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Author Topic: Canoe Gunwales at last  (Read 471 times)

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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Canoe Gunwales at last
« on: June 11, 2017, 05:52:57 pm »
I started this topic a number of years ago and am asking for a fresh start! 8) 8)
http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,64038.msg953531.html#msg953531

I've been waiting years to find a clear ash or white oak log, long enough, to redo the gunwales on my canoe.  Then last Wednesday morning there it was being brought up to the mill, a 19-1/2' white oak log about 20" in diameter.  It had a gentle curve to it and its appearance was screaming "clear".   I was milling at a sawmill yard where I go frequently.  The owner was happy to tell me to get whatever I needed out of the log. 

So in just a few minutes of extra time, I cut out 9 pieces, four 3/4" x 1-1/2" QS, and 5 more 1-3/4 x 1-3/4, all out of 2 jacket boards.   To make sure I had enough, and possibly to have two sets if I get lucky. I wrapped all of them completely in lumber wrap and brought them home on the bed of the mill.  I didn't want them to dry out in the 2 hour trip coming home.

My canoe is a 17-1/2 foot Mad River Royalex Explorer and the original gunwales were ash.  They are 9/16 x 1" cross section and one set is flat sawn and the other quarter sawn.  I'll post pictures of this later.  Below shows 7 of them.  The other two are in the basement shop where my wife helped me put them through the planer to get 5/8".



 

I plan to sand and oil the gunwales when after installing on the canoe.  And this time to keep the canoe inside or under cover so the gunwales don't rot out again. 

I am wondering what I will find this time with white oak compared to ash.Why did the makers use ash?  What would be the best finish to use?  Will SS fasteners discolor it over time?  Will installing the gunwales green and letting them dry in place work out OK?
DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker, hydraulics everywhere), Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.

Online nativewolf

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Re: Canoe Gunwales at last
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 06:17:41 pm »
Ash splits wonderfully straight, great grain and steamed/bent well.  Other than that..no idea.  I'd think WO would be great too.  Love to see pictures of this project!

Offline celliott

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Re: Canoe Gunwales at last
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2017, 08:23:01 pm »
We've redone lots of gunwales. Did a 16' mad river explorer and those gunwales are quite a bit more rugged than anything else we've seen. The explorer is a fine whitewater boat, which explains the heavy duty rails.

Ash is strong enough, but also fairly lightweight (lighter than oak anyways) the explorer is no featherweight as it is. Ash also steams and bends well, but the explorer doesn't have any radical curves so the rails will be fine to go on as is.

Brass hardware would be best, but stainless is ok too.
I would not put them on green.
Being in Connecticut and getting freezing weather in the winter, you want to take extra care with the royalex canoe. Mad river had an issue where some boats would "cold crack" due to the wooden gunwales and royalex expanding and contracting at different rates in the cold, when the royalex is more brittle. To solve the problem, you either loosen the screws holding the rails on each winter, or you can oversize the holes in the royalex a bit. Redoing the gunwales is a prime time to do this. Keeping up with the finish helps too. You may be lucky and it never cracks, but I've personally seen 3 mad rivers do this, it isn't uncommon. The drying of green wood could crack the royalex too... Search "Mad river canoe cold crack"

We just stained and linseed oiled our 1923 Old Town we are restoring today. It's been quite a process, almost ready for canvas though.

Good luck and happy paddling when you get it done!
Chris Elliott


Follow our progress on the Northern Forest Canoe trail summer 2014 here-
 http://chris-and-meghannfct2014.blogspot.com/

Online nativewolf

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Re: Canoe Gunwales at last
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 09:06:20 pm »
Pretty amazing forum when someone can get such detailed insight into a niche question (which I wish had been my question).

Offline Don P

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Re: Canoe Gunwales at last
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2017, 06:40:59 am »
I worked in a whitewater canoe/kayak shop in my late teens. We had a fleet of about 20 canoes for rentals and they took a beating. I refitted a number of boats, usually in aluminum but we had some ash rails/thwarts /seats as well. At one point we were out of ash and Dad was doing a red oak job so I ripped out some rails, they lasted one trip. Red oak is certainly tougher than white but ash excels at taking impact. If at all possible think about how you hold a wooden bat and align the grain to take the rock the same way, the flat grain up and quarter on the side.

My boss was an old friend of one of the manufacturers, they would send us blem hulls that we would fit out and then go paddle things we wouldn't do otherwise. They wanted to know how their boats failed, it was fun to accommodate them  :D.

Back in the early days of the auto industry car frames were made of ash and the USFPL was worried we would deplete the ash supply so they began looking for alternatives. The paper is still in the archives on their website somewhere. Their next choice wood was maple. Notice what baseball has done 100 years later, maple bats, pretty cool.

Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: Canoe Gunwales at last
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2017, 05:26:06 pm »
That's an interesting analogy.  I hadn't thought about the wood from the impact aspect.

Now I am unsure as to the grain orientation for the canoe gunwales.   I had thought when looking down on both the inner and outer rails, that I was looking down on vertical grain (the quarter sawn appearance).   This would be opposite that for baseball bats in that one strikes those (ash ones) on the vertical grain surface). 

http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877705812017183/1-s2.0-S1877705812017183-main.pdf?_tid=a5d84220-4fb4-11e7-a0e3-00000aab0f6c&acdnat=1497302475_a5eb1c676cd29081da920420c833627d

Hmmmm...... :P :P :P
DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker, hydraulics everywhere), Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.