This old canoe was glassed

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
And glassed rather well. the hull is a 1920 50 pounder OT. It is still quite lightweight. The hull is fair and in good shape, no leaks or areas that look like they may leak soon. I has a few cracked ribs. Stem tip rot is minimal on one end only. What the owner wants to do is replace the outwhales and revarnish. Which is ok by me but I wonder what the dreaded 'glass is going to do.

Is the thing more or less stable? Some day we'll really restore it but for now he wants to go fishing.

Will the planking deteriorate even if the canoe is stored dry and indoors?

Should the glass be removed asap to prevent disaster? It seems to me it has been stable for a very long time and as long as it is not neglected it should be fine as is for now.

thanks for the opinions.
The fiber-glassed canoes that we see fall into two categories: 1 - those that were glassed rather than re-canvassed because it was more convenient or because the canoes were to get much use as in boys and girls camps; or 2 - because there were structural problems with the canoe and the owner wanted to use the canoe without replacing tips, cracked ribs, etc.

The category 2 canoes are the yard sale variety that we see two or three times each summer. "I've got this great old canoe. How much will it cost to make it like new? Is that red interior the original paint? When its done, how much will it be worth?" (Not trying to pick on anyone here - every person who wants a w/c canoe has his or her heart in the right place.)

Your canoe sounds like a category 1 canoe. We have done just what you are doing to a number of canoes, and as long as the owner maintains the canoe and cares for it like a w/c canoe there should be little if any deterioration due just to the glass. Many camp canoes have been in use all summer, every summer for many years and are in fine condition.

Our experience has been that the most problems are from owners who assume that fiberglassing a canoe eliminates all need for care and maintenance.

Don't get me wrong - I would always advise removing the fiberglass and re-canvassing. Canvas was not meant to last the life of the canoe so re-canvassing is or should be expected maintenance. And when the time comes to re-canvas then it is the right time to fix any problems and, if necessary, strip the interior and re-varnish.

Hope this helps...

Good luck. Dan
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original wood/fiberglass

I have a similar dilemma. A 1968 Old Town Trapper with original factory fiberglass exterior. It has one cracked rib as only known damage. I like it a lot but really want same/similar model in W/C.

Can it be unglassed and canvas covered or would it perhaps be best in long run to replace with a 15-16’ W/C, Pal, Trapper, fifty pounder etc?
Can it be unglassed and canvas covered

It can, but it can be a lot of work. The others you mention are not at all uncommon, and can often be found inexpensively - you may be better off looking for a hull that hasn't been glassed...

In the meantime, one cracked rib won't make the canoe unusable, so you should continue to enjoy it.
Thanks Dan,
I think I'll do just that. enjoy the canoe as it is and wait until I find a nice wc canoe to enjoy.

I haven't found many on the west coast, but then don't know where to look for them.
Thanks, Fred
I haven't found many on the west coast, but then don't know where to look for them.

Dont worry about that, they have a way of suddenly turning up in numbers that make wives shudder......