“How much is my old wooden canoe worth?”(Notes from the WCHA that will help you answer the question.)
There are two basic directions you can take with your classic canoe: repair or restore. Repairing a canoe is generally a minimalist approach to getting the boat back on the water but it can involve extensive work if the boat is in bad shape. Restoration involves returning the canoe to its original condition – parts that might otherwise be repaired get replaced. The beauty of wood canvas construction is that every component used to build the boat can be repaired or replaced as needed.
A restoration starts with a conversation – we’ll discuss your canoe and make sure we both understand the ultimate goal. Each project represents a unique set of challenges. What looks like a basket case to you might be a fairly simple repair and yet I’ve already had “needs a little work” eat up way more time and materials than expected. I can’t properly evaluate your canoe until I can inspect it personally. Detailed pictures will allow me to get a feel for what your canoe needs but any cost estimates discussed prior to the evaluation are just that: estimates. Every effort will be made to accurately determine the scope of work required but often there are hidden issues that don’t appear until after the canvas is off and the old finish stripped out. Any changes required will be discussed prior to proceeding with the work.
Your $300 deposit secures your slot in the lineup. We work on several canoes at a time to accommodate curing stages etc. but the restorations get worked on in the order in which they were accepted. Major rebuilds take far longer than simple recanvas jobs so the canoes may not necessarily exit in the same order they entered the shop. Please keep in mind this is far more art than science – there is no spreadsheet that can predict an insect swarm on the very afternoon that we decide to paint. A proper restoration is complete when it is finished and not before. Its success depends on many variables: weather, temperature, humidity, pollen, dust, and life’s various obligations. To target a date is asking us to potentially cut corners and that is not something we care to do. Major restorations will involve progress payments paid off invoices. To summarize the restoration path, here’s what will happen:
- Discuss the needs and ultimate goal, submit deposit.
- Once the canoe is in our hands we will evaluate it and submit a written estimate for your approval. We may remove the old canvas as part of the evaluation – this should not be interpreted as “they’ve started on my canoe!” It goes back on the rack to await its turn.
- Once we’ve started on it you’ll be notified and can follow the progress in the Shop Update section. Any adjustments necessary for hidden damage will be submitted for approval. For major jobs, the first progress payment will be invoiced at the start of the work.
- Payment of the balance is due upon completion.
- Cost of the restoration does not include any shipping charges. If you’re not picking up your canoe we can arrange for delivery or contract with KAS Transport, a hauler that specializes in getting paddle-craft delivered intact (very important)!
Restoration of a canoe rarely makes financial sense. Often the cost exceeds the market value unless the canoe is very old, rare, or both. If you are considering restoring a canoe for immediate financial gain, invest your money elsewhere for you are sure to be disappointed. On the other hand, if your canoe is a treasured family heirloom that you want to see put back right again, you’ve come to the right place.
If you pay for restoration, you’ll need to know that the cost of restoration generally exceeds the market value, but you will have the coolest canoe on the lake…a real head turner! So don’t look at it as an investment. There has to be a special place in your heart and mind for a wood canvas canoe in order to open the purse strings for restoration.
Dave Osborn, Little Lakes Guide Service and Canoe Restoration
Some more “after” images: