Canoe Restoration

With some time, effort, and the right materials, just about any old, worn out wood canvas canoe can be restored to beautiful, functional, like-new condition.
The cedar canvas building style lends itself readily to restoration. Individual pieces that have failed can be replaced to bring the canoe back up to its original strength. Replacing old canvas is actually quite simple. A beat up interior can be stripped, sanded and varnished again to return it to its original, glowing appearance. No job is too small or too complicated, unless the canoe is so far gone as to be seriously out of shape and beyond saving, which is rare.
Restoration of an old canoe allows the legacy of the wood canvas canoe to continue and preserves the memories an old canoe can hold for the paddler and his family. The aged canoe once set aside from regular use can be made functional once again, allowing the joys and memories made from exploring the waterways in a well crafted hand made canoe to be passed down to the next generation and onward.

Restorations to Date

1952 Old Town H.W. Model

This is a 16 foot long canoe made by the Old Town Canoe Company of Old Town, Maine. It was not originally fitted out with seats, as was the native style. This restoration required new ribs, new planking, new decks and outer gunwales, stem and gunwale tip repair, new canvas, and a refinished interior.

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Circa 1900 J.R. Robertson Canoe

This is an old style 17 foot long canoe, built by the J.R. Robertson Canoe Company of Auburndale, Massachusetts. This company was instrumental in introducing thousands of people to canoeing in a recreational sense. Prior to the early 20th century, canoes were used largely for professional trapping, guiding, timber surveying, trading, and wilderness exploration. This canoe is complete with mahogany seats and thwarts, traditional closed gunwales, and hand caned seats.

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The restoration for this canoe included many new ribs, many feet of new planking, new gunwale caps, new seats and thwarts, a new keel, new canvas, and completely refinished interior.

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1955 13 Foot Old Town 50 Pounder

A canoe made in the style of the small, lightweight canoes used by trappers and fishermen to pack into inland ponds in the heart of the north country. Like all restorations, this canoe required new canvas and new varnish, but only of couple ribs and some planking, in addition to re-caning the seats.

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1940 16 Foot Old Town H.W.

Like the Fifty Pounder above, this canoe was in pretty good shape considering its age. It originally had sponsons, or the air chambers on the sides to prevent capsizing, but these were removed during the restoration on request of the customer to make the canoe lighter and easier to handle. Common with many older canoes, the ends of this canoe were rotten and new ends had to be spliced onto the stems, outer gunwales, and inner gunwales. New decks were also required to make the ends of the canoe whole again.

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Skin on Frame Kit Kayak

This kayak consists of a lightweight poplar and steel frame covered with canvas and was built from a kit back in the day by a customer's grandfather. The frame was in surprisingly good shape, and most of the restoration was in hand stretching the canvas sheathing over the shape of the frame.

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16 Foot Thompson Hiawatha

Thompson was once the largest producer of outboard motor boats in the world, but also made a few models of canoes, many examples of which survive to this day. The Hiawatha is unique in its design in that is has full width half-ribs with the ends of the half-ribs covered by longitudinal stringers, making a flat, solid floor for the base of the canoe. This particular canoe was very sound structurally, evidence that it was either used sparingly, or who ever used it was a good paddler.

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1926 18' Old Town H.W.

Another Classic Old Town canoe in for complete restoration. The longer 18' and above canoes have been largely forgotten in favor of shorter 16'-14' boats with the belief that shorter boats are easier to handle. Contrary to that popular belief, the extra length greatly reduces the draft of the canoe, enabling it to float in shallower water where its shorter counterparts might be left scraping the bottom. It allows for greater paddling speeds with either a solo or tandem paddlers, and extra buoyancy to hold one or two of their friends. The restoration on this canoe was extensive and laborious, and the result is a revived beauty that will stand up to many more years out in the elements that is was originally intended to navigate.

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1960 Thompson Runabout

Another boat from the Thompson Company, this is the first full size power boat that the shop has worked on. Built nearby in Cortland, NY, in 1960, this very solid boat is in great condition, and just needed some attention to the transom to be fully functional again. The rotted lower half was replaced with new mahogany, which was glued and screwed together to the original upper half to create a strong, watertight panel to mount the motor to.

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