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Thread: Wood Gunwale Removal Help

  1. #1

    Default Wood Gunwale Removal Help

    Hello all, I recently purchased an Old Town Camper royalex canoe that needs gunwales replaced. The question I have is about the best method to remove the inner gunwales (that were stapled through the hull from the factory) without damaging the canoe. Here are a couple of pictures to show what I am working with. Thank you for any help or advice you can provide me here!








  2. #2
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    Does the interior need removing or could it be cleaned up in situ?

    Otherwise cutting the staples would be my thoughts. Does it matter to much of you've holes in the boat though as surely the new gunnels will cover it?



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  3. #3
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    Whilst I'm no expert on wooden gunnels, I've had some boats with them fitted, and to my knowledge stapling gunnels on is not the norm.
    The pics you show of the staples appear to have been taken after the outer gunnel has been removed, so how was the outer gunnel fixed on ? I wonder if the gunnels have been replaced before and the staples were a quick, cheap and easy fix.
    The wooden gunnels on the boats I've had were initially clamped onto the boat using removable clamps. Pilot holes are then drilled through the outer gunnel and the boat shell, and partially into the inner gunnel. Marine grade stainless steel screws are then screwed into the pilot holes to hold the whole lot together.

    My advice would be to remove all the old gunnels, taking extreme care when removing those staples, then fit new gunnels using the above method. If you're careful with the staple removal, the new gunnels will hide the holes/marks they leave.
    I've also seen one piece gunnels with a routered groove cut into the underside to fit over the rim of the boat hull. I don't know how these are held in place though.

    Good luck and welcome here by the way
    Last edited by OLD MAN; 2nd-June-2018 at 09:25 AM.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  4. #4
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    i would use pliers or pincers. whilst boat is on the floor pulling the staple straight outwards, yourself holding the boat back with your knees or backs of your legs. then staples may break,then nip the curved ends off and inner gunnel will be able to pulled off eventually

  5. #5

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    You could try carefully snipping through the centre of the 'top' of the staple that is showing with wire snippers. Then prise the two ends outwards and straight with pliers and screwdriver. You then might have enough of the staple showing to pull each half out with pliers or simply pry the plastic over the now straight parts of the staple.

  6. #6
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    Alternatively why not simply leave them? The new gunnel will cover them up won't it?

    \If you really want to go to town and prevent them failing due to rust, then a dab of silicone or similar will stop the rust.
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

  7. #7

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    Thank you for the responses and warm welcome. I’ll send a couple more pics when I get home, but you can see the brass screws used to secure the outter gunwale in the photo below. There are only staples holding the inner gunwale on (that I have found after removing about 25% of the outer gunwale) and will remove the rest to check.

    the inners are actually in good shape, so perhaps they have previously been replaced. There is still rot at the ends that will require a conplete replacement. More to come! Thanks!


  8. #8

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    Follow up so far and answers to some of your great questions.

    Unfortunately, the inners need to be removed too since the is rot there. Also, Iíd like to screw the new inners in so they are sturdy and hopefully it only has to be done once! I ordered the knockdown gunwales from Edís Canoe and itís cheaper to get the full package than just outer gunwales only.

    I agree that trying to pull the staples first, then cut and pull through if they break or have rusted (some have). If needed, I like the idea of clipping the staple in half to get a better grip and pull it straight out. I can always use the notches on the inner gunwale to pry (with a plastic pry tool) to Ďbreak looseí a portion of the inner and pull the clipped/straightened staples thru the hull.

    Itís strange that the canoe is in such great shape (see below) like it was barely used. Hard to imagine thee gunwales had ever been replaced. Also, there are no other holes behind the outer gunwales (pic below), so it looks like it was built this way back in 1993. I also know the back story; it was purchased from a gentleman whoís grandfather was a tugboat captain. The grandfather had used it for a few short excursions as he traveled from the Mississippi River all the way up to Canada. After the grandfather passed away, the grandson kept the canoe. He sold it because he has other canoes (wood and canvas, I believe) and had been storing it for quite some time. I donít believe he ever used it. There was some sentimental value for sure, as he asked me to send him a picture of me and my boys on the river with her.

    Iíll keep you posted on my progress and thanks again for your support. I appreciate it!

    No Extra Holes: Only Staples:



    Rusty Staples From 1993:


    Rot Under The Brass Decking:



    Outer Gunwales Removed:


    Original Brass Hardware:


    Original Brass Screws Holding The Outer Gunwales:


    Full Canoe:
    h

    Pristine:

  9. #9
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    I wonder whether you could pry the inner gunwale away from the hull without tearing the staple through the hull. If that's the case, you might be able to push the wood back into place to expose the staple sufficiently to grip it with pincers and remove it. If the wood is so rotten that the staple doesn't hold fast enough to push it out, you could just remove the gunnel/gunwale to expose the staple and push it out with pliers.

    This from someone who's removed LOTS of staples from furniture to recover the wood for projects.

    Here's an example of what I'm trying to explain:


    Hope that helps!

  10. #10

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    If you are going to replace the inner gunnell it might be worth carefully cutting a small section out of the centre of each. That will relieve the natural arch effect of the wood, which will be pressing it against the side of the canoe, so should make it easier to remove.

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  11. #11
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    Most of the suggestions involve removing the staple from the wood, how about removing the wood from the staple.

    Possible means: drill down through the wood near the staples to remove as much wood as possible round the staples, then use chisel or knife to remove the remaining wood. That would release the gunwale just leaving the staple in the plastic. Then tap the staple back out of the hull.

  12. #12
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    I wouldn't worry too much about holes in the royalex along the gunnel line so long as it will be hidden. My plan of attack would be to cut the inwales into short sections so that each staple only held an inch or so. Next split that down with a chisel till you just have the staple then get rid of that. If you have any damage, tape over one side and fill with epoxy from the other if you feel the need. No one will ever know whether damage occurred or not unless you tell them.

    An alternative method, sometimes used on cedar canvas boats, is to just mount the inwales immediately below the existing ones, then run a jig saw along to cut off the old inwale and damaged rib tops (or royalex in your case) Very few people would notice the missing 1" depth in your boat.

    Sam

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhofmann View Post
    I wonder whether you could pry the inner gunwale away from the hull without tearing the staple through the hull. If that's the case, you might be able to push the wood back into place to expose the staple sufficiently to grip it with pincers and remove it. If the wood is so rotten that the staple doesn't hold fast enough to push it out, you could just remove the gunnel/gunwale to expose the staple and push it out with pliers.

    This from someone who's removed LOTS of staples from furniture to recover the wood for projects.

    Hope that helps!
    Awesome! This will help for sure. The wood is in great shape along most of the inner gunwale so I expect it to be a challenge to remove staples.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gdd View Post
    If you are going to replace the inner gunnell it might be worth carefully cutting a small section out of the centre of each. That will relieve the natural arch effect of the wood, which will be pressing it against the side of the canoe, so should make it easier to remove.
    Thanks for this. I had not even considered the forces the wood would be exerting on the staples! If the staples are indeed Rusty, this will also help give better control as I try to remove them.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quercus View Post
    Most of the suggestions involve removing the staple from the wood, how about removing the wood from the staple.

    Possible means: drill down through the wood near the staples to remove as much wood as possible round the staples, then use chisel or knife to remove the remaining wood. That would release the gunwale just leaving the staple in the plastic. Then tap the staple back out of the hull.
    Hmmm.... as GDD suggested, this would also likely help remove some stress/pressure on the Staples them selves to make it easier to remove them. I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the staples are going to be rusty given what I have revealed all ready when removing the outer gunwales. Putting a drill or saw near my canoe makes me nervous!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by samB View Post
    I wouldn't worry too much about holes in the royalex along the gunnel line so long as it will be hidden. My plan of attack would be to cut the inwales into short sections so that each staple only held an inch or so. Next split that down with a chisel till you just have the staple then get rid of that. If you have any damage, tape over one side and fill with epoxy from the other if you feel the need. No one will ever know whether damage occurred or not unless you tell them.

    An alternative method, sometimes used on cedar canvas boats, is to just mount the inwales immediately below the existing ones, then run a jig saw along to cut off the old inwale and damaged rib tops (or royalex in your case) Very few people would notice the missing 1" depth in your boat.

    Sam
    Thanks, Sam! I already feel like the sides of my can you are short, if I tried to cut them off, I’m sure I would make an absolute mess of everything! But once I start to pull on the Staples and see where I stand, I’ll likely do a similar plan of attack in cutting down the inwales and working from there.

  17. #17

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    Update: First off, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY DONíT USE STAPLES TO HOLD YOUR GUNWALES ON! (LOL, no, seriously...donít do that). Ok, now that thatís out of the way lol, here we go!


    These are the little buggers I spent the better part of 3 hours clipping, bending, breaking, removing and cutting my hands on:








    There were LOTS of them and I found that using some of the techniques that bhofmann suggested worked best. I tried drilling, cutting back the wood and drilling out the staples, but it was a lot of work and risk to cutting or damaging my hull. In the end, clipping one side of the staple and bending the long part out was the best option. I only pulled 1 staple out this way, the rest popped through the hull when I pulled the inner gunwales away from the royalex or stayed in the hull and I tapped them back out like the video showed. Here are a couple of examples:








    Some were very deep and it took quite a bit to clip them in half to prevent tearing through the hull:








    I did have to cut a section at the bow because the staples were too deep to cut. Using a chisel, I was able to chip away at the softer/rotted parts to free the staple and then cut a small section out to give me room to pull back on the rest of the gunnel when the remaining staples were cut and bent.








    Once removed, I set about cleaning up the mess under the gunwales! It was pretty nasty, and there is some sort of residue that soap & water, simple green and WD40 wonít remove. Looks like some sort of glue that was used.











    The decal letters were coming off, so I removed them and they left a ghost of what was written that is barely visible when the light hits it just right. Decided to call her the Old Town Ghost Camper





    Thatís about it for now. New gunwales should be here Friday and Iíll be working on prepping them and then installing them over the weekend depending on how the weather is. Iíll keep you posted on my progress, but honestly not lookin forward to removing the staples on the other side


    Cheers!


  18. #18
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    Well done! I can imagine your hands hurt after all that. Looking forward to seeing the lovely new gunwhales you put on it.

    PS. People know me as Bernie.

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