Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More Woods Packs to restore

A few weeks back, happened to get a an email from a blog reader Mike E who informed me of a local paddling legend selling off most of his tripping gear. Amongst the lot were loads of Woods canvas canoe packs that had accompanied Michael Peake and members of the Hideaway Canoe Club. Some of their journeys were sponsored by Woods Canada in the 80s & 90s and these humble canvas packs have been used on dream Northern River trips down the Thelon, the Head, the Coppermine among others.

Anyway, these well used and abused packs were being offered at very reasonable prices. Ended up picking up 3 to work on and restore much like the Woods 200 done many years ago.

The pack in best condition was a later era Woods 200 with darker olive canvas. Thinner material than older ones but still sturdy enough. It was missing its tump and had a large repairable tear by the one tump buckle anchor as well as a growing hole on the front. The leather components were dried out but salvageable

Another 200 pack had much more sturdy canvas but was missing a buckle in the front as well as compromised leather. Almost all the original rivets had failed and had been replaced with bolts and nuts. Figured these would be simple to remove in order to replace the leather and do a complete "makeover".

The last pack was a Woods 100 that had been sent back to Woods Canada for repairs (back when they would do this). Tiny pinholes in the canvas were sewn up and reinforced, a corner patch added to the bottom and all the leather components replaced. Of the three this one looks to be in best shape since it could be used right away and came with a tump strap.

Slowly going to start restoring these over the summer

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sassafras Paddle oiled & ready for first dip

The decorative burnings on a second Penobscot paddle replica were completed over the winter. Here's the pic from back when there was still some snow on the ground...

Since then the paddle has been patiently waiting to be oiled and finally used in the water. While working on painting the canoe, took the opportunity to get this thing oiled up. Sassafras has a muted golden colour to it when it is oiled. I like the tone with the darker pyrography.

Oiled up and drying

I'll likely be taking this one on its maiden trip when the 14' Chestnut / Peterborough is completed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chestnut / Peterborough Refurbish Part 1

Started the refurbishment of the 14 foot Chestnut Playmate / Peterborough Mermaid I was lucky to pick up last October. I knew going in that the original canvas on the hull  was nearing the end of its lifespan and would need to be replaced. It had cracked significantly and exposed patches of underlying filled canvas.

Cracked paint on original canvas

But as the weather turned last fall, there wasn't sufficient opportunity to re-canvas and apply filler. Itching to get it out into the water ASAP, I also didn't want to waste much of this paddling season waiting months for the filler to cure. Instead, some time was spent carefully prepping the original canvas for a new coat of primer and paint. Knew from reading on the WHCA forums that this would never get rid of all the cracks but could be used to stretch another season or two out of the canoe.

Over the course of several days, the canvas was delicately scraped around the cracked areas removing bits of old paint flakes. The hull was then lightly hand sanded with 120 grit being sure not to go down to the canvas weave. The last paint job was sloppy as well with plenty of drip bubbles along the hull so sanding helped to smooth down the hull.

To fill some of the wider cracks and chipped areas, I read a tip of using a high quality epoxy based wood filler as an acceptable short-term solution. In the end, I had some of this Minwax High Performance Wood Filler on hand.

It is messy to use and needs plenty of ventilation but I've had good results with it for other wood repairs around the house. Bit by bit it was worked into the trouble spots on the hull with a putty knife with the intention of sanding off the excess.

Messy epoxy putty worked into canvas gouges

By the time the day was done, I sort of went a bit overboard filling any large and small areas so the canoe looked like it had some tropical skin disease.

Uneven surfaces filled

Minwax HP filler is tougher to sand then other types of wood filler I've used, but it can get smoothed out nicely. Here's a typical area sanded clean of the excess.

Paint wise, I ended up using the cheap solution here in Canada. Tremclad Rustoleum Oil based Rust Paints which are significantly cheaper than the Epifanes Yacht enamel popularly used for cedar canvas canoes up here. To ensure better adhesion over all the filler spots, I ended up laying on a primer layer. Not sure if it was necessary, but did it anyway. Rustoleum has a nice Rust-Oxide colour primer (as well as the usual grey) that is more colour compatible with its Regal Red.


If this was meant to be a professional job, the outwales and brass stem bands should've been removed but the original steel screws holding on the gunnels have corroded heavily and the heads have been covered in caked-on varnish. The brass stembands had also been sloppily painted over by the former owner with the previous coat paint filling the tiny screw heads. Too much effort and time would be spent having to clean each screw head just for removal. Instead of doing that now, figured I'll spend the effort of cleaning and removing those once a full re-canvas is done in a year or two. For now, the outwales and stem bands were taped off for the primer layer.

Rust coloured Primer layer

The primer was then sanded down again to get rid of any remaining irregularities in the hull and in preparation of the colour coat. Didn't get a shot of it but after this, a layer of flexible polyurethane sealant was spread on either side of the shoe keel to fill some gaps where old bedding compound had peeled away.


Here's a shot of the Regal Red rust paint going on the hull. 

Single coat of paint going on

Here is the completed result taken from our elevated 2nd story deck...

I knew going in that no amount of surface work on a cracked canvas exterior would result in a completely new finished looked, but overall I'm happy with this little cosmetic surgery. The hull is more even and just a few remaining cracks are faintly noticeable under the new primer + paint layers. Still more cosmetic work to do on the interior with varnish and seats but that writeup will be in another post. Hoping to get it into the water in a few weeks, maybe even for a birthday paddle in early August.

Update: August 2016 - Read Part 2 of the restoration in this post.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Canoe Cradles

Wanting to start the quick refurbishment of the 14ft Chesnut / Peterborough picked up last fall, an essential bit of canoe gear needed to be built...a set of canoe cradles. Mike Elliot has a great writeup of on a sturdy set of cradles in his book and I adapted these to fit my needs. A tiny backyard and no garage for storage meant I wanted something a bit more compact and somewhat collapsible.

Canadian Tire sells a neat metal sawhorse which occasionally go on massive sale. Picked mine up for $8.99 each - a real bargain given the usage they've seen for other projects. The legs collapse neatly under the top and a convenient carrying handle allows these to be easily transported and stored.

Mastercraft folding metal sawhorse

With the sawhorses used as the bottom half, scrap 2x4 were cut up and mounted on the top of the sawhorse. Some extra bit of canvas from the tarp project last summer was used as the cradle material and just stapled into the wood as an inelegant but functional temporary solution.

In the end they work well and the legs can be partially folded for better storage discreetly behind the cedar trees in the yard. Work on the canoe could finally begin!

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