Sunday 17 March 2013

My own Sailing Canoe restoration

I've written much about this boat, pulled from the woods on the shore of a small lake south of Ottawa, and its been over 7 years since it first found its way into the shop to dry out and wait its turn for attention. Some of my favourite pictures are of the day it was retreived from a fate of slowly rotting away. Indeed, had it not been canvas covered and abandoned off of the ground on large boulders, it would have been but a pile of rot like we've seen so often. Even moving boats that have settled into the forest floor essentially destroys them after years of being covered with snow and rain while sitting on the ground. This one had a different fate.

Lifting it onto the roof was a chore, and we didnt have the trailer at the time! Waterlogged and covered in canvas, it probably weighed close to 300 pounds; dried out it still weighs about 150.

Torn canvas reveals a weathered section, testament to its long slumber in the woods. Judging by the muck and green patina from the cedars, it had been in the woods likely several generations since it had last been sailed and when it was found. 

Re-rigged at some point in its life, no sailing rig or rudder, steering gear or centerboard was anywhere near it. Presumably it was separated at the time it was abandoned. 
 Initial investigations showed some very crude work, prompting some to denote it as home built, however its hull shape betrayed a more thoroughbred lineage. Not a cruising canoe or a lazy sort of design for leisurely crusing, it nevertheless didnt appear as a full out racer.  Some searching of plans provided a hint at its true purpose, as it more closely resembled hulls of the type seen below. 
Old Glory, a hull drawn by prolific and noted yacht designer BB Crowninshield. Undercut bow and stern, lots of rocker and ketch rigged. 

Uncle Sam, another hull of a similar type, both being drawn at the early part of the last century, early 1900s.

A cluttered photo, you can nevertheless see the lines and sheer despite the awkward coaming.

Nice amount of rocker, and sternpost.

Although canvas covered and built this way, as boards are gapped and have no battens backing them up, the boat is planked and decked in butternut. Used on very early Canadian boats, the planks are full length at 17' long. A comparison with a modern butternut paddle shows the unmistakable wood. 

UPDATE! brought home sails from the Assembly this year, now to get this project back and running

Main and mizzen, headed for a long soak in Oxy Clean to bring the brightness back

An undersized 16/30 set made by Douglas Fowler, they will provide all the power this hull needs

Around 70 sq feet combined, down from the typical 90 for better manners

A clamp on sliding seat of the type to be built for this boat. A permanent seat  bridge, even a moveable one with coaming cleats and multiple positions, would not be right for this boat. The earliest available units would have been clamp on boards

A very early board, with great attention to detail. Underside shot showing the bar under the bridge that clamps on to the coaming

Extended to one side

Butterfly inserts, likely to prevent warping or splitting

Nice and simple

Wing nut and bolts

Top side of bridge. 
A great piece, but couldnt stick around long enough to find the owner, and it sold to another. Not a problem, we've dimensions and enough photographs for duplication

Another move forward, white oak for all new ribs in the sailer. Older air dried stock , this will bend up very well before taking all new rivets. This came out of a barn in Muskoka during yet another trip to retrieve a canoe

Saturday 16 March 2013

More kevlar boat repairs

Another kevlar boat in for renovation, a Swift 16' this time. While the hull is in near perfect condition, it is heavily oxidized and the wood has suffered from being left outside upturned. Trimmed in ash, it needs sanding, bleaching and sealing.

Nice Swift details like a sliding front seat

This boat also has the curved solo paddling thwart behind the carry thwart, all blackened from exposure

They sure come apart easier than an 80 or 90 year old woodie.

Rotten tips stopped just short of the cherry decks, a nice touch 

Whether classic or contemporary, they dont like being left out in the weather over the seasons

Typical deck rot

DY, designed by David Yost, swifts prolific and talented designer. Great paddling boats and a great guy to meet. 

A quick buff shows the oxidation will come off the gelcoat nicely

 Lots of black rot starting. 

All good reasons to give modern boats trimmed with wood the same care as the classics

Framework going back in after refinishing, and new gunwales going on.

New tips scarph joined on both ends, remarkably decks survived and were not rotten.

Completed boat shined up, good as new


Ready for delivery back to the owner, as spring fast approaches and the last of the snow melts.

Custom 12' canoe

We received an inquiry from a customer inquiring about a 14' canoe we had for sale, they were looking for a 12' for a project they were working on. A restaurant/bar in Toronto was to have an outdoors theme that would need a canoe. It was to be used to house a sink we were told, and the space could only accommodate up to a 12' boat. The 14'  would of course not work, so the decision was made to shorten it as it was for display only and would no longer need to be waterworthy. The 14 was a 1950s Peterborough, still in fine condition and awaiting restoration. Additionally, it had green paint on the gunwales and didnt have the sort of rough patina that they were seeking. We offered up a 15' Prospector that was tired but would look terrific, and a deal was struck to shorten it to just under 12'.
It was time to dig it out of the snow...

 Tripped hard, this boat bears the scars of a lot of miles and several rebuilds. 

Never able to decipher the carvings on the deck and gunwales, we had some fun coming up with meanings for them (which they would never stand for!)

Pre-surgery, the seats needed to come out and the thwart would stay in the 4' section being taken out.

Done! Didnt take long to get through it!

What have we done! will it go back together?

Ugly gunwales and sheerline!

Down to 11'6",now to join it

pulled back into rough shape, an ash gunwale will be placed under to help create a sweet shape along the gunwale, and to provide some rigidity that the missing thwart and seats had contributed

Battening the hull before setting gunwale joint and replanking

Almost there!

A big section of boat gone!

 Fitting stiffeners under gunwales

 Planking and finish left to do

Completed boat awaiting pickup! Never meant for the water again of course, but a great prop to become a static fixture.

If you have a project in mind or need something specific that you are having trouble locating or that just cant be found, give us a call. We would be pleased to explore just about anything you can come up with.