Sojourn, wood gunwales, exposed rx foam

I just bought a demo royalex Dagger Sojourn for a crazy price. It was stored for years outside, upside-down on two boards up off the ground, but basically exposed to the elements. No cold cracking as far as I can tell. The gunwales are grey and a sickly greenish moldy/mildewy color. A scratch, however, reveals a tan color underneath. One outwale is cracked/split down the middle four inches at the bow. There are other smaller cracks. No apparent sun damage on the rolyalex.

My first thought was to replace the gunwales, but after cleaning off the grime, I realize there is no real rot, at least as far as I can tell. So I’m going to try rehabilitation first. Here’s the plan. Wood glue and clamp the cracks. Sand the gunwales and slap on two coats of Mad River Gunwale Guard or equivalent. Any special wood glue needed for this job?

Curiously, Dagger set up the gunwales so that the inwale and outwale sandwiches the royalex, and looking down on the top of the gunwale you can see the foam core edge, flush with the edge of the rails of course. I wonder if Dagger somehow sealed the foam edge. I’ve always heard that if the foam is exposed to water (for example if the outer vinyl is punctured), then you should close it up with a repair pretty quick to prevent damage from water being absorbed by the foam. In contrast, my royalex Bell Wildfire wood gunwales are milled such that the royalex edge at top including the foam is totally covered by wood.

I’ve outfitted the Wildfire for floatation bags, with the standard vinyl disks with D-rings, and with the plastic “inch worm” fixtures, with two screws each, under the inside lip of the inwales, for the parachute cord interlace. I’m a little leery of drilling all those screw holes into these poor abused gunwales on the Sojourn and it’s less of a whitewater boat anyway that’s for sure. I’m thinking of using just a simple loop of one inch nylon webbing, held in by with one screw, for the interlace. That would at least cut the number of screws in half. I’ve never thought much of drilling through the royalex for the interlace.

Comments or other suggestions would be appreciated.

royalex foam
is a closed cell foam and does not absorb water. I would use a waterproof glue or epoxy resin to glue the split gunnels. Epoxy is really great for this.

I agree with both points. If you think
about it, the expansion process for Royalex would not work if the foam layer was open-cell. Only if it is closed cell can the foam layer expand when heated, prior to sucking or pushing the Royalex sheet into the mold.

Epoxy would be an excellent glue for the gunwales, BUT you must get the wood really dry. If water gets into the epoxy before it cures, there could be problems. You can use yellow Carpenter’s glue for the repair, but while water resistant, it is not absolutely waterproof. Also, epoxy is a much better gap-filler than most alternatives.

Urethane glue for the gunwale
I’ve used it on 25 laminated paddles and never had a problem. Best of all you moisten the wood before making the joint. Borden technical services told me that 15 - 17% miosture was ideal for making a glue joint so you won’t have to worry about the wood being perfectly dry.

Thanks all
So I spent a good part of the glorious Sunday afternoon sanding and oiling the gunwales. A bit tricky trying to keep from inadvertently sanding the royalex. See’s a beaut now! The wood has a nice healthy tan. I was confused at the hardware store by all the types of epoxy but I’ll get a grip, har har. Next stop, D-rings and Tug-eyes.

Oiled already?
Did you clamp and glue up the crack first? You should wash and scrub the wood first, let it dry, then use two-part marine epoxy and repair the crack. Then sand and oil.

Sounds like you got a good deal!

I guess that I need to scrub the cracked area, let it dry thoroughly, and then epoxy/clamp. Presumably the oil adversely affects the epoxy adhesion. Thanks again.