Umbrella Canoe




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By Dan Beard

ohb219.gif (5343 bytes)
Fig. 219.
Canoe Folded for Transportation.
Canoe in Water in Distance.

Ozias Dodge is a Yale man, an artist, and an enthusiastic canoeist. The prow of his little craft has ploughed its way through the waters of many picturesque streams in this country and Europe, by the river-side, under the walls of ruined castles, where the iron-clad warriors once built their camp-fires, and near pretty villages, where people dress as if they were at a fancy-dress ball.

When a young man like Mr. Dodge says that he has built a folding canoe that is not hard to construct, is inexpensive and practical, there can be little doubt that such a boat is not only what is claimed for it by its inventor, but that it is a novelty in its line, and such is undoubtedly the case with the umbrella canoe.

How the Canoe was Built

ohb206.gif (7320 bytes)
Figs. 206-216.

The artist first secured a white-ash plank (A, Fig. 206), free from knots and blemishes of all kinds. The plank was one inch thick and about twelve feet long. At the mill he had this sawed into eight strips, one inch wide, one inch thick, and twelve feet long (B and C, Figs. 207 and 208). Then he planed off the square edges of each stick until they were all octagonal in form, and looked like so many great lead-pencils (D, Fig. 209).

Mr. Dodge claims that, after you have reduced the ash poles to this octagon form it is an easy matter to whittle them with your pocketknife or draw-knife and by taking off all the angles of the sticks make them cylindrical in form (E, Fig. 210); then smooth them off nicely with sandpaper, so that each pole has a smooth surface and is three-quarters of an inch in diameter.

After the poles were reduced to this state he whittled all the ends to the form of a truncated cone--that is, like a sharpened lead-pencil with the lead broken off (F, Fig. 211) -- a blunt point. He next went to a tinsmith and had two sheet-iron cups made, large enough to cover the eight pole ends (G and G', Figs. 212 and 213). Each cup was six inches deep. After trying the cups or thimbles on the poles to see that they would fit, he made two moulds of oak. First he cut two pieces of oak plank two feet six inches long by one foot six inches (H, Fig. 214), which he trimmed into the form shown by J, Fig. 215, making a notch to fit each of the round ribs, and to spread them as the ribs of an umbrella are spread. He made two other similar moulds for the bow and stern, each of which, of course, is smaller than the middle one. After spreading the ribs with the moulds, and bringing the ends together in the tin cups, he made holes in the bottom of the cups where the ends came, and fastened the ribs to the cups with brass screws, fitted with leather washers, and run through the holes in the tin and screwed into the ends of the poles or ribs.

A square hole was then cut through each mould (K, Fig. 216), and the poles put in place, gathered together at the ends, and held in place by the tin thimbles. The square holes in the moulds allow several small, light floor planks to form a dry floor to the canoe.

Five yards of canvas is all you need. The deck can be made of drilling, which comes about twenty-eight inches wide. Five yards of this will be plenty. Fit your canvas over the frame, stretch it tightly, and tack it securely to the two top ribs only. Fasten the deck on in the same manner.

ohb217.gif (3271 bytes)
Fig. 217.
Frame of Umbrella Canoe.

When Mr. Dodge had the canoe covered and decked, with a square hole amidship to sit in, he put two good coats of paint on the canvas, allowed it to dry, and his boat was ready for use (Fig. 218). He quaintly says that "it looked like a starved dog, with all its ribs showing through the skin," just as the ribs of an umbrella show on top through the silk covering. But this does not in any way impede the progress of the boat through the water:

ohb218.gif (2319 bytes)
Fig. 218
Umbrella Canoe.

Where the moulds are the case is different, for the lines of the moulds cross the line of progress at right angles, and must necessarily somewhat retard the boat. But even this is not perceptible. The worst feature about the moulds is that the canvas is very apt to be damaged there by contact with the shore, float, or whatever object it rubs against.

With ordinary care the umbrella canoe

Will Last for Years,

and is a good boat for paddling on inland streams and small bodies of water; and when you are through with it for the night all that is necessary is to remove the stretchers by springing the poles from the notches in the spreaders, roll up the canvas around the poles, put it on your shoulder, and carry it home or to camp, as shown in Fig. 219.

To put your canoe together again put in the moulds, fit the poles in their places, and the umbrella is raised, or rather, the canoe is, if we can use such an expression in regard to a boat.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.