Canvas Top

by Pope
(Wilmington, NC)

I own a 1930 Elco Cruisette.

The previous owner replaced the canvass top with a plastic type material.

I want to go back to the original painted canvass.

Can anyone point me in the right direction for information or give me some advice?

Looking for info as to what weight canvas.

What is the best type paint or anything else.

Comments for Canvas Top

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Mar 28, 2012
by: Mike

You might be right Al, in which case "Sunbrella" would be the perfect choice.

Mar 28, 2012
Ooo My Bad
by: Al DeForest

I envisioned a soft canopy seen on the smaller Elco launches and would obviously defer to Mike's recommendations.

Mar 28, 2012
Canvas Decks 2
by: Mike

My own personal preference would be to bed the canvas on something like "Dolfinite" rather than wet paint.

It is as close as you can get to the original traditional method and less messy than working with wet paint.

Using the paint method means having to do all the stretching and tacking and squeegeeing the canvas smooth, etc quickly before the paint dries.

And as the bedding paint should be ‘thick’ it is more likely to start drying too soon.

Quite how you stretch and tack down the canvas will depend on how where and how you create any seams.

Personally I would go for sewn seams, just a somple overlap with two rows of stitching.

Stretching is going to be a two person job, working from both sides, beginning at the middle of each side and working towards the corners.

Once down roller or squeegee the canvas to remove any air bubbles.

When it is ready for painting use two or three thinned down coats to get the canvas thoroughly filled.

Finish off with a coat from the can.

Google Books shows a few
snippets on the subject from "Building Small Boats" by Greg Rössel
that might be helpful.

Mar 28, 2012
Canvas Decks
by: Mike

First job will be to get all traces of that plastic material off.
Hopefully it has been glued on with something that is by now deteriorating, otherwise you’ll probably have to get to work with a hot air blower and scraper.

And you need to remove all handrails covings etc.

Sand and round off any sharp edges and putty over all fastener heads.

Hopefully, all the original edging strip and coving is still in good condition and removable so you can use it again.

I don’t know how the original canvas would have been laid but when you have cleaned all the plastic stuff off, have a look see if there were any rebates, possibly along the centreline.

If there are, this was probably how the hid overlapping joins in the canvas.

The canvas originally used was probably just a woven (cotton) canvas, something you are more likely to find from a fabric supplier rather than from a marine supplier.

Check the width of the cloth will cover at least half the width of the coach roof to minimise seams.

It doesn’t need to be a special canvas such as ‘Sunbrella’ as it is going to be protected and waterproofed by the paint.

Alternatives include Dynel, while it does provide a fabric appearance it is not the same as canvas and is intended for use with epoxy.

It will last longer than canvas but when it does fail, it will be a nightmare to replace.

One traditional way to lay the canvas was on a bedding compound of white lead and linseed oil, great for preventing rot but very toxic and virtually unobtainable these days.

‘Dolfinite’ made by Pettit would be a better choice.

The other method was to bed it on thick wet paint, can be messy and you need to work quickly before the paint dries.

For a bedding paint, the traditional way was to use up old, thickening paint, you could just use a a cheap exterior gloss or any one part oil based marine paint thickened with a colloidal silica.

For filling the canvas and for top coats a good quality oil based paint with UV inhibitors.

An alternative is to use a smooth, exterior, acrylic, masonry paint, but this can be difficult to keep clean unless over-coated with gloss paint.

Mar 28, 2012
Sunbrella vs Canvas
by: Al DeForest

Unless you want to duplicate the original Elco material why not go with "Sunbrella" or other more weather resistant material.

I'm sure they would have opted for it on the basis of the esthetics even back in the day.

When I was a kid we had painted canvas awnings on our house and looking back the "Sunbrella" would have looked a lot better.

It sheds water and dirt beautifully.

No I'm not the local "Sunbrella" dealer. :)

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