Friday, November 16, 2012

The Mystery Canoe

I got a call from my friend who said a canoe had washed up on his landing on the Merrimack River and he didn't have the time or efforts to fix it up so wanted it gone.  Did I want it?  Well, I am a sucker for this sort of thing and of course said yes!  Just what I need, yet another canoe!

The caveat was that the police had seen it somehow and it was now a question of trying to find the rightful owner.  It got posted on Craigslist and once it got to my Humble Hovel I called Ranger Canoe and asked them if they had records, no, as they ship them out to dealers and being a 1988 model from the HIN they suggested posting on local paddling message boards which I did.  I am waiting to hear on that one!  Speaking of the HIN here is what it looks like and I found it unique!

I thought I needed new glasses when I first started looking at it!

So, I waited for the light of day and took a good long look at it and decided aside from the seats and thwarts it is really in pretty good shape for a 24 year old hull.  There are some problems with it but they are minor in the scheme of boat repairs, God knows I have worked on worse!

Ranger Otter, as is right now

Needs new seats
As you can see it needs new seats but the thwarts seem to be solid and once removed, sanded and a coat or so of spar on them they will look like new.  I am thinking I can still use the seat frames and put webbing on them as I really dislike cane, an incident from many years past has left a bad taste in my mouth for them.

I started looking for cracks in the hull and saw only one suspect spot where there was a crack on the outside and a corresponding patch on the inside.

Above pic is the crack on the outter hull and this is the patch on the inner

On the stern is this interesting patch that was put on by someone.  Not sure why but will find out.

It looks like either duct tape or gorilla tape and I'm hoping it will peel off with some heat from the hair dryer so I can see what the deal is with it.  The only other problems I found are on the tanks.  Both have been breached somehow but that, again, is an easy fix.

A layer of Dynel will fix both breaches
What I consider to be the worst damage to this hull is on the gunwale.  Somehow a big chunk is missing.

Maybe three inches has broken out
My initial thought is to pack it with plumbers epoxy and then lay a layer of glass with G-Flex over it and then sand it down from there to make it flush.  I have used plumbers epoxy on my pole ends and on my Disco and they have held up for going on 14 years now so I know it will hold.  I have absolutely no desire to take the gunwales off. 

Aside from needing a damn good cleaning all in all the hull looks pretty damn good!  I had one of these many years ago and it was the canoe I really learned how to paddle solo in and am totally comfortable in.  It holds a good load and handles well so I think if I don't hear from anyone about ownership it will be fixed up and added to my quiver of canoes.

More To Come.

November 21, 2012

The patch on the stern had me puzzled.  I had to know it wasn't a good thing but I kinda figured it was quite fixable.  This morning I decided to peel off the "patch" and see what was under it.  The patch was nothing more than Gorilla Tape and a piece of heavy plastic covering a good size crack!   It's going to be bitch to get all of the residue off from the tape but what the hell hairdryers and razor blades will get it done!

You can see the crack under the plastic
Field Repair?  Who knows!

Pushed In.  It Needs to Come Out.
About Seven Inches Long

After I got the patch off I flipped the hull and sure enough the crack is under the air tank so this is going to have to be an outside fix as I really don't want to cut into the tank and then repair that since the patch I have to put on that is fairly small.  I have been very successful with the mix I use of West System/G-Flex/Dynel and will probably go that route.

After looking it over with a can of liquid courage I decided to drill the crack at both ends to prevent it from spreading further and then I will get out my trusty hack saw blade and widen the crack so it will at least pop out enough to make it even instead of pushed in as it is now. 

This certainly isn't a show stopper but it just means more time and materials involved.  What the hell, it's a freebie!

More To Come.

November 24, 2012

In a frenzy to get a kayak I just finished fixing off the property I did to move some moving.  Kevlar Malecite up to the loft of the barn, move the Ranger in for work.  Today I decided to make an attempt with a hair brained scheme.  I want to fill the gunwale with plumber's epoxy.  I got my roll out and spent a fair amount of time working to keep it warm, it warn't none to warm out!  I only wanted to put a light and thin patch in so I could break it out if it didn't work.  It took a bit and have a mind to bring my big lights up to warm stuff.  Goddamn, some day I will have a heated workshop.

If I find this bonds despite the temperatures I will continue with this as a fix.  Most of the epoxy stuff I have done has been more than rock solid!  Going to give a bit of time to set up and then add more to for the outside gunwales shape.  It 's all a crap shoot!

Broken Gunwale
I cleaned it out with a Q-tip
Plumber's Expoy, Good Stuff
More To Come.

December 1, 2012

The test run with plumber's worked out well and I needed to add another layer on to meet the gunwale lines.  This time I warmed the epoxy by the woodstove and then brought it down.  Once kneaded out it was a whole lot easier to work it into the break and work it into a shape that I can sand down later.

Looks like a gob but it is pretty close to even
After that I am thinking laying a layer of G-Flex mixed with black graphite powder to try to blend in.

So next it was time to try to get that tape residue off and I broke out the hair dryer and a razor blade.  Not to good, hell it's snowing out and cold!  I gave up after about twenty minutes.  It's not defeat it just means a new plan and I've got one!  Just hope the better half is game for a canoe in the house for a day!

As I mentioned earlier I wanted to get the big crack so it wasn't pushed in.  I got out the ol' hacksaw blade and very slowly started widening the crack.  I have found that being aggressive with the blade is counteractive.  If I take my time and keep a gentle and steady pace the cut is much cleaner.  I did drill three holes on the crack to keep it from spreading.

What is was
Widening the Crack, reminds me of dental work!
Now the edges are almost flush
In the above picture there is hole I drilled on the left of the image.  There is a shallow and jagged part of the crack.  I decided to leave it be and depend on the cloth and resin.  Until I get the crap off the hull I am at a stand still as I want to work on this first.

More To Come.

December 23, 2012

Well, I have been mulling over what to use to get the residue off so I can begin patching.  I posted on message boards, I tried a few things with no success.  I'm whining about this one morning and my better half says try this stuff, it works great on everything!

Great Stuff!
She has been swearing by this stuff for a while now although it seems to be hard to find.  Price is only about three bucks and holds 12.8 FL.OZ.  Now I had my doubts but decided to opt for this as it was here, I had some time  on my hands and was worth a try!  Hell, if I had some grain alcohol on hand I might have tried that!  I picked one nasty spot and sprayed a touch of it on.  It comes out in a gel and I spread it round the tape I wanted off and then walked away for a can of liquid courage in case it ate through the gelcoat and hull!

Comes out in gel so easy to spread around.
 In the meantime I knew I needed more than a razor blade, I needed a bigger and stiffer tool to move around the hull.  I found in my pile of used and old tools a masonry blade.  I took it to my bench grinder and got a nice sharp edge on it.

Now I have used belt sanders, knives, razor blades and other tools on other hulls and have become just a little bit skilled at scraping off a lot of different kinds of residues.  This worked out almost perfect as between the blade and the solvent the tape leftovers and gunk came right off.

With Tape Leftovers
Cleaned Up
Although there is a hint of residue left I am confident I can get that off with steel wool or fine sandpaper.  I finally did make it out with some 0000 steel wool and after about ten minutes of elbow grease I could barely see the outline of where the glue had been and just to be on the safe side I scrubbed it down with some alcohol.  Now it's time to move on to patching!

More To Come.

December 26, 2012

Today after work I decided to add the first patch on the crack I just cleaned up.  Yeah, it's cold out but I've done this before and decided I really want to get this done.  Since it is the stern I started out with just S-Glass and from there will have decide what material I want to use, Dynel or a few more layers of glass.  Of course no pictures because no batteries, again!

More To Come.

March 10, 2010

I finally got the boat back onto the work rack.  I decided to hold off on resin work as warmer weather is on the way and I focused on the wood work.  There are two thwarts in this boat neither of them being a carry thwart.  For a 16' canoe I consider that a negative!  I started by trying to get the nuts off the thwart bolts but they were rusted on tight.

Now I have done this before, using smooth head lag bolts but believe me it has to be the worst method of attaching thwarts!  Using a wrench and a set of vice grips I was able to get one end off but on the other side of the thwart I had to get a freaking hack saw blade out.  There was no way that nut was coming off unless I did this.  I can't understand why a manufacturer would go with this type of hardware!  Nothing more then a PAIN IN THE ASS to get off! 

This cost me one can of Liquid Courage!
To get this turd off
I almost came up with a new swear word!
I had no expectations that these thwarts would be worth shit but I kept that heartbeat of faith that the ends were ok as I could easily refurbish them.  Not to be though, two many years of hard use!

The pictures aren't even worth a caption!  Although there is enough good wood to recycle for something else!  Now I am deciding whether to buy new thwarts or mill my own as I still have one thick piece of ash left.  I left the seats in to help hold it together but they need a lot of work as well.  I plan on getting that crappy cane stuff out and using webbing!  Cane just sucks IMO, there's nothing good about it except for looks.  Gawddamn how I hate that stuff!

Looks like a lot more work to come just on woodwork!  The rest of the hull patches are minimal.

More To Come.

April 28, 2013

I finally got back to work on the boat after a long wait for warm weather.  After sanding the patch I laid down another layer of S-glass.  For the crack along the chine I decided to use Dynel as that is an area that gets a lot of play to it.  When both of the patches cure I will add one more coat of resin with some white paint mixed to try to hide them a little.  Probably look like hell but that's what sandpaper is made for!

I had ordered a new center thwart from Ed's Canoes a while back.  The cost was little and to be honest I just didn't feel like milling out my own this time.  I only have one piece of ash left and am saving it for down the road.  I installed that and then took out the seats.  The original layup was for two thwarts but I decided to go with just the carry thwart.  Now the last set of caned seats I worked on I tried like hell to get the last bits of it out with a screwdriver.  All I managed to do was break out wood!  Goddamn cane!  Since the seats still had enough meat at the ends to reuse I learned from my mistake and took my belt sander to get rid of the cane and smooth out any rough spots.  I bought two rolls of webbing from Country Brook Design, they have the best prices that I could find after quite a bit of searching, and will be using that.  Webbing IMO is the only way to go.

I still have three small holes to patch on the inside of the hull but that will only take an hour or so to do.  While looking this boat over I have decided that instead of selling it I'm going to keep it.  It is a pretty versatile hull, has decent freeboard and is long enough to carry a good load. 

So, some more sanding and patching and then seat work to do.  I have enough leftover wood to make new carry handles as the old ones are truly punky!  I figure about another two weeks work and this hull will back on the water.

More to Come.

May 28-29, 2013

Two weeks my ass!  One thing after another has held me up from working on the seats or the hull.  I finally got them sanded and a four coats of spar varnish lathered on.  I then tackled the webbing.  Once I got the pattern/measurements down it was easy.  In fact is was relaxing to do this part.  I used a propane torch to heat up a blade to melt through the webbing to cut it to size.  Then I just used a staple gun with 1/4" staples to secure the cloth.   I thought for sure I wasn't pulling it taut enough but once the weaving started everything got drum tight!  Sweet!

On arm of the stern seat needed a little work as it had kind of rotted out around the bolt hole but I sanded it out, filled it with wood putty and then covered it with cloth and G-Flex.  Yeah, I'm a cheap Yankee but I've seen worse that have held up for a long while.

I wish I had taken more pics of the process but I was lazy!  Here's what they look like after just a few hours of work.

I think this is an easy enough project that I will start saving all the shit seats I can and just re-web them.  Tomorrow I need to get new hardware and then it just putting them back on.  Next is fixing the three small holes and making new carry handles.  Yeah, another ass!

More To Come.

June 1, 2013

I picked up the hardware today and then decided to patch the two holes in the bulkheads.  I did a half ass job but they will hold and that is all that really matters.  

Rough patches but will hold

Of course I did this outside and as soon as I got the resin and cloth on the wind picked up and decided to deposit some debris on it.  If I get ambitious down the road I might even sand them out!  Also, the plumbers epoxy I put in the gunwale needed a coat of paint or something and I got extremely lazy and took a sharpie to it but just the top half!  Later in the day I decided to put the seats in.  I cut new spacers out of left over seat materials.  I always save them just for this purpose, they're already varnished and are thick enough to drill through.

 Now something interesting happened as I tightened one of the bolts down.  The gunwale actually caved in so the bolt head was sunken in!  Goddamn it!  It just shows that these gunwales are more brittle then I thought they were and at some point I will have to replace them.  I got out some plumber's epoxy and filled the hole and put a washer in and then re-mounted the spacer and bolt.  It will have to do!

Another Jury Rigged Fix
When I got this hull I thought I would end up selling it but as I worked on her I decided that this was a canoe that I liked.  As I posted earlier this was the canoe I really learned to solo in and I'm pretty comfortable in it.  It will be a good beater boat as well as one I can loan out to friends if they need one.  All in all a fairly easy project and I learned how to web seats!

I could do some more cosmetic work on it but for now I am calling this a done deal and will paddle her as is! 

July 4, 2014

After a very long time being a missing person from my hometown I finally made a showing, only took twenty odd years.  One of the missions for this visit was to bring one of my canoes to my life long buddy who has been wanting one but is held down with three kayaks.  I decided that since the Ranger is a sturdy hull with good and deep free board it was the perfect hull for him and his dawg!

When I pulled into his house the first words where, "A big canoe on a small car!"  He was quite happy with it I think.  So it has found a new home in a new state and will hopefully see new rivers.

So for me this is truly the end of this tale.  

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