Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Canoe restoration on the west coast

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by mmmalmberg, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Looking for recommendations for someone great to recanvas and possibly do further restoration of a 1940-ish Old Town OTCA, within a day or two's drive of the San Francisco area. The canoe, which I've not seen since I was a kid, is on a truck headed for L.A. and will be returning up the west coast and across the northern states. I could have it dropped somewhere along the way other than my place.

    My original plan was to do the work myself but as soon as the truck left the east coast I realized I'd be better off having an expert do the work. And actually get it done:) Any thoughts deeply appreciated - thanks!

    -Mark M.
     
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  3. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

  4. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    And not much nearby! Colorado, Idaho, Montana. But I've found someone in Los Angeles, someone in Washington (who's booked out too far to store it) and a very nice guy in Vancouver BC who thinks getting it back and forth across the border might be problematic. I'm leaning toward Alex Comb in Minnesota, based on another recommendation, and would need to shell out some cash to get it back here. But he might do a summer trip to Seattle which could be a fun place to pick it up and paddle around in some of the lakes up that way...
     
  5. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here's what I know of the boat, fwiw, including a pic of me and my brother in the 50's. I haven't laid eyes on it for over 40 years.

    http://www.markmalmberg.com/canoe
     
  6. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I took delivery of the boat Monday just to buy more time to figure things out. A lot more pics on that link now that I have the canoe in hand!
     
  7. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Mark,
    I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you get that stripped.
    Is there some bad wood, ya, but that's normal.

    For reference, it takes me about a week working a couple hours a night to strip, clean and bleach a canoe. (following the steps Mike lists above)
    And for me, while stripping is a nasty job, I like it the best of all the repair work on a canoe, as that's when the pretty wood comes out again.

    Dan
     
    mmmalmberg likes this.
  8. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    My first job when I was in about 10th grade was stripping furniture for an antique dealer. We did a lot of chemical stripping, but he also taught me the sharpening and use of a cabinet scraper, which is a powerful tool for removing old finishes. The varnish on this canoe is very thin and I suspect a cabinet scraper might be the perfect tool. Does anyone here have experience using this type of tool on canoes? They can get into tight corners, can be made for specific curves, etc.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    First I have to convince myself, then my wife - I don't know which will be harder:)
     
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  10. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Remember that the cedar is very soft.
    I usually use just a cut off nylon brush, maybe sometimes a plastic putty knife.
    Let the clem's do the work for you.

    Dan
     
    mmmalmberg likes this.
  11. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    In my opinion, with marine varnish, marine paint, and paint varnish stripper, you get what you pay for.
    Spend a little extra money to get the good stuff.
     
    mmmalmberg likes this.
  12. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    He must have been a wealthy dealer. The bargain basement version of that is a broken piece of window glass... that's what I use. Yes, scrapers do work but keep in mind that there are tacks either slightly protruding or just below the surface of the ribs. Your scraper will be getting caught on these. I do as Dan does and use brushes for much of the process. With a good aggressive stripper this should be enough for all but the worst of it. I will use a putty knife ( I have one particular favorite) to work at the paint/varnish.

    Dave, now that paint strippers with methylene chloride have been banned, what works? I have a stripping job to do this spring and no clue what to use. The foofy citrus based strippers don't do anything except make your garage smell like a fruit bowl.
     
  13. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Mike,
    I will agree on the citrus stripper....sickeningly sweet!
    I looked at my stripper can yesterday. I’ve only got about a pint left with methyl chloride in it.
    So I can’t personally attest to an alternative, but following my own advice my next gallon purchased will likely be the most expensive on the shelf.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    You can use cabinet scrapers dry - no chemicals. I might try one just to see. But yes the softness of the wood might be a problem. And tacks - thanks for the warning. Having a harder wood like maple or oak or walnut probably makes it easier to do without damaging the wood. My dad used to use a torch and a putty knife to get old paint off, and I saw a reference to that on the Old Town site so that could be a possibility as well. No potential for disaster there...:)
     
  15. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Old Town Canoe Company used to do this as a standard repair technique many years ago. It frequently resulted in burning through the canvas or wood which had to be replaced anyway. They decided to stop using this approach after a few spectacular failures.

    Benson
     
    mmmalmberg likes this.
  16. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    That's somewhat amusing. Kind of exactly what I was imagining. Plus I read here that most of the canoe companies had major fires at some point!
     
  17. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    mmmalmberg likes this.
  18. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    "Burned to the ground" sounds pretty grim but luckily they were insured and to their credit they were back at it the next day!
     
  19. OP
    OP
    mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg Curious about Wooden Canoes

    So regarding paint and varnish, I have one unopened quart each of color (green) and varnish, both from Old Town and both probably 30 years old, guessing. But that stuff could potentially be fine; I'll of course test a small amount on something before putting it on the boat. How much is required for one canoe?

    Regarding stripper, what is "the good stuff"? I'm in California so might be more limited than other areas. I've decided to have at it myself and, as soon as I set up space and time favorably, will start taking things apart. Looks to me like pull the gunnels, keel, seats, decks, then canvas. Then strip and wash the interior, then commence repairing wood as needed. Does that sound about right? Can think about the rest later. Just need to get quickly to the point where there's no turning back:)
     

Share This Page