Old Town Peapod Restoration Pt. 1

October 25, 2022

A thorough restoration of a 16' Costal Peapod originally built by Old Town Canoe.

Back in late August I wrapped up my season as the Trek and Program Director at Sabattis Scout Reservation, the summer camp I have been involved with for 12 years and what I can attribute much of my love of waterways and boating to.

Sometime in mid-Summer I had been contacted in regards to a canoe that needed at least a new canvas, potentially more care upon inspection. With the end of summer approaching it was time to make a quick trip to the Southern Adirondacks, along Great Sacandaga Lake, to pick up and inspect this canoe. This was my first time in this section of the Adirondacks and I found the character of Great Sacandaga Lake to likely be a bit challenging for the typical canoeist. This lake, actually a large reservoir, was narrow at the North end that I visited, but has a large Southern head that is wide open and at times flocked with motorboats.

Peapod bow upon arrival

Upon arrival to view the canoe I found the owners to be very kind and welcoming, excited to have this long unusable family craft brought back to life. This was my first time viewing a peapod and I quickly realized a few things. The first was that this boat was really quite far from a canoe at heart, even if it was marketed and sold as a rowing canoe by L.L. Bean when first purchased. The only reason to call it a canoe was likely it's construction and the fact that Old Town manufactured it.

This Peapod was of typical wood and canvas construction with White Cedar ribs formed over a solid mold and thin Western Red Cedar sheathing tacked on and butt jointed together. The inwales and outwales were of Mahogany and the inner stems were bent White Oak. The exterior hull had once been covered in canvas (taken off for repair years ago) and an outer stem and keel formed the centerline of the craft. All of this is typical for a wood canvas canoe, except maybe the outer stem as most old town canoes had just one inner stem at each end.

Crusted and bubbling varnish "alligatored"

This is where the similarities to a canoe ended. The Peapod had four solid board seats (or thwarts as they serve both purposes) with hanging knee braces to each inwale. The seats sat along full length risings or seat rails on each side of the craft, and two sets of oar locks were secured to the wales amidships. These were fairly close together and likely were meant to allow for two rowing positions, but not to be used by two rowers simultaneously. A solid mahogany breasthook served as a deck at each end, both lacking weep holes and showing some signs of rot.

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