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...

JUNE 2019 Update: Canvas has been filled and painted. See part 2 of this restoration here.

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