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.

1 comment:

Canoe Sailor said...

Thanks for sharing these excellent photos with your commentary!

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