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Beginning to restore a Peterborough-type canoe

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by mccloud, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    I've moved a 16 foot all wood canoe, no markings, but many similarities to a
    Peterborough, into the shop. A 1920's Peterborough catalog lists the lowest grade
    canoe as available either painted red or yellow. I see both colors, and several others, but
    the base color is red. After trying several strippers, nothing works well, so it seems I am
    condemned to sand the surface smooth, and then repaint as a red canoe. The red paint, rather
    than sanding off as a dust, turns gooey, quickly filling the sandpaper. This is the first all
    wood that I've restored, so have much to learn, and many questions. The internal stems extend
    back about 36 inches, and there is a strip of wood, the grain looks like oak, extending the
    length of the inside from stem end to stem end over top of the ribs. There are two tacks thru it
    into each rib. But this strip also has 4 cracks in it. I assume the proper repair sequence
    would be to take out this strip, replace the broken/rotten ribs, then replace the strip down
    the center? Any tips on getting it out without causing more damage? Some joints between
    strips are filled with some black substance, like asphalt, and some thread. Was this a
    construction technique, or someone's attempt to plug leaks? It's not going to be possible to get all this black gunk cleaned from the joints, so what caulking is likely to stick to it to seal the gaps? And some strips particularly near the center have cupped. Is it possible to flatten them, or sand them smooth? I'm afraid sanding will leave very thin wood. Thanks for the advice,
    Tom McCloud
     
  2. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Hi Tom,

    Peter and I have replaced ribs and keelson in an all wood wide board Canadian canoe that had squared off ribs and battens. That made removing and replacing ribs a bit easier as we didn't have to loosen or remove the battens between the ribs. You didn't mention if it was a wide board so I think it may be a Canadian Strip that should have narrow plant that would be ship lapped. Replacing ribs in the Strip built would be easier.

    Keeping the shape of the canoe is most important so we did not remove the keelson in one piece. We cut out the space above the rib and then screwed a brace over the top of the keelson to keep it straight. Then we removed every other rib and replaced them. When we installed the new rib we placed a wedge between the brace and the top of the rib so it would lay flat to the bottom.

    We than replace the other ribs, removed the brace and replaced the keelson.

    I have attached some of the pictures of the process.

    I have restored a Lake George Row Boat that had string packed between the edge of the plank but have not seen it on a canoe. I know that no builder used the black stuff you mentioned so it's possible the person with the black stuff added the string.

    You should be able to find a stripper that will remove the paint.

    Good luck,

    Paul
     

    Attached Files:

  3. OP
    OP
    mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    Hi Paul, Thanks for the tips. I would not have thought of putting a brace across the keelson and using it to hold a new rib in place. I'm anticipating replacing perhaps 6 or so of the worst ribs. The ribs resemble half-round, about 1/2 inch diam. I've done enough ribs replacements in traditional w/c canoes that I won't make the mistake of removing several old ribs at one time. No battens. This is a strip-built canoe, not wide board. I can't tell if construction was ship lap - but in places where the joints have opened and I can see daylight, I don't see anything that looks like ship lapping. TM...
     
  4. MackyM

    MackyM LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Tom, will this be at the assembly this year?
     
  5. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Hi Tom,

    I have never seen a Canadian strip built that had plain edge planking like a wood/canvas canoe. Some did as Rushton with the feather lap, but you could easily tell if it was. Mortimer Threehouse who build an all wood similar to a strip built, did simply butt the straight edge plank together and nailed down both edges of the plank. That was back at the turn of century in Rochester, NY. He only built 18 or 20 canoes.

    Pic attached.

    BYW do you have any picture of this canoe you're working on?

    Thanks,

    Paul
     

    Attached Files:

  6. OP
    OP
    mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    This canoe was in rough shape when I got it. Attached photos will give an idea of it. Thwarts, trim strips and decks are off it now. STH70772.jpg STH70770.jpg It had an odd assortment of hardware, but enough of it was Robertson head to make me believe it was Canadian built. No way I'll have this restoration finished by July 2014 - maybe 2015 if we're lucky. TM..
     
  7. OP
    OP
    mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    I've cut notches in the keelson and removed 4 ribs, widely spaced. Aside from much paint, there is a remnant of hard white ?putty? underneath the keelson, and the two strips centered underneath the keelson have a gap of maybe 1/8 inch between them. Would application of a putty between ribs have been the way the gap was filled at the factory? The nails which hold the keelson were driven in from outside the hull, and it appears were just sanded flush on top. There are 14 strips of about 1 1/4 inches on each side of the keel, meaning 30 nails in each rib. It has been easy to split the ribs out, then straighten and push out the nails. Two ribs were cut from elm, soaked, steamed, and bent into the hull where they will be installed. Went very easily, but I don't have enough elm to complete this job. Presently held in place with clamps and wedges as Paul described above to set and dry. Tom McCloud
     
  8. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Post pictures... we like pictures!
     
  9. OP
    OP
    mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    STH71200resize.jpg Cleaning this canoe, I have found two types of cracks. There are some
    cracks within a strip, and these will be filled with epoxy. But the other
    type is what is shown by the attached photos - notice the extra-wide 'joint'
    between strips about half way down. These are cracks where two strips join,
    but as the crack formed, one side took the overlap from the adjoining strip
    with it. Some places I can see daylight thru the crack, something not so
    obvious from the photos. With closer observation it appears that the
    craftsman who built the canoe misplaced some of the nails, so the strips were
    never as well-joined as they should have been. This has allowed some cupping to
    occur to adjacent strips, as seen in the photo with the red on it. The red
    paint is in to low area along the joint, while the raised, cupped region has
    already been sanded clean. Is it possible to flatten this raised area? STH71196resize.jpg
    Possibly wet it, steam it, press it down and close the gap somewhat?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014

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