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Pretty vs Durability
I finished my first strip canoe last spring. I built a Prospector out of the Canoecraft book. It turned out looking fabulous. As the book suggested, I used a single layer of 6 oz fiberglass cloth on the inside and out with 3 coats of west systems epoxy. I then top coated the hull with 3 coats of Bristol 2 part poly. Before it was put in the water, I took it to a local outdoor festival as part of a display for our canoe club. Most of the comments were something like: "your not going to put that in the water, are you?" I was a proud papa. I then proceeded to take it the next weekend and put it on a river and scratched the hell out of it! Ha! My response was "I built it, I can fix it!". A few trips later, I had a second paddler in the canoe. We hit a few shallow shoals and flexed the bottom enough to crack the fiberglass in a couple of places. I'm about to start on the repairs.
All that being said, I'd like to start on my next boat this summer. I want to do a 12-13 foot solo cedar strip canoe. My plans on the front end are to use and abuse it on the rivers and creeks of the Ozarks. There will be overnight camping trips on class I and class II rivers with an occasional class III thrown in for kicks! Gravel bottoms and boulders will be the norm. I'd like to hear from anyone who has beefed up their boats with either additional coats of glass or possibly added Kevlar and or carbon fiber to the mix. I want to see if I can take my wooden boat where the plastic boats go! I'm happy with painting the outside of the hull on this boat if the composite materials do not finish clear. Like I said, I'll gladly sacrifice pretty for durability for this particular application. How do we make this boat as bullet proof as possible?
Didnít anyone ever tell you that these boats are for hanging over the fireplace, only to be driven in mud bottom lakes on sunny Sundays.
White water canoes are usually Kevlar because it is very good at handling abrasion and impact, Carbon is very good when you want stiffness, but not much different than glass for abrasion. I would try a layer of 5.2 oz. Kevlar on the outside, an option would be add a layer of 4 or 6 oz. glass over the Kevlar. Two reasons for this, first Kevlar does not powder sand , it just fuzzes up, so the glass allows you to finish and repair easier. Second, Kevlar is not as stiff as glass so you will have more oil canning without it. Kevlar is also Yellow, so is usually but not always painted. Bristol Finish will work well for clear, but paint with a two part such as Epifanes Polyurethane
The easiest and cheapest way is an extra layer of glass, but Kevlar is best if you really plan on abusing it.
People no longer stop me to admire my once pristine solo canoe, which is now what I prefer to call a "mature" boat. It's not a bad thing as I get to spend more time paddling and less talking these days, but it's probably time for some maintenance.
Here's my thought FWIIW: for flat-water paddling a solo canoe probably gets maximum stress when it's hung up between two high spots with the paddler in between, and the tensile stress is on the outside. A two-person canoe gets maximum stress when it's hung up on a single high spot with a paddler at either end, when the tensile stress is on the inside. In both cases just providing extra fabric on the bottom may not be wise as a grounded round-bottom boat loses stability and wants to roll - I discovered that the hard way after running my kayak bow up on submerged ice . . .
So I would have thought the larger canoe should get extra fabric on the inside. For white water where current can sweep you sideways into rocks extra fabric is required inside. This is nothing to do with abrasion of course.
Last edited by ancient kayaker; 07-26-2012 at 02:20 PM.
If it is stripped from the gunnels down to the keel the bottom of a stripper ends up looking like a football; many builders strip that part fore-and-aft. It is probably the most vulnerable part of the hull. Since it is almost flat in most designs it can probably be replaced by a piece of marine plywood without muh impact on its characteristics - except appearance. If you're interested in durability then IMHO be stronger than cedar strips and less likely to crack.
I am finishing a solo with a ply bottom panel: for that hull I started with the bottom and stripped up to the gunnel; it was simpler than the usual strip build. Of course, that might not satisfy a purist - which I obviously am not - but it's an idea.
Last edited by ancient kayaker; 12-28-2012 at 09:56 PM.