REFINISHING YOUR CANOE
You have two options to touch-up your Souris River Canoe. Remember, however, not to try this on other KEVLAR® canoes. Our canoes are built with an outer layer of fibreglass, which can be safely sanded. Other manufacturers use KEVLAR® as their outer layer, which will turn to fuzz when sanded.
First, you must decide whether to use polyurethane or epoxy. Either will give a great finish, but polyurethane is cheaper and easier to work with. Epoxy, on the other hand, is preferred where there are deep scratches, or where the fibreglass is starting to wear.
Work in a dust-free, well ventilated area. Wear a dust mask when sanding. When working with epoxy resin, wear disposable gloves a mask that filters organic compounds (carbon filter).
Option One: Polyurethane
Choose a quality polyurethane. Gloss will give you the best results. Make sure you buy an oil-based product. Most varnishes now are water-based, so check the label. (See below for polyurethane options.)
Decide whether you want to refinish the entire hull, or just the bottom. If you choose the latter, adhere an even line of masking tape from bow to stern. Otherwise, mask the gunwales.
Wipe the entire hull two or three times with acetone. (Wear gloves. Acetone is quite volatile and will dry your skin as it evaporates.) This will remove any wax or UV protectant that may be on the hull.
Sand the area of the hull to be refinished. This can be done by hand, or with an orbital sander, using 120-220 grit sandpaper.
Thoroughly clean the area to be refinished, removing all sanding dust using acetone or a similar solvent. Allow to dry completely.
Note: do not allow the solvent to come in contact with your decals, or they may smear.
Use a small (four-inch) 5 mm lint-free roller. Avoid foam rollers, which tend to leave air bubbles. Apply and roll the varnish over the entire area. Be watchful of runs, and re-roll areas that appear to have too much varnish. A wide-bottom plastic container, such as a two pound margarine container works well for holding the polyurethane.
Remove the masking tape before the varnish has dried completely.
Home Hardware: Wood-Shield Alkyd Clear Coat
Noah's Marine: Epifanes Clear Gloss Varnish
Home Depot: Varathane Premium Gloss Wood Finish
Option Two: Epoxy
The other option is to mix-up some epoxy resin and apply a thin coat of resin to the scratches. You could use this option if your canoe is badly scratched. Make sure you carefully follow the instructions on the package. Epoxy resin works best in a warm envionment, about 24 degrees Celcius (75 degrees Fahrenheit).
We recommend West System 105 resin, with 207 hardener. This combination gives good results, fills cracks, and requires no thinning. If you are using another epoxy, you may need to thin it with denatured alcohol or acetone. (Alcohol is effective, and safer than acetone.)
A one litre (quart) can of West System will do the job. Buy the pumps. About 18 pumps will do a 17 foot canoe. However, do it in three batches if it is your first time, to give yourself some working time.
Prepare the surface as described in steps 2 - 5, in Option One, above. If you have deep scratches you can sand about ½ inch on either side of the scratch and on the scratch to reduce the depth of the scratch. In effect, you want to feather from the outside of the sanded area into the middle of the scratch. You do not have to make the scratch disappear just reduce the depth so that a thin layer of epoxy resin will make it disappear. This will create a small depression in the hull of the canoe. You can then rub some epoxy resin on to fill that depression.
Apply the epoxy as described in step 5 above. Watch for runs.
Remove the masking tape before the resin has set.
See our repair page for a list of epoxy suppliers.