Old Town Canoe, seeking restoration advice

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by Nolan Clark, Mar 31, 2021.

  1. Nolan Clark
    Joined: Mar 2007
    Posts: 11
    Likes: 2, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Michigan, USA

    Nolan Clark Junior Member

    Hello All,
    A bit of background. Long time fiberglass boat builder trying his hand at a wood restoration. I have been fortunate to start my retirement with restoring a 18' 1917 old town canoe. It's in remarkable condition for it's age. Someone took pretty good care of it. It came with an original repair kit with a square of original canvas, tacks, jar of white lead, and original paint. At some point someone removed the canvas cover and replaced it with a fiberglass and resin. I have not figured out if it's polyester or epoxy but whoever did it mixed pigment in the resin and it dripped between the planks when it was applied. A bit of clean up required!
    I did build a 24' boat using the WEST system so I am familiar with the philosophy of epoxy encapsulation. My game plan was to sand and scrap out the original varnish inside. Remove any remaining varnish with a striper then sand with 120 then 220 grit paper. Do the needed minor repairs and coat it with 3 layers of epoxy followed with varnish. then proceeding to the exterior of the hull.
    The advice looking for is answering 3 questions.
    1. Are there any issues with my game plan?
    2. Are there any issues coating with epoxy after using a stripper? There are so many nooks and crannies I'm a little concerned that even after sanding I don't think I can be 100% confident all the stripper residue will be gone.
    3. How to handle a gap between one edge of a rib and the plank under it? I have attached a picture showing the corner of a piece of sandpaper in the gap. I was think of pushing catalyzed epoxy in the gap to coat everything but I'm beginning to think I need to thicken the epoxy and pack the gap solid.
    Thank you all for any and all advice.

    Attached Files:

  2. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
    Posts: 1,370
    Likes: 356, Points: 83
    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Your plan is mostly sound.
    IMO mechanical removal of the old finish should suffice.
    If chemical stripper is used there could be issues but unlikely. Test with the specific brands of stripper and epoxy. The longer you wait between stripper and epoxy the less any issues will be.

    Raise one end of the canoe to allow the first coat of epoxy to oose under the ribs. Then raise the other end to fill the other side

    Good luck
  3. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
    Posts: 6,548
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    Location: usa

    fallguy Senior Member

    I would avoid strippers. They only want your money.

    Oops. I mean, strippers tend to leave a lot of residue.

    I don't understand the reasons to use epoxy at all.

    Filling the gap with epoxy is sort of unneeded and may create a hardspot.

    Nice boat!
  4. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
    Posts: 1,522
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    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    Dry ice blasting would be the preferred way to strip the inside. The rest of the plan is sound.

  5. Nolan Clark
    Joined: Mar 2007
    Posts: 11
    Likes: 2, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Michigan, USA

    Nolan Clark Junior Member

    Thank you all for the replies and advice. I'll heed the advice on the strippers (both human and chemical) and try not to be lazy and get all the old varnish out mechanically.
    Good suggestion about using gravity to get in the gap and about filling creating a hard point. It could come back to haunt me when stepping into the canoe. The idea of the epoxy coat was to stop any water entry/rot but being as it will not be in the water 24/7 and stored in a dry location, maybe it is overkill and just an extra expense. A nice varnish finish may be enough. You have me reconsidering that too.
    Yesterday I was talking to a friend and he suggested sand blasting. I've never used sand blasting on wood, only metal parts. Dry ice blasting is something I've never heard of and fascinating. I like the idea of no residue or cleanup. I doubt I would go to that on this project but in the future I can see where it would be a very handy solution. I'm going to have to investigate.

    Thank you again Blueknarr, Fallguy and Rumars for your advice!
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