Friday, December 25, 2020

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings 

Much of the region was blessed with a thick layer of snow on Christmas day. Despite being an obsessed canoe enthusiast, I've always enjoyed the onset of winter with a proper snowfall. Best holiday wishes to everyone!

P.S. Just completed this paddle a few days ago. Post about it coming soon...

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Trapper's Canoe Restoration: Analysis of the hull exterior

After removing the fiberglass cloth off the exterior of the hull and methodically scraping away bits of resin, the cedar planking was now fully exposed. Basically the condition of the planking could now be assessed.

A centre plank has a hole and will need to be replaced. This should be an easy repair since the planking lies flat in this area.

 A more challenging repair will be at the bow stem where planking has been damaged revealing the stem piece and ribs underneath. Here the planks twist heavily but the repair should work once the planks are treated with some heat...

Some planking along the sheer line will need to be replaced. It seems the original owner did some repairs by tacking bits of wood between the damaged rib tops in a effort to stabilize the region

These discretely placed bits did their job because the region is pretty solid despite the rough appearance. They were also painted green but will become unnecessary once the rib tops are properly repaired and secured to the inwale. In total I counted 9 standard ribs tops that need to be repaired and 2 cant rib tops that also need splicing in of new wood. Can't see any cracked / broken ribs at the moment, but something might be revealed once all that green interior paint is stripped away.

The heavy layers fiberglass at the stems added stiffness to the hull but likely also contributed to the heavy rot on both stems. Once the tacks were removed at the edge planking, the missing stem tops were revealed at both ends. These will also need to have new tips spliced in...

Basically this canoe has a little bit of everything needed for repairs but it still seems to be in great overall condition for a heavily used, functional boat.

The next part of the restoration is posted at this link HERE.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Cedar "Huron" Paddle Replica

Coming across three nearly identical versions of a model paddle in the collections of the Smithsonian, New York's Metropolitan Museum and the Danish National Museum provided the motivation to attempt a full sized version.

DONOR NAME: Dr. William C. Sturtevant
COLLECTOR: Colonel C. B. Dyneley
OBJECT TYPE: Canoe Model / Paddle Model
PLACE: Ontario / Quebec, Canada, North America
USNM NUMBER: E430522-0

Canoe Model with Accoutrements
Ralph T. Coe Collection, Gift of Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts, 2011
Accession Number:  2011.154.6a–p

National Museum of Denmark, Dept of Ethnography
Photo Credit: Kit Weiss
Hyslop, Stephen G. Chroniclers of Indian life. Alexandria, Va. : Time-Life Books. p.24

 All three model paddles to be made of cedar and I happened to have a scrap piece of red cedar with decent grain. A small 55 inch paddle could be made from the board after cutting around small knots. Shaping out the blank and thinning down the blade with the axe produced lots of scrap for summertime campfires.

The diamond shaped blade features notched shoulders with the face divided into faded red and blue hemispheres. The blade tip shaped into a blunt point. Ended up using some milk paints with similar colours to mimic the decorative effect. The Met Museum cites the model as being a "Maliseet style" but the Smithsonian and Danish samples mention a provenance stemming from the Quebec / St. Lawrence river valley with the Danish sample mentioning it was was made by Quebec Huron / Wendat as a tourist item. This makes the most sense as by the mid 19th century the Wendat in the Quebec city region were well known for manufacturing and marketing such models for the burgeoning tourist trade. As such I've labelled this paddle as a "Huron".

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Trappers Canoe Restoration: Stripping the interior

 One of the least enjoyable parts of any canoe restoration is the stripping of the old interior varnish. It takes time, uses smelly chemicals and cannot be rushed. This boat is made worse by the fact that the interior was coated in heavy layers of green paint. Performing the work outside is a must and during a warm stint here in the city, I set up to commence the necessary work. 

I've never stripped a canoe before, but a suggestion to first use a heat gun and scraper to remove the top layers of paint was suggested on an online forum. I started on a heavily painted section along the bilge and sure enough, most of the paint softened up and could be carefully scraped off without scratching up the delicate cedar ribs and planking. After cleaning up a small section about a foot wide, I tested out the chemical stripper in the area and the results were pretty good...

Working section by section, some parts of the hull were left with stubborn bits of paint after being scraped with heat. They required at least two treatments of chemical stripper before getting rid of the green paint leaving behind a sludge that looked like creamed spinach.

In order to access the spots under the seats, they needed to be removed. Unfortunately the steel carriage bolts securing them in place had corroded significantly and were a real chore to remove. I had to cut some of them with an angle grinder. Pounding them out with a hammer they seemed to get stuck in the inwale. So I ended up drilling a deep hole in the heads and then placing my pyrography pen set a full heat into the spot in order to heat up the bolts. It worked pretty well. At one point my finger tip touched the bottom of the cut bolt and I got a serious blistered burn.

The board covering the broken cane on the bow seat was easily removed. It seems the plank was also serving a structural purpose because the seat fell apart once removed from the hull. 

In order for the hull to maintain some of its shape, I kept one crossbar of the seat at the bow while stripping the other end. Here is the result at the halfway point...

Work progressed pretty well during a sunny period and I managed to get most of the remaining hull cleaned up. Difficult to reach spots at the ends will need to be removed once the decks have been taken out but that will wait until spring...

Just before the weather turned and snow + rain fell here in the city, I re-attached the outwales and put the bow seat back on with temporary bronze bolts in place. Still need to strip the rails and the deck on one end but now that snow is finally here, the work on the canoe has come to halt and it is being stored in a covered shelter for the winter.

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