Vintage Navarro Legacy Restoration

Hello paddling people!

I have recently found and purchased a vintage Navarro Legacy canoe. I say “vintage” because this 13’ Legacy was built by Vernon Pew when the company was still operating out of its original location in Mendocino County. I will be (slowly) restoring this beauty over the next several months. The hull is in great shape - no holes or dents, and it floats as it sits. The majority of the work lies within the woodwork. The gunwales are completely shot, and I’ll have to remake the decks. The yoke will need a tad bit of repairing, but the other two thwarts are in great shape. I will also need to apply a new layer or resin on the sole as some of the cherry wood inlays have dime sized areas of exposed wood. The only work I’ve done on it thus far is remove the seats, yoke and thwarts, and swept out the sole.

I also realize that for projects like these, pictures are worth a thousand words, and as I can not upload photos within the post, I have created a photostream album where I will be posting all of my progress, as well as the issues that I’m sure will arise throughout the process. Here is the link:

To keep from spamming the other message boards, I will be only posting questions and commenting about the project within this topic.

I look forward to talking with all of you knowledgeable folks about the project, and I want to thank you all in advance for helping me bring this beauty back to the water!


Yeah, doesn’t look too bad. On “resin”
do you know that the canoe interior was covered with epoxy resin? Any possibility that it was merely given multiple coats of varnish?

If I could strip the interior, and then cover with fresh resin, I would use something like West 105/207 which resists UV, and where you can put on successive coats without dealing with amine blush.

I’m a little concerned that if you just put “resin” over the spots where old “resin” has disappeared, you will end up with contrasting spot appearance. You might have to do some trials to see whether the match is acceptable to you.

The plot (& resin) thickens…
So here’s where I’m at with trying to figure out what materials this canoe was built with. Unfortunately the Navarro canoe website doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of materials used. Also, emails and phone calls to Navarro have gone unreturned thus far, leaving me with little to go on. However! I managed to figure out that Vernon’s brother, Randy, still owns and builds Merrimack Canoes on the east coast. Now I’m assuming that Vernon and Randy were building canoes with the same materials at the beginning stages of both Merrimack and Navarro. Merrimack canoes look almost identical to Navarros. On Merrimack’s website, they say that “early boats were built using polyester resin, later using vinylester resin.”

All that being said, I agree. I’d rather not fix up the sole using spot-treatments. I’d rather sand down the rough edges and apply a resin coat to the entire sole. It especially needs it up at the edges of the hull where the gunwales cover it up.

Thank you for your suggestion and response!


Carbon Fiber?
Ben, I sent you a PM but the boat I just picked and is very similar to your Navarro might be made of carbon fiber, hard to tell from the pics. Mine has the same black inside. I still need to weigh it but it is the lightest hull in my fleet. Good luck!


Would that mean that the hull shell
is composite, and might use vinylester?

The wood inside is another matter. It would be a mistake to cover the wood with poly or vinylester. But what was actually used on the inside ribs?

Not carbon fiber hull
The Merrimack hulls were fiberglass and the interior was colored to accent the ribs. They did offer Kevlar construction for a while. It raised the price, but did not drop the weight much.

From Merrimack canoes
Hey everyone,

Thanks for the help! I’m copying the question and response from the “restoring old Merrimack canoes” from their website,

“Q. How can I restore and reseal the interior ribs of my Merrimack?

A. The ribs in the interior of your canoe have been sealed in several coats of resin, and the floor of the canoe is covered by a fiberglass mat that is also sealed in resin. Early boats were built using polyester resin, later using vinylester resin.

If the ribs are gray and the resin finish is gone, they can be resealed. Sand the affected area until the wood is smooth, then mix and apply new resin following the manufacturers instructions. Small areas can be sanded and sealed with polyurethane if you wish.”

As of now, this is the best info I have on what to do to fix up some of the wear and tear on the sole.

So it appears that this is a simple fiberglass hull, and the sole was in fact sealed in resin, then the floor covered in fiberglass, and then sealed in resin again. Again, this is for Merrimack’s, and I am working under the assumption that they use the same methods and materials as Navarro.

Does that all sound about right?


Cherry wood rib work
Hello all,

I’ve posted a couple more photos on the photo bucket site of the cherry wood rib damage that I’m going to be trying to repair. My thinking right now, is to sand off the rough resin, apply a little varnish to get rid of the graying of the wood, then reseal with resin. I’m hoping to get some input from your knowledgeable folks about this plan of attack. Of course, I don’t want this to look like a patchwork job, but I don’t want to just resin over gray wood, either.

Thanks in advance for the help!


cherry rib damage …

– Last Updated: Jan-30-14 12:47 AM EST –

.... at the chines where small areas have delamed , I would simply remove only to the depth required to replace with a veneer on top , you could make the veneer yourself and match (or purchase a small pack of sheet veneer) , possibly have to dbl. layer the veneer to fit into radius . Sand to flush match with existing rib after fit and glued in . Razor 90 degrees score across the rib at extents of removal before removing .

I would completely remove the damaged tops of ribs , and replace with new top pieces .

If the floor (ribs and half ribs) are indeed covered with fiberglass cloth and resin , you should be able determine that by looking at it . If you still aren't sure , dig into a small area of it and see if you show some cloth threads . If it is a poly or vinyl resin just clean with acetone , sand it well , vacume , sterilize (wipe) w/acetone after sanding , and apply new coats of resin . My choice would be a vinylester resin top coat as opposed to a polyester ... the vinyester is an epoxy polyester , better flex , stronger bond .

Nice looking little pack canoe , I'd fix it up if it were mine !! You shouldn't have too much difficulty or problems with that one . Time yeah , lots of it , but neat project and fun .

There's enough of us here when your ready to give some wood working tips , tricks , how to's when or if you need them .

Navarro resto update & help!!
Hello paddling world!

I’ve been making some decent progress on bringing the Navarro Legacy back to life. You can check out the photos by visiting the photo bucket link at the top of this thread. One major speed bump in the restoration was the gunwales. Unfortunately I was unable to locate any single ash boards greater than 12’ in length, and rather than going with a softer wood of the right length, I opted to grab multiple boards of 8’ ash and will be putting them together with a scarf joint. I know, less than ideal, but I really didn’t have a whole lot of options out here on the west coast.

Another major snag that I’m hoping someone with a Navarro might be able to help me out with, are the rub rails for both the bow and stern (they are identical, though, as far as I can tell). I’ve been trying to get Navarro Canoe Co. to ship a pair to me, however they are not willing to do so, as they don’t see it “cost effective.” So? I must fabricate my own brass rub rails. If anyone in the community has a Navarro, or has had one and has some photos of the brass rub rails that they wouldn’t mind sending me some photos and/or specifications of, it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve also talked with Merrimack, however it appears that the design is dissimilar enough that their rub rails won’t work on the vintage Navarro.

Thanks for all of your help!


I read the specs, do you paddle it solo or tandem? I know it’s wide and short but so good looking. Just thought about it for small lakes and ponds. How do you like it?

Cherry Ribs in an Merrimack Osprey
Please let me know the outcome of re-laminating of the Cherry Ribs. I have the same problem. Please let me know where you got the veneer and the correct thickness.