Wenonah Adirondack Gelcoat issue

As I mentioned elsewhere I have a 16’ Wenonah Adirondack. It’s not in great shape, but all the important bits seem to be there and it keeps the water out. Paddles nicely too during those rare moments when my wife and I are working together well.

It came to my attention when I was cleaning it up after our last outing that the aluminum brackets supporting the front seat were cracked. The Aluminum was bent in the right plane, it just looked to be a bit of abuse from the previous owner. Couldn’t have been my wife, she only weighs about 110lbs.

I decided to fabricate new brackets and do so in a way that would enhance the solo capability of the boat. At 220lbs I find that the trim is quite off while seated. I can make it better by kneeling up near the yoke, but that puts me at the widest part of the canoe. No bueno. I figure that if I can move the seat a bit aft I can compensate for the remaining out of trim condition with a water filled dry bag in the opposite end of the boat.

So next step is to try to clean up the appearance of this old boat.

The hull is kinda beat. In it’s previous life it was used by the “Save the Bay” foundation for kids trips in the estuaries around the bay to show them the fragile ecosystems and whatnot. So it’s been drug around pretty good, and rubbed up against many a dock. The hull is really scratched up. Very few have gone through the gelcoat. Those I have sealed with a bit of poly resin to make sure they are watertight. The rest are cosmetic.

My first step was to rub the whole thing down with a rubbing compound to get the old oxidized gelcoat off, and then I waxed it.

I’m not happy with the result at all. The unscratched bits of gelcoat are now bright and shiny green but the scratches stand out even more. No bueno!

Any suggestions?

I’m actually considering taking a DA sander and 600grit paper to the whole thing and just going for a “flat” finish that will hopefully mask the scratches and gouges better.

On the finish, you’re putting
your efforts in the wrong place. Boats get scratched and knicked, and look like it. But so what?

On paddling position, you will gain more skill and find more control if you solo paddle from behind the center thwart. You can put in a kneeling thwart, a kneeling seat, or a minicell pedestal. Sitting near the end and counterweighting leaves you at a position where you can not control the boat as well, especially in moving water and rapids.

I have a suggestion …

– Last Updated: Aug-04-10 1:13 PM EST –

..... you can think about it and see what you think .

If you have a West Marine around where you live or similar marine store , they should have all the supplies you'll need ... "Evercoat brand" is good gelcoat and misc. products .

Get a pint of "FINISH" gelcoat "white" , it should come with about 7 - 11 cc tube of mekP hardner (1 pt. of gelcoat & mekP should cost about $33.) , one (1) once of gelcoat tint (you pick the color) , a quart of acetone (to wipe and sterilize with) , about 4 plastic squeegie things (like little trowels) , about 4-6 plastic mixing cups with oz. marks on them , some #220 - #320 , #400 and # 600 sand papers (the #400 & #600 should be wet sand papers - use with water last) . Get a canister of dispoable gloves (Nitrill or other throw aways), you be using them up fast .

If you can stand it , get a marine gelcoat cleaner (marine store) such as "On and Off" and clean the whole exterior hull with it first . This product contains ocalic and phosphoric acids , so use thick rubber gloves , be careful of splash in eyes , and try not to breath vapors directly (turn head away) . After applying and scrubbung if needed with the "On and Off" , rinse with water and dry off . Make sure surface is completely dry before applying the gelcoat , ok to sand before "completely" dry , actually helps dry the surface out quicker (friction) .

When you are ready to begin applying the gelcoat , at first only mix small batches of the gelcoat and mekP at a time (2 or 4 oz.) until you see how quickly it is going to begin to kick off and get the feel for applying it (temp. determines , hotter air , hotter surface , direct sun , more drops mekP , the friction from smearing it around , all make it kick off faster - it begins to thicken and becomes less workable (more clay like) , soon after you can't work it anymore at all , then it becomes hard) .

Only add 1 oz. of tint for the whole pint "max." (even if using two or three different colors) ... that is a 1 to 16 ratio , so it will be best if you begin by figuring you'll be using at least a 1/2 pint of gelcoat to start with . Just pour half the gelcoat in another container (a jar with lid) , add 1/2 oz. of tint (1/2 the tube) to either of the 1/2 pts. of gelcoat (if you choose to mix multiple tint colors just remember how much of each you put in the 1/2 pt. of gelcoat , so you can mix the same in the other 1/2 later if needed and it will match (still , only a "total" of 1/2 oz. tint per 8 oz.(1/2 pt.) of gelcoat - 16 to 1 ratio max. .

Mix the tint into the gelcoat first , you can do this at any time , it will not cause it to set up .

Clean/sterilize the surface to be worked on with the acetone and rag (after wash with "On/Off" if used) . You could (I would) sand the work area with the #320 paper to sort of prep it and level off any ridges from the gouges and scrapes ... Acetone wipe again ... Now you are ready to mix and apply the gelcoat .

Puncture the tip of the mekP tube with about a #6 finish nail ... pour 2 or 4 oz. of gelcoat in the mixing cup with oz. marks on it ... add about 9 drops of mekP per oz. of gelcoat (9 drops per oz. is enough , 12 is max. and makes it kick too fast) , (2 oz. gelcoat = 18 drops , 4 oz. gelcoat = 36 drops , etc.) ... mix it well with clean paint stick , thin wood strip , etc. for about a minute scraping sides as you mix ... pour a little at a time onto the canoe and spread it around with the plastic squeegie trowels until it fills the scratches/gouges , it's OL to have it be just a little higher than the hull surface , OK to have a little thin layer on the hull where scratches aren't - that's all going to be sanded away anyhow .

Keep using up your first mixed batch this way until it's gone ... let the plastic mix cup be when near empty , the gelcoat will harden in the cup and you can pull it out later (the reason for 4-6 cups) .

Get another plastic mixing cup and repeat the process ... keep this same whole process going until you are finished filling in all the scratches/gouges , or stop when you want to and re-start process later to finish whole desired area .

When gelcaot has set up in plastic mixing cup pull the gelcoat out (it will mostly come out in one formed piece) and your cup is ready for re-use after a little wiping out with acetone (good to have 4-6 cups on hand so you can rotate to clean one while working) .

When you have your gelcoat applied and it has hardened enough to sand (15 mins. give or take at 73 degrees) , begin sanding it down with the #220 ... move on to the #320 as it gets very close to the original hull gelcoat level ... then sand all area with #320 into the original gelcoat just slightly ... then wet sand with the #400 ... move on to the #600 ... and then dry off surface , wipe with acetione again ... and then "Buff" it with a compound to bring out a shine .

Your canoe should look like a nice smooth even surface that has a shine , with all the scatches/gouges/scrapes filled in .

You really don't want to try and sand the scratches out like you were saying , because that will remove too much of your remaing existing gelcoat ... so fill them first with new gelcoat , then get into the sanding , and sand carefully not to eat up "too" much of the existing gelcoat that's already there .

Even if you do not have an exact color match with the new gelcoat used to fill in the scratches/gouges , it will still look pretty neat with a contrast color making a pattern of lines in the scratches ... just an idea , you decide ... it's really not a difficult thing to do , if you can sand wood , you can sand gelcoat to a shine (just do so gently) , that simple .

No need to be afraid of messing with the hull and gelcoat this way , it works just as I have said , it's easy ... just practice with the small 2-4 oz. batches at first , then go for it , as you become comfortable with the process .

You may already understand (from experience) what I have just explained . This post can be for others who may not as well .

Just remember when applying , smearing on the gelcoat ... the higher/thicker you lay it on , the more sanding it will take to bring it down to fair surface again , so try not to make it too thick over the existing gelcoat because you have to get back down to that level before using #400, #600 and compounds .

Hey , this is a long post , but it may be worth it !!