Boat maintenance and minor repair

By Eb's Adventure
Posted in News, on June 21, 2017

pitch repair on canoe 

If you use your boat the way you're meant to use it (in other words, having fun and going places) you are eventually going to ding it up a little.  It's good to know what you need to help you fill that crack or disguise that scratch.  We don't stock pine pitch in the store, but here are some of the products we find most useful for minor boat repairs.

Minor repair of Polyethylene boats

Polyethylene: it's affordable, it's durable, and hardly anything sticks to it.  This poses problems when you're trying to do any sort of repair or outfitting on your boat.  There are very few products you can use on polyethylene because it is so difficult for anything to adhere to.  

G-Flex is a thickened epoxy adhesive that creates permanent waterproof bonds and actually does work on poly.  There is a video by West System International on YouTube in which a fellow chainsaws his poly kayak in half, glues it back together with G-Flex, and paddles off in it.  Impressive.

G-Flex comes in a few forms.  We have some runnier stuff that is good for using with fabric patches or skid plates; you can use this on aluminum and other materials to seal rivets, among other uses.  We also carry tubes of thickened G-Flex which has a consistency close to caulking; this holds it's form better when you apply it.

G Flex epoxy repair

The other product we carry that sticks to poly is Quick Patch.  These are great to have in your field repair kit.  It's a fiberglass-reinforced polyester patch that is super self-adhesive and cures in 10 minutes under UV light.  If your boat gets a boo-boo on a trip, pull over, cut a patch to size, stick it on, and leave it in the sun.  You'll be back on the water before you've finished that tin of Pringles.

Quick Patch

The best thing about Quick Patch?  You can use it on almost anything!  Boats, jet skis, windows, pools, tanks, pipes, bumpers, exhaust leaks, wood, concrete.. it's truly amazing.

Minor repair of Royalex, T-Formex, and composite boats

On fiberglass, kevlar, Royalex and T-Formex boats you can use standard epoxy and cloth.  In the store we like using West Systems 105 resin with the appropriate hardener for the conditions.  If it's a warm day (18 degrees C or more), use the slow hardener.  If you are working in cool conditions like a garage, use the fast hardener.  Tip: keep a little sample cup of your epoxy and don't throw it away until you're sure it's kicked.  Then you know your repair will hold.

For cold conditions in the field, or if you are working in very cool temperatures, use Cold Cure.  This will cure down to 1 degree Celcius in 100% humidity.  It comes with the appropriate amount of resin and hardener and it's an easy 2:1 mixing ratio.

West Systems epoxy

Outfitting your boat

Want to put some D-ring tie-downs in the bottom of your canoe?  Vinyl Tec 2000 will bond vinyl to ABS (Royalex, T-Formex), fiberglass and kevlar.  This stuff is also good for vinyl air bag and raft repairs.

Vinyl Tec 2000

Deformed plastic hull

Polyethylene or T-Formex / Royalex boats can deform from such things as impact or being strapped too tightly on a roof rack in the hot sun.  The easiest way to deal with this is to leave your boat in the hot sun and it should relax back into shape.  If conditions don't allow this, heat the deformed area carefully with a heat gun and try to form it back into shape.  

Gel coat touch up

The gel coat (the colour coating on canoes like Clipper) is meant to protect the hull and will get scratched up over time.  If you get some deep ones and want to fill them, you can buy a can of gel coat.  We usually carry white but pigments are available.  The problem is trying to match colour.. this can be tricky.

It is possible to paint your composite canoe, even if it has a gel coat on it already.  First you need to sand it, then clean with a solvent.  Prime it with Pre-Kote (or a similar product) and then paint with a marine paint like Brightside.  

Brightside paint and gel coat

Gaps, gouges

Unless your boat is polyethylene, you can fill small holes and gaps with a high strength epoxy repair compound such as Marine Tex or Goop Epoxy Paste.  After these cure the permanent repair can be sanded, painted, drilled or tapped.  It's also useful on wood, glass, metal and masonry.  

A great addition to your field repair kit is emergency epoxy putty.  This stuff bonds within 10 minutes and you can use your boat again in only an hour.  You simply cut off a section of the putty stick, work it with your fingers until it is uniform, and apply to your repair.  It even works on a wet boat or a leaking pipe, you just have to apply pressure until the bond starts to form.  Use it on fiberglass, plastics, wood or metal.

 Marine Tex, Goop, epoxy putty

UV protection

We recommend every boat owner have this stuff on hand for routine maintenance!  There is no better product to protect your boat from premature aging like cracking, fading, and general breakdown of material.  It works on polyethylene, plastics, vinyl, carbon fiber, rubber, plexiglass and even leather.  To refresh your boat's hull colour and renew its UV resistance, use 303 Protectant about twice a season. 

303 Protectant

Sealing rivet holes, deck inspection plates, seat angles

If you're doing rivet work it's important to use the right type of rivet.  It should seal the hole but as an extra precaution against leaking you can use 3M Adhesive Sealant in there.  This product is also useful for sealing deck inspection plates and similar applications.  3M is comparable to G-Flex but is a little easier to use for these purposes.  The 4200 is semi-permanent and the 5200 is a permanent sealant.

3M Marine adhesive

Whatever your boat repair needs, there is usually a product that will make your life a whole lot easier.  Hopefully this post has helped set you in the right direction, but we are always available at the store to field questions if you're not sure. 

Happy paddling/sailing folks, and keep the round side down :)

About Eb's

Let Eb’s Source For Adventure be your destination to equip your next outdoor adventure. We’ve got the gear for your adventure, be it sailing, canoeing/kayaking, hiking, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing. And we’ve got the expertise to make sure you are well equipped, since we are adventure enthusiasts ourselves.