Saturday, May 18, 2019

Chestnut re-canvassing

Been absent from posting for the little while. The next major project involves the Chesnut Playmate acquired back in 2015. I was able to extend the functional use for a few years by filling cracks in the canvas skin but by the time of the late season fall trip last year the boat was leaking considerably. So the time has come for a re-canvassing.

Without a workshop, I've had to wait for the weather to cooperate in order to do any repair work in the back yard. It's been a very cold and wet May, but managed to slowly get things in order.

First up, the shoe keel, brass stem bands and outwales needed to be removed. The former owner painted right over the stem bands so each of the tiny screw heads were covered in paint. It took half a day to carefully scrape away the paint and remove each screw. The outwales were attached with steel screws which have rusted over the last 60 years of the boats lifespan. They were difficult to remove but finally the outwales were off after much persistence. Thankfully, the keel came off very easily. The original canvas was cut away and the wood work of the boat was revealed. The red cedar planking hasn't seen daylight since this boat was made estimated to be between 1958 to 1961.

Overall things are in pretty good shape with just some minor planking needing repair. The planking was not faired or sanded well in the original factory. Large rasp marks were seen on the outside of the planking which were covered by the original #10 cotton duck cover. A few days were spent filling gouges, removing tacks along the sheer line and heavily sanding the hull.

After frustratingly waiting for a day where no rain was forecast, the big day of canvassing the hull had arrived. Working alone, it took about 6 hours to get the job done, but most of that was spent setting up the contraptions needed.

As a way of cutting down the weight, a decision was made to use a lighter weight #12 canvas which was promptly shipped by the fine folks at Buckhorn Canoe. I adapted the canvassing rig mentioned in Mike Elliott's book, This Old Canoe, which proved invaluable during the whole process. In addition, after attending Pam Wedd's canvassing seminar at the Wooden Canoe Assembly in Peterborough last summer, I learned the steps needed to canvas a boat using the upside-down method.

Additional braces were attached to the saw-horses to elevate the canoe. The 18' foot long piece of canvas was folded in half lengthwise and clamped on the ends. I ended up re-purposing bits of my son's oak crib for the wooden parts. Here's the setup before full tension was applied in order to remove the sags

At one end, the wooden clamp was secured to a fence post to form an anchor. Here I re-used my y-strap normally used for securing the canoe to the car's roof rack.

The other end was mounted to another anchor point and heavy duty 2" ratchet strap used to provide the lengthwise tension...

Once this was all done, canvas stretching pliers were used to provide downward tension and two stainless staples were used to secure the canvas at each rib location. An electric staple gun really came in handy here to do job when working solo. Closing off the ends went without a hitch and I'm pretty happy with the results.

Once done, everything was packed up and the canoe lowered. Also setup a tarp to cover the boat for the time being. Next up is treating the canvas with preservative to prevent rot and then filling. If everything goes on schedule, it should be back on the water in just over a month or so...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ontario Backcountry Canoe Symposium

Got the chance to attend the annual Ontario Backcountry Canoe Symposium held in Kitchener-Waterloo this past weekend. It was my first time coming to this popular event which draws the  community together at the start of each paddling season. The Wooden Canoe Heritage Association had a table with info and copies of Wooden Canoe journal to give away. I brought along the paddle display made for the WCHA assembly last year. During the intermissions between speakers we had quite a few visitors and spread the word about the organization.

Photo with WCHA Canada Chapter Head, Alex Guthro
Photo Credit: Emily Guthro

Discussing history with a fellow attendee
Photo Credit: Emily Guthro

Amongst the attendees were Mike from Badger Paddles who are celebrating their 10th anniversary in the paddle making business. Also got to meet with Milan from Hunter & Harris, another paddle making company based in Bradford, Ontario. We exchanged some ideas and I got to learn more about some of the future plans and design ideas from these quality handcrafted makers.

Photo of Hunter & Harris booth
Photo Credit: Emily Guthro

Hunter & Harris Paddle Display
Photo Credit: Ontario Backcountry Canoe Facebook Page

Canoes were obviously well represented by the folks at Swift as well as John from BackCountry Custom Canoes, maker of skin-on-frame canoe designs that have become popular of late. Turns out a scouting group, the 2nd Kingsville Scouts are raffling off an all cedar Langford Canoe in a draw to be held on August 11, 2019. The canoe was setup on the speaker stage for everyone to admire. Tickets are a very reasonable $20. More info on their Facebook page.

Photo of Langford Draw Canoe
Photo Credit: Emily Guthro

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Historic Paddle Photo: Dept Crown Lands Photo

Here's a camp photo from the Report of the survey and exploration of northern Ontario, 1900 by the  Ontario Dept. of Crown Lands. Th crew rests on boulders in camp. Two narrow bladed paddles are visible as is the bow of their all wood canoe at far right.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Tom P's Adirondack & Folk Art Paddles

Blog reader Tom Penniston is parting with two of the better paddles in his personal collection.

The first is a 56 inch long Adirondack steering paddle identified as being made by the 19th century guideboat builder, A.H. Billings. The grip and motif are identical to the Billing's paddle now in the collection of the Adirondack Museum (Item 1971.163.0002) originally from Clark’s Camp on Blue Mountain Lake. Tom's paddle is made from bird's eye maple which has aged to a lovely patina.  The rounded grip is shaped above an arrowhead-style carving. At the base of the grip, the initials "E K" are etched into the wood.

Tom also has a full-sized 65 inch Seth Steward (1844 - 1927)  folk art paddle. Steward was a Maine artist who frequently painted on smaller souvenir canoe paddles, many of which featured the long, flat grips of the Northeast Region (see example in this earlier post from 2010). A  biographical writeup with more samples of Steward's work can be read on the Cherry Gallery Journal. A full-sized Steward paddle is a relatively rare find in the paddle art world.

Anyone looking for more info on this rare piece of folk art and/or the Billings Adirondack paddle can contact Tom directly via email.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Penobscot style paddles and snowshoe frame canoe seat.

A recent listing on featured two vintage paddles and a snowshoe style folding canoe seat.

The shorter paddles has a classic Penobscot style stepped grip The longer paddle has some visible signs of warping in the shaft but otherwise seems sounds.

Closeup of the short painted paddle shows the blade has split, a very common feature with old maple paddles, but has undergone some sort of repair with large metal fastenings (bent nails?) holding the pieces together.

Unfortunately no dimensional info is given.

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