Wenonah Canoe Repair by Red Rock Wilderness Store

"Let's see you find this kind of canoe info anywhere else on the web!" (personal horn-tooting by Joe)

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Let's face it. Wenonah kevlar canoes need repairs...too. From the confusion and uncertainty about how to actually go about making a repair to a Wenonah I'm laying out a canoe repair tutorial for those of you who have a hole in in your vinylester wonder. Of course, don't be surprised or shocked if I offer up some thoughts and opinions about questionable (to me) design features on these and other foam core, kevlar canoes. I will try my best not to offend those who are sensitive about actual truth and reality. Actually, I'm pretty sure I've already offended somebody with that last sentence and if that is the case, the offended reader is a "wuss" and lives in "la-la land". I encourage those who can't take reality to stop reading now and go back to your happy place. For the rest of those unfortunate enough to have the problems you'll see in the upcoming zillion photos, my heart goes out to you. Someday, you too, will own a Souris River Canoe and you'll love it!

Onward to the Wenonah MN II!!!

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Here is a Wenonah Minnesota II that has seen better days. It is owned by an outfitter (who shall remain nameless) who has been renting it since 2002. It has numerous cracks and cuts in the hull from older altercations which have been repaired. It was also recoated with polyester resin and bears the "alligator scales" inherent with using inferior, cheap, crap in place of high quality marine epoxy resin. It also appears to have been varnished on top of the peeling polyester so the whole canoe looks like it has a skin disorder. Like...I'm sure it's a really fast canoe now...with all those bumps, lumps and skin flaps.

To see bigger images just CLICK the pic's below!

wenonah mn II
foam core canoe
peeling resin on foam core, kevlar canoe
cracks in foam layer in bottom of canoe
In the above pic, you can see the grooves that are commonly crushed into the foam core of this foam core, skin coat, kevlar canoe. This occurs as a heavily loaded canoe slides over the top of a rock. Like WHEN does THAT ever happen in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? What's a rock? This is a look at a cut/crack/tear (or however it is defined) that was most likely caused by a rock. It was over 4 feet long and filled in with polyester goo...that actually held...here. Here is a good pic of my knife blade sliding under an alligator scale. These pockets of unbonded polyester resin were all over this canoe. Underneath them is the original canoe hull which was as smooth as a baby's behind - except for a all the areas that expereinced rock riding. This is a picture of the foam broken on the inside of the canoe. Breaks like these were all over the place. Click the image to see better detail.
hole in kevlar canoe
hole from inside of canoe
canoe repair hole
Here's the big daddy of holes in this Wenonah MN II. There are a few more that needs some attention as well, but we're all busy people and this particular hole pretty much runs the gamut in the repair process. This is the hole from the inside. It went through the hull and crushed the outside of that rib that holds the seat mounting bracket which is riveted into the foam. I was surprised that in a foam core canoe this old and beat-up, the rivets in the foam and brackets were not loose! Usually that bracket is rattling around.

To the right of my knife you can see a large area of crushed-in foam. On the left side, there is the rest of the hole that went thru the hull. This appears to be an impact break where the non-foam-supported kevlar side was pushed in alongside the non-moving foam rib. If it had not been supported by the seat cross bar and angle bracket, we'd have been looking at a whole new type of break involving the rib. My guess is that it would have been an incredible challenge to fix had that rib collapsed inward at the gouge. This Wenonah... was one of the lucky ones...

(moment of silence.....................and...continue)

Let the canoe repairs begin!!!!
canoe repair
ready to sand
sanding canoe hull
Step 1: Starting on the outside, use a sharp (and really cool) knife to carefully trim off the edges of the hole. Your goal is to get the flaps of the hole not to touch each other thereby causing a hang up. If they are free of each other, they will more closely resemble the actual shape of the original canoe hull. Note: in order to be successful at all canoe repairs, you need a really cool, really sharp, knife! ...and sometimes bandaids. Epoxy resin is noted to be a better product than that crappy polyester resin for various reasons. In this case, epoxy's ability to bond to Wenonah canoes is why I like it. But, it does need to "key in" or grip the actual canoe hull in the little scratches caused by sanding, so removing the polyester resin and varnish by carefully shaving it off with my knife is what I'm doing. It's easier than it looks. The reason for shaving is that I could sand it, but it gets hard to differentiate between sanding the coating and the canoe itself. Once it's all shaved off in roughly the area needed for the patch with a little overlap worked in, you are ready to sand with 80 grit sandpaper. Sand the area that has had the coatings removed. Not how the exposed kevlar fuzzes up. Unlike fiberglass, you can't smooth out kevlar by sanding. It has to be sheared to be cut. In this case, it doesn't matter because we're putting a patch over the top of it. Sanding allows rough areas for the epoxy reisin to attach itself and hold.

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