Using royalex hull for glass boat mold?

I’ve got a boat with badly damaged and unrepairable royalex hull. Over the weekend I had a brainstorm to make some alterations to the hull and make a glass clone of it. Does anyone have any experience with this, or is there some web sites out there documenting this process?



I met a guy once at a put-in who had made a fiberglass knock-off from another fiberglass canoe. He used the old canoe as a male mold – somewhat like making a Kevlar canoe over a male mold made of foam strips like the guy who wrote the book did (“Build Your Own Kevlar Canoe” or some such). Anyway, the guy I met who made his own used his father’s old school canoe - complete with keel. Yes, his clone had a keel as well, biggest one I’ve ever seen on a canoe. He finished it off with a splotchy spray paint finish. By most standards it was a pretty makeshift looking boat… But hey, he was pleased as could be with it, down-right proud… I figured if he was having fun, who was I to judge his handiwork? It got him out on the water with a smile on his face, for the price of some epoxy, some glass cloth, a can off spray paint and some DIY time. Doesn’t get much better than that in my book.

As to your project: I would imagine that you’d leave the stems open until you pulled it off the “form”. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use the Royalex canoe as a female form… you’d end up with nasty blunt entries – even blunter than Royalex. Also obviously using the old canoe as a male form you’ll end up with a boat a touch larger than the original.

Good luck with this. I hope you’ll post some photos as this venture moves forward. Sounds like a fun project. - Randall

canoe building

My two cents. Get the book “Build your own kevlar canoe”. Also get a couple of books on building strippers such as Dave Hazen’s “Strippers Guide to canoe building”. Hazen’s book has the lines for some very fine canoes. The Micmac is an extremely versatile boat. Then if you must play with fiberglass, build the Hazen boat according to the Kevlar book method. That method uses styrofoam to construct the mold. The mold is faired with spackle, then the boat is molded. This takes out ninety percent of the labor involved in making a strip boat. I would bet that this process would involve only a little more work for a really first class canoe. Good LUck,Frogge.

This can be done

– Last Updated: Apr-04-05 5:29 PM EST –

I have built two kayaks useing the following technique and I see no reason it won't work here.

1. If possible I would pull the gunnels off of this boat (most likely it is riveted so drill them out) and brace the inside of it with wood so it holds it's shape. Lattice wood or molding strips from Home Depot attatched on the inside as if the boat were to have it's gunnels on the inside rather than the outside then put temporary thwarts across so it holds the width you want where you want it.

2 Flip it upside down on saw horses and cover it with shrink wrap plastic I used the shrink wrap kits that Home Depot sells to cover sliding glass doors for an added layer in the winter. You can secure it to the boat with a plastic tape like scotch tape or packing tape. Secure it to the inside of the boat so the whole exterior is wrapped in the plastic. You will need more then one piece to cover the boat so overlap each one a good foot or more.

3. Once you have have the boat completely covered and wrapped in the plastic take a hair dryer to it and the plastic will shrink pretty much skin tight to the hull you have. You will have to play with the ends of the boat to get the plastic to follow the hull. Most likely you will have to cut the plastic and overlap it over itself as it follows the bow and stern then just tape it to itself

4. Now you are ready to apply the glass. If you do this with epoxy resin it will not stick to the shrink wrap plastic. When the resin glass layup cures you will be able to pop it right off your old royalex hull as long as that hull doesn't have recurved ends. The book on making a homebuilt Kevlar canoe that the other post talks about shows the steps for laying up your boat in glass and how you might want to cut and apply the different glass layers. Books on building stripper canoes will also cover this plus they will give you ideas on how to add gunnels if you can't save your old ones.

5. Major flaws can be covered in bondo and sanded to shape. Then sand hull and paint it with an anti stain/primer style of paint for your primer (also at Home Depot) then probablly use a marine grade urethane paint for your final color and coat.

That is how I built both of these boats by designing and building frames that I then shrinkwrapped, layed up the hull, pulled it off, layed up the deck pulled it off then seamed the two together:

Why bother? Is the original that good?
Are your prospects of success worth the risk? I haven’t built a FG boat, but I have done patching and customizing, and I can imagine the amount of time, money, and work involved. I own some boats made by some of the most sophisticated composite builders in the world, so maybe my standards are too high, but I can’t imagine getting a decent boat from a very damaged Royalex hull. And I can think of very few Royalex hulls worth copying.

Two examples of boats which were marketed first in Royalex, and later were offered as composite boats from private builders:

The Dagger Rival, designed by Bob Foote, now available in composite from Millbrook Boats.

The Mohawk Viper 12, designed by the late Frankie Hubbard, and available in composite from Western Clipper Canoes.

These were both excellent solo WW boats, and I would be glad to own either one in composite for the sake of the much lighter weight, even though it might mean an occasional weekend day spent patching.

What hull is it that you want to copy?

Expensive and lots of time.
It is possible to do. I believe the process for creating the mould is outlined in “Canoecraft” by Ted Moores. You should be able to find it at most libraries. Basically you use cardboard at evenly spaced stations and create templates for forms. The forms are cut out of plywood. You build a strongback … all this is similar to building a stripper.

Then switch books and go to “Building your Own Kevlar Canoe” by James Moran. Follow those steps for fiberglass.

However, as others have said, this is a lot of work and expense. I’d do it only if you really love that hull. It is NOT going to be inexpensive and it WILL take lots of time.