Simple replacement of just outer wooden gunwales on canoe

I have a 1985 Old Town Penebscot 16 canoe with wooden gunwales. The outer rails have rotted away but the inner rails look OK, although I had to put simple braces under the seat because the inner rail sags a bit when I’m sitting there.
Anyway, I was hoping to replace just the outer rails with either vinyl or aluminum and keep the inner rails. Can anyone recommend a cheap easy way to replace the outers? Looks really aren’t that important.
Also, I’ve seen some “old timey” canvas or cloth bumpers on canoes and sailboats and was wondering if anyone has tried that?
I want to avoid replacing all the rails (the hull is royalex) and use something other than wood.
Thanks in advance!

Alu gunwales require shaping to fit the curve of the sheerline. Shipping is very expensive.

Vinyl have alu inserts. Yet the insert is pre bent Here are Mad Rivers directions. Note the difficulty of shipping and the fairly lengthy process

Your problem is far from simple. You cannot replace just an outwale with alu or vinyl.
The best way to approach your dilemna is to rerail the outers with wood… Ash is usually used.

Thanks. I’ve read a few threads about that so far.

Hard to get materials unless you live in New England. Long pieces require special shipping. Wood gunwales are often cut in half with a scarf.

You can make up some ash, walnut or cherry gunwales, bevel them and steam bend them into place.

Thanks for your comments.
Due to the cost of wood, I’m probably going to replace the inner and outers with one piece vinyl. The canoe was kept outside all this time (36 yrs), which is a testament to Old Town’s build quality, but it’s time to give it a more permanent upgrade.
Locally, Bill at Natures Way has one piece vinyl gunnels in stock and has been very helpful in explaining how to install them.

You’ll need a set of decks also. Old Town can probably sell them to you.


I guess “decks” and “end caps” are the same thing?
Next time I get a chance to talk to Bill (who I am buying the parts from), I need to find out if the end caps he has fit right over the vinyl gunnels and how long to make them. Maybe someone here could answer that (without photos, so far). I wish I could use my original brass end plates which are a lot smaller.

The problem with decks is that they have to match the angle at which the gunwales meet. That means that the decks from one model won’t fit on another one. If Old Town ever put vinyl gunwales on a Penobscot they will have decks that fit. But, as I think about it I am not sure they did. I only remember seeing wood and aluminum. Others might know for sure.