Canoe surface repair

I was given an Old Town canoe by a neighbor and am trying to improve the surface. It was dirty and dingy - but after some gentle washing, it’s looking better. It had some small gouges and scratches that I’ve filled in and will give some areas a shot of paint. After that, I’d like to give it some sort of a surface treatment that really brings out the richness of the color - almost as if it were wet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Many here use 303 spray with good results. I have been testing fluid film. It is a form of wool wax made of lanolin. It brought out all the original colors and hides the scratches. I spray it on lightly rub it in and then let set for a while maybe even overnight and then wipe it down with a clean cloth or paper towels. It has a slight oily feel for a few days

Thanks bud. That’s helpful.
Is there a name brand of the fluid film you use?


You could try this stuff: Penetrol® Oil-Based Paint Additive

That is the name Fluid Film

I started a thread on it not long ago if you do a search you can see some pictures.



I have a Canadienne, the smaller one. They are great canoes.

This one needs thwarts put back in it. At least two, but three would be better.

This boat appears to have had some epoxy brushed on it in a very haphazard fashion. It will never look right, I would sand the epoxy to make it smooth and paint the boat. I used some green enamel and it looks like new.


It looks to me as if the gel coat is oxidized. I would start by giving it a good washing with something like Simple Green. If that doesn’t get it off you could try wiping with mineral spirits. Avoid getting any solvents on the decals.

Stubborn oxidation can be removed by wet sanding with fine sandpaper. If you have to go that route be prepared to sand with progressively finer grits down to 1500 or 2000 to eliminate the sanding marks. You could also try an automotive or marine rubbing compound.

Finally use a finish glaze like 3M Finesse-It II. Apply this to small areas at a time and buff using a low speed automotive buffer with a soft bonnet.

It depends on your goal and if you enjoy as some of us do with old things the “It is only original once” look or you like the restored look.

@ppine is correct you need to replace the missing thwarts. It looks like one of the carry thwarts is still there and there should be one on the other end. In the center there was a carry yoke I believe, then a couple other thwarts. You should see the holes in the gunwales where they were located. I made mine out of some old aluminum tent poles about 1” dia. and flattened the ends in a vice drilled a hole and bolted them on.

You can do as little or as much as you want. get some good paddles and PFDs and enjoy your windfall. :canoe:

A few options…
First you could get a good compounding product (not wax) and compound the boat. 3M makes some great products and are conservative and easy to work with. That will be most of the work. That should remove the dullness, and bring out some shine.
After, get a good marine wax and wax the boat. You should be able to get it looking pretty good.

Now if you want to really do a number, sand down the hull to get rid of all the scratches, nicks so it’s clean and not chalky. Get some Alexseal, prep and paint. You can match the color and roller on, however, go to their web site and get good instructions. That will be time consuming and cost a bit.

Old Town is a GREAT canoe!

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Fluid films good if your selling but gone in short order. Maybe two weeks or less.

…this and a buffer…

You will never be able to make the dripping epoxy look like anything with surface treatment. No wax, buffer, cleaner of other agent will help.

You have ash seats with cane. Add ash thwarts. The aft mini thwart is also missing at the far end of the boat. Easy to get and easy to install. Then the canoe will have structural integrity and you can paddle it. You will also have places to secure your gear. It will also look right.

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I am not at all sure that discoloration is from epoxy.

You may be correct I’m saying about a month after playing with it some. I really don’t think the protection is gone it is more it gets looking like mud and river water makes it look.

What I have been doing is when I get back home I put the canoe back on the horses and take a bucket of water and a rag and wipe the hull down and the mud off and inspect to see if I got any new wear. That takes maybe 5 minutes. Then after it dries off if I have a couple minutes to spare I wipe the hull down with the same fluid film rag I have been using. Normally there is enough on the rag soaked in to give it a refresher coat. It always looks great in doing that little bit of work.

All this stuff is 95% cosmetic IMO. My hull would likely work the same and last as long doing nothing after all it is poly.

If the canoe looks good when wet you can generally make it look good with a bit of time and effort.

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Hello again. Thanks for all this advice. This has been a real adventure/learning experience. I had sanded the canoe and painted it with Krylon gloss hunter green. Then, based on advice from a different blog, I used car wax. That was a disaster. So I sanded, repainted, and now am ready to finish the surface to protect it and make it shine. I do have 303 but am wondering if some other method will give it a shiny-car look. Any feedback welcome.


If you want shiny new car look use gloss enamel.
The paint protects the surface.
You do not need to add 303, wax or anything else.
Canadiennes are great canoes.