There's 'glass, but how about underneath?


LOVES Wooden Canoes
Hey all,

First post here.

Bought a 1922 18' OTCA yesterday, and I'm really looking forward to restoring the outside. (I won't be touching the interior if I don't need to, as everything seems very solid and I love the dark patina the varnish has mellowed into.)

The exterior, on the other hand, definitely has a sloppy, drippy, lumpy bumpy layer of fiberglass on it, even a keel strip that was slopped on. Is there a way to tell if the canvas was left on underneath? I read on these forums before posting that it makes life a lot easier if there is canvas under there.

If someone could point me to a thread that shows how to begin this whole process, and particularly getting this stuff off the outside, I'd appreciate it. In the meantime, I ordered a copy of Mr. Stelmok's "Wood and Canvas Canoe". Perhaps that will give me most of the info I need to restore this puppy.

Happy paddling,
Hey Brad, You could look from the inside between the planking. I think you'll find that a canoe with just glass will have some resin which has found its way through the glass and in between the planks. Alternatively, if the canvas is still there, you'll be likely to see the cotton fabric. Good luck, Tom
Brad, One other thing to consider: unless the glassing job was done just right (and it doesn't sound like this one was) it will probably come off the planking quite easily. I only have personal experience with one canoe, but I've seen this to be the case several times. The cedar apparently has a component which inhibits the bond with the resin. So, don't lose hope if you find no canvas.
I think you're right. I just checked and didn't see any goo between the planks, but I did find three broken ribs along the side wall where it curves to the floor *boo hoo*.

I don't have time to tear into it right now anyways, but perhaps in the next few weeks I can get my hands dirty and figure out what I really have, as far as a to do list. I know there are 4"-6" of missing outwales at the ends, and no caning on the seats, but the concern of getting that 'glass off was my biggest worry. I did locate both brass outer stems, they fiberglassed right over them.

Since the stem bands are there, under the glass, the canvas probably is as well. If you have places where the outwales are missing you should be able to slip a knife down between the canvas and the planking along where the gunwale used to be. On the other hand, if the canvas was removed and the fiberglass put right on the planking, it would be a very thin layer that is glued tight to the planks. You could probably get a knife between the glass and wood, but it would be an obvious peeling process, not just slipping the blade in there. Glass on wood also has a fairly bright, crisp sound when you tap on it. Tapping on glass over old canvas on wood makes a much duller thump because the canvas layer deadens the sound.
Depending on the type of resin used; it may be already loosing it's grip. when we first obtained our Old Town therre was a section fo the floor that we covered w. a 24" square of fiberglass from a bondo kit. 30 years later I was able to pry it loose from the interior w/ a dull swiss army knife...A heat gun will help if the resin has a stronger bond...
You're exactly right, Mark. Just went downstairs and started tugging at the edge of the fiberglass - while it looks like the canvas was gone before it was 'glassed, it's giving up awfully easy thus far. Probably pulled off 2 or 3 square feet already, and most of the back is pure white... no epoxy had even soaked through in many places.

The keel may be a different story, as it has a dedicated keel strip on it, and epoxy literally dripping down the sides. But so far, so good.
Well, after spending just under two hours of noisy tugging and ripping, all my fiberglass is essentially gone, other than a bit on each end. It seems I may have lucked out.

Now I need to begin removing damaged planking and addressing several cracked ribs, perhaps 4.


Even worse... Alumacrap-ft. ;)

I spent just the right amount on that one, too - t'was a freebie left in the woods.
All this anti-aluminum talk. :)

I actually like my Grumman, for what it is.

Even though I have a fleet of W/C, some usable, some projects, the Grumman (our 1st canoe) still gets used a little each year, as it "lives" down on the shore at the lake, not chained up, not even tied up, just laying there.

Other then having to pound out a dent from a birch tree that fell on it, I literally haven't done anything to it in 15 years. Tough to beat that.

OK, since we're all being honest here. I, too, own a Grumman. I like it for what it is. We still use it for our family camping trips. It carries a lot of gear; I don't have to worry about it getting beat up, or dashed upon the rocks; It sits right outside under the trees year round, no chains or locks! I haven't even had to un-dent it.;)
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And they're also great for filling with some water and soaking stems, ribs, and rails before you steam them...;)
It's this point aluminum canoes could almost be considered "classics". Nothing like wearing short shorts and sitting down on a aluminum seat on a hot, sunny day.... Reminds me of Boy Scout summer camp, many moons ago. The instructor had a lovely 16' Old Town Guide that we weren't even allowed to touch and we all paddled the fleet of Grummans. Moving around in the boats was somewhat like being stir-fried.

Bredlo, are you sure that's glass up against the wood? That green moldy-looking stuff in the photo looks a lot like old canvas.

Here is my favorite aluminum canoe. Designing a fancy junk-sail rig for it seemed like a rather crazy project at the time, but it came out pretty neat. The owner polishes the boat and it's just outrageous enough to be cool.


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looks like canvas to me. Was the glass over the top of the canvas or did someone do a crummy job of glassing, allowing it to separate freely from the hull?
The new classic

I was shocked and dismayed to find a whole array of motorized plastic bathtubs on display at the Mt. Dora (FL) Antique and Classic Boat Show just two weeks ago. Mt. Dora is the largest antique boat show and the kickoff event of the antique boat show season.

These “classic boats” on display came in an array of not-of-this-world colors- bright enough to catch your eye, but horrible enough to freeze the terrified expression on one’s face like the Medussa turns to stone anyone who dares look in her direction. Fins and other purposeless objects jutted out in every direction, threatening to maim the unlucky soul who ventured too close. It hit me like a ton of bricks that “antique and classic” no longer means only wood… soon we’ll be seeing plastic canoes at the Adirondack Museum and sparkly bass boats with locomotive-sized outboards at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum. What a treat!

:( :mad: :confused: :eek: :( :mad: :confused: :eek: :( :mad:
soon we’ll be seeing plastic canoes at the Adirondack Museum

Too late, Michael, there's been one (a 'glass Old Town Rushton) on display in the small craft building for a number of years.
Dan Lindberg said:
All this anti-aluminum talk. :)
Other then having to pound out a dent from a birch tree that fell on it, I literally haven't done anything to it in 15 years. Tough to beat that.


You're not trying hard enough, Dan.
This photo was captioned, "Piney canoe", not "shiney canoe".
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Hi Todd, Dave,

I'm 99% sure this is fiberglass. It's stiff and tears in big thick strips like fiberglass, it scrapes and cuts my delicate, girlish hands when I grab it like fiberglass, and seems to be made of woven glass fibers, like.. you get the idea. ;)

Here's a closeup.


Yes, Dave - it was done very poorly, and didn't put up much of a fight when I ripped it from the hull. It had been de-canvassed first.