Repairing(?) a cracked vinyl gunwale

Is it possible to repair a cracked vinyl gunwale (on an OT Royalex canoe), or does it need to be replaced? The crack goes along (but not touching) where a thwart is bolted to the gunwale. Approx. how much should it cost to repair (or replace) such a gunwale?

I had one cracked gunwale on an OT
Tripper I used to own, and I ignored it. My Tripper was so old that it did not have the aluminum reinforcement strip put in later Old Towns and in other vinyl gunwales.

One way to fix it would be to glue slats of vinyl over the break. However, that would leave a little step that might make it hard for you to slide the boat onto your racks. Or, you might scuff your fingers.

Another approach would be to use fiberglass, maybe some Kevlar, and epoxy. You would need maybe four layers of cloth over the break. The cloth layers should go on with the longest layer first, then a little shorter, and finally the shortest can extend just 1.5" or so past the break. The result will be kind of ugly, but you can sand it smooth. See that the Kevlar layer is not the last one, to make the sanding easier.

I’m sure OT would sell you a new set of gunwales. Or, you could go the wood gunwale route. Or, you could just ignore it like I did.

Kicking this back to the top in case
others can offer help.

Repairing vinyl gunnel
Unless you have most of the materials already on hand, I’d advise against it. If you have to buy the materials as opposed to the $50.00 ± that the new gunnel will cost you won’t save much.

Secondly you describe the break as being in a location that is stressed. I’ts questionable whether your repair would have the necessary strength. I’d hate to see the gunnel separate in the middle of a lake during rough weather or part way down a rapid or during an extended trip…

Bite the bullet. Many dealers have replacements in stock or can have one top shipped with their next boat delivery.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Canoes and Paddles