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 Post subject: Layup
PostPosted: February 27th, 2004, 3:24 pm 
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Joined: January 14th, 2003, 7:00 pm
Posts: 214
Location: Milwaukee, WI USA
I've been paddling northern rivers for close to ten years now. I've been using royalex canoes and have had good results. Between easy sliding over rocks and lack of worry I've enjoyed the Penobscot.
We left the Penobscot in baker Lake this past summer. The bottom is thin and we had to use globs of epoxy to shore up exposed and cracked royalex toward the stern, on the trail last summer. This boat took us over four large water, Nunavut trips and many "local" flat and whitewater trips over 5 years.

Reading through some of the old stories I read about expeditions through the '60's' using wood canvas on the same rivers I have used royalex. I don't doubt that royalex will wear better with fewer field repairs. But now that it's time to replace my expedition boat I can't help but wonder if i should think about wood canvas?

I bought a 1940's vintage w/c a couple of years ago. I cleaned up the gunnels and the keel and put some new paint and varnish on it. i have paddled it mainly around home, flatwater. But I took it out a couple of November's ago down a river in western Wiscosnin that has many riffles and class 1's. It is a dream to paddle. Even while going through the rock gardens of the class 1's, I felt like all I had to do was think about what I wanted it to do next and it would be done. This would not make a good expedition boat, but...

Anybody out there using w/c as an expedition boat? Comments?


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PostPosted: February 27th, 2004, 6:15 pm 
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Joined: June 1st, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Swartz Creek, Michigan, USA
Here's Hugh Stewart's philosophy on the subject. In addition to building canvas-covered canoes he still takes long trips in the north using them. A couple of years back it was Labrador.

http://www.headwaterscanoes.ca/outlook.html

I've been slowly switching over to canvas-covered canoes myself but have been getting heavily built models like the Chestnut Guide's Specials & Ogilvy Specials. They wouldn't be the greatest for portaging but will stand an awful lot of abuse if need be.
The more I use them, even my lightly built models, the more I realize that they aren't the fragile craft that I once thought they were and were used extensively in the north on rough trips for many years. When aluminum came on the scene in large numbers after WWII it sold like hot-cakes because you could just leave it out in the back yard during the winter and not worry about it. It was that fact which turned the tide on canvas-covered canoes.

You're right, they paddle like a dream when compared to the modern materials out there today and it's not uncommon to see 100 year old canvas-covered canoes around, which says a lot. They are infinitely repairable and after recanvassing you essentially have what amounts to a new canoe even though it may not look new on the inside if broken or damaged wood has been replaced but that's just asthetics.

Camp Keewaydin still takes long trips in these canoes as well and you can find more information on how they use them along with field repairs at Ottertooth. Keewaydin primairly uses 17' Prospectors & Cruisers built on the original Chesnut forms by Donald Fraser over in Fredericton. About 2/3 rd's of the 200 canoes he's built since 1980 have went to this camp and they are still his biggest customer to this day.
It was because of one of their orders that I had to wait two years for the two canoes I ordered from Don that I'll finally be getting this summer, which will make three Fraser Canoes for me.
Next it's on to Hugh Stewart for one of his 16' Guide's Special's, which are nothing more than closed-ribbed Cruiser's. Hugh builds this model on an original Chestnut form and also has an original form for the 16' Prospector.
I only mention all this in case some people aren't aware that some excellent classic designs, which served paddlers well for many years are still available.

Here's the link to Keewaydin's long trips.
http://www.ottertooth.com/long_trips_files/long_way.htm

Here's an excellent source of information for anyone who paddles canvas-covered canoes.
http://www.ottertooth.com/Canoe_pages/fieldrepairs.htm

Jack


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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2004, 12:41 pm 
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Joined: January 14th, 2003, 7:00 pm
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Location: Milwaukee, WI USA
Jack - Thanks for the links. Excellent site as far as information about w/c goes. I printed the field repair section and since I've been fiddling with my vintage w/c I found this section quite understandable. I have heard of many of the field repairs described. Reading through this helps me realize the simplicity of field repairs.

We had to place a field patch on the royalex canoe this past summer. The bottom was getting worn toward the stern and prior to the trip I sprayed on about 8 coats of paint over a month. The paint came off and one day we noticed cracks forming in the royalex. We took the day off and patched with epoxy we had in plastic packets. Not only was it ugly but, it wasn't going to last very long. We got to the end of the trip OK but the epoxy was in bad shape by the end. So field repairs are expected and I think a bit simpler and even a bit more permanent on w/c.

Since I am not taking a long, far north trip this summer, I will be saving some money toward possibly buying a w/c tripper.

Thanks again for the links and the encouragement.


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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2004, 1:37 pm 
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Joined: November 18th, 2003, 5:35 pm
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Hello Frank,
Here’s a few more links to canvas canoe builders near my home.
My first canoe (over 35 years ago) was a 17’ Nor-West (not in catalogue anymore) that I sold when fiberglass canoes became available. It was too beautiful and I did not want to scratch it on wilderness trips. They are kind of heavy, but no worse than the Old Town Trippers I also owned later on.
In this part of the country we paddle a lot from the kneeling position so that can be uncomfortable. One absolute pleasure is the noise factor. Unlike synthetic materials they are silent and one barely notices the sound of the water against the canoe. Another thing that synthetics can’t match if the way they float and respond to the flow.
Like anything else some builders are artists and others are just slapping the boats together.
I’ve seen a few in pieces at the foot of rapids. Not everybody paddles them with the care of a Bill Mason.

http://www.nor-west.qbc.net/english.htm

http://www.nominingue.com/canoes.htm
Gerald G.


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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2004, 2:53 pm 
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Joined: November 8th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Eckville, Alberta Canada
hi,
Lots of great info and builders at the Wooden canoe site www.wcha.org Just about any question has been asked and answered in the forum section of that site.

Larry


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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2004, 2:57 pm 
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Joined: November 8th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Eckville, Alberta Canada
Hi again,
You may want to chat with Dan Boles who contributes alot on this site. I know he has done alot of tripping in cedar canvas canoes. He has been doing a cross Canada expedition, doing sections each year as time allows. Great guy to chat with and has lots of wonderful stories to share.

Larry


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PostPosted: March 4th, 2004, 9:42 am 
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Joined: January 14th, 2003, 7:00 pm
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Location: Milwaukee, WI USA
Thanks Larry. I'm a member of Wooden Canoe Heritage Association. You are right, and I will post this over there, also. Those folks are great. Sometimes though, they do get a bit too pure in their effort to preserve wood canoes.

Since I posed the question I relayed some of the discussion to my regular paddling partner. He thinks I'm nuts to consider this. I told him he has to paddle my vintage boat through some swifts with a lot a chances to turn and dodge rocks. And that's in a boat made for cottage/lake paddling. I can only imagine how sweet running up to class 2's would be in a boat made for ww.


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PostPosted: March 4th, 2004, 12:05 pm 
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Joined: July 20th, 2003, 9:12 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Wakefield, Qué. - (near Ottawa)
Just want to confirm what Jack had to say about Hugh Stewart's canoes. He builds them tough and uses them on remote trips. I got to paddle for a day a prospector that he built and it looks and paddles like a dream.
You may have to leave a message for him now as he may be out gathering sap for his almost equally as famous maple syrup! :D

_________________
Ian, the Mild Man of the Gatineaus


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PostPosted: March 4th, 2004, 12:58 pm 
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Joined: June 1st, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Swartz Creek, Michigan, USA
Frank Sinatra wrote:
I can only imagine how sweet running up to class 2's would be in a boat made for ww.


Frank, funny you should use the word sweet. That's exactly what I say after I make a run through a tricky section in our 15' Prospector. Sweet indeed!

I don't know if it would handle as good as it does with stock seat placement though. When I had it built {original form}, I had the builder move the stern seat forward about 14" and the bow back 2" so it would be set-up as our swift water canoe.
Another plus of moving the stern seat forward that much was that it increased the hull's "carry" in shallow water because my weight is now over a much wider part of the hull than it would have been with the stock seat placement.
To date, I've had the seats placed where they will allow the hull to ride trim when empty in all of the canvas-covered canoes I've had built so far to compensate for the 100 lb. weight difference between my wife & myself. On the others I only moved the stern seat forward, which, in addition to the extra "carry" makes it easier to do back ferries.
I've been paddling canoes set-up specifically for us so long that I had forgotton just how bad it is paddling a canoe with stock seat placement until we paddled Rolf's 16' We-no-nah Prospector last summer. When we came back to shore, Rolf's wife Deb, told us that it looked like my wife was up in the air! When Rolf later sent me a picture he shot that day I realized Deb wasn't kidding!!

Ian, now it's my turn to agree with you. I use the same term for Hugh's syrup that I do when I paddle the Ranger. Sweet!

Jack


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