Bell gunnel repair/price

-- Last Updated: Jun-24-10 11:35 AM EST --

Hoping someone can provide some quick advice. I was offered a Bell Northwind in kevlar. It's five years old and hasn't had much use. Unfortunately, the owner left it under an eve and the ash gunnel exposed to the weather rotted out (I suspect they both need replacement). They want $1,200 for the boat. I think this is really high, any suggestions on what it might be worth?

Also, how difficult are these to replace? Bell tells me shipping alone is $75, so think I would try to find locally. I have a little bit of wood working experience. Are the gunnels glued to the decks or just screwed?

Any advice is greatly apprecaited.

Replacing gunwales
I purchase mine from Ed’s Canoe There break down one’s are fine as long as you use enough epoxy glue. I have done 2 canoes with them and they came out really well. The cost is much less than buying from a dealer. On the price of the canoe I think it is high. $800 to $1000 is more like it. It would cost $400 to $600 for gunwale replacement if you had to pay to have it done.

Not worth more than $500
$600 will be the starting price to have your boat regunwaled. True Bell gunwales cost around $300 for the wood alone and I wouldn’t even consider shipping them. Have a local Bell dealer order them with their next load of boats. $300 in labor would be awfully cheap.

A used Kevlar tripper isn’t worth much more than $1200 in my opinion and asking that much when you’ll have to spend another $600-$800 is outrageous. If you want the boat, there are others like it in good shape for the same price. You just have to keep your eyes open.

It would cost $450-$600 for us to do the re rail (that’s labor and materials). Where are you located?

The decks and gunwales are screwed, not glued.

He’s asking too much.


bell gunnel replacement
The boat and are are in the Albany NY area. I agree the price is too high. I thought it might be worth 500-600 if the gunnels were the only problem. Any thoughts on whether the kevlar would have degraded if the boat was outside and partly covered for for five years? Sounds like teh boat is a blue green color so it is obviously gel coated

Figure it up…
Cost of the canoe?

Cost of new gunwales?

Cost of having the gunwales replaced?

Cost of your round trip to pick up, and take home the canoe, and your round trip to take the canoe in for repairs, and pick it up after repairs?

I think you could find a “better deal” elsewhere; especially with some searching & some patience.


bell gunnel replacement
Thanks Bob and others. All seems like good advice. Still a bit tempted to do the gunnels myself, don’t think anyone has addressed that issue, is it a really tricky job?

I bought a 10 foot board of Ash. Scarfed it, epoxyied it

and milled it. Since I did not have the tools or the shop a friend helped me. Board , and a bottle of Anisette was way under 50 bucks. If Tony wasn’t there to help me I could not have done it.

I think the price is too high for a boat that was stored out side and allowed to rot. You do not know how badly degraded the hull is from UV.

Here’s the Bell/Pb protocol.


A. Swing an arc from bow or stern to each seat and thwart bolt hole. Make a sketch noting the arc distances

B. Note the hull’s center width id solo or retain carry thwart if tandem.

  1. Inspect wood, discarding sections with significant knots or cross grain

    Note longer wood may be cut to shorter lengths to eliminate flaws

  2. Lay rail sections on bench; cut left end square for inwales, 45dg for outwales

  3. Mark Rail centers outwale, inwale; these are different marks

  4. Mark inwale 6” screw spacings:

  5. Drill, countersink, marked, 6” inwale screw placements on drill press w/ flathead #8 countersink.

  6. Square inwale rabbet ~4” each end w/ air grinder

  7. Sand outwale ends, sand all surfaces. Preserving center marks

  8. Sand and Seal all 6 surfaces of each rail, apply first coat of Epiphanes.

  9. Measure hull center

  10. Center and double clamp inwale and outwale on hull center mark,

  11. Bore through laminate & into outwale w/ blind, collared #8 countersink; careful not to over-drill. Set first screw.

  12. Install spreader bar, move clamps and countersink and set successive screws.

  13. Repeat on second inwale/outwale.

  14. Use flex shaft or 90 dg drill for final 3 inside screws,

  15. Mark two outer screws 1 ¼, 2 ¼” spacing on outwale; longer screws attach decks.

  16. Install thwarts, grab bars; mark, drill, countersink location arcs as specified;

    mounting w/ flathead 10-24 Machine screw.

  17. sand rabbet flush, refinish with Epiphanes; two coats.

    cew Sept 09

Professional replacement for $200
As of 4 years ago, professional wooden canoe restorer Schuyler Thomson of Norfolk, CT, was charging $200 for a full gunwale replacement job. This included 6 coats of marine spar varnish.

Maybe his price would be higher now.

John Kaz of Millbrook sells full ash rails for much less than Ed’s – or used to.

bell gunnel replacement
Do you mean Millbrook NY?

Thank you to eveyone else on the forum. As you can tell Im new, but this is a great forum

I am 2 hours away on Rt 88 (13460) I have the ash and can mill it to Bell’s specs. I will sell you a set for $200. We can install them together in my shop for $100 more, it will take most of a Saturday. You might need more than the rails, how is the other wood?

I would not pay more than $400 for this boat.

607 three four five 1794


Wow. That’s a tempting offer!
I’m keeping your number.

Millbrook Boats in Richmond, NH

Millbrook, $60, not delivered

$60 in Suwanee, GA
See post by zappaddles:

Ash and Table Saw
Jeez, find a hardwood dealer. Buy some ash. I think you would be better off with spruce, but I digress. Scarf a board if you need to.

Duplicate gunwales on table saw. Install both gunwales in two hours if you are slow. Have a beer knowing you saved yourself hundreds.

Blue Green??
Doesn’t sound like a bell color. In any event I thought the dropped the gel coat for colorless skin coat more than 5 years ago. Could be entirely wrong on that though.

Yes, They Do Add Gel Coat…

– Last Updated: Jun-26-10 10:31 AM EST –

....or did as of a couple years ago by request. The blue/green gelcoat was one of the available colors (not sure what color it was called) and IS a very attractive color at that. Have seen Bells with that color, Heron Blue (a purpleish-blue), red, and almond. I agree that the price is too high for a boat sitting outside with rotten gunnels. WW

bell gunnels
ccanoe, I think we are on the same wave length (especially the beer). Two problems though, I agree with the other postings that the price is high, and I’d probably have several beers and do a crappy job!