Results 1 to 28 of 28

Thread: Chestnut Prospector Project

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Chestnut Prospector Project

    Well, I should be working on my own Chestnut Prospector after that last trip up North, but I took this one on recently for a friend of mine. I know MoMan is building one, so I will post a report here. In my opinion, Prospectors are a fine tripping canoe, and MoMan has made a good choice.

    My friend had issues with some leaking and cracking of the finish. My buddy swears by the shellac finish on the hull bottom. This finish was favored by old Maine Guides. It was easily refreshed and was low maintenance. I have not used a shellacked hull, but I intend to put the shellac back on his canoe.

    It was probably time for a new skin. While the canvas is off, now is the time for any repairs. I counted 8 or 9 cracked ribs, and a few feet of planking. The repairs will get done and the hull will be finished with some new coats of varnish before the new canvas and canvas filler go on.

    This is a before shot of the hull:



    Here is the former shellacked bottom:




    The old canvas skin came off:



    The steam box is fired up:



    And eight new northern white cedar ribs are bent across the existing hull:




    Much of the bottom of this canoe was replaced during a previous restoration. The planking remains in pretty good shape. Many of the ribs have cracks and breaks. Now is the time to take care of them. The old cracked ribs will be taken out. The new ribs will be clinch nailed in.

    To be continued:
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    18,375

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    lemme get out my popcorn...
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    I should have mentioned that Chestnut ribs are beveled on one side and tapered on the other. The taper is meant to save some minute amount of weight. I have no idea what the function of the bevel was on one side. Maybe it was an easy reference for the guys bending ribs in the factory all day. It is easy to have the taper facing the wrong way.

    Anyway, the bevel is done on the table saw and I have a tapering jig that produces a 21 inch or so taper on each end of the rib. This is some rib stock with the bevel cut and ready for the tapering jig:



    To be continued:
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    1,062

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Let me get this straight: You're going to finish/refurb yet ANOTHER vessel while I sputter along with my build? Wow. The humiliation continues.
    “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go -- so long as you do not stop.”
    -Confucius

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    I didn't tell you about the lumpy old 20 foot monster Huron that I am finishing up now too....

    Actually, it is an illusion. The Huron should have been done a year or more ago, along with another canoe, but I get easily sidetracked.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Southampton Ont. Canada
    Posts
    7,122

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Without the taper,wouldn't the ribs start to get crowded up at the gunnels,if the canoe had much rocker(like Prospector)?
    I've seen untapered replacements mixed in and they aren't lovely.
    Is the bevel always towards the bow or stern or does it go one way on the north end and the other way on the south end?
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Before I saw the replacement bottom planks on the restoration, I thought, from the picture of the canvas, that there was double thickness canvas along the bottom - for extra toughness against bashing in the Allagash?

    Woulda' been clever but heavy

    Never heard of using shellac - clever! I've seen polyurethane varnish used


    Yet another inspirational nudge to get after that old Old Town thats been hanging in a barn since trading a cedar strip epoxy canoe for it 25 years ago.

    Those Adirondack Guide boats have been such a distraction

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Thousand Islands, New York
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    Is the bevel always towards the bow or stern or does it go one way on the north end and the other way on the south end?
    R
    The taper is on the amidships side of the rib. One of the results of tapering the ribs is that it counteracts the appearance that the ribs are tipping backwards, especially as you approach the stems.

    On the Chestnuts I've owned or worked on, the ribs are typically bevelled on both edges, but the taper is sawn after the bevel is run, and the tapered section left unbevelled. A quirk of the factory that is probably a result of production speed being more important than appearance.
    __________
    Daniel Miller
    Thousand Islands, New York

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Hoffman Estates IL
    Posts
    2,407

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Fitz:
    I'm curious about that previous planking repair. Is it normal to not match the exisitng plank width ? What's it look like from the inside ?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    On the Chestnuts I've owned or worked on, the ribs are typically bevelled on both edges, but the taper is sawn after the bevel is run
    I haven't noticed this, but it makes sense. I will have to look again.

    I'm curious about that previous planking repair. Is it normal to not match the exisitng plank width ? What's it look like from the inside ?
    Yes, I typically match the existing planking, but this was done during an earlier restoration, it was done quite well, and it is quartersawn cedar in good shape, so I can't see removing it. The owner uses the canoe quite hard and it is an later Chestnut, so it will not be a museum show piece. I will shoot some photos of the interior later.

    Fitz.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    On the Chestnuts I've owned or worked on, the ribs are typically bevelled on both edges, but the taper is sawn after the bevel is run
    I dunno, but maybe the factory got lazy in the later years of Chestnut Canoe Co. or it is an trait of Prospectors, but I have two late model (late 1960's) Prospectors in the yard and the side of the rib that is tapered does not have a bevel. I have an older Bob's and there is a chance both sides are beveled, but it is difficult to see, since the ribs are thinner for that lightweight canoe and I had the flashlight in my teeth... ;-)
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Thousand Islands, New York
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Just kind of confirms what I said - cosmetics was a lower priority for Chestnut in the 1960s and 1970s... I used to own a 16' Prospector that was one of the last built, as it was shipped in January of 1979 as the factory doors slammed shut. It had ribs as I described, scarfed gunwales, 3' sections of planking, ribs that were broken while being bent on the mold, and just a spit coat of varnish. Still, one of the best paddling canoes I ever owned, and am occasionally sorry I sold it...
    __________
    Daniel Miller
    Thousand Islands, New York

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    I used to own a 16' Prospector
    Steve can loan you his form and you can build a quality new one!!
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Now where did I leave off?

    I am making some progress here. The new ribs are all in. Just to complete the thoughts on this thread, here is a shot of an original rib from this 1960's Prospector. The bevel is on the left, the taper is at the right at the top and bottom. The tapered side isn't beveled in this particular canoe.



    I then took the planking off along the sheer and resecured the rib ends to the inwale. The old iron nails and some ring nails were failing on most rib ends and the ribs were pulling away from the inwale. I resecured them with silicon bronze ring nails and then re-installed the planking.



    I stained the new ribs to come close to a match. I usually strip the old varnish out of the hull and refinish, which helps with the matching of new wood to old, but in this canoe the varnish was in good shape, so I just gave it a good sanding followed by a couple of new coats of varnish, scuffing between coats. This canoe is a user tripping canoe, so the owner is not all that worried about looks.



    The hull is ready for new canvas now. The owner of the canoe and a friend of mine both came over to assist. We used the upside down method, mostly because my garage - er, I mean "boat shop", is so full of junk that you can't move. The nice thing about the upside down method is you can do it outside without overhead bracing etc. between two anchors. This photo shows the set up. A come-a-long provides the stretching. You don't need to go nuts with the coma-a-long. Just enough to pull out the wrinkles and make the canvas smooth against the bottom of the canoe. The 2x4's between the canvas clamps and the canoe are "clothes pins" used to keep the canvas tight against the hull near the ends of the canoe.



    You then go to each rib, pull the canvas tight with upholstery pliers, and secure the canvas to the planking, rib, and inwale at each rib location. We are using stainless steel 9/16's inch staples. It was a bit tricky on this canoe because we are using the minimum width of canvas. The owner wanted to use treated, mildew resistant, No. 8 canvas and I couldn't find any treated stuff wider than 60 inches. 60 inches just makes it.



    Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of us doing up the stems. One flap of canvas is pulled across the stem, secured with 3/8's monel staples, and trimmed. Then the opposite flap is pulled across the stem, overlapping the first and secured with staples.

    Here is the finished product. It goes very fast with helpers. We were done in about 2 hours including coffee breaks.



    The next step is to fill the canvas weave with canoe filler.......
    Last edited by Fitz; 06-17-2011 at 07:10 AM.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    18,375

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    I don't know why people always seem to be gun-shy about stretching canvas - it's relatively easy and quick. The tough part is waiting for the filler to cure so you can paint it and paddle!
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    This may not be the appropriate crowd into which to launch this thought BUT: Has anyone ever considered substituting heat shrink dacron - the stuff used to cover tube and fabric airplanes- in place of the more traditional but heavier canvas?

    I've seen glass/epoxy used on WC canoes - which strikes me as a really bad idea as later restoration/structural repair would become very difficult - but something like Dacron with Stitts/Polyfiber system could be applied similarly to canvas, use less material to fill the weave, be every bit as repairable/patchable and lots lighter...

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    18,375

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Nope, not a bad place to launch that thought. Heat shrinkable Dacron, Ceconite and other trade names has been used as a "lightweight" covering on wood and canvas tripping and racing canoes for some time. Obviously application techniques are a bit different from canvas.

    Jerry Stelmok of Island Falls Canoe mentioned doing just that for some racing canoes used in Boston on the Charles.

    I guess it is just a question of how much weight, how 'traditional' you want the boat to be and what you think of the relative tear resistance of the materials.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    1,062

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    I must say, this thread is much better when I can access the pictures [stupid corporate firewalls!!]
    “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go -- so long as you do not stop.”
    -Confucius

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Dacron and the Like:

    Yep, it can save you some weight.

    But dacron takes a bit of luck and experience to get right. More often than not, I have seen dacron jobs that look like Grandma's sagging old panti hose. Terrible. All this effort to save likely a neglible bit of weight?? And you can tell the owners are not happy with the results on the canoe!!

    I trip and portage a fair amount. You know, weight is really overweighted. Just pick the canoe up and go. It all boils down to that. You need to get from Point A to Point B. Royalex canoes are similar to, if not heavier than, these canvas covered canoes of the same length.

    Does 10 pounds really make a difference to a guy that hauls the canoe to the beach three times a year? If you portage miles a year, think about a lighter canoe. However, canvas is a good, functional, skin used for 100 years. I think it is a good choice.

    Fitz.
    Last edited by Fitz; 06-18-2011 at 06:41 PM.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Canoe is Mudded

    I managed to mud the canoe the other day. This is a job where it is nice to have more that one set of hands. I was working solo.

    The canoe canvas filler is a more often than not secret concoction of paint, linseed oil, silica, turps, maybe some driers and a dollop of varnish. Your recipe may vary. I don't mix my own. In this case, I got it from Rollin Thurlow's shop up in Maine.

    Mixing the stuff after it has settled in the can is half the battle. It usually takes me half an hour or so to get the stuff mixed and the solids back into suspension. The Prospector took a bit over a gallon of the stuff, rolled on, rubbed into the weave, and smoothed out. This is another canoe. It is a messy job, so I couldn't really run a camera at the same time.



    You make three passes over the entire canoe rolling, rubbing and smoothing as you go. The palm of your gloved hand works well.



    Now comes the hard part. The Wait. The canoe filler takes a while to cure. I will likely have to leave the canoe alone for 4 to 6 weeks. You know when the cure is done when a fingernail won't scratch the surface. In the meantime, I can get some paint and pick up where I left off on some other projects.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Headwaters, Alloways Creek (NJ, USA)
    Posts
    453

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Nice work. You make it look easy. So why am I so hesitant to get started on that 16' OTCA-AA from '48 that has been hanging in the rafters for 6 years? Maybe it's the stem repairs it needs that make me nervous.

    I'm not sure I "get" the shellac bottom. The inside is varnished from what I can tell from your posts. The canvas was a typical full envelope just like the new canvas, looking at that pic. Where was the shellac? The before pic shows the bottom looking like plain finished wood. But the canvas would have been there and filled? Can you elaborate on the shellac bottom, please?
    Last edited by Mike DeHart; 06-23-2011 at 07:10 AM.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Shellac Bottom

    Sure Mike:

    Some of the old time Maine guides would canvas the canoe, fill the weave with canoe filler and instead of paint, they would coat the filled canvas with shellac. The amber brown bottom in this picture is actually many coats of shellac on top of filled canvas.



    The Maine Guides using this treatment claimed that the shellac slid over the rocks in a stream more easily and that the shellac was much easier to maintain than paint on the bottom of the canoe. It also produces a nice two tone finish scheme.

    I can see the ease of maintainance. Just scuff it periodically and brush on some very quick drying coats. I am a bit concerned however about shellac's ability to protect the filled canvas from looking at this canoe. The canvas and filler was cracked extensively on this canoe, but only under the shellac. The canoe is stored outside so that could be contributing to premature failure, but I wonder about the shellac bottom. My friend likes the shellac bottom and ease of maintenance and it was still serviceable for 10 or 15 years, so maybe it isn't worth worrying about.

    I forgot to mention. Many canoe builders, including Old Town, were also known for using shellac as a sealer on the interior of the canoe before varnish. I do this sometimes too. It dries quickly, allows for quick multiple coats and I use less varnish.

    Stem repairs are not so bad. You can scarf in a new tip or even steam bend a new stem without too much trouble. I urge you to get your OTCA back in the water .

    Fitz
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Headwaters, Alloways Creek (NJ, USA)
    Posts
    453

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Thanks, Fitz. I also urge me to get the OTCA back into service. I have the book by Jerry and Rollin. I have the history report from Old Town. I have tools and skills, though the skills always seem to need more practice. My older brother is a Master Maine Guide and I just got back from the Maine Canoe Symposium, so I have resources and motivation. Time is my limiting resource, since the past few years have thrown much more urgent things my way. The OTCA is waiting patiently for me to slay a couple more dragons. Soon....

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Here is the shellac going on. Time for primer and paint for the area above the waterline.

    Apparently, the Conovers started this shellac trend. They got it from "the late Francis
    E. Fahey, noted Maine Guide, boatbuilder and teacher of Northwoods skills", as
    is noted in Thurlow and Stelmok's wood and canvas canoe bible.

    I do like how quickly I can deal with the bottom. Shellac is alcohol based and
    dries very quickly, allowing quick multiple coats. Now the area above the
    waterline will get primer and paint for a nice two tone look.



    Just goes to show ya that there is more than one way to skin a cat....er...I mean
    Canoe.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    18,375

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Ok - In the "Hold the phone" department - I always thought that the shellac was built up over the paintwork to be sacrificial, not right on the filler... Thinking back to blistering issues of both the shellac and paint. Am I missing something here?
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  26. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    Nope. The examples I have seen are right on the filler as a finish as an alternative to paint. Nothing very sacrificial going on with use. Shellac is just easily refreshed, so it was popular with the guides. This is how it is reported in the canoe bible too.

    I was gonna try it right on a high build primer, but this is someone else's canoe, so I will not experiment here and no need to screw this tradition.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    In the "Hold the phone" department
    Well, a post over at the WCHA just reminded me of a possible sacrificial layer scenario. I think before the advent of some of the modern glossy marine enamels, it was not uncommon for canoe builders to give the "color coat" a few coats of varnish to give the canoe some gloss and to help with the maintenance of the paint, the varnish being easy to touch up and somewhat sacrificial on the bottom. I have also been meaning to try this varnish on color coat approach.

    Fitz.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Chestnut Prospector Project

    We are gaining. There were a few good painting days this week and I put the outwales and the stem bands back on. The canoe needs sanding and one more coat of paint and a waterline painted on. The gunwales need as much varnish as I can get on them before Monday when my friend picks it up.





    The old Prospector will be on the river again soon. (maybe I should fix my saw horse....)

    Fitz.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •