Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
Listening Point - General Discussion
Garage sale find - Bell Northstar BlackGold
She's been sitting unused in a backyard for several years..... not certain on exactly how long but the registration sticker expired a decade ago. The wood has rotten away - the seats & hangers, handles, thwarts, all of it. At some point, maybe the reason why it got parked and abandoned, a limb fell on it and bent the port gunwale by the bow seat and also put a pretty severe looking crease into the laminate. After it had been sitting some idiot plunked it with a pellet gun and put a pea-sized hole completely thru the hull also near the crease. No doubt about it she's a fixer upper but am I not too far off in my belief that it looks worse than it is? Some patch and reinforcement work, new gunwales, seats, and thwarts? Sand & refinish the hull in some fashion to remove oxidation and broken down resins from UV?
Canoe came out of the factory in 2002.
Here's some photos of it as it was received by me:
There are also lots of spiderweb type cracks all along the sides and bottom without any other apparent damage.
The skin seems very UV oxidized as well. I hit a test spot with some Windex to cut thru some of the grime of being outside for so long and was heartened to see the blackgold pattern emerge before fading a bit once the ammonia evaporated off -
Did I get more than I can handle? I've never done fiberglass work before, although it seems straightforward.
I think you can fix it up with a little money and some elbow grease and patience? I think you would just need a 'glass or kevlar patch for the one spot. And you can do the gunwales in a 4-6 hours if you get a bunch of C-clamps and a second pair of hands. Thwarts and seats are easy. Northwest canoe and Ed's canoe are where I get my supplies.
If I can fix up one, and I'm Mr. "Not so handy," you can too. I fixed this Flashfire up for my wife (she wanted a sit-on-bottom seat) and it looked like it had been dragged down a gravel road and left in the weather for years to rot. Gunwales were reinforced with Duct tape AND Electrical tape. The worst was trying to get all the Duct tape residue off! The pictures show the finished product. It looked MUCH worse than yours. As for the pool noodles on the thwarts, that was my wife's idea and she loved it.
I think you will be happy with the boat. If you don't want it, I'll take it off your hands for what you paid and $25 for your trouble!
"Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." Mark Twain
It was listed for $75 and the guy wanted $60 because I drove ~25 miles to come get it. I didn't have change so we settled on $70 and he helped me put it on my roof.
Were you able to avoid high shipping fees on your gunwales? I'm figuring that will be a good chunk of the cost.
The spot by the seat has me the most concerned... I'm not sure if it has a clear gelcoat on the outside or if the stuff I'm seeing flaking off is the resin. What's underneath appears to be bare cloth in the spots where its completely gone.
On the inside of the hull there is a definite crease the length of the spot on the outside. No doubt whatever fell on it was very heavy.
The spot flexes when I press on it, but not without some effort. Its softer than the opposite side for sure.
Open to all thoughts and opinions on how to go about the repair. =)
Actually, the guy that sold me the boat HAD the gunwales, but never installed them, so I avoided the shipping cost. I'm going to send a link to someone much better at canoe refurbishing than I. My buddy Pete is a retired vascular surgeon. Where I say "Ahh, close enough," he would require perfection. Of course, you would hope a surgeon would have that attitude (LOL)!
Here's a few pics of another "Holy" Bell that was damaged that he fixed and you would have to examine it closely to see where it was damaged. I'll send him a link to the thread, ok?
"Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." Mark Twain
Lucky about the gunwales. There are a couple canoe shops in my area. I'll see if maybe I can't source my replacements thru them when they get a shipment. Wonder if I could drive my own set... gas would be cheaper than shipping but presumably the aluminum would need to be supported its entire length so that would mean making something to bolt to the minivan's roof rack to strap them to.
You could also look at the possibility of replacing the gunwales with wood rails but that entails finding long pieces of straight grain ash (or other suitable wood) which has gotten difficult. You can join shorter pieces of wood together with scarf joints if you have any rudimentary woodworking skills.
Before you do anything, I would take some measurements of the beam, seat, and thwart positions. Measure the lengths of the seat frames and thwarts, if they have enough integrity to allow you to do so. When you rerail the boat, you may well need to jack out the sides a little with a spreader stick so that the beam comes out right.
I believe that Bell Canoe used a clear polyester gel coat on those BlackGold boats. At least they did on my Wildfire. And yes, they were prone to getting a lot of fine spider cracks in the gel coat.
I would start out by wet sanding the entire hull. Wash and rinse it well first. Probably start with something fairly coarse like 220 grit, and the boat will look worse after the initial sanding because the surface will be dulled and there will be sanding marks. But sanding with progressively finer grits will get rid of most of the sanding marks. You can go all the way down to 2000 grit in 5 or 6 stages. This will help get rid of some of the finer spider cracks. Applying a couple of coats of penetrating epoxy later will also help.
Before you do any structural patching, take the gunwales off. The bent gunwale may be holding the hull in a crushed shape and taking them off will hopefully allow the hull to resume its natural shape. The crushed area will need to be reinforced with interior and exterior patches. Personally, I would use 5 ounce/square yard aramid (such as Kevlar) on the interior, although you could also use fiberglass which will actually be less apparent (but less strong). On the exterior, i would use 6 ounce/square yard plain weave fiberglass. You can use either E 'glass or S 'glass. S 'glass is significantly stronger but costs twice as much. Fully wet out fiberglass patches with the weave fully filled with epoxy will be nearly transparent, unlike aramid or carbon fiber. How many layers depends on how soft the crushed area of the hull is, which should be very apparent with the gunwales off. I am guessing probably a 2 layer concentric interior patch and a single layer exterior patch.
If there is a lot of damage along the stems of the boat, you could consider covering those areas with thin abrasion plates consisting of a single layer of 6 oz. fiberglass or 5 oz. Dynel. Here is a link to a thread on another forum that has a lot of info on applying abrasion plates and general fiberglassing techniques:
skid plate application techniques
Applying a couple of coats of a thin viscosity "penetrating epoxy" to the hull after you have done all the repairs will help the appearance considerably. I like System Three Clear Coat for this purpose. I apply it like varnish using a disposable foam brush.
Here is a photo of the Wildfire I rerailed which was treated that way which had a lot of spider cracks (sorry I don't have a photo showing the hull to better effect):
Here is a link to a photo album that shows in some detail the repair process involved in restoring the Flashfire that Terry referred to. The process won't be exactly the same for your boat, but might give you and idea as to what is involved in composite repairs. If you view the photos individually, the captions describe the steps:
Seriously, Ted could put new gunwales and seats on that thing for about $600.00 if you can get the boat to him. The hull damage is an easy DYI project.
Endeavor to persevere.
Ed's Canoe breakdown gunwales do not use scarf joints. They have modified shiplap joints. I have not used them but I have heard some comments from some who have, and recently I saw some installed for the first time on a hand-built composite canoe.
The builder was not terribly happy with them. The joints left subtle but definite "hot spots" and did not follow the curvature of the sheerline as well as well-done scarf joints do.
Having said that, I didn't think they looked too bad and suspect that the average person would be satisfied with them.
2. Gunwales are not difficult at all if you wants to do your own. Just find some good straight grained ash and rip to correct size - Most likely 3/4 x 1 or similar- I'm sure you could find the dimensions on similar canoes. Many people prefer wood anyways over aluminum. The scarf joint is easy as well- just make it nice and long to give more bonding surface. You'll already have epoxy if your going to be doing repairs to the fiberglass. If you do it yourself the gunwales will run you about $20- which is about 2 ash boards.
You could probably find a good resource on how to do it through google.
I bought a 1998 mad river Explorer from a lady with rotted gunwales, but a solid hull. A friend got me some ten foot 1x4 10 foot pieces of cherry from a wood shop for $70. He and I cut the wood down to the same size as the old ash rails on a $200 table saw and rounded on side over with his router. Scarfed two pieces to make length and mounted it on after three coats of marine varnish. Been on ten years now and I suck as a carpenter, so fear not, you can do it.
"Opening a bottle of wine in a canoe is a desirable, but irrational act."
I was backpacking with the Scouts last weekend so I was unable to reply until now. I also have some new photos as I was able to give the exterior of the hull a good bath with palmolive and a sponge. I've also been in contact with Northstar Canoes about the boat to get their input on making her seaworthy again and they have confirmed the gunwales they use are the same profile as the old Bell Canoe Works.
I did new wood gunwales on my Tuf-Weave Spirit II last year, including new thwarts and carry handles to match. I sourced new decks from Noah's Marine and got trusses and seats from NorthWest Canoe.... I think I have the major part suppliers covered but if there's another outside of those three I'd love to check them out.
Still on the fence if I want to go aluminum or wood. Perhaps I'll go back to my local specialty lumber place and see about getting a 10' ash board to rip down. I do not have regular access to much in the way of power tools, other than a circular saw and a cordless drill... So, this makes it a little more difficult to execute. I had the help of a carpenter friend for my Spirit rerail last year and presumably he'd be willing to help again. Scarf or modified shiplap joints don't scare me if I decide to do a knock-down kit.
How well does ash take a stain? I think dark would look better with the hull than the whitish-yellow that Ash seems to be naturally.
The new gunwales we put on the Spirit are 3/4" square with a bullnose put on the outwale after we scarfed it & the inwale was left square.
The gunwales don't really concern me when it comes to the scope of the project... I've never done anything with fiberglass so I'm not sure the steps I need to take with the repairs.
I got a response from Bear @ Northstar, the gunwales are the same profile as what they're currently using. As pblanc pointed out it will be more cost effective to drive round trip to MN to get them if I decide to go the Aluminum route.
Bear's advice is to rerail the boat first, then fix the structural repairs on the inside, then perform any gelcoat repairs as necessary.
pblanc and others - by using S-Glass on the outside on the holes or on the horizontal crease, is this effectively taking the place of the gelcoat? I'll remove gel as necessary to get to the underlying fabric, apply epoxy, apply patch and ensure it's completely wet out, and then once cured fair it to blend into the hull?
The penetrating epoxy would be last then, once the hull has been completely sanded and prepped, to apply a consistent finish to the whole surface?
What's a good source for fabrics? So far US Composites in Florida or Jamestown Distributors in Rhode Island seem to have what I need. It'd be awesome if I could find the same fabric as what Bell used for the interior so the patch is less obvious but so far no luck. I think I'll need more Aramid and 'glass than what comes in the repair kits.
I have used a lot of their style 6522 plain weave 4 ounce, and style 6533 plain weave 6 ounce S 'glass. They both wet out very well. I have also used a lot of their style 500 plain weave 5 ounce Kevlar cloth. Sweet also sells Dynel cloth in 5 ounce weight (look under the "polyester" tab.
An aramid patch will be opaque when fully wet out and cured. It will therefore be very obvious. This will be true even if you can obtain exactly the same cloth that was used for the construction of the boat, because you will never be able to line up the weave on the patch with that of the underlying hull. Personally, I would use aramid on the interior for its great tensile strength and not worry about it. If you looked at the photo album I linked to earlier, you will see what interior aramid patches would look like.
If you want a less apparent interior patch, go with S 'glass. Fiberglass is nearly transparent when fully wet out. Heavier yarns or multi-layer patches will be apparent, but much less so than aramid or Dynel. I would use fiberglass on the exterior patch to allow the underlying carbon fiber to show through.
Yes, before patching, you need to sand down to the underlying fibers which means removing all gel coat externally. Again, if you looked at the Flashfire repair photo album, you will see where I did that for the exterior patches. Be careful when sanding the interior because if you abrade aramid too aggressively it tend to "fuzz up". It will be apparent when this starts to happen, however, so once you get some fibers exposed you should get a good bond.
If you use epoxy on the exterior of the boat, you will not be able to use polyester gel coat. Polyesters will not cure reliably over epoxy, even well-cured epoxy, and you could wind up with a huge mess. If you do apply penetrating epoxy to the exterior, yes, I would do it after all repairs. If the boat is likely to see a lot of outdoors sun exposure, you might want to cover the epoxy with a coat or two of good quality marine varnish for UV protection.
Fiber-glassing is not really hard but there are some tricks to it that make it a lot easier. I would suggest that you read through much of System Three's "The Epoxy Book" as it has a great many tips on basic fiber-glassing and use of epoxy. You can find it online here:
The Epoxy Book
The information in the book will carry over to the use of epoxies other than System Three, however the mixing ratios may differ.
A few general tips on fiber-glassing:
Have everything you need ready to go before mixing up epoxy. This includes application tools (spatula, plastic squeege, disposable foam brushes, chip brushes, foam roller, or whatever you plan to use), disposable gloves, paper towels, etc. Have your patches cut out and ready to go. If you plan to use peelply, have that cut out and ready to go.
Keep the batches of epoxy small. You will have a limited pot life when using epoxy and you don't need to feel rushed to get a large batch applied before it "kicks". Also, epoxy generates an exothermic reaction. The bigger the batch, the more heat it generates. The warmer the epoxy, the shorter the pot life. Have your epoxy handy in case you need to mix up an additional small batch.
Wooden sticks are handy mixing tools and can even be used to apply epoxy. You can buy them pretty cheaply in large numbers at arts and crafts stores or on Amazon. Sweet Composites also sells them. I like to use small clear plastic containers of the type that contain some Parmesan cheese that you might get with your take out pizza. I save these for mixing up smaller batches of epoxy.
Use masking tape around where you plan to apply your patches. It is easy to do. It will make it easier to wet out your patch quickly without fear of dribbling and making a mess.
I find that it is generally better to apply a thin coat of epoxy before laying on your fabric. Apply the fabric to the wet epoxy and the epoxy will help hold it in place and allow the cloth to wet out more quickly.
Treat your cloth with respect. Try to avoid tight folds as crimps will make it harder for the cloth to lay flat. Keep your cloth protected from atmospheric moisture which can interfere with resin bonding. Aramid especially is quite hydrophilic. I keep smaller pieces of cloth stored inside zip lock bags. Treat the cloth gently when handling to avoid snagging and fraying. I usually make a template of the patch I want to apply out of packing paper. Lay the fabric on a clean, flat surface and make sure that the warp and the weft of the weave is aligned at right angles. Lay your template on the cloth, mark around it with a sharpie, and cut inside the marked line.
When you apply a patch of plain weave fabric, it will want to change shape on you, trading width for length or vice verse. Having the outline of your intended patch delineated with masking tape will make it much easier to avoid this. As you wet out the cloth, be gentle and apply epoxy first to the center of the patch and then work out to the edges. Dab epoxy on the edges of the patch gently to avoid or minimize fraying. It takes some time for the fibers to take up the resin, so have some patience.
If you are applying a multi-layer patch of fiberglass, it is generally best to apply the biggest patch first and then concentrically smaller ones on top. This will allow you to feather the edges of the smaller patch(es) without cutting through the fibers of the larger patch. With aramid, I will often apply the smaller patch first and then cover it immediately with a larger one as the larger patch will sort of act like peelply to keep the edges of the smaller patch flattened. Aramid likes to soak up resin at the edge of the patch, and it does not sand well, so it is harder to get a feathered edge on the patch. Using peelply really helps keep the edges of an aramid patch from plumping up. Peelply can also be a time saver when applying fiberglass patches.
If you want a smooth patch as you would on the exterior, you will need to fully fill the weave of the cloth with epoxy. You can't do this all in one go. It will take at least one additional application.
Be aware of amine blush. You can generally apply more epoxy over epoxy that is wet or still green. Cured epoxy may produce a blush that interferes with bonding of additional epoxy. If you need to apply a patch over cured epoxy, wash and rinse the area first and wipe it down with denatured alcohol.
For the hole in the bottom where there is some ragged fabric left, should I use that to fill it back in before patching or should I trim the ends and just put two kevlar layers on the inside and one fiberglass layer on the outside? I like the looks of peelply and will use it in my repairs.
Thanks so much for the advice!
You had asked if you can stain ash. Yes you can. I haven't been very happy with using walnut stain. The open ash grain takes up the stain intensely and the dense ash does not leaving very dark streaks on ash that is still pretty light. I have been pretty happy with cherry stain (Minwax), however. It won't darken the wood as much but the take up is much more uniform. The gunwales and deck plates on this boat were stained cherry. Additional applications of stain would have resulted in a darker color:
Leaning towards getting a knockdown kit now, not sure from which of the two leading suppliers yet. Still trying to figure out best pricing. If I went aluminum, the cost of materials plus roundtrip fuel and meals/overnight in the TC likely negate any savings found in the lower cost of aluminum.
Just read a very informative thread from last fall between you, Alan Gage, and a couple other folks over @ canoetripping about S vs E glass.
Probably will start on this project in earnest in August or September, depending on how the summer unfolds. Maybe sooner if I get the boat over to the workshop and obtain the gunwales. How easily will the clear gelcoat come off where it hasn't been obviously delaminated? Is this hand sanding territory, random orbital, or a combination of both or perhaps some other tool?
Ordered & obtained the gunwales, decks, and thwarts from Ed's. Took about 10 days from when I placed the order to when I received it. Ed's was kind enough to put a kerf on the gunwale and also put a cove into the decks so they mate with their stock gunwale profile. No other progress than getting the main wood components. I'll order seats once the hull repairs are completed.
Here's some photos:
At first I couldn't understand why this screw wouldn't turn last night... LOL
Plans are to finish measurements tonight and maybe get the gunwales off so I can assess any hidden damage, then make plans for the new gunwale installation.
Question regarding the kerf - I know its my choice if I want the gunwale w/the kerf as the inwale or the outwale. My plan was to have it be the inwale so when drilling holes for the thwarts and seats I would be going through one solid piece instead of the thin kerf edge and then the other piece of the gunwale. Just seems safer for that edge and easier to finish up in the stem that way.
What would you do?
Not sure how well I explained this.......I think you'll figure it out though.
"What could happen?"
Never criticize someone until you walk a mile in their shoes....by then you'll be a mile away and they will be shoeless!
Got a little work one over the weekend, mostly epoxying the gunwale pieces together, sanding off cured resin from the gunwales, and trying to lay things out to get a sense of how they're going to go on the boat.
Cowdoc - took a closer look at your mad river restoration and it looks like maybe you did the gunwales first & proud of the hull edge so you could fit the decks? Also, based on your photos I think you kept the kerf edge on the outwale, which is how Ed's instructions allude to it.... I think there's just one spot early on where it says something to the effect of 'if you have a composite hull your outwale might have a notch.'
Here's a couple of your photos which makes me think you did it that way -
Cowdoc gunwales 1 and Cowdoc gunwales 2
I like your decks, by the way. Did you make them yourself or did you order?
I've found Noah's Marine out East is a source for canoe decks in various combinations of species, and used their cherry w/ash stripe ones in my Spirit.
I guess the only real difference of doing it kerf inwale vs outwale is the 1/8" that's lost due to the kerf. Ultimately I believe my thinking has changed and I'll install them similarly to you and as indicated by Ed's, with the kerf on the outwale so the inwale is full width.
My decks will be inset as well, I bought Bell decks from Ed's and they were nice enough to cove them to fit the gunwale profile. I see you glued yours in place, my intention is to just hold mine in place via screws.... I plan to finish the gunwales and decks with the same oil I used on the cherry woodwork for my Spirit II, which is a gunstock oil called Tru Oil. Open to suggestions including spar varnish as I know I'll be applying a coat or three to the exterior when done. I've already committed to occasional removal & refinishing of the hidden sides on the Spirit given my use of oil there.
Experience with joining the knock down gunwales wasn't as great as I would have hoped. I really like the idea of the countersunk screws for providing a mechanical bond in addition to the chemical bond of the epoxy but I think they make the screw fitting before cutting their shiplap joint. The instructions make it clear that material is lost due to the blade, however when the gunwales are joined there's a definite gap at the start and ends of the joints. I should have taken a little longer and tried to accommodate better for this, however I got a little excited about getting it done and went with it. For the record, I'm not unhappy with how they turned out, however I can see where I should have used a little better attention to detail. I mixed the entire batch of epoxy in a cup, according to the directions I should have had 30 minutes of pot life but after 15 minutes the cup was starting to get hot and the epoxy in the cup was turning to gel. Did I do something wrong here? I mixed thoroughly, scraping the sides and bottom with a plastic epoxy stick. When I was done mixing there were a fair amount of bubbles in the cup, maybe I mixed it too much? Need to go back and reread the Epoxy Book maybe...
In the end I was only able to get half the joints done using the epoxy sent by Ed's. I would have had enough had the epoxy not kicked early. Luckily I had some West 105/205 packets and mixed up a batch in a clean yogurt container. The West is thinner than what Ed's sent, and mindful of the 10 minute pot life I got to work on the rest of the joints and finished with a couple minutes to spare.
Before I get to photos, how would folks suggest filling the gaps or otherwise smoothing out the inconsistencies? My thoughts are a specialty wood filler from a place like Rockler or Woodcraft that's made with ash flour or maybe trying to make my own... On hand right now I have an obscene amount of West System microballoons, a takeout pizza size cup of West System fairing compound, and the aforementioned West 105/205 packets from a fiberglass boat repair kit I bought last year. I also have a foot "extra" on each set of gunwales so I could sand off one of the ends and mix that in with epoxy too.
I saw some discussion on another paddling board that if the joints were properly done that it shouldn't matter, as the resulting joint would be stronger than the surrounding natural pieces. I just want to make sure I'm not setting a future bow paddler up for a wild ride.
Ok, some progress photos...
Had to use a hacksaw to remove some of the bolt heads. Luckily, the trusses were already mostly broken or rotten away so I could push the bolts up. This is near the branch impact site and bent into a Z shape.
Removed the Bell end caps so I could take measurements from the stems. I won't reuse them so now I have a pair of near mint Bell vinyl caps!
Here's a sketch of the boat, because information is power!
Unwrapping the gunwales
Each Gunwale is split into 3 pieces, and then bundled as a unit. They then wrapped the kerfed and non kerfed gunwale bundles separately, then together to make a solid bunch. The edges of the cuts were somewhat protected by cardboard caps over the greater bundle. Some of the tips still got crushed.
I only got the first four joints epoxied & screwed together before the epoxy kicked. It was supposed to be 30 minute working time, only got 15. 1A in the photo was the last joint I did, you can see the consistency of the epoxy changed when it was tightened down, it was almost more like a slime. I will make a note where this joint is on the boat in case of failure in the future.
After I was done freaking about my lack of epoxy I remembered that I had the West 105/205 packets. 10 minutes, a clean yogurt container, and a popsicle stick later the other ends of the gunwales were also finished.
Ultimately I ordered 17' gunwales and Ed's shipped me 18' of reconstructed boards. I had to lay them out on a diagonal to fit in the garage.
The next day.....
Dremels are neat, but man do they need a soft touch. Softer than what I can provide, maybe...
Here's a joint that didn't turn out too bad once I sanded off the excess epoxy.
Here's how I'd like to lay out the gunwales. They're clamped inwale to outwale, to give a sense of how it'll look on the canoe. Any issues with doing them this way? I would attempt to have at least one screw going through each of the inwale and outwale joints. Also, when the joints are lined up like this it seems to not leave as large of a gap at the joint.
"What could happen?"
I will probably end up dry fitting the inwales and measuring to ensure everything is well spaced.
Only progress last night was I cut the yoke, front thwart, and kneeling thwart. Handles will be cut after the gunwales are done and decks are installed. I used a piece of paper under the sawhorse to collect the sawdust to mix into a small batch of epoxy for gap filling and fairing.
The fairing was done in two batches... First I did the side that would be sandwiched to the hull. This was probably my better out of the two in terms of epoxy mix - the final product was about the color and texture of creamy peanut butter that had been warmed up slightly. Naturally, I did not get any photos of this. :-)
The 2nd batch was applied to the visible edges of the gunwales, again only on and near the joints to fair the opposing sides. This batch was a little more textured, I think my confidence on how the first batch turned out lead me to mix in too much sawdust. Of course, I did get a photo of this:
Didn't get any pictures of the finished results other than the above. However, I felt satisfied with what I had and after sanding to 220 with the random orbital I lined them up to start oiling the hidden sides. The gunwales need to be clamped together on the ends in order for them to keep the side I'm working on facing up. The source planks seem to have been a little warped.... I doubt it's going to cause a problem when installed, but they sure don't want to stay put on the horse.
Two of the gunwales (one inwale and one outwale) are a little darker than the other set. Right now I have them laid out with a light/dark combination on both sides, not sure if I'll install it that way or keep the darker pieces together.
Here's a light/dark pair. The top piece is only oiled on the right half.
Closeup of an inwale & outwale pair before wiping off excess oil. The dark is a shadow as I mostly have time to work on it at night.
Since the oil's out I also sanded and treated the end grain on the pieces I cut. Since there's nothing special about the kneeling thwart I just chopped off one of the sides vs finding the center & cutting from both sides.
Also unwrapped the decks & gave them a light sanding before applying oil. As with the gunwales, right now I'm focusing on all the hidden parts so they get protection from the elements. The rest of the surfaces will get sanded and oiled once installed.
That's about where progress will stay for the rest of this month. I plan to get another 2 coats of oil on the rails and at least the final coat will be wet sanded. The decks are at least a couple coats of oil behind everything else but will be caught up by the time installation happens. Turns out the thwarts use the same bullnose as the gunwales, so I was able to turn a scrap piece into the perfect tool to sand the cove on the decks.
Looks like I might need to shape the tops of the decks to mate to the gunwales... When dry fit against the gunwales I see that they'll either sit below the level of the gunwales or slightly proud. Looking at factory decks it seems like they're arched. What kind of tool would I use for that, a plane of some kind?
Only progress on the boat is the other night I finally found some time around 11PM to remove the "good" side gunwale and fit the new rails to that side. Nothing's been attached yet as the hull was pretty filthy underneath the aluminum and I needed to go out and get a new #8 countersink. Plus, I really wanted to get a good idea of where the scarf joints matched up to where seats will need to be attached. The good news is that it seems that I can avoid having the seats directly on an inwale scarf, but it might mean the front thwart will need to bolt thru it or the thwart will need to move fore a little. Guess time will tell once I get this side mounted and then focus on the other side.
One thing that seems to have happened when I was getting the gunwale clamped is that the very ends of two of the scarfs have opened ever so slightly... No more than the width of a fingernail if I allow it to open up. Curious what, if anything, I should do to try to reglue or reinforce those spots.
For mounting the gunwales I decided to line the scarfs up like this.
I like the symmetry but hope it doesn't end up being a structural problem down the road.
I used tape on the top of the scarfs to mark the locations of the buried screws, plus used tape on the face of the inwale to mark where the gunwale screws should go in. Spacing is 4-6" depending on location or proximity to seats, thwarts, or scarfs.
Specs for the canoe state the gunwale width is 31", which is also about the length of the old rotted out portage yoke. I clamped a bar to where the yoke should go and put the marks on the seam between the inwale and the outwale... roughly even with the hull edge. Am I jacking the boat out ~1.5" too far, and will it have an impact? I have to push the hull out about 2" from where it wants to be with no bar.
When I had the gunwale on with only spring clamps I could see where PBlanc referred to as hot spots. I'm happy that after using bar clamps while drilling & screwing the wales together they have disappeared it seems.
I had my teenager help me turn the canoe around so I could start working on the damaged side. No photos of taking the old rails off but this side went much faster than the other, with my new knowledge about how they were mounted. Once I had the interior rail free the outer easily came off. The best part is that the hull mostly sprung back into shape! The chines seem like they're no longer deflected, however there's a bit of twisting damage from the tree to the very top edge of the hull & extending down the outside 3-4 inches.
So, my plan of attack for this spot is probably an s-glass patch that wraps around the top. Should I go to the effort of clamping a couple paint sticks or very rigid but flexible material wrapped in plastic along the hull edge to try to fair out that ripple while the epoxy is curing? I kinda get a sense I should but wanted to know what others think first.
When I took off the damaged gunwales I couldn't resist doing a dry fitting of the new gunwales. I think the side looks very good other than the surface and bit of structural damage, and the gunwales do a good job of pulling the side into shape.
Hope to get going on the edge repair soon so I can get the canoe over to the winter workshop for the hull repairs. My wife would like her parking spot in the garage back before the snow flies. =)
Source: This post plus others once I came across the term "molded hull."
No photos, but I have started prepping the hull for the composite repair necessary before I can finish the new gunwales. I have sanded the exterior to the point where the weave of the carbon layer is starting to be exposed & the dust is taking on a grey color. I'm going to finish sanding the area tonight to get the weave uniformly exposed and then start planning my patch. I'm thinking I will do a kevlar patch on the inside, approximately 7x3 in size, and then cover that and wrap over & down the front with an s-glass patch approximately 9x7 in size. I have some left over 8' cherry sticks from redoing the gunwales on my Spirit last year that I'll plastic wrap and temporarily clamp to the hull so the cured repair will hopefully get rid of the wave where the hull got twisted. Hopefully it won't add much to the thickness at that spot so the rabbit on the gunwales still closes up.
Sanded the clear coat off more last night, for the most part I'm down to the hybrid fabric as the sanding dust is taking on a uniform slate grey color. I'm afraid to sand much more as I don't want to completely take off the carbon layer as seen by the rivet hole near the hull edge.
Plan is to mock up my patches with some paper to verify fit, cut out, and maybe epoxy on Monday at the earliest.
If anyone is reading these posts, I'd appreciate any input regarding my plan to clamp a temporary gunwale segment to the area that is being repaired, so it takes on a more "normal" form when the epoxy is cured. Thanks!
I made a template out of construction paper and fit it to the side. Originally I was going to do kevlar covered with an s-glass layer on top and wrapping over the top edge and going down the front. Decided that the second layer would be overkill and instead wrapped the top 3/4" of the fiberglass from the front over the top edge and slightly overlapping the kevlar patch. This part will be under the gunwales eventually.
Plan in mind I set about tracing my patches onto the fabric with a sharpie and then cut them out. After masking boundaries with tape I went about getting the resin & hardener mated to their pumps, and mixed up a 3oz batch of epoxy. Later I'll find out this was probably double the amount I actually needed. Ah well, learning curve...
I wet out the inside first since the kevlar patch was to be placed first. After letting it sit for a minute or two I placed the patch and got it nice & wet. Satisfied for now, I wet the outside of the hull and placed the fiberglass. I used a piece of peel ply, working from the bottom of the outside patch upwards, to wrap the fiberglass over the top edge and over the edge of the kevlar patch, and then down the kevlar patch. This worked for the most part, but it was a balance between tension on the peel ply to keep the top down and having it pull away from the hull because of the tension. Once I felt it was all well wet out and excess had been removed, I took some 3/4" cherry sticks that I had left from last year's canoe project, wrapped them in saran wrap, and clamped to the canoe from the center point a couple feet past the repair site.
I left this all to sit about 20 hours before I had another patch of free time to see how it set up. With the temporary gunwale off I could see that the edge is much more in line with the rest of the hull edge, and it's significantly more firm than before the patch.
I have to fill a couple air bubbles that were introduced when I clamped on the gunwales plus fill the weave on the outside. I was a little heavy handed with the epoxy in a few spots so I have a little bit of ridging on the edges or higher spots on the patches.... mostly on the outside. On the inside I have some thick epoxy on the bottom edge, far away from the patch, and that will get blended into the longer patch that will run parallel to the water line.
Still hoping to get the gunwales done by the end of the month so I can move the boat to the heated winter workshop.
Finished getting the gunwales on happy to say that process went easily enough and was aided by a new Li-Ion drill and impact wrench. Having experience with re-railing my Spirit II in the spring of 2016 was also valuable. I made a couple goofs along the way, most notably in joining the two sides at the bow. I'm not sure yet what, if anything, to do about the gaps on the ends of the gunwales. I did keep a baggie of sifted sawdust in case I decide to make some thickened epoxy and use it to fill gaps.
I followed a 6" screw spacing for probably half the length of the rails, with 4" spacing in the area of the scarf joints, extending to past the seat in the bow. Maybe a little over built but was hoping the end result was spreading the load over a greater area. Decks have been dry fit and go in nicely when coaxed with a rubber mallet. The bow and stern screws were driven at an angle and will be replaced with longer ones when the decks are permanently mounted. I don't think I'll use any epoxy to secure the decks, only 4 screws on both sides.
While in MSP recently for work I stopped by NW Canoe to get seats and some hardware. Dennis was happy to talk about the North Canoe he's been working on this year and gave some advice for my repairs.
I got the canoe over to the winter workshop last weekend, which made my wife happy as now she can park in the garage again. Bonus is that the space is heated, and even though the thermostat is kept low it's warm enough for 105/206 to cure. I just have to make plans now when to go work on the boat versus being able to walk out to the garage for a couple hours here or there.
Before loading the canoe onto the car I weighed it at about 54lbs. I was expecting less, based on Bell's specs but maybe the difference is a combination of material change and the extra screws plus the contour seats?
Here's some progress shots.
Composite repairs. Single layer kevlar patch inside and a single layer of 'glass on the outside.
Making progress getting the thwarts and other furniture installed.
I used the bat or a care bear I found in the garage as a safety cap for whichever end of the canoe was facing the garage opening. I didn't want anyone poking themselves or possibly hurting the ends.
A few other canoe porn shots. The blue painter's tape on the deck is being used as a rub guard for sanding. I'm using a random orbital to take off the square edges of the decks where they meet the gunwales while trying to mimic the shaping Bell does on their decks. I think it will turn out alright.
New theory on how the holes got put into the hull... The guy I bought the canoe from stated that someone plunked the hull with a pellet gun. I think that was just what he said to explain the holes, but in reality I think what actually happened is that when the side got crushed it drove the bolts into & thru the hull. The left spot is towards the bow stem and it is near the end of the stress mark on the hull. The thru and thru hole is actually a little oval shaped and is closer to the center of impact, which was right at the bow thwart. This seems much more plausible to me than "some kid shot it with a pellet gun." The bolt that I think went thru the hull ultimately was bent into a Z shape. Imagine the forces needed to not only drive a blunt tipped object completely thru the hull but then also to deform it in two different places so sharply!
Waiting for next time...
Thanks. The decks came from Ed's along with the gunwales & thwarts. The deck comes with square edges normally, but they were kind enough to shape the sides to match the gunwale profile. Only the top side sits proud of the gunwales. If I were to flip it over it wouldn't extend as far and it would be slightly below the level of the gunwales. Sitting proud also gives me an opportunity to shape it a little, similar to how they're rounded from the factory. No doubt Ed's did me a solid when they asked if I wanted the deck shaped.
I reached to Northstar for advice on patching the holes. I've had several different thoughts on how to go about it based on advice received so far. My original plan was to do two layers inside and a layer of glass on the outside, but then I got to thinking that perhaps I should build it back up with as many layers as in the original layup. Northstar's suggestion was to do a single layer patch on the inside and then fill the hole with epoxy or gelcoat since it's not so much of a structural problem.
I might go somewhere in between by putting a barrier on the underside of the hull at the hole (plastic held in place by tape) and then filling from the outside in with a couple pieces of glass for sandability, topped by a round kevlar patch. The outside might get additional work before I roll on the finish epoxy coats. The pieces of glass will be small, probably pea-sized, and the interior kevlar will be approximately the size of a half dollar.
The other hole which never penetrated the hull will just get an interior patch and then a fiberglass patch on the outside. The extent of the visible damage outside is not much more than spider webs in the gel.
One thing that I've noticed when cleaning up spots inside the hull is spots that have been hit with epoxy either via accidental drips or where I patched under the gunwales where the fabric color came back... The weave that previously looked like a sand & light red checkerboard now looks more like butterscotch and black squares. I wasn't planning on doing an epoxy coat inside, but what about varnish? What do other folks do with their boats?
You can see what I'm talking about with the color difference a few posts up where I shared a photo of the patch under the gunwales.
Armed with this advice, I took to knocking off all the loose gelcoat around the holes, then I prepped some circles of plastic to tape to the outside of the hull to act as a dam. The forward most hole, which wasn't even a hole, got a kevlar patch on the inside. The other hole, the one going clear thru the hull, got some cut up s-glass strands wadded up and jammed into the hole then I liberally wet out / filled the hole with resin. Once the glass was nice and wet I took another kevlar patch and laid it over. Both patches got topped with a piece of peel ply & the whole affair smoothed & squeegied. The peel ply patches this time around looked wet & translucent but not shiny, which I believe I read somewhere in my research was what one's trying for when using it.
While at the shop I also gave the undersides of the decks and all the cut ends of the thwarts & seats a good sanding with 120 grit on the orbital before coating with oil. The walnut looks really nice when oiled but it's going to take several coats as when the excess is wiped some of the figuring disappears.
Came back after 16 hours or so of cure time and pulled off the peel ply and the tape patches on the outside of the hull. I don't think I could have asked for better on the through and through patch, except maybe I could have colored the epoxy with some graphite as the butterscotch of the kevlar transmits pretty well. Ah well, nobody's going to see it from that perspective except when its on the car. =)
Also no epoxy bled through the first spot to the temporary patch on the outside of the hull so I will take that as a good sign. There was no visible damage to the fibers beyond the top layer on the inside. The outside was just missing gel at the impact site, the carbon looked ok.
Next up, probably during Christmas break, is getting the rails uniformly sanded and oiled and then attaching the decks. I might get to doing the long patch on the port side inside to reinforce where it was crushed.... Or that might be a January thing. Hoping I might get her out for a paddle in February.
I got the decks installed in one of the times I was there. Sadly, both decks developed a split in the same spot on both decks. One was the result of driving the screw too quickly with the impact driver, and the other was because the hole I drilled was at a slight incline & by the time the screw was at the deck it was more than 3/4 of the way towards the top of the deck.
Naturally, I didn't have any sort of wood glue at the shop & didn't want to waste much of a small batch of epoxy to fix this so a trip to the hardware store was in order. Compounding matters was that the bow deck, with the inclined pilot hole, ended up with the drill bit breaking off in it while I was trying to fix the pilot. I didn't have pliers on me, and so I couldn't glue the split that session.
I returned a few days later & extracted the bit and glued the deck. Both decks now have a blemish that will probably not sand completely out, but should serve as a reminder to be more careful in the future.
I also did some sanding on the port side where the fiberglass patch will need to go. I found a pokey tool to use to chip off loose gelcoat, used a random orbital to do general sanding in the area and then switched to hand sanding to avoid burning through the carbon layer where it's been exposed. Had a little oopsie with the orbital where I kept it stationary a little too long in one spot and it removed a little more than I intended. This was a spot where the carbon was cracked, however, so I did need to get down to a more solid layer. Just didn't mean to take off quite as much material.
I'm thinking I should do probably 2 layers on the teardrop shaped area above the lateral crease and also in the crease area about even with the thwart, as these are spots where the carbon layer is gone completely and the outermost carbon/kevlar layer is exposed. The rest of the lateral crease area will get a long single layer patch.
Recently, after I was feeling better, I got back to the shop to address the bow deck. After realizing that trying to fix the bad pilot hole was a bad idea, I decided to fill it with neat epoxy and capped the countersink with epoxy thickened with sawdust, then stretched a piece of plastic over it so the cap would conform to the gunwale profile. Had a minor epoxy mishap along the way too, as I picked up a catheter syringe from a local medical supply store to use for injecting the epoxy into the hole. The syringe was a little hard to push at one point and when it finally went it flooded the hole and started to dribble elsewhere. Thankfully I was wearing gloves & had some shop rags & acetone nearby so the mess was minimized. Just not the kind of thing you want to be dealing with when the pot life clock is ticking. On top of that, the stands I had made out of 2x2 pine boards decided that this was the moment they should fail. They had been a little tender since I made them, and had a feeling I would need to make new ones eventually.
I got the boat stabilized on its side with a chair so the repaired hole was still facing the ceiling. Had some leftover epoxy when I was done with the hole and it hadn't kicked yet due to the workshop being towards the cooler end of working temps, so I decided to use some of it up addressing a couple spots on the starboard side where the gel had chipped away. This is a complete guess but I figure it's probably due to the use of ratchet straps by the previous owner. I used a foam brush to dribble a stripe down the affected spots then stretched a piece of plastic over these spots as well.
A few days later I returned to see how the epoxy repairs went, plus to drive a new pilot & screw for the bow deck. After peeling off the plastic from the gunwale I'm satisfied with how it turned out, especially after sanding off the excess epoxy that spread around the hole on the gunwales. I also removed the plastic on the side where I filled the missing gelcoat spots and am especially pleased with how one of the two spots looks now. The other spot, which had a sort of + shaped chunk missing looks like it will need another layer of epoxy to get it back to the same level as the surrounding gel. Both spots of course will need sanding to get them fair with the rest of the hull. I was also happy to see the pattern of the carbon come through loud & clear near where I filled due to a thin layer of excess epoxy spreading out. I can't wait for the final phase of the project where I'll sand & epoxy the whole hull. Its going to look great!
One other thing I did recently at the shop was to install tugeyes. Many thanks to Dennis @ NW Canoe for the grommets and advice last fall when I was by the shop to pick up the seats. His recommendation was to use a forstner bit versus a spade for making the holes. I think they turned out well.
Also around this time I built some new canoe stands for working on the boat. I've been reading Canoecraft recently and basically used the plans found in the book for making mine. The boat is much more solidly supported now!
I may try to get over to the shop this weekend instead of watching the super bowl. I really want to get the inside prepped for the long kevlar patch, maybe even get the patch applied.
Hoping she's ready for the water come March. My son's Scout troop's April campout might involve a daytrip down a river and really want it to be ready for that.
Super Bowl Sunday I got the interior two layer patch installed. I think I ended up using about 7 pumps of resin & hardener mixed in a couple batches to completely wet out the patches. It used more than I thought it might. Something to keep in mind for when I go to do the exterior patches, although I suspect it'll end up being less than that amount since the exterior patch doesn't look to be quite as large as the interior one.
After I applied the patches I decided to take a look at the underside & to my surprise I found that the laminate was compromised to the point where resin was soaking thru the hull to the exterior in a couple spots. I slapped a piece of plastic & taped it securely to the hull in the spot it was soaking through the most. No picture of the plastic here, just of the resin leaching thru the laminate. It was really flexible in this spot.
Peel ply is an interesting thing to work with. Not sure which I prefer, the peel ply or using some kind of plastic wrap.... I guess it's probably situational, will I be putting more layers on top or is this the top coat? The peel ply leaves a subtly rough, almost sandpapery kind of texture. Plastic leaves it as smooth as you can get the plastic to sit. I also had some ridges of epoxy get accidentally introduced, mostly near the gunwale but also beyond the patch where the epoxy abruptly ended. Also in a couple spots when I pulled off the peel ply it looks like it pulled some cured resin up with it. Perhaps these were places that were either starved or maybe my surface prep wasn't to snuff in these spots? I came back about 48 hours after applying the patches to remove the peel ply.
When I came back a week or two later to work again I used plastic wrap to cover the epoxy. Once I got it to stop sticking to itself it worked well for being able to see & move the resin around. I had a bright idea to run a long strip of tape down the chine to try to hold the plastic wrap down, and in the end the tension caused it to lift the plastic from the hull. I was able to quickly get the tape detached from the hull so the plastic sat back down.... then the endless smoothing started.
Along the way I also had some extra resin so I used it to finish filling the starboard side places where there's missing gelcoat and to top off the filled hole for my wayward deck screw. I'm happy with the result of this & the hull feels fair to my hand.
Did not get any photos the next day when I came back to remove the plastic but I'm generally happy with how it turned out. There are some bumps from wrinkles in the plastic which will need to be knocked down, but I think I'm ready to move on to the exterior repairs now.
One other thing, I have a scarf joint that was ever so slightly open towards the end. I ran some sandpaper in it to clean out old glue and worked some Titebond III into the joint, then clamped & left it to dry.
Hoping I can get back to the workshop maybe this weekend to finish prepping for the exterior patch. I think I'm about ready. Looking to be a thin strip maybe 2" wide towards the bow and widening out to 4" right behind the seat which is where the point of impact was. I also have a 2 layer patch near that which is where I sanded a little too deeply and removed a teardrop shape area of the carbon.
Still on track I think for getting her on the water in April!