Aluminum gunwales and Royalex hull bent

Hello. I need some repair advice for my 16 foot Old Town Penebscot 16 RX.

The boat took a heavy fall on the stern and it bent the gunwales and the Royalex hull on that end.

I’ve drilled out some of the rivets to get the gunwales off enough so I can work on them. One gunwale has a crack and kink so I’m pretty sure there is no recourse but to replace it. The other gunwale has a very nice bend in it.

The hull is also misshapen which I was hoping would self correct once the gunwales were removed but that is not the case.

You can see some photos here

Question 1: Can the bent gunwale without the crack be bent back into shape and if so, what is the best process to do this? (Heat metal, remove completely, etc?)

Question 2: How do I get the hull to return to its original shape? (Heat gun?)

Question 3: Can the bent and cracked gunwale be saved? Repair advice?

Thanks in advance.

yes, it can be repaired

– Last Updated: Nov-04-15 10:27 AM EST –

The results probably won't be cosmetically perfect by any means, but finding replacement gunwales might not be that easy given the model is out of production.

I have repaired a bent and crimped (but not torn) aluminum gunwale using West System G Flex epoxy (which bonds well to aluminum) and fiberglass. If you can bend the gunwales back into shape there will undoubtedly be some residual deformity in addition to the tear. You can use an inexpensive dolly (of the type used for auto body repair) and a hammer to carefully bang in any high spots, then fill and fair in the low spots using G Flex thickened with some silica powder. After you get the gunwale back into reasonably fair condition cover the damaged area with at least one layer of 6 oz fiberglass cloth using unthickened G Flex epoxy. If you mix some graphite powder into the epoxy it will nicely approximate the color of the undamaged part of the gunwale. I will take a photo of a gunwale I repaired in that way later today when there is a bit more light out and post it on Flickr if you are interested.

To get the gunwales back into shape you are probably going to have to construct some type of jig or jigs made out of strong wood to bend the aluminum over. You can use the undamaged end of the canoe as a template for the shape of the jigs as the hull is relatively symmetrical. Bend the aluminum back over the jigs gradually using C clamps and/or bar clamps. You may need to "overbend" the aluminum a bit.

I see one tear in the Royalex. I did not see any deep crimps in the Royalex which are a typical manifestation of foam core damage of the Royalex. Are there other visible signs of Royalex damage apart from the shape? If not, I suspect that the shape of the Royalex will improve if subjected to some heat and time. I would get a couple of strips of slightly curved wood that you can use as battens to clamp to the sheer line of the hull from the non-misshapen portion out to the stem. Clamp the deformed areas of the hull to the battens before warming the Royalex. If there are any remaining sunny, warm days where you live, try leaving the boat outdoors. You can also try warming the deformed Royalex using hot water or a heat gun, but beware: it is not difficult to overheat Royalex and deform the foam core.

Any cracks in the Royalex will need to be guttered out, cleaned, bonded, filled in, and faired using thickened G Flex epoxy. I would then cover the cracked areas with an overlapping interior fabric patch. Either aramid (e.g, Kevlar) or fiberglass will work. I recently repaired an old Royalex hull that had many cracks and took some pictures that sort of diagram the process of guttering out, filling, fairing, and patching over cracks. The photo album is picture-heavy and many of the pictures will not pertain to the repair of your boat, but it should help to give you the general idea. Refer to the captions on the individual pictures of interest for details (you will need to copy the entire url then paste it into your browser):

You should really make an attempt to restore the shape of the Royalex at least approximately before undertaking repair of any cracks so that the repair will not be stressed unduly when the hull is forced back into shape with the repaired gunwales. You might need to get creative with this using the reshaped gunwales and possibly some additional jigs and jacks to coax the hull back into shape if warming it does not restore the normal contour.

Photos of repaired aluminum gunwale

– Last Updated: Nov-05-15 9:11 AM EST –

This Wenonah Jensen WWC1 was lying upside down on a beach at a lake in Michigan one evening when a very strong wind came up out of nowhere. The canoe was lifted up, turned and flung against a pier structure and the boat took a significant impact on the starboard gunwale towards the stern. The gunwale was bent inward about as much as the bent gunwale on your boat that was not torn.

Again, you will need to copy the entire url and paste it in to your browser window to view the photos:

For some reason with this forum and Flickr, the album won't open on the first attempt and you will get a 404 error message. If so, close the Flickr window and try a second time and it will usually load.

If it were mine
I would grind all of the rivets off and scrap the aluminum gunwales and replace them with new vinyl gunwales once I got the hull back to something close to its original shape.

The Royalex should be able to be persuaded back near its original shape. The gunwales of aluminum have lots of memory and want to stay bent. Replace the gunwales and try to warm up the royalex and encourage back into shape. Good luck.