I am in the "thinking ahead" stage of my canoe building. The strong back is assembled, strips are milled, and nearly 1/2 of the station molds have been cut. I am going to try the Minnesota/Gilpatrick method of building. I like the fact that by using that method, I do not have to screw around with an external stem. But, one of the things that concern me about the method is reinforcing the inside stem area with either bias cut cloth or a sloppy mix of thickened epoxy (basically a fillet). It would seem that simply building from the get go with an internal stem (of cedar) would take care of binding the strips while producing a nice finished looking interior area(bow and stern). Anyway, for you Minnesota method fans, what are your thoughts and what have you done on your builds?
"Boredom, Tyler - that's what's wrong. And how do you beat boredom, Tyler?... Adventure...(Never Cry Wolf, 1983)
The draw back with an inner stem, is glassing around it, not to mention making it. I've gotten by for years, by just over lapping the cloth on the inside. Two layers, as well as the outside two layers is plenty . I actually lost a canoe on the Highway, that was run over. The hull was in splinters most of it, but the stems held up ! I still have one stem as a reminder ! A fillet would also work fine.
I did an inner stem on my first build, then switched over to none on all subsequent builds thanks to Jim Dodd and others. In my opinion, inner and outer stems look great, but are a vestige from the evolution of the cedar canvas canoe. I see no evidence that they add to the strength of a canoe in that area, and some would argue that they may weaken that area. If you plan to really abuse the canoe, and wear through the layers of cloth at the stems, then I can see that having an external hardwood stem would be advantageous. I use a wear strip of dynel cloth on the outside and have had no problems.
To answer your question regarding finishing the inside, I mix up some thickened epoxy, put it in a zip lock bag, cut the corner and squeeze in a small bead, just enough to have a radius back there when I run a gloved finger. You could start with a radiused stick, but I've found a finger works better.
Next, I cut a wide strip of bias cut cloth, it's really shaped like a wedge to fit the end and put it in right away, when the epoxy is still soft. The strip is wide at the top, maybe 8-inches and tapers to a point where the stem flattens. Mix more epoxy and wet out the fiberglass. At this point you can leave it all alone until the next day. The goal here is to have the wedge wide enough at the top to be able to get a scraper all along that edge so you can feather it down where the main fiberglass sheet will overlap.
If you wait until the epoxy hardens, the bias cut glass in the ends will be difficult to move around since it will snag on all the little nubs on the fillet.
I like doing it this way so that when you go to fiberglass the rest of the inside there's no fussing with the ends, it really takes the pressure off. I'll look through my pictures to see if I have an example.
I think that "no stem" has a neat, clean finnish and is far easier. I like to remind myself that I'm actually building a glass boat with a wood core. My 30 year old beat up Flashfire is a fraction of the thickness of my strip boats and is more than strong enough; no point in adding weight with stems. If you like the look of a stem build that way, if not don't. By the time you're half done stripping you'll be planning the next one. Kent
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
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