16' Cedar Strip Canoe

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by crabbiguy, May 16, 2015.

  1. crabbiguy
    Joined: May 2015
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    I have an old cedar strip canoe that needs some fixing. Help needed badly because I really don't know that much. The gunwales have little fibreglass left on and are badly rotten. The keel is broken in the middle and rotten too. Any supplies that I need to buy? I have have extra fibreglass, Bondo resin and hardener. I know that I need new wood. Any help is appreciated.:)
     

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    Last edited: May 16, 2015
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    The good news is just about anything can be repaired. The bad news is you'll be building a new canoe, by the looks of it. The 'glass has caused a host of problems and the broken keel is probably a death nail for this old gal. Simply put, you'd be better off building a new stripper canoe, than repairing that one, judging by the photos. Strippers are easy to build and quite novice friendly too.

    You will have no need for Bondo, which has no place on a wooden boat of any kind. If by resin you mean polyester, well this stuff is for 'glass boats, not wooden, though if you put enough 'glass and polyester on this old puppy, you'll get a few more years out of her, before she's chainsaw food.
     
  3. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    You will need to decide if you prefer to see the wood grain through the new epoxy. If you will be painting (my preference. I don't think strippers look so great finished bright, but to each his own). Few ever paint strippers in any case, but if you do, fairing becomes possible. Most all strippers are a bit unfair due to using too fine a grit when long-boarding. I'd fair the hull with something like West System #410 Microlight/epoxy mix.
    If you decide to show the wood grain, sanding and bleaching will probably look alright and maybe as good as new. A lot more work is required retaining the grain.
    A layer of cloth should be epoxied to the inside and the outside. I'd use a 6oz cloth, epoxy, and two more coats in rapid succession to bond the epoxy chemically rather than sanding between coats. Sanding will be required if you wait til the last coat has cured.
    The gunwale should be a medium wood ideally. Not so soft that it's easily damaged but not so heavy that it unduly effects the weight of the finished canoe. Ash, African mahogany, etc..
    Work epoxy into cracks and fill gouges with a putty made from epoxy and Microlight.
    Strength of the "new" boat should be equal to the original.
    But as PAR has said, it might be easier to build a new canoe from scratch. After all, the epoxy and the cloth are a lot of the cost. And it could well be that the labor is a wash.
     
  4. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    Dear PAR
    The keel is just a strip at the bottom you know, it looks like it can be easily replaced. That canoe has a lot of history, and it means a lot to my opa. I have no interest in building a new canoe.
     
  5. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    Thanks Alan white
    What do you men by a layer of cloth? I'm still new to most of these terms. And no, I do not plan on painting her.
    Thanks for the help.
     
  6. Canracer
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    Canracer Senior Member

    crabbiguy,

    I can see from the pictures that this project will be easy for you. Any guy with a phone on his workbench can probably fix anything.
    [​IMG]

    You will want to remove the worst parts and then start splicing in patches and building a few new parts. The keel strip and the gunwales should be removed because you will want to refresh that fiberglass sheathing first.

    If your lucky that old glass cloth and polyester resin will pull off in large sheets. If not you will want to use a shop vac matched up to a power sander with very coarse paper. Get the hull down to bare wood. Use a best quality breathing filter, this is no time for a silly paper surgical style face mask.

    Now, with "eye ball power" and careful sanding, get the hull nice and fair. The Bondo resin you mentioned is a polyester product and the idea of using it should be banished from your thoughts. Take it to a friends house and make them swear they won't give it back, until after the boat is finished.

    You want epoxy only. A single length of cloth (with enough width) will be "painted" onto the boat's bottom with the epoxy. Then add a couple more coats of epoxy to make the bottom perfectly smooth (involves some sanding skills.) Now the keel strip and gunwales go back on.

    Depending on how much you like the look of the finished hull, you can decide to paint or clear coat. One or the other must be done with the correct product because a hull needs protection from UV light.

    I think it can be done in a few weekends. Maybe the inside of the hull is in better shape. In any event, the restoration on the inside will be very similar to the outside stuff.

    Post any pictures and questions along the way and the crew here will be happy to help out.
     
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  7. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    Thanks Canracer.
    I'll get some new resin. The inside is pretty much good except the seats are broken. Those wont be hard to fix. Just some new screws and fiber glass.
    I'll keep you posted on my progress.
     
  8. Canracer
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    Canracer Senior Member

    Fiberglass cloth is made from fine threads of "glass" woven into a fabric.


    Here is what it looks like when being applied to a canoe. The cloth becomes transparent after it's saturated with epoxy. In this image you can see the excess cloth that draped past the edge. The extra cloth is visible because it's not saturated. Your boat should look like this at some point.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    Is this what the cloth should look like? Because if this is the right stuff I have lots of that.
    By the way, beautiful canoe.
     

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  10. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    Okay, so here are my revised plans
    Buy epoxy and wood for gunwales and keel. Then Ill reattach the seats using new, longer screws and that fibreglass cloth. Then Ill remove the gunwales and keel. Next Ill reattach the new gunwales using small screws and the epoxy. Next Ill do the keel in the same way except with the fibreglass cloth as well. And last Ill repair the light scratches and dents with more epoxy and sand down the repaired places until they're smooth once they're dry. I don't think that Ill sand off everything and start over because then ill need a lot of new materials and most of the outside hull is just fine.
    Does this sound good or is there anything that I forget or am doing wrong?
     
  11. Canracer
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    Canracer Senior Member

    From what I can see in the picture, the hull looks real iffy. Start pulling at the old cloth and see if it pops off. If it's easy to remove then consider yourself lucky, and get it removed.

    It looks like a fun Spring project. Have a good time and go out for a paddle (the perfect scenario.)

    Oh yeah, that's not my canoe. I just borrowed that image. My Father does have a massive Cedar strip canoe (I think it's 19 feet.) It will need some work soon just like your boat.
     
  12. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Strip-built canoes and such were usually (the strips) glued together with a waterproof glue---- not epoxy but Titebond III or polyurethane like gorilla glue. Once saturated, the wood surrounding the joints can lose adhesion over time. Rot will set in sometimes. The idea is to seal the bare wood so well that the glue holding the strips together isn't ever subjected to water intrusion. Fine if well taken care of, with additional coats of varnish annually, but not very forgiving of long-term saturation.
    Therefore, the current condition of your canoe in terms of strip replacement, etc.,will vary depending on how it was originally glued. Many canoes have been glued with ordinary carpenter's glue (regular Titebond, et al). They fall apart easily once saturated. You should determine which adhesive was used to gauge how far to go in replacement of strips. Cracks may be seen between strips or rot may be seen in places.
    Gray wood is okay but any cracks at all should be filled with epoxy.
     
  13. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    So here's the problem, my opa is the one funding this project and he doesn't want to spend too much. From other places that I've read the Bondo will work fine but not be quite as strong in the long run. And as for the doing the cloth over the whole thing he said a definite no. An besides, the rest of the hull is in pretty good shape.
     
  14. crabbiguy
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    crabbiguy Junior Member

    Dear alan white
    The hull shows no signs of cracks or rot, it is completely waterproof. The only problems are with the keel and gunwales, they are rotten. I have no clue what king of glue was used. This canoe was built about 35-40 years ago. The strips have held together great all this time and they don't look like they're going to give out any time soon.
     

  15. Canracer
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    Canracer Senior Member

    What's an opa?
     
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