Thursday 27 December 2012

16/30 Build, Clayton NY 2007

In March of 2007, I participated in the first build of the hard chine 16\30 sailing canoe at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY. Then curator John Summers had documented a surviving example and developed the boat for modern stitch and glue construction. I had been corresponding with him on the first sailing canoe I had collected, and he offered me the opportunity to build a new 16/30; I sent my deposit immediately. 

Below is a shot of the fleet of these boats built by Fred Gilbert in Brockville. The boats constituted a sort of One Design for members of the canoe club to race against one another.
Photo courtesy of Dragonfly Canoe
Below is a fantastic post card of  the Gananoque Canoe Club in the Thousand Islands area of Eastern Ontario, which saw much sailing canoe development, racing and general use. On the dock is one of the hard chined 16/30s. John Summers graciously shared this image he discovered.

Courtesy John Summers

On arriving at the ABM to begin construction, John had by this time completed the major work on the first hull, which was on site to provide inspiration as well as act as a reference point during construction. Awaiting paint and sails, it was ready to go.

My own hull, September 2007, 7 months later at the Killbear Paddlers Rendezvous. Having been sailed previously at the ABM boat show in August, it was now time for me to get on the learning curve.
The ABM workshop was wonderfully equipped, large and warm for boatbuilding in March. Day one saw the stitching of plywood panels begin immediately after brief introductions and a run down of the impending schedule.
Quickly the shape went from floppy banana to boat hull with the addition of the sides.

With stitch and glue construction the boat derives it shape and rigidity from bulkheads rather than traditional framing. Ulitmately it provides a hull that is much more stiff and maintenance free.

Once the hull is trued up it needs the seams filleted and fiberglass taped, which strengthen and lock the shape in place. 
The boat takes shape
Fillets visible.
A nice shot of the Kingplank, in which are located the mizzen mast tube, along with the post for the norwegian tiller, which is peculiar to these boats. 

Along with bulkheads and taped seams, the hull is covered in  a layer of fiberglass cloth saturated and filled with epoxy. 
Gunwales and doublers in place on the rear bulkheads, the front has been notched out and is waiting for kingplank and mast tube.

The happy day when the sails arrived. For the first time we realized what 90sq ft of sail spread on two masts looks like on such a narrow hull! 
Cockpit floor, and centerboard trunk in place. Hull is self draining through slot with floors angled down to center

Difficult to interpret Johns expression here. I would like to say approval, but disbelief seems more likely. All boats progressed at roughly the same rate, and are ready for decking after being sealed with epoxy once more internally.

Ready for the ride home, with decking secured  but not installed. My plan was for a bright finished top, and painted hull as would not have been out of place on a period boat. 

The finished product, ready for sailing. The boat turned out wonderfully, and its a safe bet that there wont be any others at the majority of boat shows.

30th WCHA assembly at Keuka Lake NY, where the theme was sailing canoes. 
four 16/30s showed up, all but one from the first building course. 

Likely the largest gathering of sailing canoes in many decades.

 Equipment failures happen, whether new or antique. A broken spar disabled this one, all a part of using and racing boats.

A calm moment on Keuka Lake, in the finger lakes region of NY.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Some of my Sailing Canoes

Once in a while posting in a blog can be enjoyable, while reviewing the photos and material. Its easy to get excited about these, which are a significant part of my collection. While i work on, and will always enjoy paddling canoes, i am drawn to sailing canoes above all. I have kept several historic paddling canoes but the next few projects will be sailing canoes. 

These shots are in another post, of a home we renovated after purchasing several years ago. This is what my understanding wife came home to, and was less than impressed. A great photo op, it was necessary temporarily as the garage was full of tools and materials. Personally i thought it made the room and really picked up the hardwood floor. It was subsequently removed to allow for furniture and the other trappings of life. 

Flash forward 6+ years later, and another home renovation saw it sneak back in. Same reaction, same end result - relagated to the shop, despite my best efforts to demonstrate the aesthetic value it brought to the room.

Photo courtesty of John Summers
Nice indoor display of a racing decked sailing canoe, complete with ribbons! This was the display i was going for but have been, to date, thwarted.
Photo courtesy of John Summers
A wonderful shot of a Fred Gilbert- built sailing canoe before the decking and cockpit floors are in. Gilbert built some great sailing canoes, including championship winning boats, in the early part of the last century. 

Photo courtesy of John Summers
Another shot, presumably of the same boat,

An oft-seen photo of Leo Friede, a champion canoe sailor on his boat Mermaid, sometime around 1920, +/- 10 years. This is a perfect example of the sliding hiking board, which was developed in order to balance the 90sq ft of sail carried on two masts. This was the standard ketch rig, until Uffa Fox and the Brits campaigned sloop rigged planing canoes in the 1930s, making this rig non competitive and hence obsolete.
My own 16/30 replica, modeled after a Fred Gilbert built boat from around 1913.

The initial learning curve is steep, wet and loads of fun.

Besides having a working replica, I was fortunate to locate an original complete boat. The only thing missing were the sails, understandable after close to 90 years.  Much of the decking, 1/4" mahogany, was with the boat but had been removed and was in poor shape. The batten seamed cedar hull, however, is in remarkable condition.
This early boat does not share the self draining cockpit of the Gilbert boats pictured above, but is open with the centerboard trunk stayed off with a thwart, and evidence of floorboard clips to hold them in. 
A massive centerboard, it is also drilled for several height positions. They do not pivot, so a grounding would not be advisable!
Slender, long hiking board, with rails underneath for holding the seat bridge. 
Details of the seat bridge, rabbeted to accept the rails of the sliding seat. The outer ear rests on the hull, and the wing nut and bolt connect it to cleats on the inside of the coamings.

Deck framing showing both forward mast positions, and bulkheads. These boats would leak constantly, due to the immense wracking strains placed on them but the large sail area and skipper hiked out on the board. This one has no solid kingplank, only filler pieces between the beams, and the deck skin to provide rigidity.

Hatches, fore and aft on this boat, would have given access to the sealed areas behind the bulkheads to facilitate bailing them out. 

Norwegian tiller, which connects to the rudder around the mizzen mast, and is behind the sliding seat.
The rudder on this boat is of the kick up style, whereas many are solid. This prevents the rudder needing to be removed on encountering shallows.

Photo courtesy of Corbis
A photo of Ralph Britton, champion canoe sailor and contemporary of Leo Friede, showing similar profile of rudder.
Photo courtesy of Corbis
Leo Friede, showing hatch, mizzen mast and Norwegian tiller and rudder connection.

The owner of this boat knew nothing of its origins or race history, having been collected by his father many decades earlier when he was a young boy. His father had maintained it posessed a winning history, but no record was kept. He was not a sailor and did not campaign it, but kept it for probably 50years until his passing. A quick search of the ACA records have not readily revealed its builder or owner, so it will be the subject of a trip to the New York Historical Society's records to pour over their large collection of American Canoe Association records, in order to try to determine its provenance.


Wednesday 5 December 2012

Langford Canoe rebuild

Into the shop comes a 15' Langford from a cottager in Muskoka who identified it required new canvas. An earlier Langford, it shows very nice lines and volume for  its size, but typical build quality that is usually associated with these boats. Woods used are not premium, milling is variable, and fastenings are a mix of brass, steel, etc. Aluminum stembands and countersunk seat hanger bolts are consistent with these models.

On inspection, the boat had several areas of concern, mostly associated with its age and the woods used. Red Oak has been used in many areas, including seats, rails, the thwart and decks. As cottage boats spend lots of time on shore in the weather as well as on the water, much rot had begun. While Red Oak has been used by several builders with varying degrees of success, it has among its characteristics poor rot resistance, and heavier weight.

Tip rot, poor quality gunwale stock, and stem rot on both ends. Remants of old decal confirm the boats lineage. Despite build quality, a very nice shape and paddling boat. 

 Oak seats originally strung with rawhide. 
Seats were hung on bars, a bulky touch but good for reinforcing smaller gunwales. Seats and thwarts  were hung with fine thread steel bolts, countersunk into the wales and plugged. These were drilled out, the holes filled with epoxy then drilled and countersunk to accept more suitable bronze carriage bolts.

Worn canvas and aluminum stembands.

Interior with several coats of gloss varnish and new canvas after new decks, tips, and seats intsalled. Boat was totally stripped, and proved frustrating as it was originally covered in polyurethane which stripper often struggles with. Boat was also reclenched in many areas as several fasteners were pulling out. Protruding heads make a smooth canvas job next to impossible.

Owners selected Grey Mist as their paint colour, which looks fantastic on this boat. New decks and caned seats in ash, and spruce outer rails were put in as part of the rebuild, and after 4 coats of gloss varnish, subsequent coats of matt varnish dulled the finish well and evened out the contrasting new wood. This in turn compliments the hull finish well, and makes the interior warm.
Camera flash off 

 Flash on, contrast of new wood minimized.
 New stern seat, back on hangers, waiting for new 6061 aluminum stembands. Originals were similarly wide, as stem width is greater than many boats which typically get narrow brass bands.