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PostPosted: July 16th, 2009, 1:30 pm 
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Joined: April 11th, 2009, 9:43 am
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Location: Central Maine--Sheepscot Watershed
I have an old Mad River Explorer. I bought it used 15 years ago and replaced all the wood, then used it hard. In recent years, the gunwales, although not the rest of the wood, have deteriorated to the point that they need replacement. Last fall one of them broke.

I don't want to spend a lot of money on the canoe, but it would be nice to make it serviceable again. I would prefer a vinyl or aluminum gunwale solution so I can use this as a remote pond canoe that I leave in the woods at one of a several hike-in ponds or remote pools.

Any suggestions on a low-cost method to replace the gunwales? The boat will probably never paddle more than a mile per day for the rest of its life, so my emphasis is on inexpensive and functional. I don't care what it looks like, and I am willing to live with some modest loss of hull shape. This is a floppy old Royalex hull anyway, and all I need it to do is carry me to the other end of 10 acre pond and float while I cast.


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 Post subject: Vinyl gunwales
PostPosted: July 17th, 2009, 4:41 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I’ve done two regunwalings using aluminum gunwales and I hope to never do another; unless they come pre-shaped to fit the sheerline aluminum gunwales are a bit of struggle to get seated properly, and I’d rather have vinyl anyway.

I’ve replaced rotted wood gunwales a dozen or more canoes using vinyl gunwales. IIRC the last time I bought gunwale they were @ $120 for the set. You might find a better price if you have a canoe manufacturer within driving distance that uses vinyl gunwales on their boats.

If you go with vinyl gunwales you’ll do better in any case to avoid having them shipped – I’ve had them sent to an outfitter friend with the next scheduled load of boats, bought them from an outfitter who carries them in stock, removed them from a hull that was unsalvageable, etc.

One problem/caveat with using vinyl gunwales – the large vinyl deck plates have a box channel “receiver” that the blunt vinyl gunwale ends fit into on the deck plates…those can be specific to the particular cross section shape of the gunwales as well. Those larger ones are also stupidly expensive for what they are ($15 to $30 a piece, depending)

The dinky 3” plastic ends caps should be cheaper and don’t have the box channel to deal with.

If you are lucky you can find plastic deck plates that more-or-less match the V of the stems, and the layout as well (recurve, straight ended, projecting – the tips of the deck plate can be shaped / or | or \ depending. (although a poorly fitted deck plate tip isn’t a deal breaker).

Or finagle a way to DIY something deck plate-ish on your own. A thick sheet of plastic and a heat gun might get you “inexpensive and functional”.

If you can find vinyl gunwales all you need is a drill, 3/16 bit, 70-80 3/16 x 5/8 (5mm x 15mm) aluminum pop rivets and a rivet gun. Mark the old screw holes below the edge of the hull and drill the new pop rivet holes spaced between the marks.

You may also want to add a thwart or two; unlike wood rails vinyl gunwales (especially those without aluminum inserts) don’t add much rigidity to the hull. And if you use those tiny plastic end caps or DIY your own you’ll probably want to add short carry thwarts at the stems, both for a handhold and to help maintain the hull shape near the stems.

If it’s to be your “carried in and left at the pond” solo you could lose the tandem seats and put in just a (better trim positioned) single seat. Dimensional lumber, webbing and rudimentary shop skills & tools are all that’s needed to make a simple seat.

I’ve got some “Everyman Instructions” I wrote up years ago for step-by-step replacing vinyl gunwales and for building a simple seat frame. PM me if you want them.


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PostPosted: July 17th, 2009, 5:33 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I have plumbing pipe on the crossbars of my outdoors storage rack to make it easier to slide the boats on and of; I just broke off a jig saw blade short and cut a lengthwise section out the pipe, opened the split and jammed it on the crossbar.

Maybe 2 pieces of thick walled plastic pipe with a single cut/split lengthwise. Jamb the split pipe on the gunwales and attach it somehow (pop rivets….bolts…glued-in pegs….?)

The yoke/thwarts and seat drops might be a challenge…..

….fill the pipe with split pool noodles and you’ve got sponsons :lol:


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PostPosted: July 18th, 2009, 2:03 am 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1111
Location: Burns Lake, BC
Mike's idea works quite well.

You can use pvc pipe as gunnels by cutting a slot along the whole pipe.

If you have a table saw, just use a thin blade. It also helps to mark the top of the pipe to keep the cut straight.

Haven't done it with a jigsaw, but it would work as well.

Fix seats and thwarts by riveting angle brackets to the hull, then attach hardware.

Hope this helps, Canoeheadted.


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PostPosted: July 18th, 2009, 1:46 pm 
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Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
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Location: Atlanta
Attach split pipe "somehow"? Let me know when you find out. My Moore Voyageur was gunwaled with split T-6061 tubing. Holes were drilled in the edge of the hull, pegs were put through the holes, and a crew of three guys drove the split tubing over the pegs with a hammer.

Now I have to re-install the gunwales. There is no way I am going to be able to drive those gunwales over the pegs. Maybe PVC pipe would be fractionally easier, but I don't think so.


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 Post subject: Not that difficult
PostPosted: July 18th, 2009, 5:40 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
ezwater wrote:
Attach split pipe "somehow"? Let me know when you find out.

Maybe PVC pipe would be fractionally easier, but I don't think so.


Well, considering that I managed to seat plastic pipe over the 1 ½” wide top edges of my outside storage rack crossbars – all by my lonesome – I’d have to disagree.

If you look carefully you’ll see both black and white plastic pipe covering the rack crossbars:
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/25 ... 4283tgQiqP

The solution to cutting the pipe and fitting it on the crossbars with undue struggle seemed obvious enough to me. Care to guess?


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PostPosted: July 18th, 2009, 9:20 pm 
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Location: Atlanta
That's easy, Mike. Just short straight sections. But on an 18.5' canoe, that means about 20 feet of split pipe. When Pat Moore sent me the Nylon stock to replace the wooden pegs that had rotted away on my boat, he warned me that my odds of driving or pulling the split gunwales over the compound curves of the hull were between slim and none.


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PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 7:07 am 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
ezwater wrote:
That's easy, Mike. Just short straight sections. But on an 18.5' canoe, that means about 20 feet of split pipe. When Pat Moore sent me the Nylon stock to replace the wooden pegs that had rotted away on my boat, he warned me that my odds of driving or pulling the split gunwales over the compound curves of the hull were between slim and none.


That’s easy, cut the plastic pipe for the gunwales the same way I cut the pipe for the canoe racks. I cut a 1 ½” slice out of each pipe to match the dimension of the wood crossbars. The fit was nice and tight because the opening in the pipe was closer to 1” after the cut (the plastic pipe closes up a bit after the cut-away section is removed).

Note that vinyl gunwales for Royalex hulls have a 3/8” channel that slips over the hull edge. I’d wager that a rectangular plastic gunwale with an aluminum insert is stiffer and harder to bend along the curved sheerline of a hull than a round plastic pipe of similar dimensions, but I’ve managed to regunwale a dozen or more RX hulls with vinyl gunwales and none of them required a crew of three people to drive the plastic gunwale over the hull edge.

I think two different issues are being confused – seating the split/channelized plastic pipe over the hull edge, and attaching the pipe to the hull. I don't see the former being all that difficult, especially is a 3/8" slice is removed from the pipe.

REgaring the second issue, affixing the plastic pipe gunwale to the hull, I’d skip the through-hull peg solution; that may provide a nice, clean look but, as you point out, it is overly difficult to install or replace. Fitting a piece of slit plastic pipe over pre-pegged wales is an ill conceived solution, and I’d look for an easier way

(Edit – when I mentioned)

Mike McCrea wrote:
Maybe 2 pieces of thick walled plastic pipe with a single cut/split lengthwise. Jamb the split pipe on the gunwales and attach it somehow (pop rivets….bolts…glued-in pegs….?)


I wasn’t thinking about pegging the hull first and then trying to slip the split plastic pipe over the pegs – I was thinking about the possibility of installing the pipe gunwales and then pegging through the pipe and hull, gluing them in place (plumber’s dope or G/flex or etc) and filing the peg ends flush with the plastic pipe gunwales)

(Hmmmm, if it was pegged that way using thin plastic pipe as the pegs themselves would provide spaced through-gunwale tie downs along the length of the hull)



Pop rivets would be the simplest solution, if the pipe diameter was small enough/the pop rivets long enough. Round head bolts and cap nuts would work, but would look awfully fugly industrial.

Or varnish up a length of half round wood trim, insert it into the split pipe and install screws through the pipe, through the Royalex and into the wood. A piece of plastic half-round would be even better if left-on-the-ground rot resistance is necessary.


Last edited by Mike McCrea on July 19th, 2009, 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 9:55 am 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Kind of a continuation of “how to get the channelized plastic pipe over the edge of the Royalex” question.

As noted earlier aluminum gunwales can be a struggle to get seated on the edge of the hull. The “receiver” channel on the underside of the aluminum gunwales tends to tighten up as the gunwale is bent to conform to the sheerline.

Unlike regunwaling with wood, where you start in the middle and work outwards towards the stems, vinyl or aluminum will seat easier if you start at one end and work towards the other (I still pop rivet from the middle outwards after the gunwale is seated and clamped in place, checking to make sure the gunwales are properly seated against the hull edge as I go).

Vinyl gunwales, even with aluminum inserts, go on easy enough; a little tap with a rubber mallet now and then is usually the extent of it. But aluminum gunwales may require a little more persuasion.

I’ve had some real struggles fitting aluminum gunwales* and what has worked is the rubber mallet and two metal bladed putty knives. Start the gunwale installation at one end and if/when the receiver channel starts to bind slip the putty knives in on either side to help guide the hull edge into the channel. Tap the aluminum gunwale down with the rubber mallet, reposition the putty knives, tap, reposition. It’s easier to do with two people but manageable solo. Clamp it down as you go so it doesn’t jump free behind you.

*I (ok, two of us) put aluminum gunwales on a RX Mad River Fantasy. They were aluminum gunwales for a composite hull (long story about the boat owner ordering the wrong gunwales, refusing them, reordering and receiving even wronger gunwales). It was not easy. I’m sure it was easier than driving T6061 over a pre-pegged gunwale edge, but it was still no fun.

Fortunately the Royalex on the Fantasy is pretty thin at the sheerline, but it still required the rubber mallet, putty knives, several hours of elbow grease and more than several obscene exclamations. I can’t imagine plastic pipe with a 3/8” slot removed being close to that difficult to install.


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PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 3:33 pm 
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Joined: April 11th, 2009, 9:43 am
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Location: Central Maine--Sheepscot Watershed
Thanks.

I am considering the advice above while I wait for Mad River to answer my email asking about buying a set of vinyl gunwales. Assuming they continue to not answer, or that they don't sell them (it's hard to imagine much of a market, since not many wear out) are there other sources?

I like the PVC idea, but I don't think I have the tools for the cutting.


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 Post subject: How about Old Town?
PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 4:18 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
If your travels ever take you near enough to Old Town ME to make a stop at the OT factory that might be an easier source for vinyl gunwales than Mad River.


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PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 5:04 pm 
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Location: Stillwater, Minnesota
If you don't care what it looks like, try an industrial supply company and search for plastic trim. I spent a couple minutes at McMaster-Carr and found this:

Image

Go to Mcmaster.com and then to page 3711. The trim item number is 86875K28...its polyethylene which should bend and is very weather resistant. 100 feet is $34.73. Imagine that drawing (dimension D) a little over an inch tall. I'm not sure what the thickness is of the Royalex at the gunnel, so this might be tight. If you search Mcmaster in more depth you may find some other options that work. Also try Grainer.

Hope that helps.

_________________
"Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made." - Kant


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PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 7:36 pm 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Old Town vinyl gunwales (and decks) with aluminum inserts will fit quite nicely onto an MR Explorer hull. I have them on my 1989 17' Explorer.

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PostPosted: July 19th, 2009, 9:17 pm 
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Location: Central Maine--Sheepscot Watershed
I'll actually be in Orono, just next door, from Tuesday-Friday for a conference. I'll have to stop by the factory store.


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 Post subject: Transporting gunwales
PostPosted: July 20th, 2009, 5:33 am 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
native brookie wrote:
I'll actually be in Orono, just next door, from Tuesday-Friday for a conference. I'll have to stop by the factory store.


I’ve bought vinyl gunwales direct at the Old Town factory before so you should have your gunwales soon. Like Mel I’ve also rerailed a couple of Explorers using Old Town gunwales.

About transporting the gunwales back home – bring a canoe, or an extension ladder, or a 10 or 12 foot board. Naked vinyl gunwales are pretty floppy and they do better if tied to something long and rigid atop the car (with a canoe I just stuff them up under the seats and thwarts and leave a bit hang out either end).


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