Old Canoe

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Glen Smith
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Old Canoe

Post by Glen Smith » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:23 am

While visiting my sister I decided to go see my Mother's cousin who had a very old canoe hanging from his garage rafters. It has been there since someone gave it to him about 40 or 50 years ago. Well, I brought the beast home and I am now looking for as much information as I can find to help me decide how to go about restoring it.

It is a Thomas Gordon wide plank (3 per side) board and batten canoe, 16 feet long and about 31 inches wide. It is in fairly bad condition with split planks and cracked ribs. I am looking at a very major job in rebuilding this thing. The canoe is at least 104 years old but not over 150. I have posted some photos on my Photobucket website if you care to take a look.

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v427/ ... n%20Canoe/

Image

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Patricks Dad
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Post by Patricks Dad » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:06 am

Glen, Looks like an excellent project! Have fun!
Randy Pfeifer
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Randy.Pfeifer1@gmail.com

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:47 pm

Hi Randy, I am still waiting to hear from experts whether or not this is a job I should take on myself. If yes, then I need to know what steps I have to take. I still haven't identified the wood species used on this canoe but I could take some guesses. :rolling eyes

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Glen Smith
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Update on old canoe project

Post by Glen Smith » Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:18 am

I have stored the canoe out in the shed for the winter and I will continue to gather historical information, wood species identification, best restoring procedure to follow and material sources.

More to come later,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,probably much later.

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pawistik
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Post by pawistik » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:37 pm

Wow, what a project. Too good to abandon, too rough to know where to start. I hope you find the information you need and I look forward to seeing the progress.
Cheers,
Bryan

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:27 pm

Hi Bryan, I have never tackled a restoration project and this is a real head-scratcher! I have to start by finding any available history on the canoe, then identify the materials used, then move on to deciding if I want to do the job myself or hire it out, if it is worthwhile. If I go ahead with it, then I will have to decide if all the planking, ribs and battens will be replaced or if something will be reused. Next step, decide in what order to go about doing the job. I might have end up taking lines and building a mold if it becomes a total rebuild. Questions, questions, questions. :thinking :rolling eyes :thinking :rolling eyes

I have some "detectives" out there hunting down information for me at this moment and I will collate all of the info before deciding what to do.

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Scot T
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Post by Scot T » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:08 pm

WOW! Nice score Glen! After studying the photos a bit I don't think it's as bad a project as it first appears.....famous last words! But it ain't me doin' it :big grin

I have one (Unknown maker but certainly not Gordon) of near the same vintage waiting in my storage shed for me to get up the guts to tackle it.

Have you thought of posting over here? http://www.wcha.org/ Try under the "All Wood" or "Research and History" forums. They'd all love to see your photos of it in any case.

I did a quick search of the WCHA archives and there isn't much about Thomas Gordon but there are quite a few guys there that are the "Trevi Fountain's" of knowledge when it comes to old canoes. I would direct you to Dan Miller and Dick Persson for starters.

I look forward to your progress, for sure.

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Tue Sep 09, 2008 8:53 pm

One of these days (when I get around to it) I will post pics on the WCHA Forum.

Actually, the boat is in worse condition that what the photos show. It most likely needs a total rebuild and not just a restoration.

I have been in touch with Dick Persson and some other specialists and I also have one of my friends "hounding" the folks at the Canadian Canoe Museum for as much info as we can squeeze out of them.

Some of the ribs are broken and most of them have lengthwise splits in them so they should be replaced. All of the planking has defects, some major and it would be best to replace it all. The stern stem is broken and the wood is punky. Just about all of the battens need to be replaced. I think I will probably have to reinstall the gunwales and the decks to pull the hull back into shape then take lines off the hull. Then I would have to build a mold over which I would build a totally new canoe probably reusing only the gunwales and decks. There is no way I can preserve the historic value of this boat except by not touching it!!! It has no sentimental value to me so I may as well go ahead and build a Thomas Gordon replica instead. That is if I do anything with it at all. I will have all winter to think about it.

Scot, do you have any photos of your old find?

Rob Stevens
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Post by Rob Stevens » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:44 am

Hi Glen,
Please post pics to the WCHA Discussion Forum. Not many folks from there seem to follow this one -maybe the border is a psychological barrier -though that didn't seem to be the case for this summer's WCHA Assembly in Peterborough. Dick Persson will surely pipe in with historical info and likely suggestions re restoration.
I too have a wideboard canoe over a hundred years old. Dick helped identify the builder (Robert Maw, Sunnyside Beach/Humber River, Toronto). I spent many hours stripping the multiple layers of paint, and that work isn't done yet. At least I got a better view of the condition of the wood (cedar in the case of this canoe, though many wideboards were basswood planked, many early canoes were trimmed with butternut) and the previous repairs (there's some history!). There aren't many restorers who have much experience with wideboard canoes. There are several options including; replanking, routing and filling, injecting epoxy or superglue, or just re-painting/varnishing until sealed.

Rob

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:00 pm

Rob, I have posted a link to the Gordon canoe photos on the WCHA website. Thank you for the suggestion.

May I ask the brand of stripper you are using on your canoe and if you would choose the same brand again?

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