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Original Seats

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Goldenbadger, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Another question about my 1942 Shell Lake Deluxe Guide. One of the seats is missing. The other is there and the wood is in good shape. However, rather than caning, it has tattered canvas. Was this seat originally canvas and not caned? I like caned seats, but if it was originally a canvas seat, that's how I want to restore it.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    More than likely it was caned.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks! I will used caned seats then.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    There are no holes in the seat frame where it would have been hand caned. Does that mean it was probably pre-woven and pressed in between the two frame pieces? I would take a great deal of satisfaction from hand caning my own seats. Would I be inviting the wrath of the canoe restoration gods if I were to drill holes in that seat frame to cane it myself? The other seat is gone completely, so I have to build a new one anyway. I think I would rather build a new seat than buy a pre-made one.
     
  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Some have turned seats with a groove for machine caning upside down and drilled holes in the frame so they could hand cane the seat. I have not heard of anyone being struck by a bolt from the blue because a canoe god was displeased.
     
  6. Jan Bloom

    Jan Bloom LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Better than turning your seat upside down fill the spline slots with with strips of similar wood. Be careful in fitting and gluing the strips. Your holes for lacing the cane need to be just out side the filler strips. That way the filler strips will be hid by the cane. Also the seat will fit properly. Turning it upside down means the miter cuts on the ends will be wrong and your seat may no longer fit. Further the bolt holes through the seat may then be at the wrong angle. Filling is not that hard just requires a little hand work. I see you are in WI and I bet the guys at the Museum in Spooner could help you.
     
  7. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Plus if you drill holes without filling the old spline groove, you end up with much less wood and a weaker seat frame. More likely to develop stress fractures. Hand caning is easy (tedious but easy), and at least some of us find it a pleasure to do. I prefer it to splined, pre-woven cane but on this canoe, since the it looks to be in pretty nice condition and the seat looks original, why not make a replica for the other end, and cane them as they originally were? Whatever you prefer is best, but that's what I'd do. And of course if you've got the bug like many of us do, pretty soon you'll have another canoe that needs some hand caning!

    .
     
  8. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    The seat shown has plenty of wood, appears more sturdy than many -- sturdy enough as is to carry even an overweight paddler. To provide any real new strength, the splines would have to be quite precisely fitted, and I think the minor, unnecessary gain in strength from splines would not be worth the effort involved -- a lot of needless work in this case, IMO. Indeed, even if you put in splines, it might look better if the seat frame were inverted. The rails all appear to be simple rectangles in section, with no bull-nosing or other edge treatment, which might argue against inversion. The seat itself is rectangular, not trapezoidal, and if flipped side to side rather than front to back, the miter-cut ends of the seat rails should just fit back in nicely -- short rail stays nearer the stem and the longer rail nearer the center of the canoe. Unless the end miters have been cut with a double angle to match both the fore-aft taper of the hull and the vertical angle possibly induce by tumblehome (unlikely, since the hull appears to be essentially vertical at the level the seat is mounted), they should fit well. However, the ends of the rails and the bolt/screw holes on one side look like they might need some attention -- a better place to spend time and energy if that is the case.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Greg, that's what I was thinking - that I could flip the seat side to side. I don't think there is any beveling where the seat meets the sides of the boat. I'll look at it closer and see what the benefit of adding splines might be. But I think in this seat you are correct. The effort might be unnecessary. I'll have to take a little closer look at it.
     
  10. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Good idea. The notion that "there is plenty of wood" is highly subjective. I've seen plenty of seats where the frames are cracked along the lines of caning holes because of stresses; arbitrarily assuming no loss when removing more wood... hmmm...

    If you have woodworking skills, making tight-fitting splines and gluing them in well is very easy and will add to the integrity of your seat frames whether or not you flip them.

    "However, the ends of the rails and the bolt/screw holes on one side look like they might need some attention -- a better place to spend time and energy if that is the case."

    Unless you're just looking to get out on the water quickly, why ration time and energy to one piece of the project and not another? As is often said here, "It's your canoe". But if you're going to do it, why not do it as well as you can? Addressing as many issues as you can and as well as you can will only make you happier in the end. It's a nice looking canoe. Hopefully you'll post photos of it restored and on the water.
     
  11. rpg51

    rpg51 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I wonder if it was Babiche originally. Is there a groove ala pressed cane?
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Ok. I took some pics tonight that change things a bit. There is no spline groove. It's actually a frame within a frame. So, does this mean it may really have been originally canvas? Or was it more likely a pre-caned piece stretched and screwed between the inner and outer frame as you can see the old tattered canvas was? So, if I intend to hand cane it, do I need to just build a completely new seat? And the ends of the frame are actually angled a little bit where they meet the hull. Though they are not running flush with the curve of the hull.
    The first two photos show the underside of the seat. The third shows the top side of the seat.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Maybe it was babiche originally! Maybe that inner frame is not original at all.
     
  14. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Doubtful that it was Babiche. They were primarily on Canadian built canoes.

    Leanne,
    I have a Shell Lake in storage. Next time I go there I will take photos of the seats. They are original.
    Dave
     
  15. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Not babiche. I cannot think of a single builder south of the border that used babiche. It is pretty much a Canadian, and in particular, Quebecois, feature.

    Shell Lake catalogs between 1924 and the mid-1950s show cane seats, though nothing is mentioned in the specifications.

    My guess would be, assuming the seat frames are original to the canoe, that machine woven cane was clamped in place by the inner frame pieces. Mullins (Salem, Ohio) installed cane in exactly this manner as well. It is also possible that canvas was used in the same manner, particularly if this were a wartime canoe built when cane was not possible to obtain.

    Frankly, I think Mullins got it right. Easy to do and looks good.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    It was built in 1942, during WWII. I had never heard of cane shortages during wars.
     
  17. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Yes, cane shortages caused Old Town to use wooden slats during some war years. It either was used in the war effort, or shipping and importation was curtailed due to war....suspect the latter.
    Steel tacks were used by Old Town as well....all the brass was going to make shell cartridges for the war.
    Can't say I've seen any Thompson or Shell Lake canoes with steel tacks, although I have had battles with Shell Lake canoes and boats with steel screws....grrrrr!
     
  18. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I had an old SL that had the seats made as Dan described, ie, the machine webbing clamped by the inner pieces of wood. It was all original.

    Dan
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Do you know what year it was, Dan?
     
  20. OP
    OP
    Goldenbadger

    Goldenbadger Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I feel torn now. If it was a drop in cane, I feel like that's what I should do so that it is as close to original as possible. However, I love the thought of hand-woven and hand weaving my own seats would be a pretty neat project.
     

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