I installed Miss Nancy’s thwart yesterday.



It did not go as smoothly as I would have wished, and thus, the title of today’s post.

When we reglassed her hull last summer (!) she was not on a mold. A canoe mold (for this type of canoe) is a series of plywood cross sections mounted to a T-beam made from 2×10 lumber. I do not have a mold for Miss Nancy though, so when I was ready to put the glass on, I just propped her up on a pair of sawhorses and went at it. Unfortunately, the weight of the glass & epoxy on the unsupported hull caused her gunwales to turn inwards, giving her an exaggerated “tumblehome” (meaning, her widest point is not from gunwale to gunwale, but rather, it is below that point – the gunwales come in towards the center). A little tumblehome is good, because you can heel the canoe over pretty far before the gunwales dip below the surface, at which point the river/lake rushes in, and the canoe capsizes in seconds. The downside to tumblehome is that the gunwales are not as good at turning the waves away. They just come in over the gunwales. I would rather take on water that way than by the other way, but this was just way too much tumblehome.

I decided to address this by cutting the thwart a bit wider than her “resting” position suggests, so before I cut it, I placed a spreader clamp between the gunwales and carefully started cranking on it. Crank, crank, crank. OK, one more. Pop! I split her stern deck:

Stern deck... oops

Stern deck… oops

Though disheartening, this too is fixable. Since the deck is already split, I might was well keep the gunwales spread apart as I intended. I plan to make a maple wedge whose width equals the width of the crack, and which tapers to a point. Then slather it with epoxy and insert it into the crack. I just need to be sure that the wedge is slightly higher than the rest of the deck so I can sand that down until it is at the same level. I do not wish to have to plane down the whole deck, which is a mistake I made on her bow.

When I put the bow deck in place, the starboard side just would not stay in position. It wanted to slip above the level of the gunwale. I even had a board clamped over it to stop that, and though somewhat effective, it was insufficiently effective. To fix that, I started planing the deck down to match the gunwales. Unfortunately (there’s that word again!) I ended up reducing the thickness of the deck by more than the thickness of the inlay.

Bow deck problem

Bow deck problem

So I’ll need to redo the starboard side of the inlay. I guess I’ll route it out (by hand) and cut a new piece of zebra wood to match, glue it in, clamp it down, and wait for the epoxy to set. Then I can sand the zebrawood inlay to match the level of the deck. I will do the expoxy work on both decks on the same day, because neither one of those jobs will require a full shot of epoxy, and that stuff is expensive. Like $130 per gallon. I guess it’s not that expensive – a shot of epoxy is about one fluid ounce, so that’s a whole dollar. But combined, the two deck repairs should use most of one shot. Why waste it?

Repairing my mistakes is not work that I enjoy so much, and because of that, I will have difficulty mustering the requisite ambition to actually do it! Especially when it’s hot & humid outside. But I will.

Other than the deck repair, all she needs is to have her seats mounted.

She’s so close!