• Fitting out a fibreglass canoe hull

    Thats right - its me canoe time!

    I am sure by now that my story has eked out in bits and pieces so theres not much to add.

    This is the process in photo format.

    Canoe arrives and rough laying out of parts:

    Then I measure the hull down the centre line (14ft 10 and a half inches):

    Find and mark the centre point and then fit a temp thwart at 33 inches to ensure correct width. It is glued in place but constantly falls off so is glued about 8 times a day!!!:

    Now comes the fitting of the gunwales:

    Now I think everyone knows the problems I had with this. Firstly the SS screws were pure pap. Even with multiple drill bit changes and even incremental drilling it still left me with either stripped screw heads or even worse with broken heads

    Then came the biggest problem, I could not bring the gunwales up to meet the top of the hull at the bow and stern without it twisting horribly. I managed to get it to 4.5 cms and left it at that. I still get a good upturn on the hull but not as much as everyone else.

    The last problem was the deckplates. My initial thought was fit gunwalwes first and then fit deckplates, however this was very hard. In fact it led to them dropping at the back whilst fitting the gunwales through it where the outer gunwales screws directly into the deckplate. I learnt form the first and with the tip from Stu I pre-fixed the second deckplate before fitting the gunwale. This made it a lot better

    But after a few days and much swearing they were done, although this shot is taken half way through:

    Well that was the hard part really. The next step was the seats, thwart and carry handles. The carry handles were simple. They were fitted 6 inches back from the back of the deckplate.

    The thwart was fitted in the front to replace the traditional from seat, and it is located 4 foot front he front of the canoe.

    Next was the yoke. I had intended to fit it 6 inches back form the centre but my careless excitement in the last stages made me measure and mark from the wrong point. Hence it is now fitted 1 foot from the centre. This I have now found is completely wrong and I cannot use it, hence it needs to be moved. I have decided to go for a removable yoke and so will fit it dead centre. I will use the holes for the yoke to fit a second thwart.

    The seat came last as I knew it would be a pain, and it was!!

    The hangers are far too long for the hull in the centre, I have ended up cutting the bolts down by 4 inches, and even then they are a really hard fit. I decided to cut the seat hangers so that I discarded the arch part of the hanger and use the curved end pieces to make it look as the though the gunwales is part of the hanger. I reckon it works OK. The seat is located 1 foot back form the centre point and it is IDEAL!! But of course that is personal to me.

    Here it is in all its glory, well nearly the seat bolts need tightening and it to be cleaned out:

    The gunwales have been treated with a oak colour Danish Oil. This was to ensure a dark colour to match the dark walnut fittings.

    I gave the gunwales two coats before fitting, then after sanding and drilling it for the fitting of seats etc... I have given it a further two coats.

    I will end up giving certainly one more coat if not two, of Danish Oil to finish it. Here is me at work:

    Other than the yoke the other let down is the joins between the inner gunwales and the deckplates. One is not too bad but the other has some gaps. I have found a hardwood filler pre-coloured to dark walnut, that is designed for exterior use and so I will use this to fill the gaps and I think that will finish it off.

    I am very happy with the canoe, and here it is on Windermere:

    Thanks again Stu for the hull. I had fun building it and learnt a lot, and will look forward to another project.

    my top tips:
    • Measure five times and cut quickly
    • Have a lot, a lot, of clamps to hand
    • Make a nice warm space as it helps
    • Relax, it will work out eventually


    P.S. See this blogg for my first solo trip: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...ead.php?t=8410
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Fitting Out an Apache Canoe started by KeithD View original post