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Thread: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

  1. #1
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    Question Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    I have the opportunity to pick this guy up. It's an 18' wood and canvas canoe - but it has spent much of its poor life on a gentleman's porch. The porch is covered but not enclosed, and he says it wasn't in particularly great shape when he got it. This would be my first wood and canvas restoration - technically speaking, I'm sure I have the skills and tools to restore it. The gentleman would like about $100 for it.

    The question is - based on these pictures (album linked below), does it look like it's even worth the restore attempt? Is it worth $100 to even make the attempt.

    Unfortunately, these are the best pictures I have right now. I'm hoping to get a couple more pictures later this week before I make the drive to see it myself and, perhaps, pick it up. The wood looks awfully gray in the photos, which has me worried that there's not much left to salvage. It's more of a rebuild than a restoration.

    Any thoughts on this particular canoe?

    http://imgur.com/a/UbVhp

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    I have zero experience working on wood and canvas BUT, I would think this would be a great boat to learn on. You will only be out $100 plus the cost of materials you buy. The boat appears to be intact not mangled and it could always be turned into a display piece or some artsie-fartsie thing to hang in the rafters.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Looks like it doesn't need a total restore
    This 18ft old town HW built in 1955 had on end missing.
    So to answer the question yes! not many w/c canoes cannot be restored


    Last edited by DeniseO30; 11-30-2016 at 12:07 PM.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    We've seen a lot worse! If you have the time and patience, go for it. From the pictures, we can't see if planks are split, ribs cracked, etc.
    Welcome to the Forum! Lots of good advice here.
    You might also want to look at the WCHA (Wooden Canoe Heritage Association). They have a forum which may help.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    From the photo it's suffered a major blow to the side near the broken front seat. The gunwale and inwale are broken and a poor attempt has been made to patch them. Several ribs are broken. There appear to be a number of patches scattered throughout.

    I don't have any experience restoring canoes but my intuition tells me that I wouldn't buy it unless it had some significant personal or historical significance. There are lots of cedar canvas canoes available, in better condition, that will cost less in the long run. As an example I paid $750 for this one in fully restored condition.



    Good luck with fixing this or finding another. The feeling and the view when paddling a cedar canoe is delightful

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    Looks like it doesn't need a total restore
    This 18ft old town HW built in 1955 had on end missing.
    So to answer the question yes! not many w/c canoes cannot be restored
    That's reassuring. Sounds like I should take it for $100 and see!

    That's a great looking canoe. I really like that shade of blue!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    It would be a challenge and a learning experience. It looks to be a post-1920 Old Town. I believe it is a 16 footer. I think the decks look dry rotted, so you will end up replacing much of the trim as noted above. It is restorable, but you might want an easier one to start with. Much might depend on what you want to use the canoe for. This canoe would not make a very good tripping canoe for example (no center thwart), and on the small side. Lots of help is available at the WCHA. The canoe will have a serial number stamped on the stems. You can post it at WCHA and they will provide you with the Old Town build record for the canoe.

    http://forums.wcha.org/forum.php

    If you can see it in person, that would go a long way. If you see dozens of broken ribs and broken/rotted planking, broken stems then it is not a good candidate. If the ribs and planking are decent you might offer $50 first. It will take $500 in materials to fix it alone.

    Cheers,

    Fitz
    Last edited by Fitz; 11-30-2016 at 10:46 AM.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
    It would be a challenge and a learning experience. It looks to be a post-1920 Old Town. I believe it is a 16 footer. I think the decks look dry rotted, so you will end up replacing much of the trim as noted above. It is restorable, but you might want an easier one to start with. Much might depend on what you want to use the canoe for. This canoe would not make a very good tripping canoe for example (no center thwart), and on the small side. Lots of help is available at the WCHA. The canoe will have a serial number stamped on the stems. You can post it at WCHA and they will provide you with the Old Town build record for the canoe.

    Cheers,

    Fitz
    It's more for the experience of the restore, rather than a specific goal of wanting a tripping canoe. TBH, I'd probably build my own from scratch for that purpose, I am (we all are?) crazy like that. Thanks for the info on WCHA, will definitely head there.

    There's another 1940's Thompson Bros. canoe that I'm haggling on. They want $350 for it, it's in pretty decent shape overall, and that's a completely fair price I admit - but as I'm a novice to this type of restoration work, I'm hesitant to give them that much and am trying to talk them into a lower range. That one I'm positive I can restore. This one would be the challenge - and it seems like it is possible! Perhaps not worth it for resale, but for the challenge ... $100 perhaps?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Don't delude yourself into thinking any wooden canoe or boat has "value" because this is how so many of us wind up with a "collection" .

    Do get get into it for the fun of learning & doing but don't blame me if you become addicted to the craft like me!
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    She's an old town and Benson (WCHA) should be able to help you research her build records.

    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Fitz and Benson Gray are the 'resident experts' here. You can also always find them over on the WCHA. You'll get solid advise from them (as well as others here).
    On a relative scale I think canoes are good and fun starting points for wooden boat restorations.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    I agree with Fitz that this one could be a good learning experience. The information at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?791 may help you find the serial number and http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?57 could help you value it. There are a variety of other restorable options available from http://wcha.org/pp-classifieds/ if you want more temptation. Good luck,

    Benson

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    Fitz and Benson Gray are the 'resident experts' here. You can also always find them over on the WCHA. You'll get solid advise from them (as well as others here).
    On a relative scale I think canoes are good and fun starting points for wooden boat restorations.

    pokes an elbow to Ned's ribs I would not use "" they are experts!



    "TBH, I'd probably build my own from scratch for that purpose, I am (we all are?) crazy like that."


    Not crazy at all! To build a W/C canoe you need to build a canoe ... form






    When my boy lost interest, the plans for our wood craft build and restorations got put on the back burner. and the years started ticking away. * sighs heavily *

    I donated the form to the Philadelphia wooden boat factory that teaches inner city kids the joy of boats doubtful it will ever be used
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    One good thing is that it doesn't look as if the hull has been worked on, beyond the repair to the gunwale. I think that's good, because it isn't unusual to look at a canoe that's been "restored" by an amateur, who did indeed replace lot of ribs and planking, but in the process gave the hull a pot belly or a twist or some other unfortunate modification of the original shape. Wood/canvas canoes are very repairable, but the repairman has to have some experience.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Old wood and canvas canoe restoration - possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by seo View Post
    One good thing is that it doesn't look as if the hull has been worked on, beyond the repair to the gunwale. I think that's good, because it isn't unusual to look at a canoe that's been "restored" by an amateur, who did indeed replace lot of ribs and planking, but in the process gave the hull a pot belly or a twist or some other unfortunate modification of the original shape. Wood/canvas canoes are very repairable, but the repairman has to have some experience.
    I'm a bit annoyed - the seller sold it to someone else after he had verbally accepted my offer because I couldn't make it out to his place until this weekend. But, that other person paid $300 for it (or so the seller said), and that's more than the $100 we had settled on, so good for him?

    I'm looking to grab a Thompson Bros canoe this weekend for cheap. It has some fiberglass on it but not much; if it passes my hands on inspection, that will be my first restoration. It should be interesting and fun!

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