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

Not sure how to proceed...

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Norm Hein, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    I recently took possession of a 194o-ish 16' Thompson Indian. It is in my opinion it is one great canoe....well except for what someone has done to it. I would like some input on what to do with it. Let me tell you first off what I see wrong with it. Here we go. First it was fiberglassed, even around the outside stems. The resin has oozed between the planking and has gotten between the ribs and the planking. It is not a good smooth finish. The decks, outside and inside gunnels are made of what looks like poplar. There is a cap on the gunnels that looks like a piece of pine trim. I peeled back some of the cap to reveal the rib ends and they are all gnawed up. It looks like someone took a very coarse rasp to them. The planking comes right up to the ends of the ribs and so does the fiberglass. The inside gunnel is rounded over on the deck side all the way to the stem. I counted 11 broken/cracked ribs and some less than ideal planking. 5 of the bad ribs are in a row. The interior vanish goes to looks OK to no finish at all.
    I'm telling all of this to get you input into what can be done with it. NO MATCHES INVOLVED. I want to keep it. So here is what I think my options are:

    1. Replace the gunnels and decks, sand down the interior and apply fresh varnish and use it for my river clean up rig.

    2. Take the chance of destroying the canoe by removing the fiberglass and if it survives do a complete rebuild.

    3. Just float it as it is

    Option 2 concerns me because of the oozing/penetration of the resin.

    Let me know what you think



    I1.JPG I2.JPG I3.JPG

    Attached Files:

    • I1.JPG
      File size:
      17.5 KB
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  2. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Norm, you have one of my favorite boats. They paddle great.
    With all that broken wood and suspect repair work,
    if it was mine, I'd remove the glass and resin, and then take on the bad wood.
    Try a little heat on the glass and see what happens.
    mmmalmberg likes this.
  3. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Hey Dan,
    So what about the resin between the planks and under the ribs? just don't worry about it?
  4. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    I'd sink it in the pond for a week and then remove all the fiberglass using a heat gun. Same for the resin residue (resindue?) Then just bring it back bit by bit. A big job but doable. I try to avoid glassed over canoes, but the last two I got were in that shape.
  5. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I’ve never tried soaking, but I hear it works.
    Removing fiberglass can be easy or hard. You won’t know until you start. A heat gun is the tool to use when removing stubborn glass. It is also needed to soften the resin stuck to the wood. Use a pull type scraper.
    I try to remove all the resin in the seams. If it breaks away after you canvas it will cause lumps between the planks and canvas.
    Wear gloves. The glass will cut you like a knife.
    Here is a pic of a tough removal and an easy removal, and resin removal.

    Attached Files:

  6. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Well that's great you all think its worth rebuilding properly. It is usable right now so I think I'll take it for a float and see how she does.
    I'll get some picture of the ends of the ribs and get some thoughts on what to do about them. I would hate to replace all of the ends if they are just roughed up but it will change the shear line if I cut them back to smooth.
  7. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    To add to what Dave and Dave said. I use a carbide scrapper, and replace the blade often.
    If the resin is poly, it should come off OK, if epoxy, it's work.
    Use a pick or similar to remove the resin between planks, not sure about under ribs.
  8. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    As Dan says a lot will depend on what the resin is. My first restoration was Epoxy resin and it had seeped between the cracks and under the ribs as you describe. It took me about three weeks to get it off. When I tried removing the ribs after having first removed all the tacks I still had to chisel them out in small pieces because they were adhered to the planking. Any planking that I removed was also completely destroyed and I had to be careful not to damage the adjoining planks because of the resin between them.
    I also wonder at what point do you still have a Thompson Indian. If the decks gunnels seats thwarts and some of the ribs and planking are all new can you still call it an Indian or maybe just an Indian shaped boat? This is an interesting philosophical question known as the ship of Theseus that I think we can all relate to. Here is a link to a discussion of this on YouTube by a guy rebuilding a wooden boat. I think you’ll find it most interesting but I warn you that this is a rabbit hole you might never returned from once you start down it.

    Leo does the most amazing large timber joinery I have ever seen.
  9. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Well Craig, I really wish I would have waited to watch this until I was sitting by the fire tonight and sipping on some bourbon. That's when I do my best thinking or napping depending on the day. Every aspect of the video was fantastic and can easily relate to any restoration project. I appreciate you posting it even though now I really don't know what to do with it. Sounds somewhat silly but if it didn't still have it's original makers plate on it the decision would be much simpler. Or is it the original plate now that it is on a new deck??????
  10. Ron Bedard

    Ron Bedard Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    That Tally-Ho project has been a joy to follow.
    If you have the time and enjoy the work, then the remaining percentage of original Thompson Indian seems of secondary importance. You'll end up with a beautiful thing and the more effort that went into it the more you'll value it. The SS Constitution is a case in point maybe.
  11. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    You are right Ron I would think that's what most of us build or rebuild them for.
  12. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Here is a couple of shots of the rib ends. They are all like this. Did the planking on Thompson's come all the way to the top edge like that? If not I will have to scarf ever rib right? If I cut the ends smooth then they will be short and the sheer line will not be to correct height. Well I guess it isn't now.
    What about the seats? Do you think they are original?

    indian rib ends.JPG indian rib ends2.JPG indian seat.JPG indian seat1.JPG
  13. portagedog

    portagedog Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Perhaps you should check the depth and bow/stern heights. It appears that maybe someone has already lowered the sheer line. Quite possible the gunnels were replaced just below the originals, then those were removed and the protruding ribs and planking were scored and just snapped off. That is what it looks like to my eye.
  14. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Seats appear to be original.
    I’ll measure the depth on my Indian tomorrow so you can see how much it was cut down prior to glassing. You may not need to scarf every rib tip if only a small amount has been removed.
    No, the planks should not be flush with the ribs.
    They should be about 1/4” below the rib tips to accept the rabbet on the outwales.
  15. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    [QUOTE="portagedog, the protruding ribs and planking were scored and just snapped off. That is what it looks like to my eye.[/QUOTE]

    I think you are exactly right on that.

    [QUOTE="Dave Osborn, I’ll measure the depth on my Indian tomorrow so you can see how much it was cut down prior to glassing.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks Dave
  16. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    Looks like when the rails were replaced the last time; instead of milling a rabbit on the backside of the outer rail they just brought it flush with the planking and lopped off the 1/2" of rib tip above. Because they were cutting so little off of the top; the boards just splintered.

    That said you could just rabbit and replace the rails and cap them off. With the cap, no one would be the wiser that the ribs looked like that.

    Doing a massive rib tip replace would be the ultimate if you wanted to get back to the sheer. But I don't think you're off much more than 1/2".
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
  17. Ron Bedard

    Ron Bedard Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I'd be tempted to put things back together as shown in the seat photos. That's not how some caps look, but it doesn't look too bad. Watch out how you store the canoe though<, the rib tips are just waiting to soak water and start rotting. Maybe douse them with something to help guard against that before installing the cap.
  18. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    I am leaning towards restoring it to as close to original as possible. If the ribs ends are no more than a half inch short then I’ll probably make a clean cut on all of them and move on. If the are cut back more than that I’m going to get really good at scarfing jointing. Until then I’m going to float it as it is. Thanks for all the input more is definitely welcome.
  19. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Thanks for the measurements David. The original Indian is 12-1/2” deep. This one is at 11-5/8” and if I took at least another 1/8” to get the tips smooth that would put it at a full inch short. So I would have to scarf every rib end. I really don’t see that happening. With the depth being off an inch, non-original gunwales, decks and thwart I think I will most likely take some liberties and build it back with some ideas of my own. It’s third inline so who knows I may change my mind by the time I get to it. I’m going to put it in the water this weekend and enjoy it the way it is for now. Thanks for all of your thoughts and comments, its a good conversation to have.
  20. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    I just noticed my last two post contradict each other. Not surprising for me. One things for sure, I’m talking it down the river Saturday.

Share This Page