BWCA Refinish Interior of a Kevlar Bluewater Freedom 17 Tripper Boundary Waters Group Forum: Boat Builders and Repair
Chat Rooms (0 Chatting)  |  Search  |   Login/Join
* BWCA is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Boat Builders and Repair
      Refinish Interior of a Kevlar Bluewater Freedom 17 Tripper     



member (5)member
11/19/2023 10:53PM  
I have a circa 1998 Bluewater Freedom 17 Tripper in their Nylon/Kevlar midweight layup that is showing some wear and discoloration on the interior and am hoping for some feedback and advice on options to refinish the interior.

The Issues
There is wear, exposed fabric, some rough/fuzzy patches and some small voids in the weave in some areas of the football and discoloration (white patches) throughout the interior. The interior has lost its waterproofing and soaks up any paddle drips, wet from feet, and rain. Overall the hull is solid, there are no big voids, hollow spots, or soft spots.

Here are some photos after a scrub with soap and water and two wipe downs with denatured alcohol. I'm not sure why some areas went white and some remained golden coloured, it doesn't always correspond to high wear areas. The fine lines seems to be ridges from squeegees during fabrication.

The Refinishing Options
Here are my thoughts and questions about the options I'm considering to restore waterproofness and hopefully add some durability, listed in no particular order.

1. Varnish only. Are there any recommended varnishes or brands, preferably in a satin sheen? If I find varnish alone is not enough, is it still possible to epoxy over the varnish later or is varnish a one-way street?

2. Epoxy only. I'm thinking West System 105/207. Is varnish really necessary for UV protection of the interior of a garage stored canoe that sees weekend use and a couple of week-long trips a year?

3. Epoxy and varnish. West System 105/207 plus whatever recommended varnish. West System seems to recommend this over epoxy only. The same question of epoxy later over varnish from above applies.

Surface Prep Concerns and Questions
I've read plenty about recoating the exterior of epoxy skin coated canoes like Souris River's models as well as West System's prep notes. Sanding seems to be required to ensure good adhesion of epoxy or varnish. I've also read about the dreaded "kevlar fuzz" that may arise from sanding a kevlar layer. Without knowing the layup schedule of my canoe, how do I know if sanding is ok or if I'll be sanding a kevlar layer? There is already some fuzz/raised fibres (see photos above) and I'm worried about making it worse with sanding. Is there another way I could prep the surface for epoxy or varnish?

Thanks all in advance for your collective wisdom and insight, I appreciate it.
      Print Top Bottom Previous Next
11/20/2023 10:19AM  
First off, you need to make this boat very dry. You don't want to trap moisture under the refinish coating.

If it was my boat I would do epoxy followed by varnish. Epoxy is a tougher coating and will stand up to the scuffing canoe interiors get from sandy feet, etc.

If the interior layer is indeed either nylon or kevlar you need to keep sanding to a minimum. Either will fuzz. Hand sand with 80 or 100 grit.

A single coating of epoxy will be fine. Make sure the boat, room and epoxy are nice and warm, Roll or brush and then feather out. Don't mix one big batch, Use several smaller batches. If the resin starts thickening on roller or brush start a fresh one. That way you get a neat coating.

Let that cure for a least several days. I usually wait a week. Lightly sand with 120 or 150 and varnish. I use a non-skid powder in bottom. It not only makes it non-skid, but a tougher, more abrasion resistant coating.

That is a fine Steve Killing design. My favorite canoe designer! The whole freedom line are wonderful to paddle.
member (5)member
11/20/2023 11:27AM  
Thanks for the feedback sedges. I understand that good prep is 90% of a quality refinishing job so will make sure to spend the time to do it right. Agreed about light sanding to keep fuzz to a minimum. I'll proceed with caution and plan to have a warm environment to work in when it comes time to epoxy.

Yup, it is a beautiful canoe and paddles really nicely. I grew up in a small town in Ontario (now in Vancouver, BC) and Steve Killing coached at the rowing club where I rowed competitively. He's a great guy and a skilled designer. It is a rare bird out here in a land of Clippers and Hellmans.
distinguished member(2928)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/20/2023 12:41PM  
I agree with everything.

105 resin, 207 hardener. Boat and air should be about 70' and kept there for a day. Don't let the temp rise after applying the epoxy. If there is any trapped air in the weave anyplace, it will expand and cause bubbles.

207 hardener has some UV protection. Since this is an old beater canoe, varnish will help but not essential. As mentioned, a light sanding with fine sandpaper just to take the gloss off the epoxy and you can varnish with SPAR varnish.

You don't need to sand the canoe too much prior to epoxy. Just enough to get the crud off and dull the surface. Epoxy will stick to it just fine.

Good luck.
member (5)member
11/20/2023 01:21PM  
Thanks Tom, glad to know I don't need to do a lot of sanding to prep for epoxy. I'll keep the warning about a temperature rise in mind when I epoxy.
      Print Top Bottom Previous Next