Fix bent plastic gunwales OT Royalex Can

Just bought a used OT Tripper, my all-time favorite canoe. Got it cheap, $350, so I’m prepared to do some repairs. Needs bow and stern skid plates, which I’ve done before, but I’m a bit stumped about an issue I’ve never encountered: asymmetry. Warped gunwales. Somebody must’ve stored it on its side with a load in it for a decade or so. Any ideas about how to straighten it out? Thanks a million for any advice. I was thinking waiting until a really hot day (90 or so here in w. Washington state) and using some hydraulic jacks in some kind of jig to press it into the old sleek shape. Maybe add a little more heat with copious quantities of boiling water? Then let the whole thing cool while tweaked. Whaddaya think?

You might be able to temporarily install
a series of X thwarts to help force the gunwales and hull back where they belong. Each X would need to be pinned at the intersection. Do your gunwales have aluminum inserts? Mine did not, but it was an early Tripper.

Don’t waste time and money on skid plates unless those areas are cut through the vinyl and through the ABS into the foam. Kevlar skid plates are a convenience product, and popular because they look “studly”, but they usually turn out to be a disappointment. I put layers of bias cut glass on both ends of my Tripper, ending up with low, hard, easy sliding, easily repaired, skid plates.

Then I sold the boat for $350 to a couple of fishermen.

Thanks, g2d
Really appreciate your taking the time to weigh in on this. Not sure what you mean, “a series of X thwarts.” Sounds like you mean pushing against the opposite side of the boat to press out a portion where the gunwale bends in too far toward the centerline. Why not push and pull using some firm anchor point outside of the boat? Heat?

I don’t think I have aluminum inserts in the gunwales. If I did, I’d guess the aluminum would allow the warped areas to be straightened out with just the right amount of brute force…is that what you’re thinking?

One more question: What kind of resin/epoxy works best on the vinyl/ABS material in these hulls? Thanks again!

Was it Archimedes who said,
“Give me a place to stand and I will move the world”?

It’s choosing a place to “stand” that makes pulling a hull back into line a challenge at times. X thwarts are a lesser intervention. If you can imagine the hull back in line, X thwarts define four points where the hull perimeter should be.

As for resin, West G-flex should work as well as anything. Gotta go now, check back later.

Repace 'em
A few years ago I was able to buy a set of Old Town vinyl gunwales for a project at my local Old Town dealer. He kept them in stock so there was no shipping charge. He also sold me the rivets needed for the job. I went out the door for under 200 bucks.


A good hot day in the sun
I take the lazy approach when possible.

One hears stories about royalex boats returning to shape after little more than a hot day in the sun.

I think I’d find a nice stretch of traffic free black top and let the boat spend a day in the sun there. And I’d hope and hope not to have to learn about building x-thwarts.

G2D’s advice is pretty reliable, and mine is based on hearsay and whimsy. But it’s free and low effort.

Maybe try giving Old Town a call. Maybe somebody there has some actual experience with this issue.

I will be interested in hearing how you fare with this effort. Please post back with results.


The OT Tripper has
aluminum inserts in the vinyl gunwales. Good luck, need brute force at just the right point… Aluminum may break before bending the way you want.

Consider buying new gunwales. Or try straightening anyway; most likely the result will be the same.

You’ll be on the phone with Old Town.

I would
install new gunwales. Maybe even consider wood if you are into that sort of thing. Either way, the result will be good and it won’t cost all that much if you can do the work yourself.

Except that we don’t know if
the gunwales are part of the problem.

Not the one I owned. Early Trippers
did not have aluminum inserts.

Not that aluminum inserts would necessarily be a problem. The inserts are more to prevent catastrophic tearing clear through the gunwale than to add stiffness. It is easy to make vinyl gunwales stiffer by just adding more thickness in the right places.