Bell Merlin II refinishing

I picked up a 2008 post-Ted Bell Merlin II over the weekend that had been stored outside. The wood gunwales are toast, so I ordered a new set of aluminum gunwales and decks from Northstar. My question is: has anyone sanded and recoated? I don’t know how deep the clear resin is. I’m torn between sanding and reclear with vinylester or epoxy, or add gelcoat. The added weight isn’t a concern. Other than the UV fading, the boat is solid with no deep scratches. And it shines up when wet, leading me to think it’s not completely toast. I bought the boat because my father has a Merlin II as well, and this new one will be my fishing canoe. It’s interesting viewing both boats side by side and seeing the differences in build quality. Areas that were protected by stickers are perfect, so I’m even tempted to try and do a sand/polish. I don’t want to get into the kevlar fibers.

Here are the Souris River instructions for refinishing. Personally I’d take the first option since it looks easy and more foolproof. They seem to suggest that epoxy might be better for deep scratches. Your scratches look normal and not into the fabric. Your boat is lightweight Kevlar (I think they called it KevLite or something like that) so any resin/gelcoat coating is thin so probably best to go light on the sanding step. Your gunwales do not look like toast to me but the pictures may be deceiving. You might go over them with 80 grit to see if you easily get to clean wood everywhere…I only see a few dark spots and the underneath looks fine based on the pic.

Congrats on your new boat. I have a lot of miles on my Merlin II.

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I would put a skim coat of epoxy on it.

After it cures I would sand it smooth and either varnish it or paint it. Epoxy is not UV resistant.

Use and Interlux, Petit, or Epiphane product on it, they are the only ones that have good UV resistance in them, and they are expensive.

Gelcoat will frustrate you to no end if you are not a practiced user of it.

Thanks to both. Gelcoat doesn’t scare me, and neither does vinylester/MEK. But a rolled and tipped marine topside paint is a great thought. A light sanding is the first thing to see what I have I think. The canoe will live inside, and while wood looks good, aluminum is hassle free. They’ll be shipped with an order of canoes to a shop in July. The canoe sat 10 yards from the CT shore for the past few years. I should have sat in the boat when I went to buy it, because when I sat down at home, the screw pulled through! The wood is soft, and beyond saving. I may have overpaid at $500, but it’s a nice paddling canoe. And for $500 plus a bit into a renovation, I won’t feel bad scratching my canoe vs my dad’s Merlin II. At least I have his as a template!

I do not like working with gelcoat, and I don’t like the idea of a whole coat of epoxy on the outside of the boat. I just paint em. It makes them look new and keeps the UV light off.

Epoxy is heavy.

Yes, epoxy can be heavy. That is the reason that so many of the light boats out there were made with pre-impregrated Kevlar or Aramid-carbon weave.

That makes them kind of hard to refinish because there is so little to work with. A skim coat of epoxy will stabilize the scratches. Roll it on and squeegee off the excess. That will give you a base to work with.

Since writing the first comment I have realized that I have used Krylon on things that are in the water more than my boats are and they are weathering fine.

The dark spots are deceiving, because those are the best original finish that hasn’t been degraded. Here’s a closer pic. The black weave in the kevlar has gone reddish. The large spot was protected by a sticker.


Another shot

And lastly, a bit of water to see if it’ll shine. The hull is still very sound. I’d be paddling it if the seat hanger didn’t fail. Parts to fix it are in hand though. Water year this weekend.