping along with any leftover varnish and all the dirt and grime.

The planking looks in ok condition and it will need a bit of new planking but I don't think it will need as much as you think. The length wise splits in the planking are not too serious. That planking can be treated as two smaller planks and nailed as such. (That is assuming that the planking is not split into three or four pieces.) Some the damaged planking can be repaired by using some thick epoxy glue. The old small patches are not good and they do need to be replaced and with larger sections of planking.
The ribs and planking still needs a good stripping on the inside. I can see what stripping that you have done that you have tried to be much too neat about the stripping. The stripper should lift the old varnish and paint. A scrapper can be used to scrape (wipe) off the sloppy residue but the scrapper should not be used to scrape either the paint or the wood. After the excess goo has been removed, immediately apply another thick layer of stripper and scrub that with a stiff brush. That should get all the little cracks cleaned out. Wipe out what goo you can and before it has a chance to dry, wash and scrub the interior residue with cool, soapy water, followed by a good flushing with a hose. Its best to try to do the whole boat at once because once the boat is wet with water you will have to wait until the boat is dry before you can apply any more stripper. Keep the area you are stripping wet with a heavy layer of stripper, don't let it dry out and don't start trying to wipe it out until it has had time to lift the varnish. The more stripper you use and giving it time to work are key to getting a good clean interior. Scraping the varnish or the wood is bad, wiping and brushing is good!
Your boat is very unusual. It has many Morris type features, (the shape of the stem, deck and ribs). Kennebec did build Morris canoes for several years (around 1921 to 1923) after the Morris factory burned in 1920 . Those boats still carried the Morris name. I was never aware that Kennebec was building Morris style boats before that period.
The old stems were made of cedar. It would be good if you could replace your missing one with the cedar instead of ash. The ash will be much heavier which you will notice when your lifting the boat. The ash is not rot resistant at all and the cedar is. the cedar would seem to be a very weak wood for a stem but when its all united with the planking, deck and rails it becomes a very solid unit.

I just wanted to add my $.02 regarding the stems of your canoe-- and encourage you to follow Rollin's advice above and retain the cedar stems, which have historic significance. It is uncertain what the business arrangement between Kennebec and Morris was, but what is known is that Kennebec got hulls from Morris-- possibly when they were too busy to keep up with orders. If your canoe didn't have identification on it saying it is Kennebec and you came to these forums asking what you had, many here would be telling you that you have a Morris. Because of our interest in Morris canoe history, my partner and I have looked at these Morris/Kennebec crossover canoes and compared the differences. Some appear identical all the way around to a Morris, while others have changes. I made a video of one that dates from 1910, which is located here:

+1 on what Rollins said.

Let the stripper do the work for you, it shouldn't be hard work to clean out, just tedious. Get some friends over to work with you so that the time goes easier. Pay them off with a good BBQ!

Also, given the historic nature of your canoe, if you replace too much of the wood you will be eliminating its history. History is in the details.