Interior needs spiffing

I recently bought a 20 year old Bell canoe in the black gold layup. The interior looks dry and is blushed. If I wipe it down with a damp cloth it shines until it dries. Is this common and/or significant?

I will probably take the furniture out for a refinish during the winter. I could spiff up the interior either with a coat of epoxy or, cheaper and easier. a coat of varnish. Should I consider this? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


Epoxy doesn’t do well against UV better with varnish.

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Is the inside of the boat a fiberglass boat? …and you are saying the gel coat is dull? Then use a Starbright boat polish/wax.

Is the inside of the boat delaminating, chipped, or checking? Then think about epoxy, but its is not a finish material and brushing it will cause it to be too thick. And it requires a varnish/paint coat for UV protection.

Is the inside a wood or wood composite strip boat that is dull? Then think about varnish. But remember to not make it too sensitive to feet, gear movement or sun reflectivity.

Yeah I wouldn’t add epoxy or varnish. I’ve had good results on my '99 Merlin II just by soaking with 303 (or olive oil). I bet the Starbright product would work well. Some folks use Flood Penetrol to recondition their interiors.

Thanks. I do have some 303 and I will do a small patch of the blushed interior as a test. Sounds like that may be all it needs. Am I correct in assuming that the problem is cosmetic only?


For a while Bell was using a resin that was very prone to water blush, the notorious “Bell blush”. You can make it go away by wiping with an acetone rag. You can keep it away for a while by spraying some 303 Protectant on, but it will make the hull interior very slippery. And of course, the 303 Protectant will go away sooner or later.

If the resin has worn off of the interior Kevlar to a significant extent, the Kevlar fabric may start looking and feeling damp for a while after use. Unfortunately, aramid fibers do not take up resin as well as one would wish. I have used a coat of low viscosity “penetrating” epoxy such as System Three Clear Coat if it looks as if the hull interior could use refreshing. I often do apply a coat of marine varnish with a UV inhibitor over this if the boat is going to see a lot of use.

The way many of us use and store our boats, it would take many outings for the interior epoxy to see enough UV to deteriorate significantly, however.


Varnish to protect it and make it look right.
Protectants are way too slippery.
It does not need epoxy.

Try Woody Wax made for boat decks not slippy easy on with brush on wet surface then rinse off.

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The Woody Wax sounds interesting.

You have a lot of options. Some manufacturers (Hemlock/Curtis) paint their interiors. Paint or varnish will add a little weight and give you another surface that may need maintenance. The diluted epoxy seems like a good idea. I just prefer to keep my canoes in original condition.

My 1999 Merlin II has seen a lot of use since I bought it new. The front of the interior starts looking bleached after months of use, presumably from constant water splashes since I paddle sit and switch. So I give it a thorough coating of 303 every year or two. It’s slippery for a little while but my kneeling pads still stay in place and if you like you can eliminate much of the slipperiness by washing out the inside with Dawn after the 303.

Sorry, that’s the 1996 Magic. Here’s the Merlin II.

Great, lot’s of ideas. The resin is not noticeably worn. I don’t think I need to worry about water penetration. Now that I know it has a name “Bell Blush” I feel better about it as I am not alone. Will take a swipe at it with a little acetone and see how that looks.


This thread has some photos that demonstrate the typical “Bell blush” along with some suggestions for what to do about it:

Or just amine blush.

The amine blush that forms as a byproduct of epoxy cure is easily removed with warm, soapy water and a Scotch Brite pad and once the epoxy has fully cured (within 2 weeks or less) and the amine blush is removed it does not come back.

This is different. The tendency of these Bell resins to water blush cannot be eliminated by a good cleansing.

Good info. I may try acetone wipe down soon too. Last time I used it I left the cap off so time to buy new acetone.


Here is the reply I received from Bear at Northwind/Bell via rutabaga.

It cleaned up well. I seen no need to polyurethane. The blush didn’t really bother me if it was only cosmetic.

Happy paddling ,Jeff

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I have tried using denatured alcohol to remove the water blush and found that it does not work nearly as well as acetone, at least on the Bell canoes I have used it on.

The point of the polyurethane is to prevent the water blush from recurring as it will upon repeated water contact. If you don’t mind repeatedly wiping the hull with acetone or don’t care about the appearance then there is no reason to do anything. If you view the blushing as a problem and wish to end it once and for all, then you will need to apply some type of water barrier which can be a non-blushing, low viscosity epoxy, a marine varnish, a polyurethane with UV blocker, some combination of the above, or for a less permanent fix the 303 Protectant or the Penetrol that have been suggested in the prior posts.

So…Today I cleaned blush off two spots. Each about a foot in diameter. I used acetone on one and 303 on the other. The acetone did a faster and better job. Now we wait and see if one lasts better than the other. I will report back in few weeks.


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The acetone will not “last” at all. It evaporates quickly and once it flashes off it is as if it has never been there. But it does take the blush off. It may be a while before the surface blushes again but the acetone has no preventative effect whatsoever.

The 303 will hold off the blush for a while depending on how much water the interior of the boat sees.

Did not have to wait long. I used the canoe once and the area that was shined up with acetone clouded over again. The area done with 303 is still bright. I will probably just use 303 on it periodically to keep it looking OK. Thanks to all for the advice


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