Heritage Canoe Project: Day 1

It was decided.  I was committed to this project, regardless of the time, although a bit concerned about the cost Roger spoke about yesterday.  Up early, I wolfed down a hearty breakfast and headed to the Carlisle Canoe Company.  I would not be stopped in my determination, and if Roger needed convincing, by gosh I was the guy to do it!

As it turned out, Roger also greeted me with enthusiasm and spoke about giving me some discount pricing, since it was going to take a while.  I thanked him and told him I was “in all the way.”  Quickly getting to the task, we discussed the days work.  It became very apparent that Roger was the real deal, confirmed by an article displayed on the wall referring to him as the Canoe Doctor.  I was glad the doctor was “in.”  We discussed keeping as much of the original look to the canoe, including the original decks that were extremely rare pieces of work (albeit needing a lot of restoration).  The ribs were also  unique, being significantly thinner than most canoes.  This will be good, as the canoe is also significantly lighter.

It turned out to be a great, and productive day.  Roger is an amazing teacher, patiently explaining what needs doing, exactly how to do it, and why.  Throughout the day he added information about canoe construction and why particular things are critical. DSC09685

While I pulled countless nails, screws and tacks out of various parts, Roger manufactured replacement parts needed, including 10 new ribs.  He showed me how, and why, brass nails are used to secure the ribs to the cedar hull and I was given the task of nailing 3 half ribs into the canoe.


My first few attempts were dismal.  (It really is quite different than any nailing I had done before).  Roger calmly gave me the needed guidance, and by the third rib I was feeling like a pro.


After steaming the other 7 ribs in the ‘customized’ steam box, we folded them around the hull, clamped them securely, and left them to form overnight, in time for tomorrow’s work.  A bit more custom cutting of various parts for the hulls, and the day was done.

4 and 1/2 hours went quickly, but looking at the pics I took we really did get a lot done.  Saying farewell to Dr. Roger, and his trusty dog Chaucer, I headed home a bit tired but a whole lot happier.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s canoe restoration installment.

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