View Full Version : Replacing deck canvas
07-10-2003, 09:56 AM
I find it nessasary to replace the canvas decking and cabin top on a 1938 35' Chris~Craft Cruiser and can't find a definitive step by step instructional anywhere on the web. :( Hoping to find A supplier for the canvas in width so as to not need to seam (12'), what weight to use, what method best to treat the underlying wood, what to bed the canvas in or whether it is nessasary, what type of topping paint is best, etc.. I intend to restore to original specs so glass/resin method is NOT an option. Being new to this forum I hope this question has not been asked to death. :rolleyes:
[ 07-10-2003, 01:51 PM: Message edited by: Chriscraft1 ]
07-10-2003, 02:51 PM
Yea, it has been asked to death. Fortunately, the little "search" thingy above should send you to the posts where the process has been described in detail. If you take the old stuff off, you will see that it is a simple enough process. You will need a canvas stretcher to really do it right. This is a tool like a pliers with a wide "hammerhead" end on it that will grab the canvas at the edge and can be levered over the edge of the cabin or deck to pull it tight. You can get supplies, the canvas in large bolt widths, and the Irish felt underlayment, from Defender's catalog. Jamestown Distributors and Hamilton Marine also carry similar stuff, but usually not as extensive as Defender.
07-10-2003, 04:25 PM
Yea tried the "little search thingy". Lots of opinion on each step. Lots of varriation of technique. Hard to wade through it all and find the definitive "traditional method".
Here is the formula that I have in mind and ya'll (there's that Texas accent coming through)tell me if it will work or if I'm going to screw up.
First I'll have to address the rot that has occured in one corner of the fore deck. I assume that I'll have to mill the t&g from blank stock as I doubt that I'll ever find anything to match.
I intend to treat all surfaces with CPES (yea, I'm big fan of Don Dannenburg) and prime the outer surface with epoxy barrier coat primer.
I am not familiar with the felt "thingy", (pros or cons) so I have not considered its' use.
Cut, stretch, staple and size the canvas. Slop on a generous helping of CPES and finally coat out with a quality (gloss) topsides enamel.
That's my plan. Let me know what you think.
BTW, I checked Defender, Hamilton and Jonestown's websites and they do not show anything (other than dropcloths) about canvas or Irish felt.
[ 07-10-2003, 05:35 PM: Message edited by: Chriscraft1 ]
07-10-2003, 05:10 PM
I'm not sure I'd use CPES on the canvass itself- it will probably make it more brittle than just an oil based enamel.
I'd suggest calling the suppliers- only a small portion of their inventory makes it to the website- especially Defender- they can get just about everything, but only put the most popular items on the site.
And although you don't want to hear it, IMHO only a nut would put canvass back on a boat that size- even the original builder would have used glass/epoxy had it been readily available. Canvass has nothing to reccomend it except "the original look", and even that can be duplicated with epoxy and fabric. ;)
[ 07-10-2003, 07:24 PM: Message edited by: Conrad S. ]
07-10-2003, 08:43 PM
Of course it's been asked to death :D
For wide canvas, check out my post today in this thread (http://media5.hypernet.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=007547).
07-11-2003, 08:12 AM
Below is the the canvas deck I replaced 2 years ago. It wasn't that hard to do, and the look and texture is superb.
I bought the #10 duck canvas on-line from Pearl Paint, who had cheaper prices, and better sizes than marine suppliers. I couldn't find Irish Felt, so used two layers of roofing paper, and bedded the canvas in white lead paste I mixed myself. When you get started, e-mail me off the forum, and I'd be glad to walk you throught the steps I took.
07-11-2003, 10:19 AM
Canvass has nothing to recommend it except "the original look", and even that can be duplicated with epoxy and fabric. In regards to this statement, A brief history may explain my reluctance to follow a glass/resin method. This craft was delivered to the Ontario area from the factory in 1938. The boat was hauled and blocked seasonally without cover. This was its annual routine for the first 62 years. I purchased this craft three years ago in Ontario and motored it to Houston (what a trip! :cool: ). The prior owner had removed the old canvas (not the original) and glassed the decks, (three years prior to my purchasing the boat). He confided that the wood was in good condition the time the glass was applied. However the fore deck was becoming soft at the time of my purchase. This guy owned the boat for 26 years and said that it had been the worst mistake he had made in his care for the boat.
So what I estimate is that for the first 59 years of the boats life, while under canvas, the wood faired well and that it only took three years for glass/resin to undermine the wood substructure. In my amateur opinion the glass job was not done very well, but I figure that even a lousy canvas job would have allowed the wood to "breath" better than glass/resin and not trap moisture.
As to my thoughts on soaking the canvas in CPES. Smiths remains very flexible even very thick quantities. With the expansion and contraction, twisting and flexing that a wooden boat goes through I expect that CPES will deal with this better than paint alone. Next In light of the thin consistency of Smiths I figure that the fibers of the canvas will absorb and wick the CPES better than the much thicker paint. It should also cause a better bond with the deck and further enhance the "waterproofing" of the deck wood.
My only concern about doing this is what the volatile solvents of Smiths will do to the epoxy barrier coat/primer that I plan to use. Not to mention the considerable cost for enough CPES to do that many square feet of canvas (cha-ching :eek: ). It may just be over-kill. As you may be able to tell I am not yet committed to this idea, let me know what you think.
07-11-2003, 02:44 PM
Okay, here's some additional info. Been there and done that a bunch. You are right about the resin and cloth not being an option. First, NEVER do the polyester resin (fibreglass) thing, for just the reasons you stated. It WILL rot. Obviously, you do have to replace all the rotten decking and, yea, you'll have to mill your own T&G, but that's no problem at all.
Epoxy and dynel seems to work very well and it does look very similar to actual canvas when painted, if done neatly and well. HOWEVER, you cannot lay epoxy and dynel (nor, ask you now know, fibreglass) over T&G. You can only lay it over a solid surface like plywood. If you wanted to use epoxy/dynel, you have to lay a plywood underlayment over the T&G. This is because the T&G moves and will crack the dynel and epoxy or glass in a hot minute. (One of the reasons for the Irish felt is to allow that movement without cracking the painted canvas if it were to stick to the T&G.)
If you have a traditional T&G deck, you should use Irish felt with canvas over it. The CPES is a good idea, for the reasons you state. I see no reason to put a barrier coat over the T&G. You aren't going to make it waterproof and if that's not possible (never is), it is better to let it breathe as much as you can, which will do a better job of preventing rot.
You will want to find a canvas stretching pliers. Check out your local art supply store. I think they carry them for stretching canvas on oil painting frames. There isn't any other way to really get the canvas stretched evenly and tight. Trust me on this. The tool for the job has a broad gripping head which gives you about four inches of hold on the edge of the fabric and a fulcrum knobby on it so you can really get the leverage you need. The stuff should be pulled tight as a drum. If you don't, she's gonna wrinkle on you and drive you crazy. Using any pliers with a smaller head will tear through the canvas and put you out of business.
Get the Defender catalog. Last time I checked, they had all sorts of decking canvas and Irish felt. I wouldn't opt for roofing paper as a substitute. Irish felt is thicker and softer. It provides a cushion under the painted canvas which helps prevent it from developing cracks and tears when sharp pointed things hit the deck. (This is where the "no street shoes" thing found its way into the nautical ettiquite. A spike heel can ruin your whole day.)
07-11-2003, 03:28 PM
Having said which, I renewed the canvas on my coachroof 16 years ago and 2 years ago I took it up and laid good plywood, two thin sheets, staggered butts, closely nailed with bronze ring nails, well radiussed corners, and glass cloth in epoxy over that.
Why? My canvassing job was fine, but there were three places where it had had holes made in it, and I disliked the look of patches. I can abuse the ply-and-glass cloth much more and it has definitely stiffened the structure.
If you can trust yourself, your family and your friends to be gentle with it, there is nothing wrong with canvas.
07-11-2003, 03:28 PM
I'm doing a restore on a buddies '62 hardtop with canvas top. The tool I use is the welding Vise-Grip for plate work. It's a locking Vise-Grip with 4" wide, flat jaws. I rock it over a block of wood and use it upside down so I can get the over center leverage of the curved upper jaw. Works great, doesn't tear the cloth and I can hang a weight on the thing with it clamped to the fabric while I run around to the outer side and make an adjustment or get a sip of coffee. Pretty slick . . .
I to am having the duck or Dynel debate with the owner. The hard top is two sections of ply, needing re-making anyway. I'd like to use the better fabric, but he wants it per 1962. He's willing to let me fix the bad frames and breast hook with epoxy techniques, but damned on the Dynel. I've shown him my Dynel covered cabin top, and he agrees it looks like painted duck, but we're both too old to give in I guess. He's paying a lot to fix the rot of a poor covering, done in poly, and I think, he's not sure the jury is in on Dynel and epoxy on a solid CPES'd surface. A comment hear may help, he's a lurker most nights.
07-11-2003, 03:52 PM
The guy who helped me re-canvas a canoe used the same type of vise grip as Sailboatdude uses, but he screwed a rounded block of wood to the top jaw, so he can just roll it over the edge without having to hold a block--it works slick.
07-12-2003, 07:58 AM
Traditioal way you said?
Well, I think that English way 40 years ago was quite traditional. This is how we did it:
After doing at least really necessary repairs (and having taken off all the deckware), paint the deck (ordinary enamel, some read lead priming eventually), let dry, lay down soaked cloth, stretch is as much as you can, nail down. When dry, "paint" a few times (3,4) with VERY LITTLE of very diluted enamel each time, so that it remains shrunk, and when "rigidified" by this "primer", paint over.
I would not say that I ever liked it, but at least, it allows the wood to "breathe" a bit, is reasonably watertight. Life expectancy: 10 years a very maximum.
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