Thursday, July 31, 2014

Remodeling the canoe for the upcoming season Part 1

My Hemlock Kestrel is now 9 years old and from what I can tell, should give me at least another 10 years or more of  service.  The main problem with the canoe is the maintenance of the wood trim as I live in a tropical environment and keep the canoe outside on the patio.  Since I bought the canoe it has been treated with Watco Teak Oil about once a month.  In the summer when the rainstorms roll in daily and the  humidity is high, I have to bring the canoe inside to make sure the wood dries before applying more oil.  Obviously, it is a lot of work and there is no way to stop the wood from deteriorating no matter how diligent I am.  On the plus side, it has been able to survive with pretty solid wood for the last 9 years. I use this canoe at least 2 times a month on average. 

Exploring Options:

A - Replace all the woodwork and place an order with Hemlock.  Continue with oil application and get another 9 years out of it.  Cost would be less than $500 for parts but have to add shipping.  I would have to do the work myself requiring I also have to buy some tools. The main problem is where to do the work?  On the plus side, this will probably have a higher resale value as all the parts are made by Hemlock and installed as per the original design.

B - Have my friend Jay Thomas do the work and save as much of the components he can. He would do the gunnels of Ash or Cherry.  Both are extremely hard and suitable. Build new decks to match that wood.

What he would do differently from current boat construction is:

1. Epoxy the gunnels prior to installation.
 2. Screw AND glue (thickened epoxy) the new gunnels to the hull.  It becomes a permanent installation but has the following advantages:

   a. ensures the underside of the gunnel is completely sealed against water - it will never rot.
   b. ensures the end grain of the hull is completely sealed - it will never wick water.

The negatives - it would be a permanent installation.  It would be a major issue to swap it again.  But if I take care of them, should never have a problem.  I would only have to  lightly sand and put a couple of coats of varnish on the gunnels every year or as needed.

- It is getting closer to season so I have to make a decision.  I decide to take option "B" as it would eliminate all the work I have to do monthly and be a lot less costly.  Keep in mind, the cost is less because Jay is doing the work without charging me.  I have no idea how much a shop would charge for all the work that is required in option "B".

The canoe is now at Jay's garage and he starts photo documenting the process for me. Luckily, I got it there in time. Here is what was happening under the stern: