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Gunwale repair options

I was looking at the long, relatively clean split on ALSG stripper’s inwale, and the equally straight forward rotted wood decay on your Wildfire, versus the variously directional splits and shattering on Halpc’s inwales and outwales.

While I agree that the simplest solution is often the best solution, those gunwale issues seem more complex to resolve satisfactorily epoxied and clamped in situ.

Never know ‘til you tried. And if failed, faced with removing the consequences. Folks who have tackled those kinds of gunwale splits and cracks, would you recommend epoxying the ‘wales left in place, or removing them before gluing back together?

Halpc, let us know how you decide to proceed, and when you do, photos please.



Pete, I concur that an interior S-glass patch will essentially disappear. Patching the gel coated outside with glass and epoxy, not so much.

I’d want some epoxy and glass over those visibly broken frayed strands. Even skipping that and just picking out the loose material and filling with gel coat, meh, other that white-on-white I haven’t seen many gel coat repairs that really matched worth a dang, and I’m colorblind.

No but I think that the OP is going to be stuck with an exterior patch of something and S 'glass will work admirably. Just removing the chipped and damaged gel coat is going to create a significant cosmetic defect no matter what else is done.
 
I feel your pain! Last year I fell backward into my bow seat while poling and shattered a gunnel. You can absolutely repair the gunnel with regular epoxy thickened with microfibers (and a little sawdust if you want to match color). I wouldn't use G-Flex for this application.

But you are going to want to get the loose pieces off, even if you have to pull them off/saw them off because you want to make sure the thickened epoxy is where it needs to be. Butter up everything with thickened epoxy and clamp back together. Light clamping pressure.

Here's some before and after of mine.











I had wanted to move my bow seat before the accident, so I filled the bolt hole; but the epoxied gunnel is just as strong as it ever was so you can reuse the same bolt hole if you want.

Looking at your pics, Your repair looks good.

I noticed a couple of things It appears your gunnels are made from Mahogany ?

Did you use Yellow glue for your strips ?

Jim
 
Looking at your pics, Your repair looks good.

I noticed a couple of things It appears your gunnels are made from Mahogany ?

Did you use Yellow glue for your strips ?

Jim

Jim:

Tthose gunnels are sapele, which sure looks a lot like mahogany. And I did use yellow glue on the strips (and didn't do a good job sanding it all off; first time builder rookie mistake).

Alan
 
Jim:

Tthose gunnels are sapele, which sure looks a lot like mahogany. And I did use yellow glue on the strips (and didn't do a good job sanding it all off; first time builder rookie mistake).

Alan

Sapele. I have no experience with it. Too me gunnel wood needs to be able to bend some. Rot resistant is the next quality. I'll have to check into it.

My first canoe taught me the perils of Yellow glue. Poor sanding equipment, and poor lighting. didn't help matters. I thought the hull looked great, until I applied resin !
Yellow glue went into the garbage after that ..

Thanks for the response !
Jim
 
Sapele. I have no experience with it. Too me gunnel wood needs to be able to bend some. Rot resistant is the next quality. I'll have to check into it.

My first canoe taught me the perils of Yellow glue. Poor sanding equipment, and poor lighting. didn't help matters. I thought the hull looked great, until I applied resin !
Yellow glue went into the garbage after that ..

Thanks for the response !
Jim

What's your preferred stripping glue?
 
This thread is confirmation to me that the overwhelming amount of damage to canoes comes from when they're out of the water. In my case, all the significant damage. A few scratches and scrapes on rocks are nothing compared to the damage I've done to my boats on dry ground. Some examples just from the last year. I slipped and dropped my pal on a rock last fall just as I was putting it down. A few hours of sanding, glassing, varnish and paint inside and out. Another, I mistakenly left my solo in the backyard after a day of paddling, a strong wind came through in the middle of the night and threw the canoe around onto the concrete. Hours of repair required. One more, i had the wood gunwales from a Royalex boat stored in the garage for the winter. They had shifted from the ceiling rack without me noticing and when I opened the garage door SNAP!, two broken ends and a scarfing project for me.

Mark

by the way, I use tightbond 3. It dries a nice neutral color, has a little longer wet time, is waterproof and works at the lowest temperatures compared to other wood glues.
 
What's your preferred stripping glue?

I have used a variety, but my favorite is Elmer's MAX. It seems a to blend a little better, in the staple holes.

Second choice is TBIII.

Once I used a Titebond, that was a no run formula. Even though it was rated as an Interior glue, it worked great.

Basically anything but Yellow..

Jim
 
A real shipwright once told me he used thickened epoxy in a puke mouse on strips on cold molded yachts. These start with 1/4 inch wide strips edge joined- just like a canoe hull only many times larger. Of course these were then covered with an additional two layers of planking.
 
Back to the OP’s question at hand, Gunwale Repair Options, looking at Halpc’s first photo of the gunwale damage, where both inwale and outwale are snapped uncleanly across the profile in the same location, I don’t see how that can be successfully repaired with the wales left attached to the hull. Especially the bent ragged break inwale.

https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...516#post125516

Even with the gunwales removed I doubt that with the broken ends epoxied together the glued joint will provide sufficient strength with both inwale and outwale with the breaks essentially at a ragged 1:1 joint. See also posts #7 and 8.

That break at least need a new piece scarfed in, or replacement inwale/outwale, in which case. . . . .

Focusing on the “Options” part of the subject line, were they not currently unavailable I would consider installing something maintenance free. Aluminum insert vinyl gunwales are drill & pop rivet easy to install, and some vinyl gunwale designs are not as boxy ugly as Mad River’s or Old Town’s.

Or maybe two piece aluminum gunwales, which would appear to eliminate the bending and crimping at the sheerline issues encountered when installing one piece aluminum gunwale systems.

Maybe, I have never installed those two-piece gunwales. I have installed one-piece aluminum gunwales. Never again!

Either vinyl or aluminum option would necessitate mated deck plates or caps. If you consider either as a replacement gunwale solution a pair of gunwales with fitted deck plates/caps will be pricey. In the last couple years the cost of aluminum insert vinyl gunwales nearly doubled, and outfitters still can’t order them. Probably the same with aluminum gunwales.

Picked up from an outfitter is a necessity, 17’ of gunwale is essentially un-shippable by the usual means.

I’ve had manufactures include a set of gunwales with their next trailer load of canoes delivered to a local outfitter. One well-supplied paddleshop, with a highly regarded repair business, (Blue Mountain Outfitters in PA) kept a stock of replacement gunwales on hand. And probably will again when such are available from the manufacturers.
 
More great input. I am leaning toward scarfing in a replacement splint on the worst break and maybe just infuse gflex into the spot on the other side which is cracked part way through. I have ordered an inwale and kerfed outwale from Ed’s. I also agree that patches will be needed on the interior and exterior of the hull. The photo of the repair by pblanc was impressive !
 
I'm glad you didn't find a shortage of advise ! Kinda the way it is here !

I'm sure if you lived anywhere close to any one of the posters.

We'd be over to help !

Jim
 
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More great input. I am leaning toward scarfing in a replacement splint on the worst break and maybe just infuse gflex into the spot on the other side which is cracked part way through. I have ordered an inwale and kerfed outwale from Ed’s. I also agree that patches will be needed on the interior and exterior of the hull. The photo of the repair by pblanc was impressive !

For damage involving the entire thickness of the canoe I will generally always patch the interior of the boat first even if the damage appears less severe on the interior because it can usually be done in a pretty inconspicuous manner. But if you have disruption of the external layers of structural fabric, you need to bridge across the break with an external patch. This can be done in a reasonably cosmetically-agreeable manner if you take your time. Below is a link to a photo album I made of a repair to a Bell Flashfire that had been crushed by a forklift resulting in multiple cracks on both sides of the boat. The outer fiberglass layers were broken and some of the fiberglass had to be debrided before patching. For this repair I was less concerned about the interior cosmetics and I used Kevlar patches on the inside. These really tend to stand out over the aramid "tweed" fabric that Bell was using for their White Gold layup at the time. Fiberglass patches would have been much less conspicuous but the damage to the outer 'glass layers was so extensive I went for the greater tensile strength of Kevlar patches on the exterior.

If you look at the album if you click on and expand each photo there will be a caption as to what was being done. The first job for the exterior repair was to remove all of the gel coat on the exterior over the areas to be patched and to debride any badly disrupted and loose fiberglass. On the right side of the boat all of the fiberglass had to be removed in the center of the biggest area of damage leaving only the interior aramid layers. The photos will also hopefully convey the fact that the damage to the structural layers is often more extensive than the gel coat damage would suggest. On the right side of this boat both external layers of fiberglass were completely disrupted down to the inner aramid, even though the external appearance might have suggested only badly cracked gel coat.

Although the external gel coat layer is not too thick removing it down to the fabric will leave a somewhat dished-out area which is about the same thickness as one layer of 6 ounce/square yard fiberglass and maybe two. In the case of this canoe I used two layer external patches on the larger breaks as well as two layer aramid patches on the interior. Because a good bit of the damaged 'glass had to be removed from the outside, the contour of the hull exterior after patching and feathering was not even so I filled in and faired the surface using fairing compound before painting. Of course it is never possible to get an exact color match but I think the final result was pretty decent.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/420207...th/6939828394/
 
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I acquired a 1951 Old Town Guide 25 years ago. It has a couple of cracked ribs and some damage to both gunwales which are cedar. I made some simple repairs with epoxy mixed with wood dust. In one spot I added a small block of wood held in place with epoxy and brass screws. I have paddled that canoe all over the place for 25 years with the "temporary repair."

Now the canvas is off, I have repaired the ribs and plan to repair some planks.
I have been contemplating how to repair the gunwales. The other day I called Island Falls Canoe. "This is Jerry" was the response. I had Jerry Stelmok on the phone. I proposed using white ash to scarf in about 8 feet on both sides of the boat. He thought that was a good idea. I can get white ash here. It is strong and easy to bend. For an 18 foot canoe it is tough to ship gunwales through the mail. They would probably require two scarfs and would cost a lot to ship.

So you have a choice. You can clamp the gunwales back together with epoxy and get back on the water or you can replace the split parts of your gunwales.
 
I am finally posting the results, so far, of the repair of my Kevlar Mad River Malecite, which was the subject of the first post in this thread. After weighing all of the advice given by members here, I decided on a kind of middle ground. My son, who is a muscular 6'6" 220 lbs and I were able to get the fully broken section pretty well aligned, after removing the screws for a ways on each side of the break. We infused Gflex epoxy into the ends before re connecting them and liberally applied it in/on the seams. As can be seen in the photos, we used a number of clamps to get them lined up and in place while the epoxy was curing. I borrowed a technique from the Gflex instruction sheet which discussed a “sister plank” for additional reinforcement. We cut an 11" piece of ash from the gunwale ordered from Ed’s and Gflexed it up under the inwale spanning the point of the main break. It is barely noticeable and should provide extra strength. The other cracks/partial breaks in the gunwales were repaired with Gflex and clamps, including filling the holes for the thwart and seat with Gflex and redrilling.
I had worked with Gflex before, repairing cold cracks in our royalex ME’s and Explorer, but had never done fiberglass layup work. I decided to practice using “s” glass, Gflex and peel ply on a seriously damaged fiberglass canoe, which we had thought was totaled. This gave me the experience and confidence to attack the damaged areas in the hull of the Malecite. I applied “s” glass interior patches opposite the severely damaged spot in the hull, which showed in the photos, as well as other places which had been marginally “repaired” by the prior owner or showed stress. While mine are not as elegant as pblanc’s interior patches, they are not very noticeable and appear to be strong. We also added a thwart and raised the center kneeling thwart/seat and stern seat to strengthen and stiffen the hull. Although the Gflex repair on the exterior doesn’t look too bad and seems to be strong, I plan to add a Dynel patch just to be extra safe once I get some more peel ply (which is amazing stuff). I have had the canoe out several times on reservoirs and rivers (no significant rapids though) and it performed admirably. I really enjoy paddling it solo, primarily kneeling in the center. Love how it ferries, back ferries, turns and cuts through the water. Thanks to everyone here for the advice and encouragement. It is very satisfying to rescue and rehab an old damaged classic canoe. (It looks like I can only attach 6 photos. Will send more)
 

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More photos from above post.
 

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