I have a Blue Hole OCA. Does anyone know where or how to obtain a thwart?
Thwarts aren’t like auto parts
There’s nothing unique about them. You can build your own, or perhaps get untrimmed blanks from a place like Ed’s Canoe. With a ready-made thwart, it’s likely that you’ll need to trim it to the right length, and drill it to accept bolts that go through the gunwales, just as when building one from scratch.
When you trim the ash thwart
to size it is best to use the old thwart as a pattern and pay close attention to the angles on the ends that account for the position of the thwart (center, forward or aft), and the extent of tumblehome or flare of lack thereof. The angles can be tricky.
Thanks for the advice, I’m going to contact Ed’s and try making my own.
I’m unfamiliar with Blue Hole but if it’s just a regular wood thwart bolted in place Ed’s canoe would be a good place to order one. Or if you have a paddle shop in the area they should have some on hand. Or make your own. Easy as can be with basic woodworking tools.
Blue Hole thwarts
Blue Hole OCAs did not come stock with wooden thwarts. The thwarts are tubular aluminum, either round or ovalized and crimped at the ends to accommodate an L-shaped aluminum bracket. The bracket is secured to the thwart with pop rivets and secured to the hull side through the aluminum skirt at the bottom of the gunwales with either rivets or stainless steel machine screws.
Certainly, wooden thwarts can be used but the problem is how to secure the ends to the sides of the canoe. Blue Hole OCAs with aluminum thwarts do not have sufficiently wide inwale portions to allow them to be vertically drilled for machine screws to accept thwarts. If the L-brackets from the original thwarts are available, they can be modified to secure wooden thwarts. Just drill out the heads of the rivets securing them to the original thwart, invert them upside down, and use one or two machine screws drilled through the thwart and the inverted bracket to secure the new thwart.
If the original brackets are unavailable, new ones can be fashioned from aluminum stock of appropriate thickness if some can be found. Western Canoeing and Kayaking sells a set of aluminum C-channel brackets that can be used to secure wooden thwarts to canoes with aluminum gunwales similar to Blue Holes. Stainless steel screws go through the hull into the end grain of the wooden thwart to hold the thwart and bracket in place. I have used these and they work well, but I have not found them available from any other source:
Whitesell Canoes used thwarts and hardware basically identical to that used by Blue Hole. Last summer, Nolan Whitesell was selling off much of his remaining stock of canoe outfitting at his former store on the Nantahala River. I have no idea if he would have any thwarts or brackets left, but you might try contacting him if you want to stick with an original appearing thwart.