Canoe repair suggestions

-- Last Updated: Jul-31-10 9:33 AM EST --

A friend gave me a Hertler fiberglass wilderness canoe (Hertler went out of business in the '70s I believe) that needs some work. Right now I'm looking for replacement parts for 1) the deck plates and 2) skid plates that run from the bow to stern. These are made from cast aluminum but am open to ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get this water ready? Thanks!

You could make the deckplates from
aluminum stock. As for the skid plate, or keel strip, if you have part of it, find an aluminum extrusion that matches it. If the keel strip is bent in the center, you’d have to find an extrusion that’s close and gently get it to the same angle.

I personally would replace the keel strip with fiberglass. sweetcomposites has a 2" glass tape that could be glassed onto your boat with epoxy. It would be reasonably strong and would wear smooth. The aluminum is just going to stick to rocks.

I appreciate your ideas
Great advice…thanks!

I imagine your deckplate aluminum will

– Last Updated: Jul-31-10 3:18 PM EST –

need to be just thick enough that you will not be able to cut it cleanly with aviation shears. So if you don't have a bandsaw, think about who around you will have one.

Below is a link to SweetComposites page on seam tape. Don't even consider Kevlar or Twaron--too expensive, and will fuzz. The 3" polester is nice and light and will wear without fuzzing. The 3" glass tape will wear smooth but might crack under severe stress.

You might need more than one layer of tape, depending on the nature of the zone you're covering. If that were true, you could use a 3" and then a 1.5". If you can post links showing your boat's underside, it might be useful.

Links to canoe photos

– Last Updated: Jul-31-10 7:44 PM EST –

Here at the links to 3 photos of the canoe that I am seeking to repair. Right click on your mouse and then select "open in new window"

Did you mean Herters?

On seeing your photos, I don’t think
you can replace the aluminum keel strip with fiberglass. You may have to talk to a skilled aluminum welder who can help you replace any sections that are missing or too broken. Then he could weld things together and get the welded joints to disappear.

It looked like that deck plate had a bunch of raised letters on it. Was the other one plain? Plain would be easier to replace.

Here’s another issue. I see what are probably hydrolysis blisters on the side of the bow. These are caused when minute amounts of water get into the fiberglass/resin and interact chemically with the polyester resin, making a gas which raises the blister. Hydrolysis also causes local weakening of the layup. I suggest you google West Epoxy and search out their technical manual on hydrolysis blisters. Prepare to be discouraged, because correcting the problem can involve a lot of labor.

Are you a bartender? Do you have a lot of space above your bar? Possibly the best way to use this canoe is to superficially spruce it up and hang it over the bar. Otherwise, you have to ask yourself, is this canoe worthy of an extensive and expensive restoration?

I’ve been there. My '73 Mad River Compatriot was covered with hydrolysis blisters and needed new gunwales. If I had restored it, it probably would have been the only surviving Compatriot in the world. Instead I jigsawed it into short segments and put it out with the trash.

This is good and valuable
advice. I briefly went on line to check out what this is, how it can affect the canoe, and potential repair. Very interesting. I’ll look at the hull but at this point am still optimistic for repair. Regardless, it sounds like the bar may be a place to unwind. Sorry to hear about your Compatriot…