Advice on repairing canoe. Pictures!


This canoe has been in my family for about 10-15 years. When I was young it was my dad’s canoe that carried all of the gear. Now it is mine and will carry all of my families gear.

Anywho, most of the rivers in my area are usually low 90% of the time, so that canoe has a pretty mean spot underneath the rear seat on the outside. There is no show of any damage or warping on the inside of the canoe however.

I really want to fix this as best as possible since this the area of the canoe that has the most contact with rocks and such.

In the picture it is a little hard to tell, but there is some separation of the layers, and the outside layer in some places has warped considerably. When I repair the canoe, should I take off the warped outside layer? It would seem hard to make something solid that has a pretty good amount of flex to it. My only fear is that this would cause more harm than good. I’ve never repaired a canoe before, but I have a lot of experience working with fiberglass and similar materials.

What is the best way to go about my repairs? What type of material is best for the very highly trafficked area? I’m not looking for a quick fix, but something that will help my canoe last another generation if possible!

The front of the boat is in pretty good shape minus some grape sized dents and some dime sized chips. I want to go ahead and do some work to the front to prevent future damage, I’m surprised that the front is in this good of shape. Should I fill in the holes or try to push them out w/ the aid of heat first?

I appreciate any advice and thank you for your wisdom and experience!

Luke (sorry for the long post)

What is the canoe material ?
Plastic, fiberglass, kevlar or royalex?

Need to mate the fix with the material.



Sorry! Big thing to leave out.

It’s a mohawk.

Thanks everyone!

“Warped considerably”? Can’t see that
in your first picture. Anyway, I would not recommend removing the outer layer of ABS. It looks like it still has some integrity. You say there has been some delamination. This may not be too big an issue if the outer layer of ABS is not all cracked up.

On warping, look, this is an ABS Mohawk, not a speedy cruiser, so unless the warping is so bad as to make it hard to lay cloth over it, I suggest we just live with it.

Rhetorical question: is there anything that we can do about the delamination? My ABS repair experiences have not gone this deep. Perhaps you could inject some West epoxy or some urethane resin which does not foam much on setting. This might help lock the layers back together to some extent. Also, after you do whatever is feasible about the delamination, you will be filling in that hole I see in the first picture. This can be done with West epoxy thickened with microfibers and/or microballoons. Or you can use 3M Structural Adhesive, a 2 part urethane which is easy to handle.

Don’t use anything other than urethanes or epoxy on the ABS. I do not know what the solvents in polyester of vinylester resin might do to ABS. Possibly they might soften it.

That’s all I’m going to put in this post. Give us some feedback if you want. Then I’ll pick up again.

That’s a tough one …
Unfortunately, royalex, ABS, and other plastic boats are sometimes called “disposables”. They really aren’t meant to last for generations. They wear out and are tough to fix. I doubt that it can be fixed permanently in the way that you hope.

That being said … I would fill the hole with Shoo Goo. Smooth it out. Let it set. I’ve had wear spots like that on the stern of my royalex. I installed kevlar skid plates to cover it. Your wear spots look to be too wide to be cover with a skid plate.

If it is not too worn on the outer most parts, I think I would still install the skid plates and cover as much as possible. Then I’d paint the skid plate and the exposed whitish areas.

If the outer areas are too worn, I guess I’d try a fiberglass & epoxy patch over it. Feather out the patch as much as possible. Then cover the center most section with the kevlar skid plate and paint.

Your best bet would be to purchase another canoe made out of another material and be the first generation of an heirloom canoe. Aluminum? Wood & Canvas? Tough to pass on royalex for very long.

Good luck.

West epoxy and kevlar?
Most skid plate kits that I have seen are around $60 it seems, if someone knows of something considerably cheap please let me know! But I’ve found some kevlar fabric (link below) but I can’t seem to see if this is similar to the kevlar that comes with the skid plates. Any place to see the thickness?

The sheet is quite a bit, but this way I would have some left for future canoes, or if this stuff is pretty thin, I could do multiple layers.

But should I use west epoxy or something else since it is kevlar?

I appreciate everyones advice!

Also, does anyone know a good places to learn about epoxies and and urethanes?

It’s 50" x 1yd and it is .01" thick.


Check for cloth and epoxy

– Last Updated: Nov-16-05 6:20 PM EST –

West and similar quality epoxy is going to cost about $60 for resin, hardener, and metering pumps.

Forget about using Kevlar felt skid plates. They are NOT cheap, and they are lousy for your application. The best materials are Kevlar or S-glass, and I favor S-glass. It does not fuzz as it wears, and it is stronger than Kevlar in compression applications, such as the flattish bottom of an ABS canoe.


Now, you gotta decide how much you want to save this boat. However, you will use less than half a quart of West epoxy for the repairs you contemplate, and the remainder will keep for at least five years, probably longer.

What won't keep is old fiberglass. FG has a special coating to get resins to adhere, and that coating becomes ineffective after a few years. So don't just use any old cloth you have lying around.

Notice that most WW slalom boats use S-glass outside, and Kevlar inside. You will not see ANY WW slalom or downriver boats built with Kevlar outside (much less skid plate Kevlar felt). Does that tell you something??

Back later. Think, and plan.

keep it simple
WRT to the abraded area in photo one, I would just coat the area with a very thin layer of epoxy, spread with a putty knife. (JB Weld also works, but it comes in tiny tubes, which makes it difficult to use on big areas).

That’s what I do with my royalex WW boat (an Outrage), and that boat takes alot of abuse.

The repair isn’t permanent- the epoxy/JB weld eventually wears away- but it normally lasts me most of a season, or more. And it only takes a few minutes to put it on. Just clean the surface, lightly sand, and spread the epoxy.

OK, I’m going to assume you will buy the
West Epoxy and either S-glass from john Sweet or will just use whatever new 6 oz e-glass you buy from some convenient source.

First I would skim off the colorful vinyl top layer, as I don’t think the epoxy will adhere to it quite as well as it will to the underlying ABS. You will need to mark out an area two to three inches larger than the damaged area. If you are “hot” with a disk sander, maybe you can skim off the vinyl without cutting into the ABS enough to weaken it.

Second, you are going to decide whether to work something under the delaminated outer ABS layer. I don’t think this is essential as long as the ABS layer itself is mostly unbroken. Based on my previous post, you can work some resin under the ABS if you want to.

Third, you are going to cut three to five layers of S-glass or E-glass, cutting on the bias (so that the fibers run diagonally to the axis of the boat). The bottom layer will be the largest, the next layer concentric and a little smaller, down to the smallest concentric layer which will be applied last to the boat.

Then you will clean up the surface of the ABS, using some safe solvent like rubbing alcohol.

Finally, you will mix up one increment of West epoxy, which will not look like enough, but which will in fact probably easily wet out the first and largest layer of cloth.

Then you tack on the next smallest layer, which will stick nicely and even start to wet out from the resin in the first layer. At some point you will need to mix a second batch of epoxy.

And so on, down to the smallest cloth layer, which is just large enough to cover the damaged area with maybe an inch to spare.

Probably you will need more than three layers. Probably you will need no more than five. When you get the last layer on, you may be able to cover the whole mess with some wax paper or plastic food wrap (do not use Saran Wrap), using tape or a large thinnish piece of foam to apply gentle pressure. This gives a smooth surface and squeezes out excess resin.

Such a patch will conform to the warps, stiffen the area, and wear smooth as you pass over gravel bars. It is easy to apply more layers as the initial ones wear thin or break.