Need help with an Old Town Guide canoe~

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Ray Kepler, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi all,
    I recently bought an 1985 Old Town Guide, "Natural," it's my first restoration project and I'm very excited but almost wondering if I'm in over my head. It's pretty beat up. The deck plates, keel, and gunwales are rotted. The hull also has me confused. I can't tell if the canvas has been sanded off completely or just kinda. When wet, it looks nice, but the surface looks striated, not wood-like.
    I need to know what kind of wood the keel, outer gunwales, inner gunwales, and deck plate are made of. I think I can fabricate and install these parts but have never done any steaming, assuming this needs to be done.
    I also need to know if I need to re-canvass the canoe or not. It seems to be water-tight; there are places that seem to be translucent/very thin. Not sure if this is OK or not.
    For what it's worth, I'm in the southwest part of Connecticut.
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    It is all doable, like eating an elephant (one piece at a time).

    The inwales are spruce, the outwales honduran mahogany, and the decks are white ash (same as seat frames and thwarts). Assuming it was built per catalog specifications.

    From your description, it sounds like your canoe was fiberglassed rather than canvased. There are a lot of threads on these forums about wood canoes and fiberglass.
  3. OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the info., Dan. Any idea what the keel is made of?
    And is there a quick and dirty explanation of canvas vs. fiberglass?
  4. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Typically, Old Town used oak for keels. A canoe does not require a keel. After you have completed all the other restoration work, take her out and paddle her, then decide if you really want a keel. Not sure what to make of the second question. When you say 'natural' does that mean that you see the wood planking from the outside? OT built some wood canoes covering the outside with 'clear' fiberglass and resin so that the planking was visible. You cannot see thru canvas. It is possible to remove fiberglass, but not fun. Videos on Youtube by Kathy Klos and others show how this is done. It has been said that a fiberglass covered boat will rot more quickly than canvas covered, because it does not dry out as quickly or thoroughly. It is certainly possible to re-canvas with canvas a previously glassed boat, bringing it back in the 'traditional' way.
  5. OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I've added a couple of pix to show you what I've got. The first is as the canoe is being cleaned. It's got a nice pattern; the next is of the boat after drying. Not sure how to rotate the thing, and I don't have any pix of the inside, which is nice, except for the gunnels, stems, and deck. Sorry about the format; not sure what's happening! IMG_6989.JPG IMG_6990.JPG IMG_6989.JPG IMG_6990.JPG IMG_6989.JPG IMG_6990.JPG
  6. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I am suspicious that the canoe left the factory with canvas, and was glassed by somebody later on. Never seen that zebra pattern before. If she is watertight, or close to it, do a minimal restoration, then use and enjoy the canoe. Save the hard work for later when it really needs it.
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The "Natural" on the build record indicates that it was fiberglassed at the factory and left clear to show the wood. I can't explain the zebra stripes either but agree with Tom's suggestion to "do a minimal restoration." Factory fiberglass is often much very difficult to remove since they typically used styrene to thin the first coat of resin and improve the adhesion to the wood. Good luck with the restoration,

  8. OP
    Ray Kepler

    Ray Kepler Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks everybody. I'll be back!
  9. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    The zebra striping on the hull is not unusual in terms of wood and furniture. The boat has seen a lot of changes of humidity and temperature. The space where it is just cedar planking will freeze, thaw and soak more quickly. The place where it has ribs will be slower. Given the right (really "wrong") storage condition the wood undergoes totally different aging.

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