Free Canoe Re-build.




Introduction: Free Canoe Re-build.

About: Oh Canada!

I needed a second canoe for a family canoe weekend. (See my other post 4 Days Camping No Cooler)

So I posted online that I was looking for a free canoe.

I have a system I call 'Free99'. Which means I acquire things from others for free and rebuild and use them as my own, or some times I pay it forward and give away the rebuild to people who can use them. I have saved $1000s of dollars acquiring peoples old stuff and bringing them back to life for my own use.
I have acquired a kayak, 3 canoes, a wheelbarrow, beer fridge, tents, and even a .22 rifle and many more things. This is one project of me bringing junk back to life.

This is the journey.

I took a piece of junk and made it into a working water ready canoe.

This project was on a strict budget.

I am not a professional, I am a man with a plan and a tight budget.

But it worked.

Step 1: This Is What You Get for Free

This is a canoe that was sitting on a shore for many years just rotting away.
I freed it and brought it back to life.

Step 2: Power Wash

The canoe was covered in dry algae and dirt.
It was covered inside and out.
Power washing was the only option to clean this old girl.
I also used a cloth and soap and gave it an old fashion scrubbing.

Step 3: Did I Mention There Was a Huge Hole in This Canoe

There was a huge crack in the side of this canoe.
This crack was all the way through and almost half a way around the canoe.
There was some cracks on the other side as well.
You could almost fold the canoe in half.

Step 4: Materials

Fiberglass woven and fibres
Fiberglass resin
Paint brushes
Small paint rollers
Painters tape

Patience and luck.

Step 5: Start Filling Cracks

I started by tackling the cracks.
I taped the back side (outside ) of the canoe so I could fill from the inside using gravity as my friend.
Mix your fibreglass as directed on your kit.
Pore the resin directly in the crack and let gravity settle in.
I would use a small paint brush or even a small stick to stir the resin down deep I the cracks.
Let resin cure as directed.

Once I had the first layer of resin cured then I used the fibre fibreglass and resin to make a stronger top layer.
I also placed the fibre and resin mixture over the ends of the ribs and anywhere where I saw a weekness.

Step 6: Luck and Magic

Ok so as I was working on the outside of the canoe, I found that if I used resin on the outside it would bring back the original colour.
I was putting layers and layers of just resin over the white patches. Wherever the resin touched the green original colour it came out as bright as a new canoe. This was a fluke, but an awesome fluke.

I made small batches of resin and used a small foam roller and rolled out the outside of the whole canoe. I did multiple coats over the next couple days and weeks. I put more coats over the white patches where the original fibre was thinner.
After each coat I would sand using sandpaper and muscle. A power sander took too much material away.
I did use a mouse sander to sand down where the large crack once was.

Step 7: Clean and Re-seal the Seats.

Using household cleaners I cleaned the webbing and then let it dry.
I decided to continued to use the resin to seal the wood of the seats and thwart.
I covered the webbing with painters tape to protect from the resin.

Step 8: Covering Patch Work

Ok so I was pretty happy with the whole feel of this job. The colours were still off. The inside showed the huge patch and the outside still looked like a green Dalmatian.
Here is what I did.
On the inside I matched the colour of original paint with a can of spray paint and lightly sprayed the spots where I patched. This process worked amazing. You can barley tell where the patches were and where the original paint was.

On the outside I tried something crazy.
I wanted to match the outside since most of it was looking amazing. So I found some old outdoor paint in my garage that was forest green. Then I mixed it with the resin and hardener and made a forest green resin. It worked. The colour is not perfect but from afar or while traveling down he highway nobody will notice or care. I was very happy with the result.

To finish it up a did go to the local hardware store and purchase all new hardware. Just looked nicer.

Step 9: Finished Product

We it's done.

We have also completed our 5 day back country adventure and everyone and everything stayed dry.

Using fiberglass resin as paint wasn't perfect. Still needed to sand between coats and some coats were tacky and some were not. The end product can still feel tacky on a really hot days. I did get the odd blade of grass or leaf stuck to the outside, but at the end of the t wanted a free canoe to get to point A to point B.

This was a fun project and cost me under $100. i used some materials that I already had and took my time.

The bottom line is... I had fun and was able to get my family outside and I was able to do it with less work out in the wild. With two canoes we were easily able to get my family of four to our island camp in one trip on our 5 day backcountry adventure.

My Free99 systems works if you are not afraid of a little hard work in between.

Step 10: In the Water

Made it.
Dry and happy.

What a great trip.

Step 11: All That Work for Views Like This.

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    5 years ago

    Laminating resin stays tacky on the surface so the next layer will stick. Boatbuilders usually apply gelcoat as the last layer which is resin + pigment + a wax that floats to the surface and seals off air which lets the final layer kick off. You can buy the wax additive separately for a few bucks.


    6 years ago

    Thanks for the comments. I agree it is probably a mixture thing. If I do this again I may even try something different. Only time will tell. Not sure when I will need three canoes, but stranger things have happened.


    6 years ago

    nice work.great outcome,my canoe is in same condition ,hope it comes out as good as yours when i do get around to fixing it


    6 years ago

    So where did h get the canoe and other free stuff from is there a website?


    Reply 6 years ago

    Hi Jagodowns,

    I use word of mouth a lot. Tell my friends I am looking for something. I'm also not afraid to pick stuff up off the side of the road. I have gotten almost all my kids bikes and outside toys for free. Little Tykes stuff last forever so families usually grow out of it before they are worn out. Hand me downs are the best.

    My first canoe was given to me as a gift from my uncle. It needed all new gunwales etc. but we fixed it up and now its my main canoe. The one in this posting is from a local Facebook 24 hour Yard sales site. I just posted 'I am looking for a Free Canoe'. An hour later I got a reply.

    If you need something tell people. You would be amazed at what you can get. Used doesn't always mean unusable.