View Full Version : Patch or replace canvas deck?
03-11-2002, 01:14 PM
I recently purchased a gently used 16' Herreschoff double-paddle canoe, planked in cedar on oak frames. The boat's generally in great shape and I'd like to keep her that way.
The deck is marine ply covered with canvas. The canvas looks to be in good shape except for a couple of cracks running fore and aft (the longest of which is about a foot). It's obvious that I'll have to replace the canvas at some point. (Given what I've read here about canvas over ply, I'd probably use dynel and epoxy.)
I'm wondering, though, whether I need to do that now, or whether it can wait a season or two. There's no obvious indication of rot where the canvas is cracked, but I don't know how long she's been like that (the previous owner is not readily accessible for questions), and I'd hate to give any rot the chance to get a firm foothold.
Any thoughts? Should I patch or replace? And if I patch, how do I do that?
03-11-2002, 01:42 PM
Dynel and epoxy is used in replacement of canvas for decks that are larger and are walked on. The dynel creates a non-skid surface which looks a lot like a canvas treatment. The compromise for the traditionalist is that the dynel deck is going to last longer than canvas without the attention that canvas requires.
If I had a Herreshoff canoe I would surely keep her traditional. The canvas job is going to be easier than dynel and likely lighter overall.
If your canoe is getting stored indoors and subject to just the wet of the day I would not worry about rot.
Don't put off the job though. You have a real gem there and she deserves a nice clean deck.
In order to get afloat in her as soon as you can (which is always the best idea with any newly purchased boat) you can simply patch the cracks.
Indeed, much depends upon the crack; it may be that the canvas is intact and just the paint has gone - often happens due to excess paint build up.
All you need to do, on such a small and delicate boat, whose decks will not be walked on, is to take a sharp scraper and remove the loose and flaking paint around the cracks, then sand a couple of inches each side of the cracks and take good look - if the canvas is still good, just paint it and thank your stars. If the canvas has cracked, paint it with almost any adhesive - ordinary contact cement is fine - lay a strip of canvas along the crack and paint it and it will last for a season - it will look like a patch but so what - you will be dealing with it in the winter.
03-11-2002, 07:14 PM
Thanks for the comments! Chris is right: even though she's only ten years old she's a gem, and the construction is thoroughly traditional (other than the bungee cords holding the hatch covers in place from underneath). She deserves a canvas deck, not dynel.
03-11-2002, 09:06 PM
"other than the bungee cords..." and the plywood deck... In for a penny, in for a pound! If you want to do a lasting job over plywood, use the Dynel and epoxy, which if done right, will be completely indistinguishable from the canvas, except that it won't crack and rot. If you had a planked deck, I'd be singing the canvas tune. As said... if it's just a crack, you probably need to repaint. A heat gun used carefully will permit you to just scrape off the excess paint for refinishing without burning the canvas, if it is built up that much. However, given the age and use of the canoe, I can't imagine it having a paint build up. A crack isn't any big deal... just time to repaint. Generally, when the crack goes all the way through, indicating torn canvas, you can see the stretched canvas spreading at the crack.. sort of like... oh, nevermind... LOL
03-11-2002, 11:01 PM
Yow! Thanks, Bob -- based on your earlier posts re the subject of canvas over ply, I was wondering if you'd chime in . . . Of course, you're right, the "laminated wood" is not traditional.
I do appreciate the info re painting. I'll be quite happy to postpone any big decisions for a spell.
One additional question: any significant difference in weight between painted canvas versus dynel and epoxy? (As it is, she's a might heavy for a kayak.)
03-12-2002, 02:28 AM
If the canvas isn't semi-permanently bonded to the deck you could always try a traditional canvas repair similar to patching canoe hull canvas. The idea is to gently pry up the area around the crack and slide a patch under the deck canvas that's been slathered with glue (glue canvas to canvas, not to the wood). The traditional goo of choice is ambroid cement, which is fairly rare these days, but other glues would work. On a hull patch, after the patch piece was in, the canvas along the crack was sometimes tacked down as well. Probably not needed on a canvas canoe deck. The crack was then filled, faired and painted.
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