Extreme Canoe Refinishing by Joe
Red Rock Wilderness Store

Here's a canoe that has been neglected. This 2001 Souris River Quetico 16 served Red Rock as a reliable rental solo canoe. During the summer of 2001, it found it's way around the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness taking care of it's paddler and coming home again, time after time. Then, when winter approached, we set it on top of a relatively obscure canoe trailor for lack of a better storage place on the 4th rung where, for inexplicable reasons, it stayed for all the rest of the years until the present day. It was cruel and I am ashamed...

A customer came along lookng for a solo and Curt remembered the Q-16 on the rack. They pulled it down and noted that after spending over 2600 days, exposed to the elements, uncared for, neglected, and frying in the sun for 6 hours per day, the inside of the canoe was in pretty nice shape. The outside was a different story. I'm going to show that story to you, the reader, now.

This is a story of happiness, followed by neglect, then desperation, then joy. OK - no desperation - it's still only a canoe. This is the tale of a user-friendly, epoxy resin, kevlar solo canoe made by Souris River resting in oblivion, as Mother Nature picked at it unrelentingly. According to all the internet afficionados from the various canoeing bulletinboards, (those self-proclaimed experts of all things "canoe"), this epoxy/kevlar canoe should now...be...dead. After all, epoxy resin degrades in sunlight. It breaks down. It falls apart. (Read this next sentence like Shatner would) It...is...susceptible to the elements, the beast called...the outdoors.

To all the experts, I say once again, BULL. To the masters of misinformation, the worriers of all things canoe, the panickers of performance, I ask once again, "Why don't you just ALL shut up?" Again, you are talking out of turn and making good people worry with much ado about nothing.

In fact, for those of you who hold out among the last bastion of thinking humans, the following story in pictures will be interesting and helpful. To those blind followers of the vinylester/kevlar walkway, you will be sputtering that this simply cannot be possible because you've heard epoxy falls apart with extreme exposure to the elements.

Sorry to crunch your canoe...

Let's begin:

(Click on image to see larger picture)

Here it is. 7 years of Momma Nature hammering this poor, innocent hunk of kevlar.
And, the view from the other side. Note that it is the color of the gravel behind.
This is NOT gravel. It's the scene of black dirt forming with micro plant life on the hull. Possibly the early throws of life as it begins the evolutionary process along the path to becoming dinosaurs... or asparagus.

Here's a closer shot of the absolute sign that this canoe should be dead by any other canoe expert standards: lichens! When you can feed your reindeer herd with the plants growing on your canoe, that must mean the bulletin-board afficionados are right about epoxy resin canoes, eh?

Here I sand off the lichens and I'm using (gasp, shock, sputter!) 80 grit sandpaper. YES! 80 grit even if you think - no, believe - it's too harsh, that is not the case with a used Souris River Canoe! Go ahead, second-guess my technique all day long...you'll still be wrong.
Oh, my stars and garters! If you look close at this sanded region, you will note that unlike anything Brand X canoes ever made in kevlar canoes, Souris River uses a thin layer of fiberglass on the outside. Guess what? Fiberglass, unlike kevlar, can be sanded safely. You know what it means when you see the fiberglass cross hatches on a SR Canoe? Nothing.
Moved canoe inside after sanding. Way less fiberglass dust inside as a result. Always wear a mask when sanding glass. Makes sharp, itchy dust. Before bringing inside, I hosed down the sanded canoe with a garden hose to take off the dust and let it dry for a day before coating with epoxy resin. Please, ignore messy shop.
Now, I could have just given this canoe two coats of varnish and called it even, but since the fiberglass was fairly exposed on the outside, I applied West System epoxy resin. Epoxy is harder than varnish and really strong. It took about 13 pumps of resin coat this entire canoe. I could varnish this canoe after the epoxy cures for added UV protection although it's not the end of the world if I don't.
I used the canoe as my personal paint tray. Just dump and roll.
Here you see more of the rolling process. I used a foam roller because it was the only thing I could find. Fortunately, that's what I prefer although a low-knapped fuzzy roller would have worked, too.
Here you can see the wet epoxy resin on the left half and yet another clearer view of the fiberglass layer after being sanded with (OMG!) 80 grit sandpaper and washed with a garden hose!!!!
Here is the finished product. Whew, that was tough and extremely technical as you have just seen. Sand, hose, paint. I need a degree in engineering to figure that out. Note the color came back, too! 7+ years of frying, freezing and frickaseeing and this lichen loving canoe is in A1 operating condition.
Interestingly enough, 7+ years of withstanding 100+ degree F temps in the sun down to -45 degrees below (real temp, not that phony windchill stuff) and 24 inches of snow, this Souris River Quetico 16 (epoxy resin and kevlar cloth) is unharmed. Now, I gotta ask what you think would have happened to a vinylester resin/kevlar canoe if it spent 7 years on the top bars of a lonely, forgotten canoe trailer in northern Minnesota? I know what would happen, but do the canoe afficionados know it too?

Summary: To all the epoxy naysayers and psuedo-wannabe's who believe that guessing about the facts is somehow better than actually knowing the facts, I say "Wrong, yet again!" To the rest of the thinkers who refuse to conclude that epoxy resin is inferior based on rumor and fanciful BS spread by marketing experts, my St. Croix cap is off to you!

I still can't find a kevlar canoe that will beat a Souris River. -JB-

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