Wood/canvas hull repair


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hello everyone. I have a restored 1933 wood and canvas Old Town that was damaged on a recent river trip and I'm looking for some advice on the best way to repair it.

The impact caused damage about the size of a grapefruit that broke through the canvas hull and broke the plank behind it. It is high up on the recurved end and very close to the bow so hard to reach from the inside. I do not think I can get the plank back flush with the hull to glue it so I need to brace it enough somehow that I can then repair the hull itself. Which is my real question. Assuming I can brace the spot from the inside, what is the best way to repair and seal the puncture to the hull? Imagine someone punched it hard with their fist - that's exactly what the damage looks like.

Any advice would be appreciated. I don't expect the repair to be perfect either structurally or cosmetically but I want to do the best job I can. I'm in Nashville, Tennessee and don't know of anyone close who could do this work. Thanks in advance.
A picture would be very helpful. We need to understand if the canvas is torn, exactly where the damage is in order to give you the right answers.
First, we have all been there. If you use these canoes, eventually you will cause damage that requires repair. Don't let it gnaw at you. Fix it as best you can and move on. Next time the boat requires a fresh canvas the damage will be repaired to as new condition. That is the beauty of these old boats... Old Town used to supply a patch kit as well as repair instructions for this exact damage.

It sounds like you should be able to put a patch in behind the hole, if there is one. It's not a very difficult process. All you will need is a piece of canvas and an adhesive to tack it in. I have lot's of canvas scraps around that I am willing to send you to make that repair. PM your address and I'll put something in the mail, no problem.
The planking repair is a bit more of a challenge in that you say it's not accessible. Let's have a look at that so that we can recommend something for that as well. Depending on the location, it may be something that you can live with without doing anything. All of us have owned canoes that came to us with similar damage.

Short-term, I carry a small roll duct tape with me when I paddle. It can keep you going when Murphy rears his ugly head.
A picture is worth a thousand words. But without one to go by, I think you might remove the outwales and deck to get access. But, it may not be necessary.
Thanks, both of you, for the initial feedback. This link will show the best pictures I can get. Video was better for the inside because of the tight quarters. The forward edge of the broken plank is what has been displaced and can't be just pushed back flush, which is what makes the damaged part soft from the outside. And it's so close to the stem that there is less than an inch of space to work in.

P.S. the small piece of duct tape is just for reference so I could find the broken plank with my camera. Thanks for your input, I really appreciate you taking the time!

Link: 1933 Old Town - Damage
I imagine that there are as many ways to sort that out as there are ways to punch such a hole in a canvas.
The space constraint is a challenge that I think I would try to overcome by working to pull the plank into place from outside the hull. You already have a hole punched through the canvas. You might as well use it to help with the repair. I would drill through the cracked plank from the outside and pass a string or wire through the hole. I would tie a hardwood strip of wood to the string inside the hull and then carefully pull, position and snug it up behind the break. I would then pull the piece into position. The hardwood piece should spread the load of you pulling the plank so that you don't split it. You should be able to improve the way that piece is seated and probably even glue it if you want to. You might also use the same method to put a piece of cedar in there as a backer. If the damaged piece does not want to sit flush, you might need to use a sharp tool to trim some of the shattered end from it so that it will sit flush. Once you have the plank in place, you are simply dealing with a very normal canvas patch. If necessary, I would consider opening the tear if it helped to get the access I needed. A patch is a patch either way.
Keep in mind that in this area on the hull, the canvas has a tendency to be a bit loose, looser than it might be on the sides or tumblehome. As such, you should not be too worried about making sure the patch is extremely tight to the hull. Watertight is the ultimate goal.
So Jack, I don't think it's as bad as it looks, and Mike' s process would be the ticket. I think you might get the sharpest Exacto knife and blade you probably have and trim carefully and deliberately from the outside all those splinters right along the crack the whole length if it is open with the tear. If not, I would open it enough to see the whole crack line and have a vacuum going to catch any pieces that may try to hide under the opened canvas. I would bet the plank would slip right back with a clean joint ready for some new support at the joint.. Maybe a piece of veneer glued over the crack and you are good to go for the patch. Patience will do wonders as well. Have fun, Dave
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Vacuum is a very solid suggestion! In fact, your shop vac might even have enough suction to pull the plank into place.
Excellent advice, guys. Thanks. I can say with some certainty that the plank is not going to go back flush without at least some trimming, so I will try to figure out a way to get at it and do that.

Now about that "normal canvas patch" once the plank is in place... I wouldn't know how to go about that either lol. I'll search for threads about it because I assume I'm not the first to ask, but if someone wants to offer a short summary of that process too I wouldn't turn it down!
Ok. Mike generously sent me some supplies for this repair job and I promised him I would post updates.

First I made a clean cut in the canvas to give me better access:

I was then able to trim the splintered ends of the broken plank:

Which allowed me to bring the ends back in line and flush with each other:

I then cut a piece of cedar that Mike sent to size for a backing plate:

I felt like the damage spot still felt soft so I fashioned a wedge out of pressure treated wood and glued both pieces in:

Feels very solid now, and next step is to start working on the canvas patch.
Ok, finally finished the repair job! The post above shows what I did to bring the broken plan back flush and reinforce it. Here are the final steps and result with the canvas.

Mike sent me a piece of pre-filled canvas:

I cut it in a rough shape to match the hole with about 1/2" extra all the way around:

And slid it in behind the canvas with construction adhesive on the edges to glue it to the old canvas but not the wood...

The flap of canvas was still in good shape so I closed it up. That way I didn't have to add fill to make the patch even, I just needed to seal up the edges of the hole...

Sealed and smoothed out the edges with marine grade spackle...

Sanded the spackle when dry and painted. Had a hard time matching the paint at first....

But finally got it pretty close. It's not perfect but it's structurally solid and definitely waterproof so plenty good enough for me until the next re-canvassing....

Thanks to everyone who showed interest and offered advice, and especially to Mike for his guidance (and materials!).