Replacing Aluminum Gunwales with Wood???

Just a quick question on this. I have a bell black gold Magic with aluminum thwarts that I am thinking of putting wood ones on if it can be done with reasonable cost.

I know the cost of the supplies but variable is labor.

Got an estimate from one dealer who said could do work but though it would be about 10 hours of labor time.

Is that a realistic time estimate?

The dealer is honest and trustworthy….just wondering if they may be a little off in what they estimate for time for the job.

In any event they will only charge me for what time it takes but this is a driving factor as to whether I do this or not….that would be $500 just in labor plus something like $350 for supplies. Too expensive with the labor.


That’s about right to low.
$1000 to do it right is about average for an after the fact retro fit. What they didn’t mention, or you should look into, is that they are going to have to trim about 1/2 inch off the boat. If they don’t, all the rivet holes from the old aluminum will be exposed below the wood trim. Fitting flush deck plates, balancing the boat for seat placement, thwarts, etc., and applying several coats of oil to not only the finished gunwales but the inside edges easily takes 1o hours if not more.

nermal, you sure know how to bring a
guy down.

Personally, I’m ok with wood, but it often weighs more than aluminum, and often isn’t any stiffer.

Ten hours seems reasonable
Sucks, huh?

A manufacturer has the benefit of being able to use templates and jigs to simplify the drilling process, but a repair shop is going to have to do things the old fashioned way.

Measure twice, drill once. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You get the idea.

Are you wedded to the idea of wood trim? Don’t get me wrong, I love wood, but there are times when I lust for aluminum for maintenance reasons. Seems to me that having the gunwales replaced with stock aluminum would be easier.


Any thought of doing it yourself? I have, as have many others.

Rails or thwarts, or both?
Style of decks, and the fitting of them, makes a big difference and slotting the inwales does, too.

Unless you really hate the look and/or feel of metal rails enough to accept the weight penalty, I wouldn’t do it. I think if I were to buy a new composite boat, I’d opt for inorganic trim to save on weight and maintenance.

Be glad to send you the protocol
email charliewilson610@roadrunner for the Bell wood rail installation protocol, which may prove useful if you want to do the job yourself.

I was just thinking about wood to
aluminum gunwales to save on the maintenance! Don’t mean to hijack your post but…is it possible to change wood to aluminum or vinyl?

Wood to aluminum is easy. Vinyl gunwales are not an option for a composite boat though.

Our rate would be 3.5-4 hours @ $60/hr plus materials.

About $500+/- for the whole job.

10 hours sounds right for someone who doesn’t do the work often and is not particularly set up to do repair all the time.


thank you
When it’s time to get new rails I will consider aluminum.