Restoration advice

Wenonah 16

Picked up a 1989 Wenonah 16 for $100. He was the first owner but this boat is obviously well used. But at $100 it was hard to turn down. It floats w no leaks that I could tell (but wasn’t on the water very long).

I can fill in most of the defects w a fiberglass resin kit. Bondo filler for superficial scratches……but there are areas where the gel coat has been abraded down to the underlying tuf weave in a large area. It seems this was likely just from years of use rather than hitting a rock or being dropped off a car. The area in question is the first picture.

Is there anyway to reinforce this area or is this canoe pretty much just at the end of its life? I was thinking about adding 2-3 fiberglass layers down versus just adding a thick layer of gel coat alone.

I’m planning to replace the seats, end caps, and restore the aluminum w some elbow grease. After repair sand it all down and spray paint it down with a few layers inside and outside. But if the bottom isn’t really repairable then I’ll prob just try and flip it w some minor repairs.

I added other pics so you can see the general condition of the boat.

Thanks in advance. Long time lurker, first time poster.

Looks like a fun project and I likely would have bought it also for that price. I’m not an expert on repairing these boats but have done lots of work on cars.

Be careful using auto products on boats as I understand there are better marine products.

1 Like

Gel-coat isn’t really structural. good for collecting abrasions, UV protection, and cosmetics. If it were me I would fill out most of the areas where the gel-coat is gone with some thickened epoxy. The ding on the bow might want a little more work. PBlanc here has some excellent posts on repair. Also, you might want to add a skid plate on the stems (again, see PBlanc).

1 Like

Bondo…not in my shop.

Tap aroung big holes with hammer listening for loose chips. Remove loose material.

You need to sandy and taper out all those holes in the bow and chips on the general hull area. Get all they dirt, paint out. Make “hole” flat so cloth lays flat.

I’d use two or three layers of 6 oz fiberglass cloth individually applied and soaked thru at the bow chunks. More of significant layers removed. I’d likely make patch cloth 2" past edge of big holes plus room for just epoxy faring.

Fill weave on final weave. Sand with 60grit then 120grit. Then paint hull. Do not sand cloth out. …except at edges.

The place you see the weave…feel weave? If not. Paint.


Bondo no no! Not waterproof. Epoxy with west systems thickening agent.


A great $100 boat and ready for shallow rocky rivers.
It is faded which means it may have some UV damage.
Add some marine epoxy with fine cloth on the damaged areas. Finish with a little more epoxy to fill the weave. Sand it and paint it. For an old boat try latex house paint. You can thicken epoxy with microballons (silica) wood dust and lots of other things.

I agree, do not use bondo, and do not try to repair the gelcoat.

If the boat has any soft spots or seem brittle, you can put a new floor in it of epoxy and fine weave cloth. It will add weight, but make an old canoe much stronger. I put new floors in two old Sawyer canoes. They lasted for decades. One I paid $25 for one and sold it for $400. Today it would be more like $800.

On the bow with the chunks missing, cut out the bad part and fill with foam to recontour the shape of the forward part of the hull. Use multiple layers of fiberglass cloth in larger and larger sizes. Two would work, but three would be better. I like fiberglass tape for narrow pieces on the sheer of the bow.


Great advice thank you. Will do just that. Is latex house paint truly superior to rust oleum spray paint? I’m trying to keep cost down if possible

I have never painted a boat, but painted my share of tractors and machinery and outdoor items. Last year I painted my garage vinyl siding with exterior latex house paint and it adhered very well. I just wonder if it has the abrasion resistance needed on a canoe. I would feel oil based machinery paint would be better or maybe if spraying from cans an epoxy paint. I painted a lawn tractor once with epoxy and it hung on really well. One thing about epoxy paints follow the directions on when to apply a second coat. They say within 45 minutes or wait 48 hours. I found out the hard way what happens if you don’t.

Again I’m not an expert.

Actually Rustoleum now has some marine paint that is oil based that is quite good. There is a nice deep green that would look good on your boat. I mention latex house paint because on an old $100 canoe, anything will work. Porch paint, marine paint, house paint. Of course you can spend a lot of money on epoxy paint. It is harder to apply. I like to use a brush. Rattle cans do not cover very well. You need mutltiple cans. I don’t think you need to spend $75 to paint a $100 canoe.

1 Like

I’ve done a lot of restoration on both kayaks and canoes over the years. Here is my 2 cents of advice. The canoe looks great and the damage looks reparable. Start by wet sanding the hull with 220 grit wet sanding paper over a foam block and bucket of water with a hose. This will expose all the flaws and help clean up the areas for viewing. Don’t try to make this boat perfect, just get it strong and water tight. Most of the damage is not serious. Any cracks should be patched from inside rather than outside. This will make it simple to keep the hull fairly smooth. If you want to fill the dents use some 3M polyester filler compound. The chemistry of this stuff will match the resin used in the original construction. Using some polyester gelcoat to do a final surface is nice but may not match the color of the boat. Wet sand all of this to get smooth. Seats and gunwales look good. If you want to make new end caps get some 3/16 ABS sheets, using a heat gun you can form new bow and stern caps. I usually do this over a wood form that matches the bow and stern shape. The rugged “patina” will give you lots of street credibility at the local launch site.

It is hard for me anyway to work around pricing as a determining factor when doing any type of major restoration project. As an example the OP bought the canoe for 100 bucks and maybe if he does a really good job of restoration it will be worth say 500 bucks. If he values his time as nothing then he could put 400 in and break even on paper. If he values his time as worth something then he would never have likely bought it. Then there is what I will call the DIY factor that includes the pride you take in making something nice for yourself out of something of no value. Kind of the hobby factor.

This year I bought my OT canoe for 150 bucks and it was a perfectly good tandem that I didn’t want and I had a blast and learned a lot converting it to a solo. My time was free to me and it was a fun project that if I were to sell the boat with what I have done to it my labor would be about 50 cents per hour, but I want to use it not sell it.

As an interesting side note we have a car that has what is called an interference engine in it a nice Honda. She had some timing issue and it stopped the engine. The car working would bring 4-5k easy and worst case they tell me a replacement engine would be 1k and 1k to put it in. I just didn’t want to mess with it and we bought her a new car. So I tried to sell it to a number of local shops that do this work and also sell used cars. They are set up to do it would keep their people busy and could make 1-1.5k in a week, but none of them wanted to do it telling me they can buy a 2k car and give it a tune up and clean up in a couple hours and sell it for 3k.

So it’s the same with paddle boats I think selling them used for a profit is different than fixing them and using them.


First time I have heard the dreaded “street credibility” with regard to boats.
It is easy to over improve an old boat, but I would not treat it like a rat rod either.

Who paddles to impress other people? No one I have ever met.

1 Like

Any recommendations on what paint to use. I’ve got it patched up with resin and fiberglass. I’m not looking to spend a lot on gel coat paint or even expensive marine pain (unless it’s highly recommended). I’ve read to use enamel paints (obviously not trying to spend a lot of money doing a gel coat paint job). I was thinking of using Rustoleum Spray High Performance Enamel

There are lots of other threads about painting canoes. Rustoleum marine enamel is good and easy to get. No need to buy expensive marine paint, epoxy or gel coat. Porch paint works good and even latex house paint is satisfactory.

1 Like