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Common Repair Questions for Canoes Answered

Posted by Rutabaga Staff on 8/11/2013

1) What should I do about the scuffs and scratches on the bottom of my boat?

In all honesty, you should smile and remember the adventure that caused the scratches. There really isn’t a good way to take those scuffs and scratches out, and until you wear completely through the outermost layer of your boat, there isn’t a good reason to try. Scuffs and scratches are a part of paddling. Take pride in the fact that you are out there using your boat, and when someone asks you about the wear on your hull, tell them a great story about how it happened.

2) What do I do when the gel coat on my boat cracks and falls off?

If the gel coat on your boat cracks and begins to fall off, you are in need of a repair. You will first need to remove the damaged gel coat. Sometimes the gel coat will simply break off if you pick at it with a knife, other times you may have to grind the affected area. Once the loose gel coat has been removed, you will need to fill in the hole with new layers of gel coat. After the new patch has been applied, it can be wet sanded to make the patch flush with the rest of the boat.

3) When should I put skid plates on my canoe?

The best time to put skid plates on your canoe is after you have bumped into a few logs and slid over a few rocks. When putting skid plates onto your canoe, you’ll have to abrade the areas where you plan to put them on with sandpaper. You might as well let the scuffs and scratches happen naturally, and put the skid plates on your canoe once it is scuffed up.

4) The wood gunwales on my canoe are dark and dirty. What can I do to make them look nice again?

I would start a piece of fine grit sandpaper. By lightly sanding the gunwales, you will be able to remove most of the discoloration. Another option for light staining is wiping them down with mineral spirits. The mineral spirits should act as a sort of bleach for your gunwales, and taking off the mildew. After sanding or wiping down the gunwales, you should re-coat the wood with a light layer of boiled linseed oil. This is a nice way to protect the wood without changing the color much. Rutabaga uses its own formula of oil and wax to protect wood gunwales. If you are able to store a boat with wood gunwales indoors you won’t experience this same problem again. Long term exposure to the elements will quickly degrade the wood on your boat.

5) How do I go about replacing seats/thwarts/yokes in my canoe?

Replacement seats, thwarts, and yokes are available at Rutabaga. Typically, all of these items are available in longer lengths than you will need. In order to replace any of these items, you will need to cut off the excess material and drill holes in the new parts to mount them in place. Taking out the older parts and using them as a template to mark hole placement and length is helpful.

6) What should I use to clean my boat?

First, you can simply use water. Clean water along with some scrubbing will take off most of the grime and crud that collects on boats. If water alone isn’t enough, you may choose to use some mild dish soap. For a quick once over and prevention of sun damage, we recommend using a UV protectant. McNett UV Tech works very well. As a nice bonus, it makes your boat nice and shiny!

7) Do people wax the bottom of their boat?

Waxing isn’t going to do anything in terms of really protecting your boat, but you may notice a difference in performance.

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