Today is "Closed Gunwale Day" in the shop. Peter has put on the outside caps on a 1915 Old Town HW # 37547 for Don Smart , (That's the bright red canoe) and today he will be installing the top cap. The system of using a heavy inside rail,a thin outside cap to cover the tips of the tapered ribs and another thin cap to cover the top of rail and outside cap was a carry over from the way that the native Americans built their birch bark canoes. The main disadvantage of the closed gunwale system was that when the boat is turned over there are no open gaps in the rail system to allow the water to drain out. The water is trapped in the rails and over the years its a good place for rot to develop.
The canoe cloesest to the camera is for Tim Mahoney and is a 1918 Carleton which was also built in Old Town, Maine. I'll be working on installing the caps on this one.
The canoe in the middle is Benson Gray's early H.W. We only did some fairly minor work to its closed rail system and will be repainting over the original canvas. Benson is trying to keep the boat as original as possible yet keep it serviceable.