Float Tank Repair - Aramid


I am fixing up an old 1990 Sawyer Classic 13 solo canoe, and I need a bit of advice, so I thought I would reach out to the community here! The aramid fabric in the crease where the float tank meets the bottom of the hull is damaged and has a hole in it. Not ideal for a float chamber.

So the question I have for the team is: What is the best method to repair this?

Part of me thinks that laminating another piece of fabric to the entire float tank might be the way to go for aesthetics and long term durability. However, I could probably just do a small lamination around the seam/crease. The boat has a vinylester layup, so I would probably use epoxy resin. There are probably many different ways to approach this, so I thought I would ask the question to see what everyone thinks. I appreciate your thoughts!


Here is a close up of the tear.

That’s a common issue across canoe brands. I have a Kevlar Mad River with the same issue. I may just cut out the chambers and use float bags. If I do repair it (more to keep water out than air in), I think I will try to just build up some G Flex epoxy along that crease. Can always come back with cloth if need be later.

Those chambers are a pita, and become ineffective very quickly, holding moisture, dirt, invasive critters etc.

My big hangup taking them out is I’m afraid the stems may be ugly and very unfinished looking.

I would likely cut out the damaged area. Fill with a fillet and put a 2" wide cloth, ie tape, over the wet fillet and fill the cloth with epoxy. An initial coat, a fill coat and most likley a second fill coat. I’d use 6 or 9 oz cause that’s what I got on hand. Wood flour for the fillet or “cell o fill” powder.

I would simply cover and seal the area with one or two layers of fiberglass plain weave cloth using epoxy resin.

I see no reason to cut out the damaged area. Doing so will just make your repair more noticeable and will not add strength. Nor do I see any reason to cover the entire interior face of the float tank with cloth as it is mostly undamaged.

You could of course use aramid cloth but fiberglass fabric is nearly invisible when fully wetted out and the weave filled with resin. Aramid cloth remains opaque and the contrast in the weave of the existing cloth and the patch will be much more apparent. You really don’t need the additional tensile strength that aramid would provide and the weight difference in the cloth needed for such a small job will be totally insignificant.

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Great suggestion - I think this is what I am going to do! Seems like a good all-around repair for this area. Thank you - appreciate the feedback.

I would suggest that your patch overlaps undamaged hull and float tank by at least 2 inches in all directions. My choice would probably be to use two layers of relatively light plain weave fiberglass cloth of 4 ounce/square yard weight. This will lay down better over the near right angle junction of the float tank wall with the hull bottom because of the thinner 'glass fibers. You can get cloth to lay down over a sharp angle like that but sometimes you need to keep working the cloth into the angle as the epoxy starts to become green and tacky. As the 'glass fibers start to take up resin they will naturally want to straighten out and pull away from the concavity of the angle. Just use your stir stick, squeege, or whatever and keep pushing the cloth back into the angle.

With two layers of cloth make the second one 1 inch smaller concentrically in all directions and cut one of the layers on the bias so that its fibers cross the angle between the hull and float tank at 45 degree angles.

I would go light on the fix initially. Laying down cloth and epoxy around that seam/contour has a good chance of looking fairly scabby and not being successful long term which puts you back at square one but with a bunch of extra repair material (and weight) to deal with. It will have that ‘oh oh ugly repair’ look to it,and it will be impossible to make it look as good original.

It’s tough to run cloth as the manufacturers did for composite float tanks and have it last long.

A nice fillet of G Flex stands a very good chance of working, and if it doesn’t, can be repaired over, or removed back near factory.

One man’s opinion.