Rebuilding a fiberglass kayak

Hello all, I recently attained a Hyperform Prijon tandem kayak, but it needs a little work. I was planning on separating the hull and deck and reworking both with new paint and resin, which I can get at a very good price. Can anyone offer any tips, online resources, and books I should read so I don’t miss any steps? Thank you very much!

here are a few

A classic reference is Charlie Wallbridge’s “Boatbuilders Manual”, the sixth on this list. Here is the table of contents:

Why do you need to unseam the deck and hull? I would only do this if you needed to repair hull or deck cracks from the interior and could not reach the areas through the cockpit cutouts. Seaming the deck and hull back together can be frustrating. If you really need to do this, Wallbridge’s book describes how.

If you just want to smooth up the cockpit areas you can get to these through the cutouts.

Use non-blushing resin

– Last Updated: Oct-03-11 10:15 AM EST –

I have never rebuilt a fiberglass kayak, but have repaired two, and am currently doing some repairs to a fiberglass canoe. The current canoe repair will mark my first venture into gel coat repair. Everything to date has been with epoxy, FG cloth, and touching up exterior repairs with paint.

On one kayak I had, I needed to seal leaks between the hull and deck. I found, somewhere, on youtube, I think, a video showing sealing of the seam between deck and hull. I bring this up because you will have to do this if you separate the hull and deck, and while it isn’t rocket science, it looked a lot more complicated than work I wanted to do. For one thing, you need inside access to the pointy ends of the boat (I didn’t want to remove my bulkheads so I didn’t do it, though if the boat has hatches in the decks I guess there would be better access). The deck joint is glassed from the inside. And you will need to get into the ends to seal all the way around. You can probably find the same video showing deck-hull seam building by searching on youtube.

The black stripe that covers the outside of the deck joint seemed mostly to be for cosmetic appearance. I suppose it helps in leak-proofing, but there isn’t much to that stuff. I also have not found a source for that tape material, although that seems like a problem that can be solved—the manufacturers get it somewhere.

The only real advice I have for you is to use resins that don’t produce amine blush. Non-blushing resin is a step-saver that will save you from having to wash down the work area every time you add a layer of FG or resin.

Good luck with your project and let us know how it turns out.


what exactly do you mean “reworking” with paint and resin?

You use resin if you need to apply more glass in damaged areas. If you simply want it to look shiny then paint it.

seam tape

– Last Updated: Oct-03-11 10:57 AM EST –

The exterior seam tape is more than just cosmetic on many decked boats, although in some they function only as "rub rails". If you need to apply an exterior seam tape you can use fiberglass tape, but you may need to cut down the width. Trying to cut a long, thin strip from fiberglass cloth without having the whole thing fray into a mess is challenging. Fiberglass tape has a finished edge and is much easier to work with.

If you want a black seam tape, just mix some graphite powder into the epoxy you use to wet out and fill the tape. You can then mask the strip and spray paint it with something like Krylon Fusion which comes in a satin black color that closely approximates the color of the graphite. Any scratches through the paint will be nearly invisible.

To seam the deck to the hull from the interior when there are no hatches to work through to access the stems is a challenge. Some people saturate a rolled up piece of fiberglass tape with epoxy and then attempt to unroll the soggy mess down the interior of the seam. Another way is to make an epoxy application tool out of something like a furring strip long enough to reach to the stem through the cockpit openings. Fill a dental syringe with epoxy and secure it to the end of the furring strip. A long dowel can be secured to one side of the furring strip with a few eyescrews. The epoxy can be dispensed from the dental syringe in a more or less controlled fashion by pushing the plunger of the syringe with the dowel rod.

If you could post some pictures and describe exactly what you wanted to try to accomplish, it would be easier to make specific recommendations.

My standard advice is, don’t fool with
paint because it is too fragile. And if you’re planning to cover large areas with resin, what for? West Epoxy has information on how to roll on resin, and I’ve done it, but what will it do for you?

If there are areas on the bottom that seem soft and squidgy, you could add an entire layer of carbon (expensive) or polyester. Avoid using glass unless you want to add weight.

Are you sure this is a kayak, and not a c-2? What model is it? Don’t put more work into it than the result will justify. Aim at getting it to be useable, without leaks, so you can try it and see what you’ve got.

You can always make it into a streamlined roof gear carrier.

The deal is
I want to use this as a tandem kayak. The bottom does not seem strong enough, and I don’t mind adding a little weight. I want to make it usable, and at 14 feet long, the prospect of separating the halves is daunting to say the least. I watched a couple videos by guillemot kayaks on youtube about assembly.

It does seem that it could be a C2, as it is quite flat. Either way, I do want to make it water worthy again, and would like to repaint it as well, but I am more leaning towards just getting it sealed and strong. I will post pics as soon as I am able, as I travel for work.

can you get the seats out?
If you can get the seats out, you should be able to access what you need to get to to reinforce the hull bottom from the interior working through the cockpit cutouts. I would just strengthen what you can reach and leave the stems light since most cracks occur near and under the seats where the weight is.

If you feel the need to reinforce the hull bottom, I would consider putting a layer of Kevlar cloth on the hull interior at the cockpit area.

If it turns out to be a c2, there may
not be enough height to accomodate the paddlers’ knees. Possibly there may not be enough distance between the cockpits for the stern paddler’s feet to clear the bow paddler’s butt. And c2 cockpits will be all wrong for kayakers to enter the boat.

Post a picture, or at least do some measurements.