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What is this canoe made out of? Hoping to fix.

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by DieCryGoodbye, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. DieCryGoodbye

    DieCryGoodbye New Member

    Hello All,

    I am looking for help identifying a ~25 year old Canoe that I just purchased for cheap and am hoping to fix up for a fun summer of paddling.

    I found a serial number stamped into the hull on the back right of the boat under the gunwale. The serial number reads: SCSN6993K596

    The boat is around 16' long and has an Allagash logo right in the center. My limited research makes me think this is an old Allagash / Stowe Canoe Co boat, and the last two digits of the serial number make me think it was built in 1996.

    Any help particularly trying to determine the material of the boat would be very helpful. I don't want to destroy it by thinking it is the wrong material and trying to fix it the wrong way.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The hull is Royalex, a Uniroyal plastic laminate with vinyl outer skins over layers of ABS for strength and a foam core in the center. They were vacuum formed from single large sheets of pre-laminated plastic. There are not a lot of molds sitting around for Royalex canoes due to cost, so I doubt the model was unique to Allagash. Old Town, Mad River and We0No-Nah all built similarly-shaped Royalex canoe models and may have had their own molds, but may have bought generic pre-molded hulls from a different company. The original pre-molded Royalex hulls were built in the Uniroyal plant in Warsaw, Indiana, sold to just about any company that wanted to build their own version, and nicknamed the "Warsaw Rocket". In reality, it was more like a pig in the water. Your boat is a later, sleeker design, which will paddle much better. I don't know whether Uniroyal also built later models or whether somebody else did them (maybe even Old Town).

    The best bet for replacement parts (gunwales, end decks, seats, thwarts) is likely going to be Old Town, as their Penobscot model was pretty similar to your boat. If you have access to some straight grained, ash, mahogany, etc. it is also possible to re-rail the boat with wooden gunwales and wooden decks. Hull repairs, if breaks are present are best done using a flexible epoxy like WEST Epoxy G-Flex. It won't look like new, but it will be serviceable. Spots where the vinyl skin and/or ABS layers have been worn through on the ends can be patched and covered with Kevlar skid plates, which permanently stop the problem. They are also applied with flexible epoxy and are available as a complete repair kit from some manufacturers. Small dents and creases in the hull can often be fixed by careful use of a heat gun, or even by setting it out in the sun on saw horses on a hot sunny day. The foam core heats up, re-expands and the dents are reduced or removed like magic.
     
  3. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I noticed that Benson thought it might be fiberglass in the other thread. He well may be right. We can't see any fabric weave in the full canoe photo. Is there a weave present? If so, it's glass and Stowe apparently built both types.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    DieCryGoodbye

    DieCryGoodbye New Member

    This is some seriously great information, thank you!! I love learning the history.

    I ordered some "TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy" instead of the WEST brand (no reason, just bought a random one) and some Bondo brand fiberglass cloth with no weight given, but it says 0.2mm thickness. Do you think these will be OK materials for fixing it up? I think the front will probably need a kevlar skid plate since it is badly damaged, but I haven't ordered the cloth yet. I was hoping to buy a larger supply of the epoxy for multiple projects and then the cloths separate instead of one kit, since I'm not sure how much I'll need.

    I took some more pictures of both the damage and the inside. The outside I can't see any weave and it seems to just be one solid sheet. The inside does look like some kind of woven texture.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Yep, Benson was right, it's fiberglass. The good news is that it's an easier repair. You can tear a fiberglass boat in half and somebody good can put it back together so that it hardly shows. The damage on the stem bottoms is no big deal to fix and you don't need Kevlar skid plates. What you have is just chipping and abrasion of the gelcoat in that area from grounding, hitting rocks, etc. Gelcoat is polyester resin mixed with pigment for color and a thickener, usually talc to make it kind of like syrup. It yields a nice, polish-able colored surface, but can chip because it's fairly brittle. It is available in small amounts from fiberglass supply businesses, usually in either generic colors or clear so that you can add pigments to try to match the old color. You mix it with MEKP liquid hardener, apply it a bit thicker than the hole you're filling, let it harden , seal it, and after hardening, sand it smooth and polish it. Gelcoat is air inhibited, meaning that it gets hard, but the surface stays a bit tacky. This helps the cloth layers bond to it when they make a new boat in a mold. You don't want a tacky surface when doing gelcoat patch-up work, so right after you fill the hole and the gelcoat is still "wet", you seal it from air so that it hardens tack-free. The easiest way to seal it is to spray on a light coat of hair spray (polyvinyl alcohol). It's water soluble, so before you sand, you just wipe the hair spray off with a wet rag. There are probably lots of YouTube videos on doing marine gel coat repairs.

    You can also patch gelcoat chips using the epoxy resin that you bought, instead of using polyester gelcoat. You would need to add some powder to thicken it so that it doesn't run (commercial epoxy thickener additives, or even talcum powder could work) and also some pigment. There are small tubes of commercial pigments for resin, or for small spots you can sometimes even get away with a little bit of artist's oil paint from a tube. All in all though, patching gelcoat with real polyester gelcoat may be an easier task.

    I assume that big black patch is covering a crack and all those little fractures in the gelcoat behind it are called "crazing". The patch could certainly be cleaned up and depending upon what else they stuck on the crack to fix it, you might need to add some fiberglass, and later some gelcoat. Without a better idea of what is under the black stuff, it's pretty hard to say more about that one. There are YouTube videos showing the repair of crazing, digging out those tiny cracks with a Dremel and filling them with gelcoat. It is really tedious work and often not worth the trouble as they frequently don't get worse. The outside of the hull can be polished, but on older boats it may be easier to just paint it with either marine enamel or polyurethane floor enamel from the hardware store.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    DieCryGoodbye

    DieCryGoodbye New Member

    Thank you! Deeply appreciate the advice and direction.
     

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