Smashed in half Tremblay

Douglas Ingram

Red River Canoe & Paddle
For your deep winter canoeing pleasure.

I had this canoe arrive last fall, and it needed a little TLC. A tree had karate chopped it and smashed it in half.


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Rotten rib ends spliced with new wood, stem ends too. New gunnels, steam bent for the upturn at the ends. 4X4 beam under canoe for stability. Tremblay's have almost no rocker, so this beam is OK. Center smashed ribs removed, ribbands clamped into interior to establish shape for new ribs, aluminum flashing is wrapped over the ribbands to smooth out the transitions.


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Bend on new ribs, replace as much original planking as possible, replace planking that was beyond use, stain new wood, sand and varnish interior, prep hull, canvas, fill, paint, etc.

Came out not too bad.

Anyway, I thought that as there wasn't much action on the forum lately, that you'd all like to see this. Maybe that repair project you've been putting off isn't so bad after all. Get to it and get your canoe back on the water!


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Thanks for sharing this. Good job! Would you be okay with my printing some of these and using them when we have our WCHA booth at the rec. shows next Spring?
I would like to show folks that w/c canoes can be restored even when badly damaged.
Thanks, Denis
One of Joe S's boat went through this repair a few years ago.

The family that owned it were up the Gunflint Trail when the Blowdown went through, which dropped a large pine right in the center of the canoe.

Joe kindly sold them a replacement, as they thought it was junk.
As they have a strong connection to Camp Widji, they brought the canoe there to the canoe shop, where the staff, under Joe's guidence, repaired the broken canoe to "like new". I don't know whether they retained ownership or if the camp or staff got it, but either way, the canoe is back in service.

Thanks, guys,

No idea of the actual hours count, probably more than I'd estimated, but not too bad. I think that I stayed more or less on budget. I was off some on the amount of time to remove and replace that much planking, and maybe some of the rib end repairs, but once the estimate is OK'd, there's not a lot of room to go back and say, "Hey, there's all this extra...".

Go ahead and use the photos, all I ask for is due accreditation.
Great job, Doug. Whenever I'm asked how long something took, I usually reply "If I knew, I probably wouldn't want to do it anymore!"
thanks doug

I was glad to see this. I currently have a three piece Old town that I am working on. Most of the parts were fished out of the river downstream the waterfall it went over, after broaching on a boulder. Your post inspires.

what a pile of work for a Tremblay. I loved mine but I know they can cause noses to turn up. Was this one in verolite when it was hit?
thanks much for the post.
signed, the photo junkie.:p
ps. could you fix this one too?


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Sure, its not so bad... Better than the SUV under it. I'd hate to be the driver of the Coke truck. That canoe would have impaled him!
Canoe Crash

Andre, that looks like a rubber boat... no repair needed, just pop it back out & paddle away, non?

Doug, Great job! You're right, Now my '46 Otca looks like child's play... as you said last fall, it's a good boat for a first attempt at a restoration.
Awesome post Douglas! Those photos of your techniques give me lots of ideas on how to fix a beautiful Greenwood that I have. It suffered a simular fate a couple years ago albeit not so bad off, thank the tree gods!

Good to see the guitar forms on the shop wall (and a Viol as well, I believe). I'm relieved to find I'm not the only luthier to cross the shop floor and bend perfectly good guitar wood into canoes and/or vice versa. :eek:
Thanks Scott,

I'm a canoe builder who cross the floor and turns perfectly good canoe wood into guitars! When I find that perfect piece of White Cedar, I pull it and dedicate it to guitar tops. So, its not unlikely to find multi-piece cedar tops that just happen to have their widths the same as canoe planking. I've also been milling some very nice air dried Ash into backs and sides. Pulled some very nice Maple, too.

At my current rate of production, I've enough tonewood set aside to last me about 20 years! (one per year...) Now if I can start to sell a few, I can justify the shop time and build more. As it is, its VERY distracting having my lutherie shop share space with the canoe shop, especially when I'm working on a particularly dreary repair for too long.

Fess up everybody, you've all been there! Its not all romantic bliss working on canoe repair!;)
Okay, I'll admit, repairs on my strip & glass canoe aren't my favorite thing to do. Worse yet, my propensity for narrow, winding, rocky creeks has driven me into the market for a (gasp!) rubber boat (well, royalex... same thing). Less time spent repairing existing boats means more time for paddling, or finally getting started on my next boat... that Red River one...
Douglas Ingram said:
As it is, its VERY distracting having my lutherie shop share space with the canoe shop, especially when I'm working on a particularly dreary repair for too long.

Fess up everybody, you've all been there! Its not all romantic bliss working on canoe repair!;)

Nice, I really like the way you show the whole process. A nice 'after' photo on the water would really finish the series!

I have to admit the (2) sumers I spent renovating my Otca are the closest I've ever come to divorce due to the hours spent.

Hearing my wife say how much she enjoyed using the finished product was priceless!

Am I the only one seeing the connection between thwarts,paddles and Guitar necks?
Great job of restoring that wreck, Doug.

You've proven that although "matter cannot be created nor destroyed", it sure as heck can be rearranged into new life.

All the best.

guitar necks

Am I the only one seeing the connection between thwarts,paddles and Guitar necks?
Mark, i bought some Sipo for $5 a board from a local wood dealer. He described them as "failed guitar necks" - darned if i could find any flaw in them but why argue? laminated into a very attractive rudder and dagger.