Wenonah kevlar 49 recondition

Got a new “kevlar 49” wennonah canoe. Guessing early 90s. And looks like a bit of a project…

My problems are

The outer coat is worn almost over the entire boat to where i can feel the threads in the fabric…

I haven seen some threads about epoxy resin etc and that does not look too hard. What about the stains/discoloration can that be clea ed out somehow? And will it hurt to put the boat in the water with the bare fiberglass short term?

Second issue is it has aluminum trim but wood/cane seats and thwarts. The seats are shot, and the thrawts need refinished. Can i pull all these pieces out or will the empty shell have a tendency to crack without the support (just sitting on sawhorses not moving it about)

Finally i portage alot and the balance point seems to be on the front edge of the middle seat (solo plus). Problem is the seat is so low my head is touching the hull when portaging on my shoulders. I kneel 75% and only sit 25% in calm water to stretch my legs. Any reason when i reinstal the refurbished or new seats i cant raise the seat a bit with some kind of blocks on top of the metal hangers?

That shoukd be enough to get me going

Some answers
I don’t have answers to all your questions, here are a few thoughts.

There is no fiberglass in your canoe, do not sand it. If the kevlar fabric is fuzzy, it probably should be kept dry for a while before you work on it. I think the kevlar wicking is a myth, though.

As to epoxy coating - I don’t know if it would matt down the kevlar enough to give you a smooth surface. I really dislike Wenonah’s for their insistence on kevlar skin coats when they could do gel coat or fiberglass skin coats over the kevlar.

The canoe will be plenty strong to remove the thwarts and seats. Even if you removed the gunwales. Before you remove the thwarts and seats, though, I would measure all the lengths.

You can take the seats out and rest
it on horses, as long as you don’t let it blow away in the wind.

If you want to paddle it before sealing the exposed cloth on the outside, just give it plenty of time to dry out. That exposed cloth might be Kevlar, which like Nylon, tends to soak up water, but there won’t be any permanent harm.

The outside of the hull could be sealed with epoxy or with vinylester resin. You might ask Wenonah for their advice. I’ve sealed a couple of decked boat hulls with epoxy, and one uses special rollers provided by West, rolling on more layers as soon as the previous layer gets partly hardened. Then it all has to be leveled with a random orbit sander. If you could find a shop to do it for you…

Careful not to put on too thick an epoxy layer, or you could get surface cracks.

This is what I did
I bought an 89 Wenonah WWC1 kevlar 49 boat just like you described. No shine left on the boat. Here is what I did.

Went to a woodworking store and purchased a 1400 grit scotch brite pad. Lightly sanded the entire hull without disturbing the kevlar. Shop vac’d and used acetone to clean hull. One layer of epoxy, sanded hull with 400 grit clean hull and then 3 coats of spar varnish with a light sand between coats.

Then after all that work sold the boat to Alan Gage on this site. Maybe he will respond to give an update if my repairs survived. I just wanted to protect the hull from further abuse. Epoxy/varnish was applied with a 4 inch roller and foam brush. Alot goes a long way.


I was not planning to sand it. There are nO dents in the boats just the texture of the raw kevlar. Will the finish not fill the weave and even out? Is sanding kevlar dangerous as far as the dust is concerned?

About sanding

– Last Updated: Jul-11-11 4:56 PM EST –

Maybe you don't need to sand and the epoxy will adhere to the hull with all the dimples of the kevlar fabric??? I wasn't sanding to fix dents just to prep the surface for the expoxy. With that 1400 grit pad and the lightest sanding one can give no kevlar was disturbed on the boat. It was a nice shiney boat when I sold it. There were a few runs in the finish but I haven't figured out how to stop that from happening. Wear a quality respiorater if possible the dust and epoxy fumes are not good for you.


I reconditioned a hull
in similar condition. It was an Wenonah Itasca, Kelvar 49. The skin coat look eroded away but with no fuzzing of the Kevlar, just like you describe. I called Wenonah. They recommended polyester, not epoxy.

The outer hull had stains and black mold. I washed the hull with a deck brush and TSP. I then wiped the hull down with diluted bleach and rinsed thoroughly. I let the outer hull dry completely and applied polyester resin with a brush. The outer hull looks great.

Good luck with reconditioning your Wenonah.

Did they say why they liked Polyester? From my understanding, its only advantage is cost, while epoxy is much more flexible.

I’ve always wondered about …

– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 8:46 PM EST –

...... adding a thin (4 oz.) layer of S glass to the outside of an old kevlar haul .

My thoughts would be a vinyl ester resin w/the cloth just because you won't have the UV concerns of epoxy . The resin could be tinted to a color (so can epoxy) , and between the wet out coat and the filler coats all being tinted , you could get a pretty decent (even) color scheme I think . Then sand out the final fill coat and apply a thinned out clear gelcoat for the shine if desired .

It would be a pretty straight forward process and not add much weight cause I'm talking thin (real thin) similar to a glassed paddle blade but a little beefier . You could also start off with a thin sealer (tinted color coat) that could be sanded before the S glass was laid ... like a thin prep. coat .

With the gunnels and decks off it would be a straight forward job that would lay out pretty good I think with a squeegie , plus you could prep. the kevlar with sand paper I think w/o concerning about the fuzz factor , so a good mechanical bond should be the best it can be and avoid any delamination .

No paint , just the tinted resin coats .

I wonder how much that would add in weight ... 6 lbs. ??

Kevlar doesn’t “tend” to soak up
water! It’s hydroscopic as hell and is essentially an aramid sponge. But I know you have some emotional attachment to the material… My advice to the OP is to seal the outer skin before ever introducing the hull to water. Kevlar absorbes water and this will lead to interlaminar breakdown over time.

I like that idea for a number of reasons

another trip
Well ive decided i like the solo plus solo so i decided to try it out tandem. My partner has been in canoes a long time but mostly flatwater etc.

Anyway we went in some big tidal wAter with 1-2 foot waves and the boat did great. Very very fast as a tandem with little effort (combined weight of paddlers and gear 325lbs). Now once the wind kicked up to 15-35 gusts we started having issues. But it was blowing onshore so i thought we where fine. But take the now 3 foot waves, wind, and a large 30’ power boat fly by 100 yards aways and we got wet! Not the canoes fault, we turned downwind yo take the large wake from the starboard stern but with the wind and waves hitting us from the port bow it was just too much. Ithink my partner panicked a bit perhaps but she said “it was going over”. I got the water emptied and her in but she was so shaken i just swam in with her until i could touch bottom and then got in…

Really not the boats fault i think ill love it on calm days and lakes/smaller rivers but i think i will stick to my canadienne old town for big nasty water although it is much more work to paddle

You discovered the peril
of combi boats.

I take it that you put your GF in the bow.

The bow is the most perilous position for stability. Even kneeling the narrowness of the station prevents good knee spread for stability.

Combi boat like the solo plus exacerbate that problem.

Of course the stern paddler has the luxury of having a wide floor in front of them and stability is not the issue there.

There is very little room for the bow paddler to keep their head in the confines of the rails… Once the head is over the rest of the body goes.

I also suggest that even very skilled paddlers do not paddle in 35 mph winds…almost all of us over exaggerate two things…wave height and wind speed.

Chesapeake bay
Sustained wave height got to 3ft. Winds where gusty and enough that there was no controll when the got uP. The real problem was the power boat passing so close at speed.

We took it out again next day and did fine 1-2’ waves and no wind. I really like how fast it is. And te stern seat i can crost my legs and brace my knees under the gunnels and get a good control. I wonder if solo with a load it would be better to load up in bow then panndle from stern vs balance front back ans paddle from middle

We played at the beach after and i think she may have pannicked. On flat water i really had to torque the boat to get it to go over tandem (her fighting to keep upright). Solo i could get the gunnel almost to the water before it flipped.

Any hints on rescues? With the tumblehome it seems really easy to drain and flip tye swamped boat (even withOut feet on the bottom) and tandem we both could get in her holding for me, then me bracing when she gets in. But solo i could not get in unlese i could touch bottom…

Got the wood out of boat. After sanding the thwarts look fine and plan to spar varnish on them. The seats have ruined cane and the wood would need sanded and refinished, seems like some new replacement from wenonah are in order. I see mad river has some on amazon is the spacing between the bars the same?

Also decided on west systems epoxy. Since the original finish is gone I’m going to clean well with acetone and tape off the gunnels and have at it. There is one small horizontal crack on one of the ribs inside. Does this even need patched or just a layer of epoxy?

Patch the rib
and save yourself some grief.

Its just about as expensive to order new seats from Eds Canoe as to can your own and alot less hassle.


He does not have the spacing listed either how do I know ifitwill fit wenonah hangers?

I see you cut the width to length but what about for/aft spacing of the crosspieces

I think the tan web would look good!

e mail Eds canoe
with your Wenonah specific question. Most likely Ed’s canoes built the original seat. They are a supplier to many major makers.

I have not very many seats with maker specific dimensions though Wenonah is not listed in the companies Eds supplies to.