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Restoring a Weathered Strip Canoe

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by bloudis, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. bloudis

    bloudis New Member

    Greetings Oh Wise Folk

    This is my first post. I would like to restore a Cedar strip canoe built about 8 years ago by my father in law. He has passed away and it sat in the backyard, keel-side up, for the past 4 years. It was a cedar strip canoe with a fiberglass coat and a varnish as a final finish. I'm pretty sure he used the West Marine epoxy.
    The exposed bottom is now discolored with exposed glass, which is brown and rough. I would really appreciate your thoughts on how to get this back to the beauty it once was without tearing it apart completely. I also need to replace the outside gunwales, and I can't tell what wood he used for that, and if I should change that since it has rotted in the elements.

    The inside looks great since it was not exposed to the sun, I was just going to do a light sand and re-varnish it.

    Photos attached.

    Thanks so much for your time and expertise

    Brian in San Diego

    ps I will try to post photos but tonight the website seems to be having problems with the upload

    Attached Files:

  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The outside fiberglass/epoxy layers have been ruined by excessive UV, which eventually breaks down the epoxy if the boat is not protected from it. The only way to fix it is to remove the outside glass (slow work with a heat gun and a scraper, especially if it is epoxy resin as it sticks quite well to wood) then clean up the wood, re-glass the outside, protect it with a good UV-filtering varnish and then store it properly, out of the sun and weather.

    The gunwale problem is more typical of weathering and rot on any exposed wooden gunwales that are left out in the weather. They can be replaced with new wood. It's not likely that you would be able to really clean them up if there are deep rot pockets or soft spots. They look like they're probably made from ash.

    The project is do-able, but a tremendous amount of work (actually probably more work than starting from scratch and building a new boat). Whether or not you can get the wood back to looking like it used to will depend on how deeply weathered it is where the glass has been damaged. You have very little thickness that can be sanded away on the wooden core of a stripper without doing structural damage.
  3. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    What Todd said.

    Take a close look at the seams between the wood parts (gunnels,deck) and the 'glassed surfaces. All that dark-colored material has probably started to rot, so I suspect the decks need to be replaced as well as the gunnels. You may find the ends of the seat frames, and the thwarts, have this issue as well, maybe not as bad, since these were up under the shell.

    I have stripped and re-done the 'glass on a canoe, and I agree with Todd on building new vs repairing. If someone brought this into my shop and asked for an estimate, I'd tell them that buying two new boats just like it will be cheaper than the repair job. If the boat has tremendous sentimental value, it may be worth it to you to fix it, but it won't be a money-making proposition.


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