Canoe Restoration Project Question

Hey everyone,

I’m new here so sorry if this is not the proper way to go about posting/asking this.

I recently was able to pick up a free Mohawk canoe. The owner had very little info to give me but I found a HIN lookup site and it identified it as a Blazer or a Sportsman.

It’s in rough shape so I know it will be a project and I am looking forward to having something to work on like this but what I can’t seem to find out is whether the canoe is made of royalex or fiberglass. On Mohawk’s website, there are a few different blazer models, made from royalex, fiberglass, and a kevlar/fiberglass blend.

I am hoping somebody here can help identify the material of the canoe so I can get the right materials for the restoration. I’m not sure if there’s a huge difference in restoring/repairing royalex vs fiberglass but thought this would be the best place to start.

I had heard somewhere that if the canoe is different color on the outside vs the inside it’s a good indicator of royalex but I wasn’t sure about that… the patch job, to me, looks like it could be patched with fiberglass, but I’m not sure if the royalex was patched with fiberglass?

If more pictures are needed to help identify let me know and I can snap some more.

Thanks in advance!

I guess as a new user I can only post one photo…

Additional photos

Looks like Royalex.

Yes, it’s Royalex.

No, different colors on the interior and exterior don’t mean it is Royalex. Many composite canoes have an exterior polyester gel coat which is pigmented with interiors that are either natural (especially if aramid) or painted, and the interior color does not match the exterior color.

Composite canoes nearly always have flotation chambers built into the stems to assure positive buoyancy. Royalex canoes do not.

Yes, Royalex canoes can be patched with fiberglass and other structural fabrics. West System’s G Flex epoxy is the best resin product to use when repairing Royalex boats.


Thank you for the info, I greatly appreciate it. Yeah, I thought the two color part wasn’t accurate… I will look into that epoxy and resin!

The G Flex is a resin. Epoxies are one type of resin used in boat building and typically the strongest.

The light tan area on the canoe bottom at the stem is where ABS is showing after the overlying green vinyl abraded off. ABS degrades over time with UV exposure. The solid ABS layer in that area my also have been thinned out from abrasion. Push in over that entire area with your thumb. If any area feels soft and spongy the ABS has been thinned out significantly and you may wish to reinforce that area. At a minimum, the exposed ABS should be painted over to protect the Royalex from further photodegradation.


Thanks again for more information. I have read conflicting information in regards to sanding the royalex, do you have any knowledge about that? I am only planning to really do a light sanding with 220 grit to give the new paint something to stick to. And of course on any areas touched up with the G Flex, both on the outside and inside the canoe.
As far as the scratches on the bottom go, would that be something you’d recommend filling with something less hard than the G Flex? Maybe just some bondo body filler?

Yes, you can wet sand Royalex. I have done it to remove heavy oxidation when other measures didn’t work.

If you are planning to paint the entire hull you could use 220 grit paper or even something a bit coarser. If you are not going to paint the whole hull I wouldn’t use anything coarser than 220 grit and would be inclined to try 400 grit first.

As for scratches, all Royalex boats acquire them. They do not affect function so anything you tried to do with them would be for cosmetic effect only. And in my experience, anything you try is likely to make them even more apparent.

Really deep gouges or divots could be filled in with G Flex epoxy and sanded fair if you plan to paint over them. Otherwise my advice would be to leave them be.

Bondo is a polyester resin. It bonds poorly to ABS and has poor elongation properties. Royalex demonstrates considerable thermal expansion and contraction. Using a resin that has poor elongation properties will subject the cured resin to considerable sheer stress making it susceptible to flaking off. I would not use polyester resin on Royalex except possibly to fill in small holes.

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I am currently planning on painting the entire hull, I’ll go ahead and get some 120 to go along with the 220 to have some options available. I’m just not wanting to damage the royalex. I saw a restoration video of someone who chipped off the entire royalex layer before realizing what he was doing… not good!

Good to know about the scratches, there are a few that looked a little deeper that I wanted to touchup so thought while I was at it I’d clean up the smaller ones. After hearing your advice I’ll leave the small ones alone and just paint over them.

Interesting on the bondo filler, I’ll just stick with that G Flex epoxy for my repairs.

Thanks again for all the info, I really appreciate it! I will try to post pictures when I get some time to work on this project.

My last question would be this: In picture one where you can see “Mohawk”, is there anything you’d recommend doing with that warpage?

Although the vinyl layers on the inside and outside of Royalex are relatively thin, it actually takes quite a bit of work to sand all the way through them unless the vinyl is already delaminating from the ABS which sometimes happened with bad batches of Royalex. You won’t go through the vinyl accidentally.

Judging from the crimp and split in the aluminum gunwale and the damage to the adjacent hull that boat got upside something hard and was pinned. The hull probably folded some crimping the foam core. That deformity to the core will be permanent and although the hull will have been weakened some, the performance will probably not be significant. But if you are going to paint the hull anyway you could fill in the creases with G Flex, sand the cured epoxy fair and flush to improve the appearance.

You can also fill in the depression in the crimped gunwale with G Flex and cover the damage with a fiberglass patch. G Flex bonds very well to aluminum. Below is a photo of an aluminum gunwale that was crimped when the boat got flung into a pier piling. I mixed graphite powder in the G Flex which gives it the black color.


Thank you again for the wealth of information, you’ve been a huge help and it is greatly appreciated. There seems to be a lot of fiberglass restoration videos but I couldn’t seem to find any in depth restoration videos of royalex.

I am planning to replace the gunwales so may hold off on trying to repair the aluminum. But that is great to know in case I decide the aluminum gunwales aren’t so bad.

Thanks to pblanc for some great explanations about Royalex.

Yes, I agree pblanc knows his stuff on canoe repair. I too have been a beneficiary of his knowledge.

Here are a couple of photos using West Systems Epoxy, G-Flex and 3 layers of S-Glass as skid plates covering the worn stems of a Rolex canoe, I did following his advice.


Don’t paint it. Before you spend a lot of time wet sanding, after you do all your patching and repair, scrub it real well and get a bottle of Rejuvenate for vinyl floors. I have used it on my last 3 resto jobs and it works miracles with the outer vinyl on Royalex and on Cross Link. The first coat will look nice for a day or so, but after about a week add another coat. I did a 1983 Disco 174 and an '85 OT otter WW canoe that way as well as a cleanup on my Bell Morningstar. After a few treatments, they have almost a gloss. There is not UV blocker in it, so you need to store them under cover, but you get a lasting finish, that looks great. One of my compadres bought a used Reflection 16 that had been hanging on te side of a house for like 10 years with sun and the rain hitting it just on one side. That side was grey and the other side dark green. After a good cleaning and a couple coats of Rejuvinate, it looks brand new.


The bow and stern areas of the hull get a lot of abrasions due to being dragged onto the shore. Putting “skid plates” on the bow and stern will extend the life of your boat. You can get them ready made out of kevlar. I believe you can attach them with the epoxy. My Old Town Discovery 169 was polyethylene plastic and the touring company I got it from has taken an ABS pipe and cut it to length and then heated it up to make the bend and the flatter section out onto the hull. By using a heat gun, I found I could carefully mould the material to shape the attached edges. I don’t know what they used to attach the ABS to the hull, but it was really on tight. Sanding and painting it rwith the whole hull really made the canoe look great. There are specialty paints out there for “plastic” surfaces. I would investigate those before painting.