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Wenonah Solitude repair and renovation

Troy hmmm…where to start?
Most areas are best avoided, day or night. Gang activity, daily shootings, homicides, drug trade, overdoses, and in the safer areas, too much traffic.

Tangent, but I used to meet up with a paddling friend in Troy, both of us coming from different directions, when going on some Adirondack trips in the 80's and 90's. He'd park his car on the street in Troy—near RPI, I think—and leave it parked there after moving everything into my van to ride share the remaining distance. Nothing bad ever happened . . . except, come to think of it after 30+ years, I can't recall ever hearing from him again after that last trip to Indian Lake. Hmmm . . . .
 
Your comment about paint is an option I really hadn't considered. It would definitely lower the cost and would look better if I could find something that matched (or could be tinted) the kevlar color. A top coat of epoxy on an old kevlar canoe is a pretty common approach to renovate one. But if only makes it look shiny again and doesn't reinforce the kevlar fabric a bit I would go with the paint instead.

Maybe I should be careful about commenting since I have never coated an entire hull with epoxy, but I don't think epoxy that is unabsorbed into the fabric would have any more structural capability than paint. That is, neither would seem likely to provide any structure. Maybe unabsorbed epoxy would be somewhat more resistant than paint to scraping off against rocks.

It's a personal preference, but I don't think yellowed Kevlar hulls are particularly attractive and I would probably opt to paint a hull a different color than Kevlar yellow even if I could find a close match, which actually should be possible.

There are several pictures on this site of painted composite hulls in addition to Robin's. Mike McCrea, for example, has documented more than one paint job.
 
Huh, depending on when you attended RPI, you may have heard of Mohawk Innovative technology, Inc.
I’m one of the founders of MITI and we occasionally collaborate with RPI on various projects.
Sounds like you have the right education and experience, refurbishing that kevlar hull should be simple for you.
As far as seats, a small amount of wood and webbing or lacing and you can make your own seats inexpensively.
Many threads showing seat builds here, with a wide variety of styles.
I think you came along after me. I was in Rensselaer class of '81 before the current president sort of ruined the school (my opinion). I was a Horton scholar so RPI which is outrageously expensive was free for me. I'm from PA and when I graduated I never went back. I can only say college there was an intense experience that I'm glad I'll never have to repeat. I studied structural engineering but worked my entire career as a mechanical engineer with a specialty in the stresses in plate and shell structures - no machines. ....Pressure vessels, aircraft fueselages - stuff like that. The canoe is technically easy (because I'm not doing any calculations) but the challenge is in the practical aspects. Not super hard but 45 years of engineering practice taught me that you ask the guys who have done the work their opinion of how to best accomplish it before you ever start.
 
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Maybe I should be careful about commenting since I have never coated an entire hull with epoxy, but I don't think epoxy that is unabsorbed into the fabric would have any more structural capability than paint. That is, neither would seem likely to provide any structure. Maybe unabsorbed epoxy would be somewhat more resistant than paint to scraping off against rocks.

It's a personal preference, but I don't think yellowed Kevlar hulls are particularly attractive and I would probably opt to paint a hull a different color than Kevlar yellow even if I could find a close match, which actually should be possible.

There are several pictures on this site of painted composite hulls in addition to Robin's. Mike McCrea, for example, has documented more than one paint job.
Agree with your perspective. But I researched this before I posted and an epoxy top coat is standard practice on a renovation. Does that make it the right thing to do? No! Thats why I posted the question. Tribal knowledge isn't always right.
 
I researched this before I posted and an epoxy top coat is standard practice on a renovation.

Standard practice for renovating, whatever that means, an entire canoe hull? I don't claim to have a photographic memory, but I've been posting on canoe boards for 20 years and I can't offhand recall that being a standard practice for prettying-up a Kevlar or other composite canoe hull. Painting after patching to hide mottles and fades, I can recall a lot. Re-gel coating I also can recall, and have seen Dave Curtis do it. Epoxy fill coating a wooden strip build to make the fiberglass weave smooth—some builders here do that, but others don't because it's costly and adds weight or they don't care about the added aesthetic.

Applying a tinted epoxy top coat could be a practice among a subset of individual canoeists who renovate older composite hulls, just as some canoeists routinely outfit canoes with accoutrements such as skid plates, lining holes, spray covers, thigh bumpers, rod holders, or apply 303 Protectant or Flood Penetrol to hulls. But it's not my experience that any of these things is a standard practice across the set of all canoeists.

Maybe an epoxy top coat is standard practice for countertops and floors.

But a tinted epoxy top coat is certainly a reasonable thing to try, and I'm sure we'd all be interested in seeing before and after pictures if you do it.
 
If you are considering painting and you plan to use it for anything other than gentle day paddles, I would keep in mind that any significant scratches will show the yellow Kevlar underneath. I am not a big fan of the Kevlar yellow either, but I can’t imagine the yellow showing through any contrasting color would be desirable.

Last year I painted a kevlar TW Special. It was in much rougher shape than yours. I used epoxy primer before a top coat and have had excellent results with adhesion and scratch resistance.

I don’t think any of the mentioned treatments are “wrong”. It comes down to personal preference.

If it were mine, I’d patch it and enjoy it as is.

Bob
 
Standard practice for renovating, whatever that means, an entire canoe hull? I don't claim to have a photographic memory, but I've been posting on canoe boards for 20 years and I can't offhand recall that being a standard practice for prettying-up a Kevlar or other composite canoe hull. Painting after patching to hide mottles and fades, I can recall a lot. Re-gel coating I also can recall, and have seen Dave Curtis do it. Epoxy fill coating a wooden strip build to make the fiberglass weave smooth—some builders here do that, but others don't because it's costly and adds weight or they don't care about the added aesthetic.

Applying a tinted epoxy top coat could be a practice among a subset of individual canoeists who renovate older composite hulls, just as some canoeists routinely outfit canoes with accoutrements such as skid plates, lining holes, spray covers, thigh bumpers, rod holders, or apply 303 Protectant or Flood Penetrol to hulls. But it's not my experience that any of these things is a standard practice across the set of all canoeists.

Maybe an epoxy top coat is standard practice for countertops and floors.

But a tinted epoxy top coat is certainly a reasonable thing to try, and I'm sure we'd all be interested in seeing before and after pictures if you do it.
Every post on many forums, including this one, that I found regarding renovating an OLD Wenonah kevlar canoe advocated applying an epoxy top coat to an old UV weathered and chalked hull . Its not the only way to do it and it may not be the best way to do it but from what I read its the most common (popular) way to do it. What I meant by stardard practice is that many people do it. To each his own.
 
Litetrek, I probably should have followed my first instinct and stayed out of this thread because I've never resin coated the entire hull of any of my 18 boats and none of them is a Wenonah. I'm not sure whether your Wenonah is skin coated or clear gel coated. That might affect my decision as to how much or aggressively to sand.

I am familiar with what a lot of boaters have done with skin coated Kevlar whitewater canoes and flat water racing canoes. Most commonly, they do what Cheeseandbeans has recommended: patch the damaged areas with fiberglass and live with the old aesthetics, which don't look that bad to me from your pictures.

However, re-reading your OP more closely about purchasing new anodized gunwales and painting your thwarts black, I finally realized that what you want to do is to make the entire boat look as new and shiny as possible.

If that's so, then I think there are three reasonable coating alternatives: varnish, resin (perhaps tinted), and paint. I do recall members here coating at least the bottoms of their skin coat canoes with resin or varnish or both. I recall one person not being happy with the resin coat (epoxy, I think) because he found that it chipped off in chunks after some period of usage. Hence, he ended up preferring varnish.

However, if you are determined to cover up the poor aesthetics of mottles and fades, varnish may not do that. It would thus seem that your proposal to use a tinted resin is quite logical. I'd probably consider taking Wenonah's advice as to the best resin, though lots of folks have a preference for epoxy. If the tinted epoxy coat doesn't satisfy your aesthetic preference, it certainly has done no harm to the canoe and should be a decent undercoat for an appropriate shade of matching paint.

As to Kevlar skid plates, there has been a significant empirical preference for Dynel over Kevlar on this forum. There also have been strong arguments to not apply skid plates until your stems are so damaged as to actually need them—that is, not to apply them preemptively.

If you can't hang a seat from your gunwales or set it on brackets riveted through the hull, you can make or buy seats that sit on the canoe bottom. Members here @Alan Gage and @stripperguy have made such bottom-mount seats and have posted pictures of them.
 
C
Litetrek, I probably should have followed my first instinct and stayed out of this thread because I've never resin coated the entire hull of any of my 18 boats and none of them is a Wenonah. I'm not sure whether your Wenonah is skin coated or clear gel coated. That might affect my decision as to how much or aggressively to sand.

I am familiar with what a lot of boaters have done with skin coated Kevlar whitewater canoes and flat water racing canoes. Most commonly, they do what Cheeseandbeans has recommended: patch the damaged areas with fiberglass and live with the old aesthetics, which don't look that bad to me from your pictures.

However, re-reading your OP more closely about purchasing new anodized gunwales and painting your thwarts black, I finally realized that what you want to do is to make the entire boat look as new and shiny as possible.

If that's so, then I think there are three reasonable coating alternatives: varnish, resin (perhaps tinted), and paint. I do recall members here coating at least the bottoms of their skin coat canoes with resin or varnish or both. I recall one person not being happy with the resin coat (epoxy, I think) because he found that it chipped off in chunks after some period of usage. Hence, he ended up preferring varnish.

However, if you are determined to cover up the poor aesthetics of mottles and fades, varnish may not do that. It would thus seem that your proposal to use a tinted resin is quite logical. I'd probably consider taking Wenonah's advice as to the best resin, though lots of folks have a preference for epoxy. If the tinted epoxy coat doesn't satisfy your aesthetic preference, it certainly has done no harm to the canoe and should be a decent undercoat for an appropriate shade of matching paint.

As to Kevlar skid plates, there has been a significant empirical preference for Dynel over Kevlar on this forum. There also have been strong arguments to not apply skid plates until your stems are so damaged as to actually need them—that is, not to apply them preemptively.

If you can't hang a seat from your gunwales or set it on brackets riveted through the hull, you can make or buy seats that sit on the canoe bottom. Members here @Alan Gage and @stripperguy have made such bottom-mount seats and have posted pictures of them.
I am originally from the northeast but now live in Atlanta. This canoe will probably spend all of its time in a lake with few or no rocks so I'm not worried about scratching. Also if its painted or tinted the same color as kevlar the scratches won't show that much.

To me looking new goes along with the effort of fixing it. Putting a shine on it won't be that much trouble. I don't want to go to the trouble to repair the hull if it still looks like an old hag when I'm done. I had hoped for some more comments about my repair plan (thickness of fiberglass patch, kevlar vs fiberglass, polyester vs epoxy, etc) instead of the merits of whether or not I should paint it or epoxy it or let it just look like crap. I did ask for comments on my whole plan. So those comments aren't really off base but that's where this thread is headed now and I really don't need or want help with that. I belong to at least a dozen forums ranging from car repair to banjo building and once a thread gets sidetracked there is almost no putting back on course.

I am not new to canoeing and I've owned several. I took good enough care of them that they never needed anything done to them. I have a 17' grumman from 1974 that looks like I just bought it. I bought the kevlar wenonah because I can lift it over my head with one hand and at my age thats a great reason since I want to take it fishing without help loading it. The grumman has become a real burden to even move.
 
repair plan (thickness of fiberglass patch, kevlar vs fiberglass, polyester vs epoxy, etc)

I've used kevlar to repair a much-cracked Royalex hull. At that point it seemed the consensus was kevlar with G-flex epoxy, single patch. Others like 3 layers of 6oz fiberglass instead. To me it seems that would build up quite a lot of epoxy over the patch, so I went with Kevlar Aramid cloth 5oz. On the long cracks I did a patch outside and inside, on the smaller ones just on the inside and made sure to fill the crack with epoxy.
So far that's held up bouncing down rapids, off rocks, long portages in Boundary Waters, etc.

You've probably already read this thread,
but in case not..
from there,
talked to Susan at Wenonah for a while, who was extremely knowledgeable about the construction, repair and everything else about their skin coat boats. She said they are/were made with either vinyl ester or polyester resin. Wenonah uses polyester resin and fiberglass exclusively for all repairs inside and out. Polyester will bond with vinylester resin.
 
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1) order new gunnels from Wenonah - already did that, picked them up yesterday - a 400+ mile trip -"free shipping"
2) remove old gunnels and let hull pop back to shape. I think that it will.
3) If the sheer line doesn't have a fair curve when the gunnels are removed I'll cut some temporary wood strips to make it so
4) lightly sand the hull with maybe 120 grit sandpaper - not sure about that
5) repair the damage (hull and ribs) with one layer of 4 oz S-glass and Raka - UV inhibited epoxy (I know that Wenonah uses polyester but its nasty stuff)
I'll probably put two layers of s=glass on the ribs. I really havent decided for sure on epoxy vs polyester. I repaired a fiberglass camper recently with polyester and it was not a great experience since one 2 oz setup of polyester just flashed on me for no particular reason. It made an ugly mess.
6) refinish the entire canoe with an epoxy or polyester top coat. I plan to tint the topcoat gold to even out the aged and mottled look.
7) install the new gunnels - I'll probably make a masonite template of the hole layout using the old holes in the hull as a template somewhere along the way.

Anyhow I'll think of something but any seat suggestions are appreciated.

I didn't see this post until now, but here's one of the canoes I repaired last year. This one is a Wenonah Minn4. I don't remember how many of the ribs were broken, but it was most of them. These are outfitter canoes, and as far as I know they have survived a full season of use. Previous repairs with fiberglass all failed for various reasons. Responses to your plan are below.


IMG-4248.JPG

1 & 2) There's no question that I would drill new holes when replacing the gunwales.
3) I would probably reinforce the non rib area that is creased on the inside with s-glass or kevlar if it seems flimsy. Your idea of using wood to straighten it out after removing the gunwales is good. I think the new gunwales may take care of the problem though.
4) If I were to refinish the outside of the hull I would use spar varnish or paint instead of epoxy. Using epoxy is pointless unless the outside is deeply pitted. From your pictures the hull is still smooth. Use 220 grit sandpaper and give it just a light scuff by hand, then a few coats of spar varnish. The UV epoxy is better than regular epoxy, but not good in the long run. Spar varnish will protect the hull in the long run. I think you're right that most people do a layer of epoxy on the outside, but I haven't heard a good argument for doing it in most cases.
5) I used 5oz kevlar to repair the ribs. Even though s-glass will work, kevlar is better and 2 layers is best. Use peel ply to make the edges nice and smooth. Having to sand the jaggedy edge of the kevlar would make more work. The candy stripe peel ply forms around the ribs and the green stuff won't (see picture). I used the Raka UV epoxy.
6) If you're going to refinish the inside, I would use spar varnish there too. On the outside, I really don't think tinted epoxy will cover much. There are examples on this website of a number of builders tinting epoxy and I think they all ended up painting the boat in the end. Paint is a good option on the outside instead of spar varnish. I personally don't care much for the golden brown look of kevlar and would paint it a more pleasing color. If you buy good paint it won't scratch off too easily. Save the extra paint in a small jar for touch ups.
7) Again, drill new holes for the gunwales.

Like others here, I use polyester dynel for skid plates. Much easier to install, better looking, easy to fair with the hull, less noisy on the water and lighter than kevlar felt.

I don't claim to be an "expert" on any of this, just throwing in my opinion. Good luck on your project.

Mark
 
@litetrek I have a homeless tractor seat on an aluminum frame with L-brackets. It is meant to rivet to the hull. I think it came out of my really old 18’ fiberglass Wenonah Sundowner, but I’m not sure. I can take some pics and measurements and if it’ll work for you, cover my cost shipping it and it’s yours. The seat is held in the frame by layers of fiberglass I assume, it would be easy to cut it off and attach to a new fabricated structure. It is unlikely it would serendipitously fit your boat without modification. But you seem to have a bunch of that to do anyway!
 
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