Replacing Gunnels...

I need advice on replacing the aluminum gunnels on my mohawk canoe. It’s the 17’ Fiberglass model called the Blazer.

I drilled the rivets out and pulled off the old gunnels. Now I’m having problems trying to finagle the new gunnels on. I tried having someone hold one end as I worked it on towards the center of the canoe, but I couldn’t get it to bend much, and it kept lifting up at the starting point.

I did a search, but couldn’t find any threads dealing with this problem. I need advice on how to proceed…


Wenoanah has a great video
they recommend fiber reinforced tape and at least two people working together. Once you get a section on throw some tape to hold it in place as you work down the gunwale. My youngest(6 foot tall and bench pressing well over 250 pounds) gave me a hand getting my gunwales in place. Then I drilled and pop riveted. I think if it had been an average peson I would have needed two helping…

This worked w/ my Royalex Penobscot
but unsure how well it’ll work w/ a fiberglass hull ???

I also had lots of problems getting the alum gunwales which are straight to conform to, & slip over the top edge of the curved hull. I got the installation started @ one end of the canoe then stood the hull on it’s edge. Leaned over the hull @ it’s broadest area & slowly lowered my weight onto the hull. This temporarily deflected the top of hull (now facing sideways)into a straighter line & allowed the channel in new gunwales to slip over it. Worked the gunwale on over it’s entire length (center section which still had the most curvature was the hardest to work) & then released my weight. Hull returned to it’s original shape forcing the formerly staight gunwale into it’s proper curved form

Obviously fiberglass won’t be nearly as flexible as royalex so if you try this method be VERY VERY careful

an easy way to prevent the new
gunnels from slipping off at the starting point:

I drill a hole into the new gunnel at the very end (used for a rivet in the end) before I put it on the hull. Try to line up this hole with an old one in the hull and put a nail or screw trough it once the gunnel is on the canoe-just enough to do this. Holds better than any tape… After both gunnels are on and hold in place temporarily (by tape or more pins), I start with the rivets in the center. Just 3 or so on each side and than the yoke or center thwart. After that I rivet both sides towards the next thwart and put that one in before I rivet more of the gunnel to the hull. That way the canoe gets the shape it was ment to have without any awkward bends in the gunnels.

And yes, the WENONAH video is a good one…