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Thread: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

  1. #1
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    Default I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Hey folks,

    I decided to get my feet wet on this 19'(L)x 51" (Beam) Cedar planked freighter canoe. I'm told it's a Kildonen Canoe from Winnipeg, Manitoba that was built in the 60's. As this is an older boat there's some repairs and restoration to be done. I'm not really looking to modify is to much but I need to make this employable for Fly fish guiding. So I have several questions, and would appreciate any advice, guidance, or coaching.

    1) The Canoe is currently covered in canvas that the previous owner was struggling to maintain. In the attached photos you'll see it's peeling off and cracking. I'm looking for something a little more permanent and durable, so i'm leaning towards Ep/FbG it which I think would help with some of the gapping between the planking. The dilemma i'm struggling with is the inside of the boat. The owner painted it with an oil based paint but it doesn't look like its sealed the wood. The wood appears to be expanding and contracting, which I'm worried about once I EP and glass it. So what should I do with the paint thats currently on it? Sanding, Ep/Glassing the inside to seal it properly?

    2) The transom, and haul design. She looks fast and I think wont have an issue with drag in the water, but I'm concerned with the Y tapered transom. I intend to use both electric(101lbs) and gas (9.9hp) motor depending on the lake restrictions. As such it looks a little small (dims (in.) in att. photo). I'm also looking for a flat surface to mount a transducer, but don't see this working with this transom as the only part in the water will be the base of the Y where the motor is mounted. Unfortunately, side/bottom mounting would probably damage it as i'll be trailering this canoe and parking it at docks while loading/unloading clients and or gear.

    3)Some of the ribbing is cracked where the gunnels have been attached. Should it be replaced, or Epx and sealed?

    Again anything and everything is welcomed!

    Fish on

    IMG_9870.jpgIMG_9873.jpgIMG_9871.jpgIMG_9876.jpgIMG_9834.jpg

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    The smart play is actually to re-canvas it, rather than fiberglass it. Having done quite a few canoe glassing jobs I can tell you that fiberglassing a rib and plank canoe and doing it properly is one of the most tricky fiberglassing jobs you can do. If you do it right (and with a lot of practice) they can turn out like the yellow boat shown here:

    pu-paint.jpg

    However, don't expect the first attempt to work, and a far, far more likely result is that both you and the canoe end up screwed. Of all the fiberglassed old wood rib and plank canoe conversions that have been done over the years, 99% of them are abominations and a lot of those doomed the canoe to an early death.

    Problems: (1) the surface of the planking on old canoes is not perfectly even and fair, and there is not much chance to smooth it out by sanding, etc. This means that your fiberglass layers will follow those unfair planks and uneven plank edges leaving similar humps and ridges. This in turn makes final sanding difficult.

    (2) Before fiberglassing, every depression around a tack head and every gap between planks anywhere on the hull will need to be filled and leveled with the surrounding wood. If you try to glass over a planking gap or tack head dent, the resin drains through the cloth leaving what looks like screen wire bridging the gap. These spots are extremely difficult to fill later as you try to scrape filler mixtures down into them. That yellow canoe looks nice because before the fiberglass was applied there was a tremendous amount of filling and fairing using epoxy mixtures that went on in order to generate a continuous smooth surface.

    Recanvasing an old canoe is easier to do, surprisingly durable, and makes repair or replacement of any broken wood in the future possible, as well as replacement of the canvas skin if ever needed. Unless you are really good with epoxy/fiberglass and willing to tolerate its own limitations, new canvas is by far your best option. It's also significantly quieter if you're intending to fish out of it.

    Once the old canvas is off, the painted inside can be stripped and repainted or refinished and any broken ribs or plank sections can be repaired or replaced. Then the new canvas can be installed, filled and painted. The best source on the planet for a whole bunch of people with experience fixing old wood/canvas canoes is the forum of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Welcome to the WB Forum! Nice canoe - some questions though....
    1) How much work / $$ do you want to put into this boat before you use it for guiding? Stripping off canvas and either a) re-canvas per Todd's suggestion above, or b) fiberglass over with epoxy and cloth, etc Both projects will take some time and money to do right....you ok with that?
    2) I would not be too worried about the planking expanding / contracting etc - that is normal and this boat looks like it may not have been in the water for quite some time.....
    You could just strip the paint on the inside, re-paint or varnish the interior and patch the exterior canvas and re-paint the outside for now.....this would take much less investment of time and money.....
    Lots of questions to ask yourself before you proceed.....
    Nice boat!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    I mean no offense, that boat is more valuable and useful as a decorative item in a restaurant or wherever that sot of thing is appreciated. Build a new canoe, cheaper and easier. And probably more fun.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Not necessarily. We have seen plenty of old wood/canvas canoes in far worse shape restored to gorgeous condition. Big old freight canoes are rather rare because they had hard working lives, so being able to restore and use one is actually pretty special. Yes, it takes some work, but that can be enjoyable and rewarding as long as nobody has done a bad fiberglassing job to it that then has to be removed.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    On the "use" side of things; I'd review your power needs a bit. I'm thinking a 9.9 outboard might be a bit much for that transom and would be way overpowered for that boat. I had a 9.9 on my 27' , 7,000 lb sailboat and even on that it was a bit much more motor than I needed.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Yep, 9.9 is way too much for that boat/canoe. I would go with canvas for two reasons.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Todd and Viking, I appreciate your feedback and cautions. I've turned away from the Canvas idea, as I know from guiding, we're just too tough on the boats. I genuinely heed your cautions as to not rush this and treat it with the outmost care. Fortunately, I have several friends who have glassed freighters before, and have already reached out. As for the budget i'm sitting around 1.5k (not including paint) which i think is reasonable with 6oz glass and the amount of epoxy and butt load of sanding discs she'll need. If necessary I can be flexible as well. Any Suggestion for thickness and ep are also welcomed!

    Todd- That yellow boat is absolutely gorgeous and fantastic job! The contrast between the colours couldn't have been better selected, Curiously did you varnish it before finishing the inside? And as for finishing the inside, it's hard to tell from the photo, but was it just sealed with EP or did you use thin Glass as well? As for the exterior, It makes sense about meticulously smoothing out the canvas prior to laying the glass. So looks like I have my work cut out for me, any suggestion to ensure symmetry between sides and the accuracy for smoothing out the dimples/lows-highs? Additionally I could use some suggestions with mitigating the bleed through from the epoxy filler when filling the gaps between the planking (I was keen on tape). I'll also have a look at wooden canoe heritage association page.

    Viking-Thanks for easing my concerns with the expansion and contraction. As for stripping the current paint, should this be done through sanding, scrapping, or chemical (which concerns me. Maybe just the type I've used).My challenges with chemical have always be the removal of the agent before applying the new paint or varnish. I've found the new layer never completely binds properly. So i'm hoping to stay away from it. So what are your thoughts with best pathway for this. As for time frame I have 3-1/2mth full time on this boat, as i'm in the off season.

    Gentlemen thank you for responding with some sound advice and guidance! Your experience and perspective is sincerely valued! Thus i'm excited and feeling extremely motivated, and am looking forward to starting this journey.

    Cheers!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    I had similar thoughts about sticking a 9.9 on the back end of a V-sterned freighter. My old Chestnut catalogs had similar boats, but didn't list suggested motor sizes for them. My all time favorite freight canoes are those being made by Nor-West Canoes in Canada. They make both V-stern models and also wide transom versions. They have both 18' and a 20' V-stern versions and I was surprised that they suggest 10-15 HP for the 18' V-stern. They don't specify for the 20' V-stern, but go all the way up to 15-30 HP for the wide transom models. That seems like an awful lot to me.

    Of course, the test with any motorized canoe is always to turn the motor sharply to one side and gun it, as someone might do by accident. If you survive without getting wet and just have the living crap scared out of you, then you're OK with that outboard size.

    athabaska V-stern.jpg

    I bought the yellow canoe new, custom built keelless in 1972. The band had just cut an album for Elektra Records and we got an advance. Naturally, the first thing I did with mine was to buy a couple of new canoes. The inside has had a refresher coat or two of spar varnish applied over the years, but what you see is the original varnish. Trying to epoxy-coat the inside of a rib and plank canoe would be a nightmare and very likely just contribute to rot. It would also be really ugly. Epoxy resin is not paint or varnish and does not go on smoothly the way they do. You can't get to everything in order to really seal the inside, so your epoxy would just be trapping water in there and trashing the wood. If you glass the outside of a rib and plank canoe you have to remember that there is no outlet for drainage or evaporation on one side, and that can be the kiss of death for the boat, so extra care must be taken to avoid long periods with standing water in the boat.

    As for the paint, once the old canvas is off you might want to check around for professional furniture strippers. You can do it yourself, but it is messy and unpleasant. A lot of the guys and gals who restore old canoes have them stripped by pros. On the other hand, a lot of freight canoes had painted interiors, so it might be better and easier bet to clean and abrade the old paint, fill a few dings as needed and repaint. Polyurethane floor enamel usually holds up very well and is much cheaper than official "marine enamel".

    It makes sense about meticulously smoothing out the canvas prior to laying the glass.
    The canvas will be gone. You will be smoothing out the wood, but it is too thin to do much sanding on, it's mostly spot-filling and then smoothing things out as much as possible. I use WEST 105/205 Epoxy resin mixed with their 407 filler powder, stiff enough that it will peak without sagging as it hardens. Figure out your filler ratio by testing small carefully measured batches on scrap wood to make sure it doesn't sag and pool as it cures, then stick to that exact ratio when using it on the boat. Tape on the inside is one way to prevent bleed-through at planking gaps. Over the years I've always wondered about trying something like shrink-wrapping the wooden hull and glassing over the shrink wrap, so that the glass skin is not actually attached, or filling the plank gaps with a lightweight drywall mud, then glassing the hull and finally pressure washing the drywall mud out, but I haven't ever tried such things to see if they would actually work.


    Six ounce cloth is pretty light for a freight canoe. My 22' fur trade canoe has 10 oz. cloth, double-layered over the bottom and then built up over the lower stems to about six layers thick for abrasion protection. Dragging a heavily loaded canoe over a single rock can wear all the way through a single layer of six ounce fiberglass. Even two layers of six ounce only generates a skin about as thick as the sides of a plastic milk jug - so that's all you have to wear through to get down to bare wood and start letting water seep in and eventually kill the boat.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    I like the motor test, Todd. But first I think I'd fill that test canoe with float bags to make recovery easier

  11. #11
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Todd Those Nor-west are a work of art! with a bigger budget thats exactly where I'd land. Sadly the shipping to me would probably be a third of the cost. I've watched a couple performance videos of those boats and its surreal!

    Forgive my poor choice of words in my post above; What I meant by canvas was stripped-empty-flat like an artist's canvas before they begin. As for the 6oz, i'll take your advice with the 10. Its probably going to save me time when layering too. West is what my local sources have been telling me to use to.

    Hilarious example of testing the boat btw. I'll take Hugh advice about the float bags, and be sure to set a gopro up first!

    Thanks Gents!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzsX...nnel=obscur156


    . I meant stripped as clean/flat as a painters canvas before the artist begins. As for the 6oz Cloth, I think I am going to change it to the 10oz as its probably less work in layering. West EP is what my friends have been recommending.

    Also hilarious example of pinning the motor! I'll be sure to set up a gopro if i've got the kahunahs!

    I'll post some progress photos as I motor along!
    Last edited by Old Fashioned; 02-26-2021 at 03:34 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    Yep, I'd love to own one of the Nor-West freighter models in the 20' range just because they are so cool, though I need another canoe (or boat of any kind) like I need another hole in my head.

    Since freight canoes usually use #6 cotton duck (or even #4 at times) I'm not at all convinced that a layer or two of thin fiberglass sheathing makes a tougher or more durable boat. I doubt the glass skins will have either higher tensile strength or better abrasion resistance, and to give up future wood reparability in the process is a really questionable choice, not counting all the potential difficulties that trying to glass an unfair hull could quite possibly bring up.

  13. #13
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    Default I bought my first Boat and it's an antique!

    I cannot speak to the hull restore. You are in the best of hands here, though.

    As for a transducer. There are clamps ready made -- or you can make- to deploy it over the side for trolling and still fishing; slow going looking for structure.

    Pull it in before planing speeds.

    You can try and see if you can shoot through the boat. Simply place a ducer in a glop of vaseline on the sole of the boat and wire it up to your fish finder temporarily. It might work. They are not supposed to be able to shoot through wood.... but sometimes do.

    Good luck with the project and keep us posted.

    Kevin


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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