50+ yr old fiberglass canoe - worth repairing?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by highhopesgarden, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. highhopesgarden
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    Location: Iowa

    highhopesgarden New Member

    I've been handed down about a 50 yr old handmade fiberglass canoe. No hole or puncture - but the bottom ribs were all styrofoam strips covered with fiberglass and all need to be replaced, seats, yokes, and wood near bow need replaced as well - the seats and yokes are easy - I'm really wondering about the structural members and whether the fiberglass glass is too old to mess with. Lots of "play" in the hull die to the failed ribs. IS this doable or should I send it down the river?
  2. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    Post a picture or 2 and lets have a look at ya problems !!someone did a project like this a while back and he ended up with a nice boat last i heard !!Can rebuild or restore anything in glass !! just depends what ya want to do !!:D;):p
  3. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Yes, post pictures! Are you sure about the rib composition? Maybe a different plastic?
  4. jconlin
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: MA

    jconlin Junior Member

    You could easily put a couple of hundred and a day's work into the boat.
    How useful a boat will it be when you're done?

    If it's much over fifty pounds or needs repainting, too, then I'd pass.
  5. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    How man people do you know that have a fully retored 50 year old canoe ?? restore and make a nice job !! its unique !!:D
  6. highhopesgarden
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    Location: Iowa

    highhopesgarden New Member

    video of old canoe, finally

    Finally got out and shot about a minute of video of the old boat. If you'd like stills of certain spots, let me know.


  7. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Location: The Netherlands

    Herman Senior Member

    Perfect video, thank you for that. The boat looks a bit tired to me. The ribs would be the least of the worry to me, you can grind them out, and put new ones in. (the ones that are in look retrofitted to me anyhow, and you can see that styrofoam is not a good option, it melted away.) I am worried about the bottom. It looks like the resin went very brittle, and might be failing due to the excessive movement.

    I have no idea of the value of a good second hand one, but if your hobby is to tackle this kind of jobs and have a little fun, I would give the inside a good grind, add a layer of woven glass, preferably with epoxy, but if that is too expensive or not available, polyester would do as well. Replace the ribs with something new. Perhaps a bit less spacing between them. Pipe insulation is what I have used many times, and it does not get eaten by polyester. Cut in halve lengthwise, and make the ends pointy, and you have a great stringer. Laminate at least 2 layers of glass over them. Stagger the glass a bit, so the sides of the glass tape are spaced some 1" apart, to prevent any hard spots.

    The wood of the transom can be replaced, the aluminium can benefit from some rubbing with steel wool.

    The outside, I would grind very well, then patch up the dings, regrind them, and shoot gelcoat over them.

    The crack in the bottom is something that needs attention. Probably grind out what is loose, and replace with fresh glass and resin. (epoxy or polyester).

    But be prepared to throw some money at it, and some time. In any way commercially it would not be economical, and it would be tossed, but if the other option is to sit in the sun, drink beer and annoy the neighbours with loud music, I would choose for the canoe...
  8. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    If the stiffeners were an addition, then the basic laminate of the hull is broken down, cracked resin and there is little value. The only way to get the stiffness back is glass on both inside and outside. Now you have a heavier boat which can only get worse again. If you want to try the stiffeners again, don't worry about the foam (styrofoam works for shape but will never give any strength), but you will need to make the glass heavier than they were like Herman said. Epoxy is best for attaching to old polyester and will not melt the styrofoam.

    I think I would build another. Is there anything you could salvage and use so you could say you "restored" it?
  9. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The boat may have had ribs, which were replaced at some point. It's not much work to bring this back to serviceable condition, but it depends on what you want. You could easily spend more money on materials than just finding a manufactured product in better condition. I have a neighbor that's got an 18' tripper, which has been hanging in his garage for 15 years. There are plenty of these for less then 200 bucks.

    This aside, you could just grind the divots out on the bottom, fill and paint, which is fairly cheap. I wouldn't bother with gel coat as you're not setup for it, have no experience with it (my assumption) and I've never seen a gel coat job, done under these conditions, that turned out well. Grind the bottom, fill with thickened epoxy, prime and paint.

    The ribs can, by the looks of it, be ripped out easily and these areas ground clean. New foam and fabric ribs installed, using epoxy and biax. Again, prime and paint.

    The wooden elements should be easy enough and the aluminum can be brightened up easily enough with a buffer and some compound.

    Go for it if you have the inclination.
    1 person likes this.
  10. highhopesgarden
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    Location: Iowa

    highhopesgarden New Member

    Thanks for all the input gentlemen. In the meantime, I have stumbled upon a western red cedar strip canoe in need of just a little TLC that I will be spending my energy on instead.
    1 person likes this.

  11. PiscesMarineMFG
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    Location: USA

    PiscesMarineMFG New Member


    Myself, I would just tackle that canoe during the winter. The canoe looks like it needs TLC, but I'd gelcoat the canoe. Anyway, enjoy your red cedar strip canoe...

    <first post>
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