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Canoe Repair

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So I know absolutely nothing about repairing canoes. I have a Wenonah canoe in a tuff weave flex core lay up. The bottom is getting really scratched up and most of the clear coat is gone. I would like to put something down over the bottom just for some light extra protection. Whats the easy way to do this? I would like to not do any painting unless I have too. im looking at West systems 207/105? would this be a good resin to apply? Do I just lightly sand the bottom, mix the west systems and apply? Whats the best applicator to apply it with to get a nice smooth even finish. Thanks for the replies, im a little outta my league here when it comes to these things. Also what are peoples thoughts on petitt marine epoxy?
 
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I'm not much more knowledgeable myself, but I would lean more towards a polyester resin since that is the make-up of your original gelcoat. I think you can epoxy over poly, but not the other way around, so if you ever wanted to re-gelcoat you would need to get rid of any epoxy. Bonus - poly is like 3 times cheaper.
 
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I have done just what you describe on a skin coat Wenonah Rendezvous with decades of bottom scratches. It made an old, well worn canoe look like new.

I doubt Wenonah uses poly resin, more likely they use Vinylester resin, and you probably don’t want to work with that stuff.

No need to worry about gel coat issues on a skin coat hull. I would lightly sand the entire exterior and wash it. Then tape the gunwales and roll a coat of epoxy, West 105/206, or 207 (with UV inhibitors), is fine. Immediately after rolling the epoxy tip out the still wet coat by lightly dragging a foam brush end to end until the entire epoxied area has been tipped out.

Anything rolled, epoxy or paint, will leave a slight “orange peel” finish. Look closely at a sheetrock wall rolled with latex paint. Tipping out with a foam brush eliminates that orange peel surface.

I roll epoxy (or paint) half the hull at a time, first rolling one side, from keel line to gunwale in 18” increments or so from end to end, tipping out that side after it has been rolled, then doing the same to the other side.

Lots of information about rolling and tipping here. This was about rolling and tipping paint, but the technique is the same.

https://myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=48607

A single coat of epoxy will not fill every scratch. If you want to be really anal about it you can apply a second coat.

A second coat alternative, especially if using an epoxy without UV inhibitors like West 206, is to lightly sand the cured epoxy and topcoat it with a quality spar varnish, or something like Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.

Pluses and minuses to that varnish/urethane top coat. On the plus side it is a less expensive second (or third if you wish) top coat. Or new scratch filler years down the line. On the minus side if you need to do any future epoxy repairs you’ll need to sand away the varnish or urethane for better epoxy adhesion.

I have no experience with Petitt epoxy.
 
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From the Wenonah Owner's Manual, page 54:

"How to repair a gel-coat finish:
Gel-coat is thickened, colored polyester resin that is sprayed into the mold before a compos- ite canoe is made in it. The gel-coat is not a structural part of the hull; its only purpose is to impart the canoe’s color and smooth finish."
 
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I have done just what you describe on a skin coat Wenonah Rendezvous with decades of bottom scratches. It made an old, well worn canoe look like new.

I doubt Wenonah uses poly resin, more likely they use Vinylester resin, and you probably don’t want to work with that stuff.

No need to worry about gel coat issues on a skin coat hull. I would lightly sand the entire exterior and wash it. Then tape the gunwales and roll a coat of epoxy, West 105/206, or 207 (with UV inhibitors), is fine. Immediately after rolling the epoxy tip out the still wet coat by lightly dragging a foam brush end to end until the entire epoxied area has been tipped out.

Anything rolled, epoxy or paint, will leave a slight “orange peel” finish. Look closely at a sheetrock wall rolled with latex paint. Tipping out with a foam brush eliminates that orange peel surface.

I roll epoxy (or paint) half the hull at a time, first rolling one side, from keel line to gunwale in 18” increments or so from end to end, tipping out that side after it has been rolled, then doing the same to the other side.

Lots of information about rolling and tipping here. This was about rolling and tipping paint, but the technique is the same.

https://myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=48607

A single coat of epoxy will not fill every scratch. If you want to be really anal about it you can apply a second coat.

A second coat alternative, especially if using an epoxy without UV inhibitors like West 206, is to lightly sand the cured epoxy and topcoat it with a quality spar varnish, or something like Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.

Pluses and minuses to that varnish/urethane top coat. On the plus side it is a less expensive second (or third if you wish) top coat. Or new scratch filler years down the line. On the minus side if you need to do any future epoxy repairs you’ll need to sand away the varnish or urethane for better epoxy adhesion.

I have no experience with Petitt epoxy.
Mike thanks for the great reply, perfect directions with products to use for someone who doesn't know much. Im going to do this exactly. Thanks! 2 coats of 207 lightly sanding inbetween then finish with minwax helmsman spar urethane.
 
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Yellow Card make sure to buy the pumps (300) for the epoxy. It makes mixing much easier and precise. West System 207 shouldn't have any blush but it is always good to wipe down any cured resin coats with water before any sanding commences or the blush could cause future coats of resin to not cure properly. If you happen to screw it up and it is all orange peel just let cure lightly sand and add another coat.

I think you may need to remove all of the gel coat where you want to refinish the bottom. West Systems have a ton of excellent information and data on their website with manuals, videos, etc.
 
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I think there is some confusion about skin coat vs gel coat:

“What is skin coat? Skin-coat boats are boats made without a true gelcoat. There is a layer of resin applied to the mold surface and the hull is laid up directly on that layer of resin. Skin coated boats are lighter than gel-coated ones but are also more subject to porosity which can allow moisture to penetrate into the structural lay-up and cause deterioration”

A gel coat layer adds five or six lbs to hull weight, a skin coat layer maybe a pound. But skin coat boats, without the abrasion sacrificial layer of gel coat, may eventually need recoating to protect the fabric.

(There is also clear gel coat, but that is not a skin coat)
 
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Foxyotter, it could be. Yellowcard referred to it as “clear coat”.

I’ve never seen a Wenonah with clear gel coat, but I haven’t seen every canoe option Wenonah offers. Clear gel coat seems more common on carbon fiber or “Blue Steel” carbon/kevlar hulls, presumably to impart the scrape and scratch sacrificial layer while still showing off the carbon.

I have seen and worked on a number of skin coat Tuff-weave and Kevlar Wenonahs, which look un-colored like this.

PA240022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr
 
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It is gel coated. Could I just use a gel coat repair kit? Could I use Total boat gel coat white "my canoe is white" without wax for the first layer. Then follow up with a second layer of total boat gel coat with wax? wenonah offered a gel coet repair kit for my canoe but they don't make it anymore.
 
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“It is gel coated. Could I just use a gel coat repair kit? Could I use Total boat gel coat white "my canoe is white" without wax for the first layer. Then follow up with a second layer of total boat gel coat with wax? wenonah offered a gel coet repair kit for my canoe but they don't make it anymore”

OK, not a clear coat, but a white gel coat. That changes things, and this is one of those times a photo or two would be worth a thousand words.

Depending on how large an area needs recovered you could use gel coat. And more gel coat. I have not done a lot of gel coat work, as in broader expanses, and larger gel coat work becomes exponentially more challenging, for a variety of reasons; pot life and chemistry.

Re-gel coat chemistry doesn’t work well with a too skin-thin layer. Of course I failed chemistry; hell I get confused doing the math and counting drops of catalyst per volume with gel coat. Don’t bother me dammit, I’m counting. Fark, how many drops per ounce was that?

White is pretty much the only color I would even attempt gel coat repairs, and that may come out slightly different “white” than the sun faded hull. Other gel coat colors UV fade are much worse; good luck matching (once) red; I’d start somewhere more in the pink range.

An aside – the next boat I paint is getting some version of leftover paint WWII Dazzle camouflage.

http://www.usndazzle.com/design.php...=7D&designed_for_type=DD&designed_for_num=445

With white polyester gel coat the alternative to no-thanks tricky gel coating a large area is back to sanding and rolling/tipping epoxy to help fill any scratches and - I presume the hull must have some - spider cracks in the gel coat.

And then - I know you said you would like to avoid painting - but once you have rolled and tipped a coat of epoxy, let it cure and sanded it, rolling and tipping a couple coats of some matching white topside paint is easy, and you’ll be roller/foam brush technique practiced by then.

A quart of white Rustleum Topside paint is $17. A quart of better quality Petitt EZ-Poxy topside paint is more like $50. Others are similarly priced, and there are a variety of whites-into-creams in “matching” color choices.

And, photos would again help, if the stems are significantly worn or chipped, Dynel skid plates. Best/easiest installed before the epoxy coat(s) go on; you can roll and tip a full-hull epoxy coat the next day, or even that afternoon.

I look for a Gentleman’s B grade on canoe repairs. There are whole-hog A+ uber-proficient options; I have neither the skills nor desire for that, and happily settle for a B+, “Looks good from 30 feet away. . . .hmmm, still looks good from 5 feet away”. It’s a canoe, it’s gonna get scraped and scratched.

I would sand it (foam interface pad with 220 on an RO sander, or by hand with elbow grease), clean it and epoxy the entire hull, hopefully filling in some of the gel coat scrapes and I’m-sure spider cracks. Then wet sand it again and roll at least two coats of white topside paint. Three if you have enough of the quart left; you’ll be so good at rolling and tipping by the third time around you’ll be strutting around peacock proud.

See the photos in the CCR link. Even my first efforts at rolling and tipping topside paints were good enough, and I believe I’ve gotten better each time.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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It is gel coated. Could I just use a gel coat repair kit?

I have very little experience repairing scratches on canoe bottoms. In fact, I don't care about most such scratches any more than I care about scuffs on the soles of my shoes.

However, if you do want to repair scratched gel coat, I would first ask the members here who have described putting resin and varnish on the bottom of a canoe whether that will hide scratches in colored gel coat. The few times I have used resins and varnish I get a protective layer, but those chemicals dry either transparently or with a yellowish tint. If that's so, I would expect that coating a scratched gel coat with resin+varnish will provide a protective abrasion layer but won't visually hide the scratches, much less blend perfectly with the color of the gel coat.

I have paid others to repair cracked and broken-off gel coat with color-matched gel coat, but these were on very small areas. I have seen Dave Curtis re-gel coat an entire canoe, which I assume was quite costly in terms of materials and time.

So, I assume if you have the money and the expertise to do it properly, you could re-gel coat an entire canoe bottom and get a good color match, thereby hiding the scratches. You could also paint, but that will not match the gel coat perfectly and will scrape off much easier than gel coat does. If I am right about the transparency of resin+varnish, you won't be able to hide the scratches very well, if at all, but you will get a protective layer that should be better than paint but maybe not as good as gel coat. (I have no empirical data or experience with this, so I'm not sure.)

Finally, you could just buy a can of Flood Penetrol, wipe it on the bottom of your canoe, and then wipe it right off after a couple of minutes. This is a common way to "rejuvenate" scratched or oxidized gel coat and to visually hide the scratches. The Penetrol fills in the scratches at a microscopic level, which refracts and reflects the incident light coming off the hull in such a manner as to make many, most or all of the scratches—depending on the amount of damage—"disappear". Penetrol provides no actual abrasion protection and has to be reapplied maybe twice a season. But it's inexpensive, takes only 10-20 minutes to apply and wipe off, and doesn't prevent you from doing one of the other alternatives if you don't find the results satisfactory.
 
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I have some experience with repairing scratches on the bottom of composite canoes, probably a dozen or more, some rolled and tipped with epoxy and varnish/urethane, some epoxy rolled and tipped with paint topcoats.

Epoxy and urethane works fine on clear coat hulls without noticeable yellowing, allowing the fabric to show through.

Epoxy and topside paints work well on scratched and spider cracked hulls. A single coat of anything – epoxy or paint – will only begin to fill and hide scratches. Multiple coats, say one coat of epoxy and 2 coats of topside paint will do a much more thorough job.

I do care about scuffs and deep scratches on boats, especially composite boats. Not just of aesthetic reasons, but also for hull drag and protecting the fabric from water infiltration.

In other-than-white bottoms a close enough paint match, green on green, red on red, has done fine. White on white works even better.

If painting a scraped and scratched UV faded hull any impossible to achieve “perfect blend” with gel coat repairs is immaterial. It is too damn hard to perfectly blend gel coat repair colors on a UV faded hull in any case, and re-gel coating an entire hull is far beyond my skill (or sprayer?) abilities in any case.

I’m unconvinced about the value of Flood Penatrol, mostly for the “twice a season” reasons, and because Penatrol, applied poorly, will turn to milky white smears in a few months time. And there isn’t much I dependably do to our canoes twice a year.

Penatrol is great bear-grease for “See how shiny” boat flippers, but it is a temporary solution at best.

I’d love to hear more from folks who have actually used Penatrol, especially on canoes stored outdoors.
 
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To add another wrinkle to “colored” boats, a glass & nylon Phoenix Vagabond with a clear coat bottom and red decks. The decks are not gel coated, the resin was pigmented red, saturating the cloth on the decks red. Phoenix did that with a lot of their boats and I believe Millbrook does or did as well.

DSCF1539 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

FWIW the unpigmented bottom of that Vagabond was totally scratched. Sanded and rolled/tipped with epoxy it looked like new.

Some hulls with white gel coat, likewise badly scratched, but recoated with epoxy and white topside paint.

The dirt magnet Malecite, with badly flawed factory gel coat.

P9211230 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

One coat of epoxy, 1st coat of topside white, wet sanding and ready for a second coat

PA311312 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Scarred and scraped 1977 Optima with white gel coat bottom after initial sanding.

P9040016 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Epoxied, sanded and painted with topside white

P9140007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Current Designs Nomad. Used as a heavily loaded guide boat the bottom was a mass of deep scrapes and scratches. Topside white again.

PC150010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

1977 Klepper Kamerad, the white gel coat bottom was an absolute disaster.

P5292859 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Patched, epoxied and painted with white topside

P4170001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

You can see where I’d go with the white gel coat Wenonah.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I’d love to hear more from folks who have actually used Penatrol, especially on canoes stored outdoors.

You've just heard from me.

I've used Penetrol, and only Penetrol, on multiple composite canoes since 2009. I've never experienced "milky white smears".

None of my composite canoes has other than superficial scratches, even those that are almost 40 years old, because I've always wet foot entered and exited and have never ground the hulls on hard places. White powdery oxidation from sun exposure has been more of a problem because of the outside storage. Penetrol, even though temporary, has done a much better job for me in hiding oxidation and superficial scratches than buffing with the many abrasive compounds, polishes and waxes I tried before learning of Penetrol. (In the long run, all scratch repairs are temporary.)

The only composite canoe I ever had re-gel coated is my very fragile outrigger canoe, both times because the fabric was punctured along with the gel coat chunked off, once because I dropped the canoe on a dock and the other time because it was bitten by an alligator. It has white gel coat, and I agree that one will get the best gel coat color match with white.

I've never painted a composite canoe and wouldn't do so—primarily for weight reasons—unless the hull was a real horror show. The only canoe I ever had painted was a red Whitesell Piranha, a beat up Royalex whitewater canoe. A canoe restoration expert (Schuyler Thomson) put on three coats of top quality white marine paint after after replacing destroyed gunwales and thwarts. That paint scraped off the bottom and chines in one season and the whole red-white psychedelic mess looked worse than before it was painted.

I've repaired scratches and dings on skin coated whitewater canoes with dabs or smears of epoxy. Sanding was never really necessary for those repairs, because the igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock river beds take care of abrading whitewater hulls.
 
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“The only canoe I ever had painted was a red Whitesell Piranha, a beat up Royalex whitewater canoe. A canoe restoration expert (Schuyler Thomson) put on three coats of top quality white marine paint after after replacing destroyed gunwales and thwarts. That paint scraped off the bottom and chines in one season and the whole red-white psychedelic mess looked worse than before it was painted.”

I do not understand why a restoration expert like Schuyler Thomson would paint a red hull with a white bottom. Of course when it scratched through it was psychedelic. Did you request a white bottom?

Had it been painted it red-on-red the any hallucinatory effect would have required blottter, window pane or mushrooms.

“Wow, you sure got a purty bottom Glenn”
 

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Yes, I requested the white paint because I was sick of all the red whitewater canoes in the late '80's. We also put on blue and red tape stripes. Red, white and blue—a patriotic color scheme concept. Little did I then know how transitory paint is if one is going to be paddling a canoe over and between rocks and hard places.

Even if we had used red paint, I now think scraped-off paint on canoe bottoms looks worse than non-structural scratches on plastic, gel coat or skin coat hulls. However, as I said above, those kinds of scratches don't really bother me any more than scuffs on the soles of my shoes or wear on my car tires. It's just the normal state of an employed paddle craft.
 
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