Solo canoe

I recently picked up a 1995 Mad River Courier. It is burgundy and the wood gunwales need to be replaced. I can take care of everything as far as that goes. However what I am hoping for is possibly some pictures of one with the gunwales in good condition. I am not sure how light/dark I want to go with the wood so I am seeing what others have done so I can get a idea. I am thinking of a medium stain.


Old Mad River Catalog

Owner pictures
Thanks but I have already seen that. What I am looking for is maybe more a long the lines of custom/restored boats that people have done along these lines. I essentially have a fresh boat to start with here. The Royalex is in great condition just most of the wood needs to be replaced.

So what I am looking for is pictures of restored canoes in roughly the same color to see what stain I should with with. Just getting ideas at this time.

Mad River gunwales
Mad River typically used unstained Vermont ash on their darker colored boats.

On sand colored boats they used a walnut stain on the ash. The gunwales were treated with penetrating oil. The ash would tend to darken a bit over time with repeated oiling.

This link has some photos of a Mad River Explorer with the early, non-radiused outwales that MRC used prior to 1985. Although it is not a Courier, the wood trim on a darker Courier hull of the same vintage would have looked the same:

Great info!
Thank you that was a big help.

Royalex versus composite
I don’t know if your boat is Royalex or composite. The MRC Explorer in the pictures was a Royalex boat.

The appearance of the gunwales on a composite boat would have been the same with one exception. Mad River and most other manufacturers used wood gunwales that sandwiched the hull on Royalex boats so that you can see the top of the hull between the outwales and the inwales.

On composite boats the gunwales were rabbeted so that the hull top was not visible. Most makers rabbeted the outwales. I could be wrong, but I think MRC rabbeted the inwales. The lip on the rabbeted gunwale covered the top edge of the hull.

With Burgandy, go light
With the deep burgundy color Mad River was using, certainly a light (natural) ash color will contrast beautifully. I had a MR Malecite with that combination and it was gorgeous!

You might find this helpful
if you have not rerailed a canoe before, and perhaps even if you have:

A little more info
I appreciate the extra info. To clear things up a little it is a burgundy royalex.

I will be having a friend help me with the gunwales. He is a long time canoeist and has built a very nice wooden canoe.

This is
just a matter of taste.Any store that sells stains will have a sample board showing those they sell on a few different species of woods.

Color is not always controlled

– Last Updated: Jun-15-14 10:03 AM EST –

We re-finished the gunwales and all other woodwork on a friend's Blackhawk a few years ago. One of the previous owners of the boat had varnished the woodwork, apparently over an oil finish, and over the many years since that time the wood had gotten pretty ugly, so we sanded everything down to fresh wood. Then we went the traditional route, and applied multiple coats of boiled-linseed oil (diluted with turpentine). The wood looked amazing at that point (I think the wood might have been cherry - I can't recall) and was really bright and had a nice, contrasting grain. Now, a few years later, the woodwork is very dark and you can't see any grain unless you look very closely.

I've seen very old canoes with varnished woodwork that has darkened considerably with age too.

Lighter Stain
It almost sounds like it would be wise to go with something between a light and medium stain so that as it ages it doesn’t get to dark and still looks great.

My Old Kevlar Courier With Wood
Here’s an old pic or two. Miss that boat!