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      How to repair a major tear in kevlar     
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09/27/2020 03:28AM  
Hi all,

Looking for advice here. I picked up a free MR Explorer in Kevlar with gel coat. It was free because it lost a battle to a plow truck. I hope to bring it back to life, as we've always wanted a lightweight tandem for our lake trips. I understand how to do kevlar and/or fiberglass patch jobs and gel coat fixes, but I'm wondering if I need to do something more for this severe damage.

The pic shows the worst of 2 tears in the hull at opposite ends of the canoe. If only patches, I'm thinking multiple kevlar layers along with fiberglass to finish it off. Do you think this would be strong enough?

Do you think some type of stitching is warranted, perhaps using braided fishing line? Tiny holes and then sew it up and then patch job on top?

I grew up taking BWCA trips, and I miss it a lot, although we have some of the nicest river trips up here in Alaska.

Thanks for any advice you might have!
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distinguished member(2330)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/27/2020 10:28AM  
I'd suggest 3 layers of fiberglass, each successive layer with margins 2" wider than the previous. Start with a strip that is about 2" wide. Fiberglass is easier to work with and tends to bond better as it wets through with resin; kevlar does not saturate with resin (main reason kevlar hulls are lighter is they require significantly less resin). This is an easy fix. Use strong tape on the exterior to hold everything in place while executing the repair on the interior. If it was my boat I would also add a strip of fiberglass (maybe 2" wide) on the exterior- but this will mar the appearance.
09/28/2020 12:32AM  
Thanks Banksiana ! That all makes sense. Thanks for the clear description!

member (25)member
09/28/2020 07:23AM  
I agree with the suggestion to use a fiberglass patch on the inside. You may need more than tape to hold the edges in place. As an example, a strip of wood could be screwed on the outside across the tear using drywall screws. Put wax paper between the hull to keep from accidentally glueing the strip to the canoe. Patch on the inside. When dry remove the strip of wood and screws. Fill the screw holes and the tear. A few small holes will be less noticeable than mismatched edges.

Paste wax can be applied on the outside close to the edge of the tear. Epoxy won't stick to wax. If the tear won't match up properly you have to use a knife or hacksaw blade.

distinguished member (195)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/28/2020 09:04AM  
Ow. I have never seen a rip like that.

My first canoe was a wrapped fiberglass Sawyer Cruiser that had been straightened out. It had major damage at the turn of the bilge on both sides. I could put my fist in the holes and move my arm around. I repaired it on the inside and the outside and painted the boat. It was back in service for years.

I would repair the gunwales first to recover the shape of the hull. Grind or cut out the overlapping fibers of kevlar to smooth out the hull. Use some clamps and scrap wood on the outside to make the hull smooth. Repair it on the inside first with fiberglass cloth and marine epoxy. Maybe 3 inch tape, followed by a 6 inch piece, maybe a larger piece over that. Make sure you overlap the tear by at least 5-6 inches. Three layers should do it. Then use some epoxy resin mixed with thickener like microballoons or the equivalent. Fair the rip on the outside and sand it smooth. You can smooth out the gel coat if you want. I always just paint repaired canoes.
09/30/2020 02:21PM  
Thanks ppine and Dan! That all makes sense. The tear looks clean, so I'm hoping that it won't be too hard to align, but yea, I'll need a flush and stable joint to allow the patch to cure properly. I'll likely try tape first, then perhaps clamp some narrow wood at the sheerline to keep it shaped and then patch inside, then take the clamped wood off and add more patches up to the sheerline, then deal with the outside.

I'll try to avoid making more holes! Ha.
09/30/2020 02:26PM  
Here are some pics of the poor old lady when I got it and it's current state. I hope to get this repaired this winter. Might try vinyl gunnels, as she'll be stored outside.

distinguished member (195)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/03/2020 03:06PM  
New gunwales will help a lot to regain the shape of the boat.

I am just now figuring how to scarf some new inwales in a cedar and canvas OT Guide from 1953.
11/10/2020 09:02PM  
For extra rigidity, I'm going with aluminum gunnels from Northwest Canoe in the spring, replacing my rotted wood on my MR exp.
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