Just bought a late Sixties Ouachita canoe


I just bought an old Ouachita 17’ aluminum canoe. I’ll post a picture later, because it’s a little too dark to take a picture now. It has lots of “patina” as the seller put it, having faded red paint and lots of scratches and scrapes and paint oxidized down to bare metal. The inside is better off, but the original gray paint inside is also worn down to bare aluminum in places too.

The ID tag is heavily worn, but it doesn’t appear to have a manufacture year. There’s also no ID number at the stern, so I think it was built in the late Sixties or very early Seventies, but I have no way to really know. Anyone have any suggestions on dating this canoe?

Also, I’m not sure if I want to repaint it, or strip it and polish it like an old airplane, or if I just want to leave it with its ancient patina. Even if I leave the patina, I want to wash and wax this thing because the gray oxide gets on my hands when I’m moving the boat. Time to google some aluminum cleaning, painting, stripping, and polishing hints…

This forum is quite a resource, so thanks for letting me join you all.


Polishing aluminum is harder than it sounds. Aluminum boats can usually be saved no matter how old they are if they have not been abused. You can start with paint stripper, maybe some light sanding next with grit around 600 and up. There are acid washes like Alumabrite that will remove the oxidation and leave a white looking appearance. I would stop there.

Polishing aluminum is a very time consuming task. It is like going down a rabbit hole.

It might be best to just repaint the interior. It is a lot of work to remove the original paint.

I’m beginning to see what you’re talking about. I saw a few videos last night after posting this about stripping paint off of Airstream and Argosy trailers, aluminum boats, an airplane, and a couple of canoes. Like auto body work, the results seem to depend on careful prep and lots of attention to detail. It is a lot of work.

I also saw some videos and a couple of how-to articles on repainting, and that’s a lot of careful work to, but something I’ve done before. I may go that route. First, I have to wash it and put it in the water Saturday. I need to learn if is as water-tight as the seller claimed.

Oh, it appears that new users can’t post pictures yet, so photos will have to wait.