Linseed oil for MR gunwales?

The gunwales on my MR Explorer are getting quite dry and need a coat of something. MR sells their proprietary gunwale treatment, but I was hoping to pick up something at the hardware store this afternoon. Will linseed oil work fine, or should I use something else?


penetrating oil
Pick up some penetrating oil such as Watco natural Danish pentrating oil, available at most hardware stores. You could also try Teak oil (which Watco also makes).

Some folks prefer a concoction of boiled linseed oil mixed with either mineral spirits or kerosene, and vinegar, in varying ratios.

The Gunwale Guard marked by MRC is a varient of this but has a tendency to become gummy, in my experience.

The last application (by the PO) was rather sticky, and left a gummy buildup on the royalex under the gunwale, most likely the MR stuff I guess. It will be nice to get away from that.

I’ll pick up some Watco tonight. Thanks for the info Pblanc!

follow directions
Use the oil as directed and wipe off the excess after application. If it gets gummy, you can thin it with mineral spirits. It takes a few minutes, but you may find that removing the thwarts and seats is worth your while. It makes application easier.

Wipe up any oil that gets on the Royalex before it dries. I usually turn the boat on its side, do the undersides of the inwales, and then invert the boat on some saw horses and do the underside of the outwales. Then you can turn the boat over and do the tops and sides of the inwales and outwales.

If you have the patience, fine sanding the gunwales before application will result in a better finish and you can even wet sand with fine grit paper between the first and second application.

Watco also makes a Satin Wax that can be applied 72 hrs after the oil dries which results in a pretty nice satin sheen.

Linseed oil for MR gunwales?
Most MR gunnels I’ve replaced have rotted out from the back, the part in contact with the Royalex, and the outers have crumbled when the inners are still solid. This makes sense when you consider the lives most of our boats live.

So no matter what material you use, you should remove at least the outers and make sure you saturate the concealed surfaces.

It’s surprisingly easy to do if you leave the assembly of the inners, decks, and the thwarts intact. Clamp some boards to it to keep it from dropping into the shell, remove the outer end screws, then work from the inside. If you’re nervous about having everything coming free at once, you can work half each outer at a time.

Especially if you have someone to help, it’s not that hard to pull the inner frame out intact for inspection and finishing.

The real solution is epoxy and varnish. If the inner rot isn’t too bad, you can it gouge it out to sound material and fill with epoxy-plus-structural-filler. For the varnish, I use Epiphanes.

I know, I know, but it’s the answer.



Tung Oil
We use it on the wooden gunwales on several of our canoes and like it.

Have been using it for about ten years.