Canadian Canoe Routes

Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild
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Author:  homeschool_canoe [ September 24th, 2013, 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Not sure if it is just one layer, the thickness is .050 I could be wrong on the weight, I do know I could lift and carry it by myself at 14years/old when I was only 130-140lbs.
I also know for sure the skin is kevlar only.

What is wrong with a keel? won't it track straighter with one? I know the keel ties in the ribs to the gunwales. I do know we broke a couple ribs out before doing white water and at the time (watching dad) replacing them was real easy.

Author:  RHaslam [ September 24th, 2013, 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

The keel in your canoe is only there as an attachment for the ribs. Keels do not generally add any improved tracking ability. Hull shape, the amount of rocker and paddling techniques will be the real factors on the ability for a canoe to go straight. Most reputable modern canoes lack keels. Many people who rebuild canvas canoes now often leave the keels off.

In your case, the keel will be the first thing to contact an obstacle. If you have a strong impact on the keel, it will drag at the screws holding the keel to the ribs. Due to the lack of other structure in your canoe, the impact on the keel will cause your screws to drag sideways, and you could develop leaks. Or your ribs will crack, much like your pictures show.

Author:  Paddle Power [ September 24th, 2013, 12:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

I'd try to find out the history of the company Stayner that built the canoe and see how their canoe designs changed or evolved over time. Maybe you can learn from their experience and include some improvements during the rebuild.

Author:  Mike McCrea [ September 24th, 2013, 1:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Homeschool, I would not want to dissuade anyone from trying their hand at a rebuilding a canoe. I have rebuilt a couple of dozen over the last 20 years, and some were in almost as bad condition.

But those crapped out hulls, several of which were dumpster-ready freebies, were properly constructed canoes from knowledgeable manufacturers. I mean no offense, but there are so many things wrong with the way your canoe was made that I wouldn’t undertake a rebuild or repair even if someone gave me the necessary materials.

That said rebuilding a canoe is a wonderful experience, and can be habit forming. If you decide to press on with a rebuild you will learn a lot, and probably make a lot of mistakes, from which you will learn even more.

RHaslam’s suggestion above is a good starting point, and his $400 material cost estimate is probably pretty close. That does not include hours of working time, and more time sanding away mistakes.

If that canoe holds special sentimental value it might be worthwhile. If what you want is a well-designed and functional canoe you would be far better off spending the $400 on a good used canoe. Or spending $200 on a properly designed canoe that needs regunwaling and new seats, thwarts and deck plates.

With your cabinetry skills making and installing all new brightwork for a boat would be a snap, and in the end you would have a beautiful, functional canoe.

If you are set on rebuilding that canoe I would suggest picking up a used copy of Charlie Walbridge’s “Boatbuilders Manual” and reading that before starting. ... ers+manual

Much of the non-wood material you will need is available from Sweet Composites:

The worst design feature of the canoe you have is the keel, and the way it is attached. I would try to steam bend additional ribs, glass them into place inside the hull and do away with the keel.

That keel, attached in anything like it’s current fashion would be likely to catch on a rock or log and tear the hull apart, which would be a huge bummer after spending hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours on a rebuild.

If you decide to try rebuilding please let us know how it goes. You WILL make mistakes with resin and cloth, and at the least we could all learn from sharing them.

Author:  glenm [ September 24th, 2013, 3:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

I'm trying to keep an open-mind about a boat that is built somewhat differently than I'm used to seeing. Is the canoe in question not basically a skin on frame design? I'm guessing the intent was that the relatively wimpy frame would be compensated for by the kevlar skin (rather than stretched fabric). Good idea? Maybe maybe not. I would also be worried about the state of the remaining epoxy and wood that has sat out for years being `left to rot'. Is it possible that the currently intact parts of the canoe are intact but not much more?

Having said that if the canoe is to be repaired could the frame not be strengethed with a few extra lengthwise members on the inside. For that matter would it be possible to replace the keel with a new on top of the ribs if a structural but not hydrodynamic keel is desired.

Another idea if the boat has some personal value; do the intact ribs not provide for a pretty easy way to loft a copy of the hull rather than repair it? Use the existing ribs to make stations and build a stripper copy of it. While thinking about that idea I'm wondering how hard it is going to be to get a reasonably shaped hull at the end of any repair process for a canoe so badly damaged.

Author:  ezwater [ September 24th, 2013, 3:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Perhaps it is Kevlar, but the color of the laminate showing through the green paint does not prove anything. A CAP polyester cloth layup would be adequately stiff and tough.

The boat appears not to have "fuzzed" where the hull was worn against the ribs. Kevlar fuzzes. Nylon fuzzes. CAP tends to wear smooth. Glass wears smooth. I think the hull is at least two layers. It would be better if the outer layer were glass, or if the 2 layers were at 45 degrees to one another.

I have another suggestion, and I'm serious. Do you have a "great room" with big space above the stone fireplace? You could do just a few cosmetic rib repairs on that thing, and hang it above the fireplace as a family heirloom. Then you can drink whisky and tell stories of great family trips you did, back in the day. Finally, take them out to your garage and show them the beautiful, stiff, light, stripper you built from John Winters plans.

Author:  RHaslam [ September 24th, 2013, 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Sure, like this one....

Author:  Splake [ September 24th, 2013, 4:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

The combination of ribs with the kevlar is a bit odd, but I'm not nearly as ready to write off the approach as some have been. The fact that it sounds like this canoe has had a long useful life says something in it's favour. I would suggest looking at this canoe as a variation on the skin-on-frame construction approach.

As for the size and positioning of the ribs I would say they are wider than typical for a skin on frame boat and at least as closely spaced. While a number of the ribs have clearly pulled away from the hull at this point, others still appear snug which at least raises the possibility that they are glued/epoxied to the skin.

The keel is a non-issue. They are out of fashion but still make sense on cedar-canvas boats as a rub strip. I think the fact that the ribs are "only" fastened to the keel and at the gunwales is misleading. On a birch bark canoe the ribs are only fastened at the gunwales, so even if these ribs are floating it shouldn't be a reason knock the construction. Unusual sure, but I wouldn't call it a fatal design flaw.

If there is anything that is missing from this boat as a skin-on-frame example it is additional longitudinal stringers between the gunwales and the keel. Looking at the Geodesic Arrowlite canoes (ie:, I think I count 4, maybe 5, longitudinal stringers on each side. Given that epoxied kevlar should be providing more structural value than epoxied dacron you may be able to get away with just a couple of 'extra' stringers for this canoe, especially if they are extra wide like the ribs are.

Given what you have said about the pinholes showing through, then I definitely agree with Rob that once you have it back in the right shape you should then apply a new layer of fibreglass to the outside.

Also note that the colour may well be pigment added to the epoxy when the hull was built. If that is the case, then you won't want to try and sand it completely off or you will be sanding in to the fabric.

Lastly I think your biggest challenge may be matching the original epoxy with a compatible one today. Not all epoxies (or other resins) work well together, so unless you can find out what the original epoxy was you could be stuck trying to find a match through experimenting.

I can relate to the sentimental value of a boat. It was about this time last year that I had to decide that my 1962 Lakefield molded mahogany plywood runabout was beyond salvage. It's next stop will be it's funeral pyre but I've managed to avoid taking that step all summer.

Author:  wotrock [ September 24th, 2013, 6:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

I was thinking similar to Splake and was getting ready to post when I saw his post.
The OP did not specify how he intended to use the canoe, so I assume that he had flatwater in mind rather than whitewater. The old Innuit kayaks(skin on frame) seemed to work well for their purpose. I'm not sure how thick the skin typically was, but in both the kayak's case and the OP's case the 'skin' just serves as a membrane with all the strength coming from the structure. Given that the ribs are fairly close together, it would take a significant impact with a rock or log to put a hole thru the membrane. Re. adding longitudinal strips: Maybe if the ribs were glued or otherwise continuously attached to the membrane it would be able to resist forces lengthwise along the canoe. Trying to push 1 rib toward the stern, for e.g., would create tension in the membrane near that rib, which would restrain it.

Author:  pknoerr [ September 24th, 2013, 7:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

I'm with Splake and Wotrock. This canoe relies on the keel, ribs and the gunwales for structural support. The kevlar with resin would be much stiffer than dacron in the context of Montfort boats, or the canvas in wood and canvas canoes. Trailcraft canoes have just a keel, gunwales, and plywood cross-stations with larger expanses between structural members using canvas over the frame. Pack canoes have a foot or more between ribs and a hypalon cover. Anyone ever seen a Linkcanoe? That used a phenolic resin between wood frames. It too had large expanses between structural members. Even marathon race canoes have just a couple layers of fabric (used to be kevlar now CF) supported over a foot or more between foam ribs. So why wouldn't this work?

Looking at the wear and tear on this canoe, a similarly worn expedition kevlar canoe would be needing a little TLC too. The broken keel with dislodged ribs suggest a partial wrap, or something pretty heavy dropped on it.

I'm with EZ that I suspect the canoe skin is not 100% kevlar. I wouldn't be suprised if it was a couple layers of kevlar between a couple layers of fiberglass. Three or four layers of fabric over that wood frame would be plenty strong in my mind.

If that were my canoe, I'd repair it to the construction method it was originally built to. Trying to rebuild it with a totally new construction will be a failure. The old canoe worked for many years, why wouldn't a repaired canoe. Figure out what kind of wood the ribs are. Make new ones and steam bend them over the opposite end of the canoe to get them into shape. Then replace all the broken ones. I'm no fan of keels, but I think it's an integral part of the structure. If you want to minimixe the keel effect put a wider shallower keel on and call it good. Then start pulling the canoe back into shape. You might need straps, ropes, wood blocks, jacks, and anything else. You might need to cut out sections of damaged hull to get the boat to fair back out. Determine a layup schedule that will achieve a similar thickness. Then start patching. I'd patch with S-glass on the outside and inside, and a couple layers of kevlar between. The glass will not fuzz when you fair the patch into the hull. I wouldn't add the weight of a full sheet of glass like Rob states. That'll add 10 pounds to the finished boat that you don't structurally need because of the wood frame inside.

I'm not about to suggest that this canoe has a superior construction method to a modern composite canoe, but I think for most usage this would be a viable method of building a canoe. In addition, I think it's pretty rare, and if it were in my family... I repair it to as close to original condition as you can.


Author:  RHaslam [ September 24th, 2013, 7:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

I like the optimism, but I think there are a couple of more questions that need to be answered. Was it stored indoors or outdoors. Cause if it was outside with no protection for several years, which the wood gunwales seem to indicate, that glass, whatever it is, is gonna be pooched.

Author:  Charlie Wilson [ September 25th, 2013, 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Evolution is the non-random survival of relatively small alterations of the norm. If this construction was/is so well thought out we'd see more canoes built in that manner. What we find instead is high tensile strength Kevlar layers inside compression resistant glass or carbon outers, often with foam core replacing wooden ribs.

The presented images suggest a museum piece as is. The costs, including time, of restoration will be in excess of the value of the restored craft unless great emotional value is attached. ever minding that, I've a short piece on lamination repair I'll gladly forward electronically to advise on making a dry hole in the water. Those ribs could be replaced with access to a steam box to provide some semi-fare shape. The thing can live again.

Author:  pknoerr [ September 25th, 2013, 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Charlie Wilson wrote:
If this construction was/is so well thought out we'd see more canoes built in that manner.

Ah, but that disregards one issue. Cost and the related variable how difficult it is to build. Obviously, both have a huge impact on whether manufacturers use and further advance a specific construction method. Unfortunately, most manufacturing industries have a technology that was briefly explored and then shelved for months, years, or even decades before being rejuvenated. I'm not saying that is the case here, but evolution does not always represent forward progress towards the better product. Biological evolution is littered with many such examples


Author:  homeschool_canoe [ September 25th, 2013, 12:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

All good stuff , at least it's a bit more positive ;)
As far as material goes Rayplex is semi-local to me and I have enough kiln dried eastern cedar to do several boats.
There is enough shape to figure parts out, most of it is straight forward with only the ribs needing forethought. Thanks pknoerr that kind of gives me an outline for a plan.
I see our local library has BUILDING A STRIP CANOE, by Gil Gilpatrick so I think I'll check it out and give that a read.

The canoe has been on many trips, both flat and white water. Never had an issue with it when it was cared for. Never thought of it as weak or flimsy, in fact we had a F/G canoe at the same time and it was heavy and POS in comparison. I don't want to spend $200-400 on a "kijiji special" only to get a boat like that F/G (which was bought new and in short order buying the lighter Kevlar one). The only complaint I ever had about the kevlar canoe was it would blow all over the place if you went out in it in heavy wind with one person and no load. At the cottage I had a couple of sand bags I would throw in it if I wanted to go out solo. About the only time I used F/G canoe was when I wanted a rock in the water, I would sometime scuba dive out of it.:)

The big problem is we are a threesome, mom is not at all interested unless the letters RV are at the top of the plans.
Use will be for 2 to 10 day trips, I/we homeschool my two kids (14 and 12) so their will be three of us. My kids are adult size, I'm 6'1 210 lbs, my daughter is a hair under 6 foot and although my 12 year old boy is only 5'-6" 130lbs now, were expecting as big or bigger than me in just a few years. Both the boy and myself are quite physically fit and the girl is working hard on it. Country kids, limited tech, outdoors, cycling, hiking, camping so we're not talking wallflowers. I want to step it up a notch and teach backwoods survival skills.

Our trips would be a combination of school (biology for sure) exercise and pleasure. I'm looking into a waterproof case for a laptop, as their school work is on it, this we will need. I have most of the kit, Arctic rated bags, good tent, correct stove, etc.

I don't mind building (and rebuilding this one) a couple of canoes but I'm not spending the cash for a new kevlar. Most of our trips will be in the late summer/ fall so I'm expecting lots of portages. Again the work on canoe's would be part of school work for the kids.

Author:  pknoerr [ September 25th, 2013, 12:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Another kevlar canoe repair, major rebuild

Homeschool, Gilpatrick's book will outline how to build a wood strip boat. But it won't have any of the details of bending wooden ribs in your old canoe. For that you need Stelmok and Thurlow's "A Wood and Canvas Canoe." I rebuilt a "totalled" wood and canvas canoe back 18 years ago, complete with steam bending cedar ribs, and ash stems from reading that book. It was a great learning experiece. The boat didn't come out perfect, but we use it locally where I don't have to carry it far. So it was worth the time and small amount of cash to rebuild. The process of steam bending ribs was great fun, it's not hard or even very expensive and would be very educational for teenage kids. Building a strip boat is a learning experience too. I've helped friends with the process, but never build one myself.

If you decide to rebuild your old kevlar canoe, I hope you'd post or send me updates with photos. I'd be happy to give you my thoughts on helping you through the process, as I'd love to see your boat on the water again.

I spent some time last night going through my collection of old canoe literature from the late 1970s. I was not able to find any reference to a canoe built in that area of Ontario that seems to fit. Sorry, I had hoped to fill you in on any history I could find, but I came up empty.


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