Sad Canoe Repairs


My name is Brad and I became the owner of my first canoe today, and thought I’d best get into the spirit and join a community.

When my neighbor put an old 13.5ft x 2.6ft beast out on the front lawn for the garbage man I felt the need to attempt to restore this thing to its original beauty… however I have absolutely no idea where to start and even whether this thing is repairable?!

So my new friends, I have plenty of time (under complete lockdown where I live) but does this old Canoe just look too far gone? Would love to know what sort it is, but I couldn’t find a serial number or anything on it. I’ll make sure to keep this forum up to date with my progress (which should be quite fast)


Hard to say from your photos. Do some light sanding and get rid of some of the old paint. Inspect the integrity of the material. Press on it and see if there is any life left in it. Is is fiberglass? Has it been stored outside? A good boat to learn on. You have nothing to lose.

You can probably repair the structural damage with marine epoxy and some fiberglass cloth and then paint it.

as my avatar suggests, I love keeping beat canoes going, but dang, that hole in the bottom looks pretty terminal. Looks like fiberglass, and I suppose a bigazz patch would keep her going, but that is a big hole. Anyways, if you proceed, use epoxy resin, not polyester…ugh…looking again, I’d say it’s terminal.

Is that the only damage? Is there any damage visible on the outside? More pics would be good.

It looks like a “chopper gun” boat, made with little strands of fiberglass. Those are typically heavier and not quite as strong as boats made with fiberglass cloth but they are still perfectly usable.

If you push on the area with cracks and it feels softer than surrounding areas then a fiberglass patch is best. If it doesn’t feel soft then epoxy to fill the cracks is all you need to prevent water from penetrating inside the hull and creating (more) water damage.

Assuming the hull has any structural integrity at all you might be able to repair it to the point that it would float but I don’t think it would be worth your time or the cost of materials.

I would have to see the inside of the boat to pass judgement.

If the mold runs all the way through the glass, it is trashed. The polyester resin that held it together has de laminated and it is a danger to put in the water.

I was cleaning up a boat like that once and my electric pressure washer blew big holes through it. Be very careful.

I have to agree with pblanc.
Generally speaking, likely a waste of time, effort and money; unless you can get it floating, and not falling apart for under 100 bucks.
I might have looked at it, but absolutely sure, based on what I see in your photo, I would have “left it laying”.

I’m a clean up, fix up, paint up, re outfit restorer; not a structural engineer. My photos show one of my projects in differrent states of restoration, and finished project being paddled. It’an old school, Mad River Flashback. Every time I paddle it, it’s an adventure; it was designed for whitewater slalom courses, and is a “little” frisky in moving water.


Flashback bow Flashback stern Flashback

Repainted(4 cans of Krylon), new logos/labesls, new thwarts and seat, new knee and leg padding, new painters, new lacing, 3 coats of 303. Total cost: Under 90 dollars; I had 2 painters, lacing, and a new seat on hand.

there’s a big freaking hole in the bottom. OP has an album, not just the one pic.

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Thanks. Yep, it looks like trash unless he wants to practice using fiberglass. One can find something much much nicer on Craigslist for $100-200.

Thanks for all your feedback guys, really appreciate it! I’m quite torn whether to attempt a repair on it or not, as many of you suggest it may be terminal (it certainly looks that way). The first photo in the album seems to be a repair that has already been made on the canoe, likely lessening its structural integrity from the get-go.

It’s a repair that I’d be doing with my 2 & 5 year old kids for a bit of fun so I might keep on with it after closely inspecting the mold situation.

That is one beautiful canoe you have there, well done!

Thanks Brad; I appreciate the compliment.

The one I previously posted is the second one of that particular Mad River model I’ve done a restoration on. I got talked out of the first one by an “aging hippie” who posts on here as PJC. He convinced me he needed it “really bad” to use for exploring narrow and shallow, river and creeks

I call this particular photo "Gandalf and 2 Hobbits; which I think is somehow appropriate. :grin:

2nd Photo: Pnet paddler, Pete aka pblanc, giving PJC’s aka Gandalf’s Flashback a go. No other paddlers besides myself, PJC, Pete, and a Pnet paddler named Pam have volunteered to be possible “oops, flipped it” photo opportunity material as yet. You have to have some skills to keep it upright…I know; I tried to limbo under a stump in fast water with it, failed miserably, and it happened “real quick” !!!

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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Lots of people here get a kick out of rescuing canoes and keeping them in circulation. We do not have much to go on, but this might be an example of a hopeless case. Best to just let this one die.

My first canoe was a Sawyer Cruiser that had been wrapped. I paid $25 for it, and straightened out the gunwales. That left two holes at the bilge around 5 inches by 24 inches. The fiberglass was still sound. I the patched the outside and inside and paddled it for years and sold it for $400. I would probably not take on this project now. Sometimes a gamble pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.

Correct me if you think I am wrong Bob, but I believe that the boat you now have is a Flashback II and the one Pat now has is a Flashback (I). The revised version has slightly greater bow and stern stem height and the sheer line is not quite so straight as on the original.

John Berry designed the hull but called it the “Flasher” He made the stems very low to be able to sneak them under slalom gates but that was not so good for dryness. John had a somewhat salty sense of humor and hung is college diploma over the toilet in his shop. He had his girlfriend of the time design a little logo for the boat of a guy in a raincoat “flashing”. I guess “Flasher” was not quite PC enough for Mad River Canoe so they changed the name to “Flashback” when they picked up the design. It is a rather squirrelly little boat.

John Henry also designed the immensely popular “ME” whitewater canoe which actually stood for “Maximum Exposure”. But to my knowledge he never had a logo made for it.

I hear what you’re saying Pete, but having had both of them at one time, re outfitting both, and having paddled both of them; I can truthfully say, I never noticed any significant differences between the 2 canoes.

I can say with assurance that both are highly manueverable, both have little initial stability, and not much secondary, unless you are a fairly skilled paddler. Both require concentration when you do eddy turns or peel outs in moving water, and both are somewhat wet unless you quarter standing waves. Go over a fair sized drop, and you may get to play submarine captain…sound the klaxon; this sucker is “diving”!

To further muddy the water; take a look at the attached photo of PJC with his"for sure" Flashback, and a “wild card” canoe. I have been led to believe that the “sick pink” one is the second version of the Flashback.
Based on what you’re saying; it can’t be the second version!
If it isn’t a later version of a Flashback; what do you think it is??? It is certainly drier, more stable, and has none of the wild and wooly manueverability of the 2 boats that Pat and I have. Solve that mystery please, because I never have?

MR Flashback model II outfitting

Mad River Flashback 2nd model

One thing for sure; it will not continue it’s life as a “sick pink” canoe.
Man, I hate that color!!! I’m considering red, which is probably what it started out as, or maybe a dark blue. Meant to have done that this year, and got sidetracked with 2 other boats…Blackhawk Covenant, and a Lotus “Dandy”.

Lotus Dandy Covenant in foreground, Dandy in background


The pink boat is the one I was thinking of and I believe that is a Flashback II. It clearly has more curvature in the sheer line and a bit more end depth.

The Flashback pretty much failed as a whitewater canoe apart from slalom competition because it was just too wet with its unnecessarily low ends. The Flashback II was an attempt to remedy that problem but I believe MRC only molded the Flashback II for one year (1990). In 1991 they brought out the Fantasy (also available in sick pink) which more or less replaced the Flashback II as MRC’s small, solo whitewater boat.

I think that boat would make a great planter. Plenty of drainage in the bottom so that water doesn’t pool.

That having been said, only do so if you don’t have to pay for the dirt.

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I think it would make a nice planter bed - as a canoe not so much…

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