drilling through composite hulls

Is there a right side to start drilling a hole in a white gold lay-up with gel coat? I’ve got a footbrace to install and was wondering if anyone had any hints… It is a wenonah black solo footbrace…

Drill from the outside in. And you’ll want to tape both sides of the hull before drilling to reduce chipping.

Consider adhesive

– Last Updated: Dec-10-08 5:56 PM EST –

Bored holes always seem to develop star cracks over time. Consider Plexus 300 adhesive from Jamestown. ~$12 for an applicator that should be enough to goop up both sides. I'd clean the hull with acetone and a toothbrush; sand and acetone the rail backsides too.

thanks for the advice…I like the idea of glueing instead of drilling…

Foot Brace
I don’t believe mounting the foot brace with glue will work. At the location the foot brace needs to mount the hull is starting to curve toward the bow but the foot brace mounts are straight and can’t be bent to match the hull shape. Only the ends touch the hull and depending on what model canoe you have this can leave up to 1/4 inch of space in the center of the mount. That would leave very little glue contact area for something you will be pushing on with your feet.

I’ve installed this exact Wenonah foot brace in both Graphite composite and Royalex Wennah canoes. The kit ships with two different size black pop rivets shoved into the hollow foot cross brace. For the Royalex canoe you drill through the hull and use the 4 large head pop rivets from the outside of the hull. The Wenonah Composite canoes have four rectangular aluminum plates glassed into the foam core ribs on the inside of the hull. They are covered with the cloth but you can see the outline if you look closely. Make a drill stop block out of wood so only enough drill tip is exposed and drill only the aluminum plate BUT NOT THROUGH THE HULL! Then use the smaller rivets from the kit to pop rivet the mount from the inside of the hull. Very strong and nothing shows on the outside. Good luck…

When I installed one

– Last Updated: Dec-10-08 8:38 PM EST –

I installed the Wenonah brace in my Northwoods. I bonded it and after a season of heavy use it is rock solid. The Wenonah foot brace has enough wiggle built into it to allow for some angle on the side of the canoe.
I have also installed the new style brace in my Sundowner (I drilled holes), and in my flex core Voyager (I drilled out the factory rivets that went through the hull and installed the new rivets included with the brace)

To bond the brace in my Northwoods I used PC-11 epoxy http://www.pcepoxy.com/pastepoxies/pastepc11.asp

I had it on hand and trust it after using PC-11 and PC-7 for industrial applications. The PC-11 or Plexus will fill the gap between the flat surface of the brace and the hull no problem.
PC-11 is available at Ace hardware stores etc.
Plexus is probably a better product but more work to source it.

Aluminum vs plastic braces
Rick, if your footbraces are plastic, Charlie’s advice is great. If they are the Yakima/Werner aluminum style, you will have little contactwxcept where the rails touch the hull. With minimal contact, teh possibility of failure hs to increase quite a bit.


drilling holes …
… when I have to drill a precision hole through a finished delicate material (never installed any footbraces though) , I’ll use a very tiny and sharp drill bit as the pilot hole first , and then proceed to larger sizes . Sometimes it takes 3-4 different sizes to get to finish size desired .

Anyway it got me thinking that you would at least want to drill from inside first (with that tiny bit),

because it seems it would be a tad difficult to layout the holes you want for the footbrace from the outside .

When drilling , use a variable speed drill , keep it slow and don’t push the drill much at all … let the drill bit do the work .

I’m putting a wenonah footbrace in my Magic. It’s a nice aluminum rail that needs to be bonded to the hull.

good thinking…

I would tend to take the advice of a high quality canoe manufacturer who has installed thousands of foot braces with Plexus. But if you want to recreate the wheel, by all means go ahead.

Ahhh…should have guessed
ANd I doubt that you will be able to bend/form the aluminum angle to match the hull curvature.

In thais application I still think you will be more secure to drill & rivit or bolt. Unless one of our more experienced contributors can chime in with a better idea.

For your holes I would recommend a brand-new high quality pilot-point drill bit. The outer cutting edges should cleanly slice the hull, minimizing any fuzzing or tearing. Cheap insurance, and its not like you won’t use it again.


Charlie glues the footbraces on the
boats he builds; listen to Charlie.


True, but
the Sealine footbraces flex to mimick the hull shape. Aluminum angle will not.