expert advice needed- canoe repair

I’ll try to keep this as short as possible

I recently aquired an OLD blue hole OCA (originally a rental). It has a center foam block for flotation, but was poorly stored by the previous owners and ants and other insects have made it a home for themselves, compromising it’s buoyancy to some degree.

The second time out on a local river the water level was a bit higher than the first and ,long story short, with some solid class 2 rapids my (new to canoeing) partner and I rolled.

With the somewhat compromised floatation, the boat obviously didn’t sit as high on the water once it was upside down. I know I should have waited to take the boat out untill the floatation outfitting I ordered arrived, but I was too anxious to see how it handled.

So, at some point (unbeknownst to me)with the boat upside down and us swimming through some good free standing waves, it hit a rock, hard enough to break the bolts off one side of the deck plate (which helps give strength to keeping the shape of the hull)- hope I’m describing that rightly.

I got the boat home with no further damage, but at the top of the bow, there are a few small plum size, dents in the royalex, the deck plate has been detached on one side of the bow and the boat no longer holds it’s shape because the aluminum gunnels have been bent.

I took a few ratchet straps and attempted to force the hull back into it’s original position, but when I got just a 1/4 inch from being able to drill new holes through the deck plate to rebolt it to the same side gunnel, the aluminum cracked halfway through the gunnel, about 2 1/2 feet from the tip of the bow.

I have a friend who can weld aluminum and the crack is only a 1/2 inch long, but I don’t know if this is the right step to take.

I have know idea how this happened, the water was too deep to touch and haven’t noticed any rocks near or above the surface there before, but at any rate, it happened. This boat has been around and I’m new to any kind of canoe repair, but I really like it and I want to keep it and use it as long as possible.

I’ll try to get some pictures up and hopefully it will clear up what exactly the damage looks like, but any advice or links to go about repairing it would be much appreciated.

ps- The boat is old and even if I wanted to, I don’t have the money to replace the gunnels

Good idea to …
… put up some detailed pics. of the damage .

I think that will be a big help to you .

Cheap gunwales
I had a similar boat.

I replaced the gunwales with some oak flooring that I got for free. We had to do a couple of scarf joints, and it is a bit heavy, but the oak is solid.

Just about any wood will do in a pinch, so maybe you can find something cheap/free.

good luck.

I agree
If you can’t afford new aluminum gunnels, replace with wood. Make yourself a set of wood gunnels. Avoid pine and other softwoods. Same with the deck plate. If the old one can’t be repaired, replace with wood that you make yourself.

Blue Hole OCA gunwales were not
"cheap." They were amongst the strongest in the industry. The problem is that while they resisted bending and breaking, once they DID bend, they were harder to get back into shape.

The break CAN be welded. However, if you stick with the original gunwales, you may have to use another system to get them bent back to form. Just off the top of my head, I would be inclined to sandwich segments of the bent gunwale between pieces of 2X6, and then use those wooden screw clamps to apply force.

I recommend emailing Mike McCrea on this board… Mike almost always has an active post where you can email him through pnet. Or, he may see these posts and give suggestions.

That’s a pretty hard wrap on the …
… on the ol nose , ouch !!

If it were mine I wouldn’t think twice about getting rid of that jagged narly deck plate . I’d also cut out the alum. gunwales back to where there is no damage (do both sides to match) .

Fabricating a nice wooden deck and extensions for the damaged gunwales is a guaranteed opt. . Then there’s always a good chance that a plastic replacement deck (Old Town for instance) will fit reasonably well .

If you have enough room up in the bow area , a longer deck might be cool . I know you said you aren’t really wanting to replace the alum. gunwales , but consider doing it with nice new ABS one’s (Old Town for instance) . How chewed up are the alum. ones you have now , are there alot of gouges and meat hooks to get ripped on ??

As for the smash in the nose , I would get 2 - 4 strong light bulbs and set them up inside and out in such a way so as to gradually heat the bow edge . When it’s good and hot it may become soft and malable enough to reform with a shaped object (wood) simular to the original angle . Use your imagination there , perhaps a clamped form (inside and out) or just an inside form pressed forward under pressure with wedging action while the heat stays on the outside . Keep heat on and keep pressing in a slow process fashion .

If you don’t feel like …
… dealing with the dents but don’t want to look at them , maybe when fabricating a new deck plate out whatever (wood / plastic ??) , you could design it to drop down over the bow edge covering the dents , radiusing from the flat deck on the sides , sort of like some Viking looking thing .

Use your imagination and make some fun out of it .

good advice,
I guess being an old beater boat I have more freedom for “creativity” than a nicer one. I just didn’t quite know where to start.

Thanks for the “non”- expert advice.

Good luck,

As far as metals go aluminum is notoriusly hard to work with and repair. I would go with what your aluminum welder friend sugggests.

Aluminum is hard to weld and cannot easily be bent back into shape (as opposed to a metal like steel.)