Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!
Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Canoeal, Jan 22, 2018.
Very nice Canoe and very rare canoe
I'll bet built by a guide boat builder and the plank is feather lapped.
The ribs are really cut "frames" not ribs.
Peter and I restored a similar built short version.
That is not one of my pictures and I see no indication the ribs are "cut" in my pictures as 'cut' ribs tend to be broken easily and there is not any visible breaks.. the cross section of yours is squared and deeper than the rounded ones in my pictures. You also seem to ignore the full length mini inwale, that is not typical of a guideboat...
I apologize for providing my opinion, I won't let it happen again.
I am just making the observation that mine is not like your ribs I do know the bottom board is guideboatish, but the cross section is rounded, not vee'd at all like I would expect in a guideboat. The center seat is also guideboat-ish. I am still trying to narrow the boat down to a maker, an area, something for my customer other than "it is a nice old boat. " I still appreciate the comments. Just want to refine the facts as we can. I will be getting a chance to see it, and take better picture later in the spring...I have built a couple of Guideboats and the decks and crossections just haven't matched any I have seen...
It would be helpful to know where the boat is located and any known provenance.. often boats of this type don't travel too far from where they were built .
I agree with you and Paul that this canoe clearly has guideboat-like features, but appears to me that your ribs are half-round and steam-bent. There are a number of guideboat-style canoes around, some of which you've seen at Assembly and perhaps elsewhere. We have one that has a combination of features that lies in between the canoes you and Paul showed. Photos are attached here, exactly as the canoe was found - we have made no modifications and haven't restored it yet. Note that this one is lapstrake, not smooth-lap. We have no idea of the maker. Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks illustrates and describes several guideboat-style canoes in its appendix. One made by the guideboat builder Lewis Grant has a thin inwale and appears to have half-round ribs. Ours is 13' 5" long, and it has steam-bent ribs of rectangular cross section, a wide bottom board, guideboat-style bang plate and shoes, and guideboat-style seat cleats. Unlike the canoe you're asking about but like the one shown by Pauls, ours has no inwales. I'm sure I'm not adding anything you guys don't already know, but these are fascinating canoes and hopefully this information adds value and helps generate even more interesting discussion.
The boat was purchased at a auction with no given provenance. It is located on the Delaware in Bucks county PA. None of that was any real help to me, as I do not believe it to be an indigenous boat. I am aware of the similarities to a guideboat and agree it may have been built by a guideboat builder. I cannot get to my copy of Halley's book as it is buried away and I am in a boot with a broken foot, awaiting my wife to get it out for me. I have also seen a boat like Michael Grace's canoe (one owned by a Chapter member) that is attributed to Racine canoe company , but both of those seem to be smaller and narrower than this appears to be... Keep the discussion coming though, perhaps we can figure it out. It mat turn out to be some form of a Guideboat yet, But I haven't ever seen a guideboat with such narrow planks...
I have put a offer to look at it to the owner (She's been out on the West Coast) but I don't yet have a date to see it. She does want it restored, so maybe...
I was thinking Racine when I saw Michael's photo, too.
Do you have dimensions, Al? Can you determine if the yoke and seat stringer are original to the canoe or later additions? In several ways, it looks like it could be of St. Lawrence River origin.
No I have no exact dimensions and have not yet physically seen the boat. So far all I have is pictures and a rough dimension of about 13'. Not much to go on, I know. Let me see if I can post some other pictures. I think I posted the 'best' of them. The stems are rather odd for a guideboat built canoe. That, and the very flat nature of the floor is not guideboat-ish. It almost appears to be an all- wood built version of a wood canvas canoe shape.
Yeah that one looks a lot like Ken Wallo's racine.
Still haven't had a chance to see it, as I am still in a boot and crutches...
OK so it took a loooong while, but now I have seen it, and it is truly an odd duck. Here's what I know; it was bought at an auction, on the NJ side of the Delaware somewhere north of Frenchtown. No provenance supplied. The construction seem in some ways well done and in other ways a bit haphazard. it is 13" LOA, 11'5 ft tip to tip of the decks. It has a bottom board like in Guideboat construction, 5.5" wide, feathered laps with the smallest tacks I have yet seen. The planking seems to be on of the random aspects, for while it is feather lapped, it is also gore planked like a w/c canoe (see pictures). The interior is set up like a guideboat, with bow and stern cleats, for the seats and the lower position in the center for a movable seat (missing). The stern seat is also missing. It appears to be set up to row from the front seat, but if you row from the center you must turn the boat around and use the same set of straps. It has a squarish brass stemband that flattens out like a guideboat and the put side stem has a rounded protrusion above the deck that is where the stemband is flat. The boat has an oversized keel and the brass continues full length. The ribs are steam bent, rounded ones like you might find in a all wood canadian canoe, on 5" centers. The stems themselves are very wide like a guidboat, but the last third at the to is spliced in.
Another odd part is the decks, which are made of 1" planks, crossways. There is a very severe bent to the sheer at the decks.
Continuing with the oddities, are the rials, as I would not call them outwales. There are two pieces on each side, separated by about na inch running down the sheer and an inch below, made of the same wood as the ribs. I do not know for sure but the ribs look ashish. When the top 'gunnel' gets to the strap for the oars, it is tapered onto the blocks shaped to hold the straps, the bottom one runs below the block. There is a piece of the 'gunnel' stock on the inside as well, just below the rib tops, with a break where the yoke cleats ar mounted. it ends short of the decks.
I cannot see the inside stems as there are bulkheads at the end of the 20" decks. I know this is a lot of detail, but it is a pretty strange bird.
I am posting pictures here, more may follow as I took 37 between yesterday before loading it on, and today at the shop. Repairs needed are minimal but it is getting the outside redone as it is all blistered, and the inside will get cleaned a refinishing in low luster varnish. Two seat are missing and need to be replaced, with cherry frames like the one left, and all will be recanned.
All in all I would classify this as a small guideboat with the rounded hull shape of a canoe. Any other help will be greatly appreciated. It will be in the shop for a while, as the are other boats ahead of it in line.
It would not let me edit, to correct the text. Forgive.
Great to hear from you and to learn more about this fascinating canoe. It really is something special. I've never seen anything like it in person or in books, and it's completely different from the one I posted about earlier. The canoe was clearly built by someone with skill and knowledge, but a couple of things suggest that maybe it may have been a prototype or even built by an amateur boatbuilder (a skilled one). First, your photos of the exterior show that the planking doesn't lie flat, one plank against the next. Second, the tacks appear to be irregularly spaced - they are different distances from plank edges and they are irregularly spaced with respect to each other. No matter what, though, this is a wonderful canoe. I especially love those big crescent moon stems! Thanks for posting your beautiful photos of the canoe. Can't wait to see more when the restoration is finished. [No criticism intended here - you're doing what the customer wants - but if this were mine, I'd probably leave it just as it is.]
Yeah I kind of agree. It appears that the builder,who may have been familiar with other boats, set out to build this small guideboat. Rare bits of conversation with the current owner said she heard it was built by a Swede for his wife, for use on the local lakes and the river, but I see no evidence of use, and I never trust "oh it was built by... " without other evidence. The odd stems, very canoe shaped , are probably cut from root stock , but the spliced in tops are an odd construction, like some larger vessel built with high ends, and the ribs half round and bent ... I have never seen the sheer 'gunnels' like this one, but I have seen some Adirondack built canoes with sheer profiles like it. the stem on the outside part I can see must be 3" in depth and 5/16 wide. on the inside, 3/16" where the brass attaches. The lines flow well Think there is only a few places where it is not flat, and that due to being out in a small dirt floored storage shed since purchased (something that is being remedied). It is 1/4" planking so not a true lightweight, in the 40 lbs range. And why such a deep keel?
The oddest thing by far, is the rails, and the oar straps system the is all pieced together, and the planking the is fitted like a wood/canvas but feather lapped and tacked. A lot of work went into that... it does have a nice, although very canoe like, shape...
Michael, Most of the work I am doing is to refinish the outside, and complete the seats for inside, and restore the finish inside. I will likely make the pieces to fix the inlays, but I am not doing a major overhaul. Most of the wood is solid as is. I will not change the character of the boat much...
Just to throw in my two cents as well, and to possibly corroborate that it could have been built by a Swede, I'd add that the way the outside stem is done looks very Scandinavian to me. I went to a boatbuilding school in Norway for a few years and we put together the stems in two pieces just like that out of root stock, with a scarf right at the point where the curve begins. Norwegian and Swedish boat building traditions are very closely related and many of the features, like that one are done the same.
From the pictures it also looks like the varnish on the exterior is pine tar based, it gets that color and that bubbly cracked appearance quite quickly in the sun after a few coats are put on. Tar is the primary boat finish in Scandinavia as well, adding another point to that idea. The way the planks are lapped and clinched is also very reminiscent of Scandinavian lapstrake construction. Lastly I've seen very similar looking, albeit much longer, boats from the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, and Finland that are used on the rivers there. They bare a very close resemblance to North American canoes but are proportionately longer and narrower but with the same dramatic backswept stem and deep keel.
In conclusion it looks to my eye like it could have been built by someone with a close knowledge of Scandinavian small boat building who wanted to try to make a canoe.
"In conclusion it looks to my eye like it could have been built by someone with a close knowledge of Scandinavian small boat building who wanted to try to make a canoe'"
I agree with your assessment up to that point, but with the interior set up exclusively for rowing, I would say instead; "It looks to my eye like it could have been built by someone with a close knowledge of Scandinavian small boat building who wanted to try to make a small Guideboat."
As time allows, and as I get to actually do the work, I will post more pictures, both of the set I took Thursday and as work progresses.
Well put. I found a few pictures of the north Scandinavian river boats that I thought I should put up here for illustrative purposes. They have some similar lines especially in profile, however built with fewer runs of planking and fewer, but larger, ribs. Thats a beautiful boat you've got your hands on. Should be fun to restore. I'd love to know how I handles if you ever get a chance to try it out.
This canoe 'mystery' and related discussion as to possible constructor origin is quite interesting to me. It closely parallels a very similar 'mystery' and search for origin of an early, all-wood, wide-board 'display sample', reported last year in WCHA 'Forum' thread: http://wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/sharing-some-pics-of-a-new-discovery.15018/.
In my case, the mystery involves a 4' sample canoe of obvious Canadian (Peterborough-area) design influence constructed with obvious NY/New England guide boat building techniques. To be more specific: a three board per side all-wood model with flat ribs, no battens, wide outwales only, one piece decks and thwarts supported/attached with blocks - pretty typical Canadian stuff. However, the planks are feather-edged, overlapped to form a smooth hull, and held together mostly by screws (with some tacks) - not the sort of thing Canadian builders did, but what one might expect of an American guide boat builder. AND, it appears to have emanated from a 'factory', or built as a 'display' sample to promote the commercial interests of a manufacturer - at least as something more than a toy or souvenir. H V Partelow, one of the earliest of the Charles River boat and canoe builders, has been mentioned as a possible source; he did advertise the building of Canadian-syle canoes. It also seems possible that Partelow knew George Stephenson, who was lured away from his father's Peterborough canoe operations by J R Robertson, and likely took with him intellectual property knowledge which then found its way south to the NY/New England areas. In any event, this model exhibits a combination of canoe and guide boat characteristics as well as a somewhat international blending of design and construction techniques. Parallel mysteries, so to speak.
Separate names with a comma.