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

Final stage of strip restoration - need some guidance please

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Tim Doherty, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have been restoring a 16' Ellery strip canoe. Quite a unique construction , but that's for another day.

    I have repaired and re-glassed one section on the stern, replaced the decks, sanded/Buffed out a fair number of scratches. Im at the stage now that I want to recoat all surfaces and get her in the water . I have been advised to coat with West Systems 105/207 and finish with a quality spar varnish to provide uv protection. I would like to keep this canoe as close to original weight (44lbs) as possible. Any comments are appreciated.

    Tim
     
  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Why exactly are you recoating it with epoxy? The spar varnish is critical for UV protection, but if the scratches have mostly been buffed out, I'm not understanding the need for adding more epoxy resin - especially when the hull should be sanded before resin application in order to get a good bond and once hardened it should be sanded smooth again. Epoxy resin is not varnish and it doesn't go on and flow out smoothly like varnish. If you don't give it a good final sanding, the surface looks lumpy and terrible, and top-coating unsanded resin with varnish isn't going to fix that.
     
  3. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    So just to be clear, after a visit with Google, you are working on a stripper, a craft made of thin narrow strips edge glued together (to make a form) and then glass fabric and resin is added to each side to support the load. These have been made by the thousands sense the 60's. (and generally are worth little once they get a few years on)

    The more glass and/or resin you put on, the heavier it will get. This seems obvious but there are lots of heavy strippers.

    To repeat Todd, why do you want/need more resin?
    Why not just give it a couple coats of good varnish and go paddling?
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the response. I don't have the experience to answer the "why more resin" question my self . The process was described to me by a fellow that restores classic wooden boats . what Im hearing from you both is there is no need for the epoxy coating and will not add value .

    At this stage I would like to be confident in the prep that has been done. I have done the fiberglass repairs and cleaned the surfaces with TSP. sanding and buffing the scratches and overall surfaces. Could you comment on the varnish you would recommend and the application of. As for the value of this canoe , its worth a lot to me. This particular design and manufacture has much history and I'm pleased to be able to restore it to original condition.

    Your comments are much appreciated.

    Tim
     
  5. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    You should have pretty good luck with Captains Spar. It's easy to use, reasonably priced and it offers good UV protection. I have used it on several boats and it has held up really nicely. Roll and tip...many of the imperfections will disappear with a few good coats.
    So that we can learn from you, what are the history and design elements that make this an interesting boat? Could you post a few pictures?
    Mike
     
  6. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Well, the major function of the epoxy coats (after initially sticking the cloth down and saturating it) is always to fill the weave texture and provide some abrasion resistance and enough resin thickness to allow sanding the surface smooth without cutting into the cloth fibers. With the typical layer or two of six ounce fiberglass used by most builders, combined with the filler coats once sanded smooth and varnished, the actual thickness of the finished fiberglass layer is only about as thick as the side of a plastic milk jug. The goal is to yield the highest possible fiber to resin ratio for maximum tensile strength and good abrasion resistance while adding the least amount possible of excess weight to the canoe.

    If the surface is already smooth and the cloth weave texture is covered (at least on the outside) there generally isn't much reason to add any more resin as it doesn't usually do anything to the canoe's strength - and each additional resin coat can add another three or four pounds of weight to the boat. Insides can be different as the original builder has the option of filling the inside weave for a nicer, smoother look, or leaving the cloth texture with no added filler coats to save weight. Both can work fine and on an older boat in decent shape, there is probably no good reason for adding more resin in either case.

    Varnish is a different story. Some epoxy resins will start to break down in as little sun exposure as 200 hours. A good marine varnish which specifically advertises that it has high UV resistance is critical for top-coating your epoxy. UV resistance is a very big deal in the marine business, so if your varnish has it, it will be clearly noted on the can. Personally, I usually use Captain's Varnish, just because I've been using it for a long time, but there are several others on the marine market which are equally good.

    I'm a terrible brush painter/varnisher, but I'm pretty good at rolling and tipping on large areas like hulls. I use a very short nap foam roller made for epoxy work, rolling the paint or varnish out very thinly to avoid drips, and then "tip it off" by immediately dragging a brush very lightly over the surface to knock down any bubbles caused by the roller. I usually use cheap chip brushes, but some folks like the foam ones better. I'm generally too lazy to clean oil based paint products out of my spray guns, so nearly all boat projects get rolled and tipped instead. The results will usually look nearly as good as a sprayed finish.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    A couple of responses to previous comments.
    >History/Documentation are interesting components of this project for me. This canoe was built by Ross Ellery in Trout Creek Ontario . He owned/operated Ellery Canoe Co in the late 60's till his death in 1996. He inspired many builders of that day. Specifically Ted Moores , Author of
    " Canoe Craft" . Some comments on line that mention the experience of seeing Ellery canoes on a trip and this caused him to leave his life in Toronto to begin his canoe building adventures. Wish I had more about Ross Ellery at this ytime, I have reached out to his Son and am hopefull to have a discussion about the build technique and history. I have attached a few links about Ted Moores for your interest
    .
    https://www.bearmountainboats.ca/products/canoecraft-book
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Moores
    while documenting what I could on this Ellery, I have spoken to a number of builders and each have drawn a line back to Ross Ellery and/or Ted Moores. Most have been in Onatrio.

    >The unique design is in that it is constructed in two sections then joined at the lateral center rib. No inwale/ scuffer. Also being 15'8" in length and a beam of 36". (flat bottom). Not the way you would expect a canoe to be built, however this also makes it truly unique (as I have been able to discover). 44lbs for a 16 ft'r is interesting to me as well.

    >As for the coating materials, Thank you for the great information and details. Since reading that and staying awake rethinking my initial plan I came out to my shop this morning to review. There seems to be a section below the out wales that I can feel the glass texture . this goes down both sides , aprox 4 inches down. Also the bow section seems to have a similar feel . The finish on the outwales were very checked and I have sanded them down to bare wood , they appear to be cedar but Im not certain. Of course the more time I spend inspecting ...the more prep work I want to do.

    Thanks for the comments todate and look forward to your thoughts as I go forward
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Depending on when during his career he built it, it very well might be built with polyester resin, rather than epoxy. We didn't start to have good boatbuilding epoxy formulas commonly available until maybe 1974 or 1975. Regardless, since current epoxy resins stick better to old polyester resin than more polyester would, any new resin work should be done using epoxy resin. Whether or not it will be a perfect color match is hard to say. Polyester resins contain a promotor which reacts with the liquid hardener, generating heat and hardening the resin. There are several different types of promotors and they tend to tint the clear resin a little bit - red, blue, green, brown, etc. depending which one was used. So, your "clear" epoxy may not be the exact same shade as your "clear" polyester and spot repairs will likely show a bit. Good varnish will help hide any variation.

    As to the glass-textured areas, it's hard to say much without actually seeing them in person. It is certainly possible for the wood to expand a little bit, stressing and stretching the cloth slightly (which fiberglass does not do well and which is often caused by heat during storage, like up in the rafters of a barn or garage) and you can end up with slightly weave-textured surface areas which originally were perfectly smooth. In the worst cases, the clear glass may even start showing patterns of little white fractures down in the weave. They really aren't a structural problem, but they are pretty much impossible to remove, because they really are down in the weave and not near the surface.

    The one thing that you really don't want to do for cloth-textured areas is sand them down smooth, because you will be cutting into the fibers which are holding your canoe together. It would usually be possible to roll a couple fresh coats of resin over them, let that cure and then sand the resin smooth, but you don't want to hit the cloth. Old, refinished strippers very seldom come out looking perfect or new and it may be a far better plan to clean up what you can, varnish it well for protection and live with the fact that the old gal may have a few battle scars.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Todd,
    after finding another small area to repair today,I have a full day of prep lined up for tomorrow. Im still not certain on how to proceed with the first coat on the exterior as I can "feel" the pattern of the glass cloth in certain areas. I will get the sanding to a 150 grit before end of day. other than the weight , would you support one epoxy coat 105/207 sanding at 150/200 then varnish on the exterior ? the interior looks fine as is .
     
  10. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'll defer to Todd Bradshaw and Rod Tait on this 110%, but can you only "feel" the weave, or can you actually see it? If you can't actually see it, you may be able to just varnish it. Let's see what they say... I'm interested...
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    It's a tough call but I think I'm feeling the resin above the cloth. I have been able to gently sand these areas smooth and not had the glass cloth show. Im going slow and steady here as I dont want to cut into the cloth and also dont want to add un-nessarary material and weight. I expect the answer is difficult with out being here to feel it . Todd has been realy good support and much appreciatted.
     
  12. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    You're on a good path...
     
  13. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    "I'll defer to Todd Bradshaw and Rod Tait on this 110%, but can you only "feel" the weave, or can you actually see it? If you can't actually see it, you may be able to just varnish it. Let's see what they say"


    That would also be my suggestion unless it really bugs you. You can wet your surface down with a wet sponge and get a brief preview of how it will look once varnished. If you do decide it needs more sanding, the first sign of hitting the cloth when sanding is a very regular grid pattern of tiny, closely spaced white specs showing. They are the very peaks of the up and down weave of the yarns. If you start to see that, then it is time to stop sanding that area because you have reached the cloth. These spots will basically disappear once the new varnish is added, but you don't want to weaken the cloth layer by sanding deeper.

    With WEST 105/207 if my intention was to apply new resin, re-sand and then finish with varnish I might actually apply two coats of resin - as thin as possible to avoid drips and require as little final sanding as possible, applied with a WEST yellow foam roller. Two thin coats gives you a bit more consistent coating thickness than one thicker coat would, and a more uniform sanding cushion. Keep in mind that too much roller speed, or too much pressure on the roller tends to make unwanted air bubbles in the resin coats, so smooth and steady rolling is what you want.

    You can also roll and tip resin coats. I usually do as it helps to knock down any bubbles left by the roller. The "tipping brush" is actually a chunk, cut from a foam roller and hot-glued to a slotted stick. Cut a 7" roller in half, then split each 3.5" long piece lengthwise into two or three slabs and glue one to the stick. The finished brush looks kind of like a mini snow shovel. They're a bit stiffer than most paint brushes and do a better job with the thick, syrup-like epoxy resin. Remember that tipping is just to smooth the surface and remove bubbles, not really for moving the stuff around. I usually work with the roller in one hand and the tipping brush in the other, rolling and then lightly dragging the tipping brush over the surface in chunks 12"-18" wide, moving along the hull. It will depend somewhat on the sander chosen, but a final resin sanding in the 120-150 grit range is usually fine enough. Your varnish can may have a suggested prep grit for best adhesion listed in the instructions.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Good Morning all,

    I have a question about the keel on this canoe. it has glass on both sides but none on the bottom of the keel. he glass on the keel sides end sharply at the 90 deg transition.Would this be considered normal or is this an area that requires remediation?
    All comments / instruction is appreciated.
    Thanks in advance !Tim
     

    Attached Files:

  15. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I have to think the glass on that surface may have been there originally, but was removed by dragging over rocks...?
     
  16. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    It would be extremely difficult to keep glass on that surface from delaminating because it was wrapped over such a sharp corner, or from just getting abraded through, since abrasion gets concentrated on stems and keels. Following that damage, water would have started getting in under the glass on the bottom of the keel and doing serious structural damage, so it is actually better, I suppose, just to have varnished (and/or just resin-coated) wood on the keel bottom, letting it absorb the brunt of the abrasion and periodically refinishing it. In any case, it is not a very good solution to the keel situation and even as is, it is asking for delamination problems and other trouble. It would have been much smarter to glass the hull and then attach a varnished and properly bedded keel to the outside if it had to have a keel. That way the keel could be repaired or fairly easily replaced later as needed, without endangering the integrity of the fiberglass. This one may have simply gotten so torn up on the keel's bottom side that somebody just went along with a sander and ground the damaged fiberglass off.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Tim Doherty

    Tim Doherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Paul and Todd,

    The surface of this canoe is actually in pretty good shape. There were remnants of a repair where it may have been dropped at the stern. As found, it definitely looks like someone(not me) sanded the bottom of the keel at some time for some reason. In any case I have what I have and am determined to preserve it. Is there a thought that I could seal the wooden keel sufficiently that this would not deteriorate further ? Thinned out epoxy or varnish possibly ? Alternatively this may be leading to a major rehab, removing/replacing the keel altogether and then reglass down the center line … or the full canoe . If a full glass removal is warranted … not great news

    However the great news is the snow is just about gone , ice is off the bay and I can work outside . Beautiful 13deg C / 55deg F here today.

    Regards/Stay safe

    Tim
     

    Attached Files:

  18. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    If I had to remove epoxied glass from another boat, it would get cut into small pieces, and end up in the landfill. That's a nightmare... If it's the old poly resin, it's supposed to be easier, but I never had the pleasure. I'll defer to Todd any day.
     
  19. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I don't remember ever seeing an old stripper that was both in need of re-glassing and actually worth the expense and hassle of doing it, no matter who built it. We have folks here who can do some amazing restorations of old wood/canvas boats, but old strippers tend to get ugly if not maintained and stored properly, and that is very hard to fix, or to justify fixing. On this canoe, you can certainly epoxy coat or varnish the keel to keep water out of the wood. With careful use and maintenance as needed it will probably be OK. The terms "thinned or diluted epoxy" and "sealer" to many of us who build boats never belong in the same sentence. When the solvents evaporate out of it, it leaves tiny holes. A good sealer doesn't have holes in it. If you want to seal with epoxy, use real 100% solids epoxy.

    So far, I haven't seen any obvious evidence in the photos posted that this boat would benefit from being re-fiberglassed. Delaminated spots or places with signs of water getting into the core and weathering or rotting the wood would be what to look for in that case. The keel construction is certainly a liability and something to be carefully watched and maintained, but as far as I can tell the rest will probably clean up to decent condition, and most likely with just some good varnish.
     
  20. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Tim,

    Just curious, what is it about this particular canoe that is of value to you?
    Do you have a connection to the builder, Ellery, or maybe something else?

    As a upper midwest boy, I've never heard of him, and because so many strippers have been built here, used ones have little value here.

    Again, just curious.
    Dan
     

Share This Page