Aluminum Canoe Repair Experts?

Our ancient and storied boat got caught in a small twister on my father-in-laws farm, it blew into an apple tree and then flew about 150 yards before coming to rest on the neighbors trampoline.

One thwart is missing - any ideas on replacing it. One thwart came unriveted - I can handle that.

The tree strike left a very large indentation, and the keel is bent now too. I was hoping I could press out the keel and pound out the dent, but I can’t get enough force to rebend the keel. Any suggestions on doing this and the best way to plug the small hole in the skin made by the seat-edge poking through?

Note: 16.5 ft 70s era Smokercraft

That’s a bunch of damage
You’ll need something strong to push against to get the keel sort of straight. Some 2x4s on the ground to support the keel and a bottle jack should do it, if you have an A frame or other hefty thing overhead to push against.

The sharper creases will almost certainly tear if you try to straighten them. It might be best to just cut the area out, and rivet or weld in a new piece.

For the rest, just start watching sheet metal forming videos

Too Bad
Their used to be golden goats. All you need do is cut the thing up into coke bottle sizes pieces parts and feed it in. You received the exact value back in quarters.

Any dry hole in the water is worth $350. It’ll cost more than the thing is worth to make it float again. Time for another!

I’ve seen worse …l
When I was a teenager we wrapped a few canoes around stringers on the Grand Canyon of the Snake River … they were in worse shape and lived to paddle again. Problem is I don’t own an autobody shop.

I asked some neighbor kids if they had seen the thrwart and they have been playing with it for a sword, so I got that back.

jack and a highway bridge
I’d get an hydraulic jack and a collection of 2x4’s and 4x4’s and haul them and the canoe under a local highway bridge. Using the bridge and the wood, I’d jack out the various dents and get it back into reasonable shape. There a welding rod available (I bought mine on Ebay)which welds aluminum with a propane torch. I’ve made a couple of hanging canoe saddles out of aluminum with mine. Very strong weld. I’d weld the hole shut.

you got a mess but …

– Last Updated: Aug-06-11 12:42 AM EST –

...... if you are of a mind to give it a go then the bottle jack is where you start .

My idea would be to make yourself a frame out of 4x4's (lag bolt that frame together at the corners , don't nail it) , 3/8" x 6" lags should do it . The inside of the frame width should be a little wider (1") than the canoe's max width so you can move the canoe forward and backward through the frame . The inside height of the frame should be a little higher (1") than the canoe's max height (same reason) .

This frame looks like a rectangle when built .

The underside of the top 4x4 member of the frame is where the base of the bottle jack goes when pushing down . The inside of the canoe's side is where the base of the bottle jack goes when pushing across (you'll need to put a scrap of wood 8"-12" 2x4 , etc. between the jack base and side skin when pushing across) .

The only other thing is that you will be pushing against a curve most of the time , so you need to cut variuos wedges that fit the jack shaft head and mate with the curves of where you are pushing . An assortment of wedges , use a single wedge or multiple stacked wedges as req. on the area you are pushing against . To keep these wedges from sliding down the curve too much as you expand the jack , you'll need to have a jammer piece as a brace between the wedge and the side somewhere (maybe under the gunnel , etc.) .

These are just general guidelines , you'll need to refine them as you are pressing out the dents and contours . You can also make wedge shapes to place the base of the bottle jack on , and those will need to be held securely against the upper 4x4 . That means a 2x4 block clamped tight to the underside of the 4x4 . An independent upper wedge can fit into the inside corner where the block is clamped on (the wedge itself won't need to be secure because the pressure will hold it to the that inside corner of the block and 4x4 .

After the 4x4 frame is built all you should need is a 4' length of 4x4 to make various steep angle wedges from , and a couple 2x4's to make the various lengths of jammers as you go .

Of course a couple good strong clamps and a small bottle jack . You shouldn't even attempt this unless you have an electric mitre saw (that will clean cut through a 4x4) to do all the cutting as needed (the various shallow and steep angled wedges almost make the mitre saw a must) .

I think the the canoe's skin will split open where the sharp bends are and you'll never get it really perfect again , although with enough fussing and small adjustments you could get it very close to right ... it could be worth a try if you don't mind wasting some time to find out .

At some point you'll end up using a soft mallet and backer block to make refinements . I've straightened much heavier duty metal things than that canoe out , so it can be done . There will most likely be some welding needed before it's over with too .

Maybe something like the bridge idea is better , that way you could almost forget about the wedges , almost . But instead of the bridge just make a square frame out of the 4x4's maybe an inch or so wider inside than the width of the canoe . That way you could roll the canoe inside the frame .

How about the insurance company (home owner's ??) ... replace the canoe instead of dealing with it ??

Somebody’s thinkin’!
Yes sir, that overhead bridge idea is a good one. Bring lots and lots of lumber for cribbing and a couple of buddies to help move stuff around, use a low-profile jack to prevent kick-out of the “push pole”, and you’re in business. Fully press out some of those dents and you may end up with more places in need of welding, but hey, the most you’ll get for its recycled value is about $52, so it might well be worth your time to do what you can. Of course, all this assumes you don’t need a pristine boat when you are done, but you already know it won’t be.