VILLAGE BOAT SHOP     I             Pittsburgh, PA  

Stowe canoe with sailing rig

Stowe Canoe
Canoe prepped and ready for stem and keel fiberglassing

Stowe canoe steam bent frame
New white oak stem bent onto the hull

Stowe canoe stem caps
Fitting the new stem caps

Bending on new ash rails
Bending on the new ash rails


A customer brought a 1959 Stowe canoe to the shop for a restoration which included fixing a persisitent leak in the bow. Stowe canoes are now built by Merrimack. This canoe is essentially the same as the Merrimack Osprey but 15 feet in length. .

There were some fiberglass patches over the inner stems and the external keel. These were the first items to be removed. Items removed were: Outer stems, keel, stem caps, outer rails, inner stem at the stern, and some trim pieces that had been added to the stem caps.

When I was removing the outer stem from the transom, the inner stem fell out of the boat in powder and small pieces. When I finished removing the outer stem from the bow I could see that the hull skin had pulled away from the inner stem and there was a 1/4" and 6" gap that was only filled with putty and covered with a cloth on the inside. This was the source of the leak.

Once everything was removed from the canoe, I began to rebuild which started with bending in a new white oak inner stem. Once installed I fiberglassed the stems and along the keel to make one uniform hull skin. I then sanded the new fiberglass fairing it to the rest of the hull.

With the hull strengthened and watertight, I milled out and steam bent the new outer stems. I used white oak and it bent very well. I let the stems sit overnight and milled out the new keel. I fit and attached the newly bent stems and keel and installed them with stainless steel screws and 3M 5200.

With the hull sound I moved back to the interior and starting fitting the new stem caps. I was planning on putting new 3/8" brass half oval on the stems so I glued up two pieces of ash with a 3/8" mahogany center strip for the stem caps. This would allow the brass to bend over the top of the stem and run down the mahogany center strip before terminating at brass painter rings.

The inner rails were somewhat rotten at each end where they sat under the old stem caps. I chopped them back to good wood and half lapped them under the new stem caps to maintain strength.

The last bit of construction needing to be done was installing new ash outer rails. The ash that I had was a little brittle so I had it soak under water for about a week. I steamed the ends so they would handle the quick upsweep at the stems. I installed them with bronze ring nails.

I finished up with a couple of coats of Pettit Easypoxy Jade Green and installed the brass stem bands and painter rings.

Below are some of the finished photographs.

January 2012... Some updates on the Stowe Canoe. She now has a sailing rig! Here are some pictures of her on display at the 2012 Pittsburgh Boat Show.

Update May 2012: The boat now has a sail made by Bell Sailmakers in Washington, PA

The sail is a sprit sail about 37 sq feet. On the water pictures to follow...

Stow canoe with sailing rig

close up of sprit and snotter

mast thwart and belaying pins

close up of kickup rudder

The owner decided that he wanted a sail rig for the canoe. Working from multiple sources including an old turn of the century Old Town Canoe Co. catalog, I put together a sprit rig and assorted parts to make her sail. For a canoe this size, 15 feet, a sail of about 40 sq ft would be as big as you want for beginner sailors. This sail is going to be ab out 37 sq ft based on the spar sizes.

I built a mast and sprit from some clear 8/4 Sitka Spruce. The mast is about 10 feet long and the sprit about 8 feet. I installed a mahogany mast step in the boat. It is glued and screwed to the keel. I built a mast thwart that bolts to the gunwales and is removable. Here's a picture of the mast under construction..

sitka spruce mast under construction

The rudder is made of mahogany and is designed to raise and lower to make launchings easier. It will lower with a shock cord so that it can kick up in the event that it hits and underwater obstruction.

close up of mahogany rudder

I made the leeboards from mahogany as well. They are 7/8" thick and about 40" in length. They are currently mounted on the boat with an adjustable aluminum bracket. Once we have the sail and know where the leeboards will be placed on the boat I will make a mahogany gunwale bracket for them.

mahogany leeboards

I'll have more updates and pictures after the sail is cut and we can take her for a test sail.


Stowe canoe restoration

Stowe Canoe restoration

Stowe Canoe restoration




Patrick Hopkins
385L 1st Street, Lawrence, PA 15055