Monday, December 30, 2013

The Adirondack Canoe Rebuild

December 26, 2013

As usual I swore I didn't need another boat to work on and once again swore off Craigslist just like I did the last time when I ended up with the Pamlico Barkolounger!  I saw this canoe for sale and hemmed and hawed for a week or so and then made the call.  The owner, Don, said that it had gotten blown off it's stand and taken a slide down the hill on his land bouncing off some rock walls on the way down.

And what a hill it was!  As I drove up the hill I was wondering if I was going to make it as I shifted down to low, the first time I've ever done that in my car!  The owner of this hull is one of those guys who at first meeting you know you could just stand there and talk all day long with!  He had been working on his house for quite a while from what he told me while walking out to see the canoe.  Just a real down to earth guy!

I knew about the damage from the pics I saw on CL and from our phone conversations so nothing was a surprise.  Don helped me load up and told me to leave the car in neutral on the way down the hill which I did.  A very nice gentleman!

When I got home and off loaded I started looking at the damage.  The gunwales are toast, not only broken but dried out as well so they will have to be replaced.  All of the thwarts are in need of a sanding and revarnishing as well as the seats.  One small section of the hull where it hit the rock wall was broken but part of it was still there.

I took a tape a measured everything out and was actually a little surprised at what I came up with!

Length: 15'8"
Width:  33.5"
Depth: 14.5"
HIN: SCSP61311897

From what I could gather it is a Stowe Canoe, the HIN proves that, but somehow turned out to be an Adirondack!

The black coloring of the inside under the wood ribs has me a little perplexed.  After talking with the guru and he consulting his old buying guides it looks like it might be a carbon fiber layup and of the Prospector line.  It's hard to tell with these companies that are short lived.  All I know is when I lifted it off the racks on the car I knew it was the lightest hull in my fleet and I thought that my Otter Ranger was pretty light at 16 plus feet.

This has a lot of the same lines and dimensions as my MR Courier.  I will have to lay them side by side to see.

After looking this over and over and over I have sent out some inquiry's about having someone else fix the crack and break as I have no freaking idea how to deal with gel coat or carbon fiber if that is what it is!
A little Rocker on this Hull

Love those seats!
Brass tips on the decks
There is a fair amount of work to be done on the ribs and that is also an area that I am not well versed in but working on boats is all about learning a new skill.  Gotta love it.  So I guess this is just the beginning of a long haul on a new used hull but she is a pretty thing as far canoes go and I think I'll be keeping this one.

More To Come!

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

I spent some time this morning in the chill looking at the break in the top of the hull.  I'm coming up short on finding someone to fix it so have decided to make a go of it as much as I don't want to.  It is the gel coat stuff that has me nervous.  I also can't seem to figure out if the inner layer is actually carbon fiber or mat as some suggested to me from what they saw from my pics.  I am to ignorant to know the difference.

Since there is a hunk of the broken piece still attached I think I can tape it into place and then build up with cloth where the missing section is.  My dilemma is I really want to get this back to as pristine as I can and with all of my past fixes it has been a hack job.  This is really going to test my skills and will be a huge learning curve.  Some boats just need to look good when you're done.

More To Come.

January 2, 2014

Today was a bonus day.  I made a call to a local shop that has all sorts of different woods, Goosebay Lumber in Chichester, NH.   Well, I was coming up short on gunwales and they have sixteen and up to twenty foot planks so that is one problem solved and off the list.  I've bought these in the past and milled out what I need and always have a little left over so that is the route I'm going yet again, a lot of work but it just seems gunwales are the hardest and most expensive part of canoe rehabs!

I also took another look at the decks and the wood seems to be in good shape so I think, pray, I can reuse them although I've never done them flush like they are now.  Between that and trying to figure out the gel coat shit I'm gonna be up to my eyeballs in the learning curve!  I don't know whether to cry or get excited!  I'm gonna go get a can of liquid courage to mull it over!

More To Come!

January 3, 2014

This morning while waiting for work to get cancelled because of the snowstorm I started looking on line on how to work with gel coat.  On Jamestown Distributors I found a couple of helpful videos and honestly it really doesn't look that hard.  They also have all the materials I will need.  The crack I want to fix is in the stern where it kissed a rock hard and the puncture is all the way through.

Maybe four inches long and all the way through
 I would also like to fix the spider cracks but just don't know if I have the skills, time, or desire to do that.  Just the amount of sanding involved boggles my pea brain!  My camera won't pick those up!  On the inside I am thinking of using this for ease of use:

Because I have so little knowledge of working with gel coat I'm thinking on one of these as I don't have a spray gun nor will I buy one for some two hundred odd dollars so it has to go on by hand.

I'm going to do some more inquiring into this process.  Hell, I need to wait until warm weather before I can even attempt this!  

So, tomorrow I pick up the ash plank as the wood work is going to have come first due to cold weather and an unheated workshop!  I asked Santa for one but I guess I was a bad boy this year cause I didn't get one!

More To Come.

January 4, 2014

Today I picked up a twenty-one foot by one inch thick piece of ash. Because it was rough cut it starts at the wide end at ten inches but narrows down to eight inches at the bottom.  Since Hal the Gullboy is splitting the cost with me in order to get two full sets of gunwales it looks like I'm going to have to go back and buy another piece.  Cost was sixty bucks but they have a twenty footer at four inches wide that should fit the bill so we can get what we need.

Small car, long board!  Got some odd looks driving home!

It is always a crap shoot when buying rough cut!  My thought is to cut it at eighteen feet which is just below the curve in the plank, bummer!  On the positive side I did pick up a package of G-Flex.  I swear by this stuff!  So, until my new wood planner shows up, my last one decided to find a new home when some Ahole thought it would look better in his shop then mine, and Hal and I can get together to mill this out!

So as it turns out Hal bailed, don't think he liked the look of the board.  I don't really worry about the cup in the wood as after cutting the gunwales they get planned down to three quarter inch and turn out square.  

More To Come.

January 11, 2014

This morning I had to get ready for the help I am going to get ripping this board.  I decided to cut it at seventeen feet as that is as close to the bend in the board as I could get.  Now at the narrow end as I mentioned it is around eight inches but with the bark on it comes out to around seven and a half.  That should give me six one inch gunwales or so I hope.  I snapped a chalk line and then traced that with a factory board to get a good and visible line as I am have to take my circular saw to try to get one edge of this board straight.  Gawd Damn, I hate doing this!

Used a Factory Edged Board for the cut line.
So after the chalk line I still have just under eight inches to work with so I have room for errors!  Oh yeah, there are going to be some, this is me pretending I'm a skilled woodworker!  With today's shit weather I have to put this off until tomorrow morning so in the meantime I took off one of the plates that cover the bow and stern gunwale ends.  It was interesting what I found.  The inner gunwales were cut short on one side and long on the other and there is a wedge forced in the space to firm it all up.  One would think that canoe builders would have it down pat but one never knows and honestly that is a short cut I would make, actually I think I did on one rebuild!

You can see the wedge at the inner gunwales side
Another view of the wedge
So at this point I'm just waiting on cutting the gunwales.  I have no intention of pulling the old gunwales off for a while.  I'm kind of viewing this as a four stage project and have to wait for weather, materials and time I have on my hands.  It's all good!

More To Come.

January 17, 2014

We've had a warming spell here as of late.  Ice on the walkways is still here but doable at this point, kind of a corn snow/ice mix!

I needed to start cutting the ash plank to get the gunwales started.  Starting on the line I had already drawn I started the beginning cut with my circular saw as I need one straight edge to cut off of.  Of course being the cheap ass bastard I am I tried it with a years old tired blade.  Ok, lighting a cigarette with a smoking piece of ash is not the results I wanted and at my age I should know better.  Off to  the hardware store to buy a new blade.

Back at the shed with a new blade it is like cutting through butter with a piece of paper!  Holy Crap!  This was too nice!  With this new blade I finished my first cut and then started thinking, "Hey, that wasn't to bad and shit it's pretty damn straight for a circular saw cut!"  So I proceed to measure, draw more cut lines and then cut the next gunwale.  Now let me tell you cutting seventeen feet of rough cut ash in one long ash...ass cut by hand is a real bear.  I did about three to four feet at a time and then moved up the plank for the next cut.  Although it was slow going it seemed better then waiting for the ice to melt, setting up the table saw, getting someone over here to help feed a seventeen foot long piece of heavy ass wood through it.

What I did do was measure in an extra 1/8" on the cut line so I will have extra when it comes time for planning it down.

A few pictures:

Just Two
Now Three
Now Four!  Sweet!

So now I have to wait for the planner I ordered to get in so I can start working on these.  Final dimensions on these are 1 1/8" by 3/4" so I will be close to the original when I'm done planning it.  I also have enough leftover stock to make two more rails as well as carry handles or even a thwart or two.  Gotta love milling out your own stuff!

More To Come.

January 19, 2014

Today I cut out two more gunwales, the last of the board!  I'm thinking I might go get one more board and do the same with it just to have some gunwales for down the road.  I find it amazing how hard it is to find gunwales these days!  Christ, maybe I should make the as a side business!  Still shaking my simple little balding head at doing this with a circular saw!  Gotta love it when it works out so simple!  Of course clean up was twice as long as cutting time!  Done deal!

More To Come.

January 28, 2014

The new planner came in today so now I can get back to business and get the gunwales planned down to where I want them.   My plan is to get as close to the original dimensions as possible and then I am going to look for a local woodworking company to see about rounding over the edges with a continuous feed type of router.  Every time I do that part by hand even though I built a jig to help hold the wood against the blade I end up with a small divot and then the sanding starts and I do hate sanding with a passion!  Christ, trying to pass a seventeen foot piece of thin wood through a small router table is like trying to get a spaghetti noodle in your mouth in gale force winds!   Looks like this coming weekend is the time to do it!

More To Come.

February 1, 2014

Today was nothing more than making the new gunwales.  I had to set up on the driveway as the usual place I do this is nothing more then an ice sheet right now!  Now I might have gotten a little over zealous with cutting out the rough dimensions as when I started I realized this was going to take a lot longer than I thought to get this rails down to where I wanted them.

New Planner Set up
Snow Blower Help To Hold The Rail
Rough Cut
From Rough To Almost Finished
 I lost count of passes through the planner but basically what I did was to plan one side, flip it plan the other until I had the rail almost square.  Then I just kept spinning it one side at a time until I got it down to the measurements I needed.  I kept a hair over for when I round over the edges.  Each rail took about an hour!  Now I need to figure out if there is a company that can round them over for me or if I'm going to do it myself!

More To Come.

February 2, 2014

I decided to work on getting one of the decks off today.  Seeing hows the broken end of the boat was so chopped up from the damage I started there.  Since the original builders put wooden plugs in to cover the screws I had to drill those out first. 
Wooden Plug!  Why?
Drilled Out
On the first side everything went perfect.  I used a screw driver to back out the screws to start and then used my drill to pull them out all the way.

Four screws per side.  On the other side I repeated the process but, there always seems to a BUT, the screw heads on two of the screws were freaking stripped!  AAAUUGHHHH!  I knew what I had to do and resorted to a can of liquid courage before I started!  Damnit!   I hate doing this.  I got out my trusty old friend, Mr. Hacksaw Blade and began to cut the freaking screw!

I have done this so many times that I have come to hate it!  Also, because I was sawing against the hull itself I had to really take my time so I didn't cut into that!  Goddamn it, where is my can of liquid courage?!

Once that was done I still had to separate the inner gunwale from the deck.  I took it down to my other work shop and ended up having to cut the gunwale off piece by piece and then pulled the left over screws out!

I Love This Wooden Clamp
Used My Japanese Saw For the Cuts
Cutting Next To the Screw
Getting the Screw Out

Finally A Deck Sans Gunwales!
I was counting on the deck being in good shape but the tip has a lot of rot in it and one side of the wide end, bottom end, has a large chip out of it.  I must say I was pretty bummed and had to resort to a can of liquid courage and step back for a bit.  Looking through my wood pile I do have Butternut which I could use to make a new one or ash as well as I have a bunch of that left over.  I'm just worried that the Butternut will be a different color when I'm done milling it out then the rest of the bright work.  I'll have to mull this over for a while before I decide what to do.

Now if the deck was a bummer what I looked at on the hull was even worse!  The air tank was separated from the hull!  Another AAGGGHHH! and can of courage!  This is going to be a lot more work than I thought!

Can Fit a Finger in The Crack
On Both Sides

It is going to take a fair amount of work to rejoin this to the hull, something I have never done before.  This should be very interesting but will have to wait for a while.  In the meantime I took measurements of where the carry handles, thwarts and seats are on this hull and made record of them for down the road.  So in the meantime it sure looks like there is a lot...

More To Come.

February 9, 2014

I'm pretty much on hold for a lot of this project but decided that today was a good day to make some new decks.  Weather wise it was pretty nice out, about thirty degrees with no wind for a freaking change and the sun was shining hard and bright!  In the shed it was about ten degrees cooler though.

I decided to take a chance on the Butternut and found a nice board without knots to cut off of.  I used the old deck as my template and traced it out and then broke out my aging scroll saw with an electrical cord problem.  Maybe someday I will break down and buy a new one but it still works!  Cheap ass Yankee!

Making Sure the Board Is Wide Enough
Two Decks Traced Out
Cutting Out the Decks, Need a New Saw!

I always cut outside of the lines just to give me a little breathing room later, I have made too many mistakes in the past and have learned my lesson.  A little sanding later beats cutting out new pieces cause they are too short or thin!  In this case is came out just about right with minimal sanding.

A repeat for deck number two and I was done with this step!  They are a hair longer then the original and they are much thicker so I will have to plan them down to the thickness of the original deck. 

Quick Intermission:  A view of the Back 40 of my field and the birdhouse which we rent out for free in the spring, summer and fall!  Also the cob job electrical to keep my scroll saw going!

If I Bend the Cord Just Right It Works!
Rent Free Living For The Birds!
Ok, back to work.  I needed to flush up the two sides of the decks that were cut even and then sand down the hack job cut I did.  They were only off by a hair but need to be even and true for when I mount them to the gunwales.  I put them in my vice and broke out my belt sander and got them true.

The next step was to round off the curve at the back of the deck and this is always a crap shoot!  If there is one tool I have that I truly suck at using it is my router!  I never get the height correct and I have had so many mishaps in the past I dread using it.  Today did not disappoint me at all and a can of liquid courage came into play, thank Gawd for liquid courage for I was able to go on after the first mistake!

Original Rounded Over
First Attempt
AAAGGHH!  That's Going On The Underside
When I was done after twenty-seven adjustments I got it close enough to finish off with some hand sanding.  For this I have a piece of mincell that an old belt sander belt fits on and I can get a lot of wood moved off quickly, I use 40 grit to form the wood and then move on to lighter grits to smooth it out.

Save Those Old Belt Sander Belts
Mincell Bends Nicely to Fit Curves
Somewhere along the way I came across this sandpaper and by Gawd it is the best for finish work.

Talk about smooth as a babies butt!  This is the ticket when it comes to sandpaper.  I just need to find a place to buy more!  In the end the decks came out a hair longer then the original but I don't think that will matter at all.  Being Butternut I am still worried about matching the color to the ash when it finally comes time for staining them.  All in all a good day!

More To Come.

February 15, 2014

The snowstorms that have been pounding us here in the Northeast have been just nasty and time consuming.  Haven't had much time to work on this poor hull.  Today I decided to measure out the length of the gunwales. Since I cut off part of the stern I thought I would use a length of string to get a true measurement.  Simply put I taped one end to the bow and ran it down the length of the hull.

Came out to sixteen feet but I am going to cut the gunwales to sixteen two or three just to have some to play with before I trim them and shape them.  In the past I have messed this up by cutting to short.  More snow is coming so this is still on hold!   Goddamn it has been a messy long winter!

More To Come.

October 25, 2014

It has been a long while since I decided to work on this boat.  Today I took a leap of faith and decided to tackle the chip in the edge of the hull.  I worried about this for a long spell but finally decided to bite the bullet and try to patch it with a "fresh" start.  I tore the old chip off as it was kind of bent and was ragged as hell so it didn't meet the hull nicely despite some efforts with the scissors.  

The Chip 

Not a Nice Fit

Nice Gouge Out of the Hull
My plan is to use some carbon fiber cloth and gel coat to get this back into shape.  I know it will be a long shot but figured it will be mostly hidden by the gunwales down the road.  It hurt to tear off the chip but I just couldn't figure out a way to make it whole again without looking terrible.

Now in the lull between working on this boat I learned about something called Super 77, a spray adhesive that allows resin to penetrate but will hold the cloth on without the sliding around without it.  This was my leap of faith and to be honest it worked great.  I setup my waxpaper/tape on the outside and then put down newspaper and tape on the outside to help reinforce the cloth.

                                         Here's the three products I used for this patch.

I sprayed a thin layer of Super 77 on the area where I was putting the cloth and by Gawd it was great!  Held just where I wanted it.  Now you do have work quick with the stuff and you really need to have your plan in place as it sets up quickly.  I did screw it up in that I didn't stretch my cloth tight enough but I found that out the next day.  Next I mixed my resin and using a foam brush I slowing saturated the cloth.  I used two pumps off the resin to get enough to do that. 
Now this is the second time I've used Carbon Fiber cloth and I still find it hard to see if it is fully filled with resin.  Could be my aging eyeballs though!  I used almost all of the resin I mixed and was extremely careful about drips.  Now, the other thing that I started using is Peel Ply.  This makes for a very smooth finish and prevents drippage, is that a real word? 
You can see the Peel Ply over the cloth as I cut it larger to catch drips
Now it really isn't ideal weather but I'm making a push on this hull to get the patching part done before the temps drop to low.  Damn, someday, oh someday I'll have a heated workshop!  That would truly be sweet!  I left it at that and went off to get a can of liquid courage and wait for the peeling off of the Peel Ply, about a two hour wait.

I waited about two hours but due to the dampness and cooler temps the resin still hadn't set up and being impatient as I pulled the Peel Ply up I disturbed the cloth and despite my efforts to get it back in place it didn't want to cooperate much.  I smoothed it as best I could and went to find another can of liquid courage to console my aching heart.  Damn!  Much harder then I thought.  Looks like a wait until morning to see what comes of this damned patch!

More To Come.

October 26, 2014

I went down to the shed and looked the Peel Ply over and gave a a yank and it pulled off as slick as could be.  My mistake of the day before was there and I could also tell that I didn't pull the C/F cloth tight enough at the top.  The cloth took a buckle inward.  It was way too early in the morning for a can of liquid courage and I'm just plain tired of kicking stuff when I screw things up so I just sat for  a while and decided what I wanted to do from here.  The bulk of the patch is good but the missing part is not.

That Doesn't Look Right!

The Cloth Bowed in to the Hull.  Damn!
 I know I'm going to have to sand it down as the patch kind of wrinkled when I tried to pull the Peel Ply off to early.  I guess I have to practice kicking myself in the arse so I can get this right.  Damn!

My thought now is to cut that divet out and re-apply a new section of cloth from both the inside and out.  Like I've said before, I just make this stuff as I go along.

More To Come.

November 30, 2014

Throughout this whole process I decided to look for someone with the experience to fix the tank and do the gelcoat.  I put a lot of feelers out but got nothing back but "Sorry can't do it."  Finally I got a response from a guy in Herbron, NH who has a shop called Paddle Fancy:

He makes beautiful paddles and rebuilds wood and canvas canoes.  I loaded up the Dak and dropped it off with all of the materials I bought and am going to let him do this part.  Sometime in the spring I will get it back and then I can start the rest of the repairs.  So there is...

More To Come.

OK, other boats came into the Canoe Shed and this one got put on the back burner for...four years.  Every time I walked by it I felt guilty and hung my head in shame for a minute.  So fast forward to May 2018 and I finally got the hull into the new Canoe Shed, yes, it's heated!

May5-14, 2018

The gunwales were rotten to hell so I took those of and of course some of the screws were a PITA to get off but it got done.  Had to use my hack saw blade more than once.  Next was the Rib Project as I refer to it.  After many days of looking it over, lifting here and there, scratching my head and consulting cans of liquid courage I decided the best bet was to use straight epoxy resin to treat the tips and any cracks in the ribs vs trying to pry them up and replacing them.  Hell, they were epoxied in to begin with and that is not a fun chore to do without damage somewhere on the hull IMO. 

Before I started I wanted to know what the ribs were treated with and with some sanding it turned out to be varnish.  I think I already knew this but after working on so many boats one can never be sure what someone else has done. 

But let me back track for a bit.  The very first thing I had to do was give it a bath.  Four years of sitting it had accumulated a fair amount of cobwebs, dirt, sawdust and other stuff.  Where the gunwales had sat was a layer of built in grim.  Now here's the thing, years ago my better half comes across this cleaner at Wally World called Power Shot.  An amazing cleaner but it was so good they jacked the price up and pulled it from the shelves.  When we got the boat up to the hull I was going to use a scrubby and dish washing stuff.  She comes walking out with a mix of Dawn detergent mixed with white vinegar and stated with was pretty much the same as Power Shot.  I was doubting it but I'll be damned but it worked just as good!  I have a full bottle in the Shed ready to go! 

Back to the shed it was starting to treat the ribs.  I decided due to factors, back surgery recovery, I wasn't going to sand forty ribs on this boat.  I did some test runs with several coats of varnish and liked the way the ribs looked so am going that route. 

I epoxied the upper ribs where they were dried out and cracked with a lot of babysitting to force the resin into the old screw holes and cracks.  Next was layers of varnish, three for each rib as I did a set of ten at a time.  Time consuming but worth the effort.  So far I have one side almost done and then I get to do it all over on the other side. 


  1. Looks like a real nice boat. You are lucky to have that 20ft Ash available.

  2. Thanks Scooter, this makes me appreciate your artistry even more.