Bell Aluminum Gunwale Replacement

OK repairmasters. Help a guy out. I got a new Bell Magic for a good price because a gunwale had been bent during delivery (it came off the truck). I ordered a replacement from Bell in May and it just got here tonight (had to wait for shipment to a local dealer).

So where do I start. I’ll drill out the rivets on the existing and take the whole assemble apart (end caps and port gunwale). Now to put it back together.

First, the assembly is a 2 part deal with the anodized gunwale and the plain aluminum inwale that is riveted to the boat. Can I re-use the existing inwale piece to save having to re-drill all the holes.

Second, is there a preferance on where to start riveting (from the middle and work out or from end to end).

Third, is this a one man job or will I need a second set of hands.

Forth, when I bought it I replaced an endcap right away because it was damaged. Turns out the air tanks are empty open containers. Bell was nice enough to send me 2 cans of foam (A and B) so I’m assuming it is 2 part. How much will it increase in volume so I don’t wind up mixing the whole thing up and winding up with a terrible mess in the bottom of the boat.

I might try to call Bell tomorrow, but figured the collective knowledge here will be valuable (as well as entertaining).



Hey ,Randy…
I can’t help you out with the gunnels,but the foam I can. I assume you are filling the air tanks? The foam is 2 part,follow the mixing directions. Most are 50/50. I am not sure,but if you contain the foam it may break the tanks,as it developes pressure when expanding. That stuff expands about 50 times original volume. If you are pouring it into the tanks leave the hole open for expansion. You may want to put small amount first,see where it fills,and continue small amounts until full. When wet it is extremely sticky,but dry it can be broken off ,or cut off. If it makes contact with any part of the boat it will stick. Cover any parts that you don’t want it to stick too. I used to work at a place that had foam as a packing system. Shoot an amount from a spray gun,throw in the part wrapped in plastic,shoot some more,wait until dry,shave off excess,tape the box. We used to play around with boxes loaded with it,and watch them burst. Good luck with the gunnels.

Happy Paddling billinpa

repalaced gunnels once
I needed a second set of hands desparately for only 5 minutes, putting the gunwales on. After taht I did it myself. But that was on a Jensen Cruiser.

I thought you were an engineer "8-p
I would reuse the inwale and the same holes if possible but you need to take extra care not to tear up the fabric when drilling out the old rivets. Mike’s idea is fine and will work but myself I use a drill bit that is much bigger (maybe 3 or four sizes up) than the original rivet. This will cut the head off flush so you can push it through and not expand the hole, but you need to take care not to let the rivet spin to much and overheat and damage the fabric.

You will find that most of the rivet heads will pop right off but there are always a few that want to sit there and spin, in that case just rock the drill back and forth side to side and it will still cut the head off. If it starts building up heat stop and move on the next one until it cooles down.

You can always add a few more rivets if needed. And if you are not concerned about using the old holes just drill away and use the new inwale.

also I would use stainless rivets and not aluminum.

I would start in the center and work my way out towards each end until I could at least temporarily put the thwarts back in or some sort of spacer. You may not even need to do that if the gunwale has the proper bend in it.

You ask for it, There it is.

You guys pretty well backed up my thoughts. On the air tanks, I agree that air is better. Except on this Bell there is no top on the air tank, so it’s not really a tank I guess. When I spoke with Bell they said they are using open tops and foam on the Magics now. They just forgot to fill mine up. :>(



An extra caution

– Last Updated: Jul-28-06 9:50 AM EST –

Careful if the drill get stuck and pulled through the hole it's not hard to poke a hole or dent the outside gunwale....been there done that, it's an ouch!

If you screw up some holes you can fit with epoxy rubbed into the fuzz.