Kayak Maintenance

Submitted byadmin onTue, 08/28/2018 - 09:14

A couple weeks ago I took time out from other projects to do some quick maintenance on a few a my kayaks. I had a broken back band, worn out gasket and a big ding to deal with. The video is below.

Probably of most interest to people is dealing with the beat up bottom of my Petrel Play SG. This boat has a single layer of glass on the bottom, doubled up only on the keel line. I take this boat to play in rock gardens where the surge sometimes drops me hard on pointy rocks.

In this video I fix a couple spots where the glass is sliced through. The keel line also has substantial abrasion. The glass has been removed for about 6 inches do to wear and tear. It has been this way for about a year.

You can also see the scar of a previous repair where I hit the boat hard enough on a rock to blow-out a patch of wood on the inside, sufficient so I could see a dimeisized spot of light when I looked inside and there was a nickel-sized patch of plywood that had been blown-out.

Interestingly, the boat was not leaking. I paddled it for over a year with the damage and the hatch stayed dry. The single layer of damaged fiberglass was still sufficient to keep the water out.

To fix that damage I just sanded a patch on the inside, applied a circle of fiberglass, and filled the outer damage with epoxy thickened with cabosil.


Tue, 08/28/2018 - 11:32

Thanks, Nick.

Excellent video!

Putting a flat washer under the cup washer is an excellent idea ; one that I hadn't thought of. 

How thick are the plywood cheek plates in your boats? I've always assumed that the 'spikes' on a T-nut would penetrate to the other side. Not having to 'fiddle' with threading a nut from behind a cheek plate is a big advantage.

About the weatherstrip on the hatch flange: Did you find that covering the whole flange with a wider foam didn't have any advantages?

You want the weatherstripping to compress to make a seal. Wider stuff is harder to compress and thus does not make as good a seal. Having a ridge on one surface that digs into the weatherstripping helps with this as only that spot really needs to make the seal. I don't have such a ridge on this kayak.

The t-nut is one of the spikeless ones, actually it may be called a weld-nut. I like them because, as you say, a threaded hole is easier than reaching around the far side with a loose nut.

I like the bungee knot. Didn't know that. Do you find the two part varnishes worth the price and effort?

I also have used T-nuts. I just flatten out the spikes in my vice. I too have some bangs and bruises that are on the bucket list. The time between addressing these things seem to get longer and longer.

I was just contacted by a person who bought a used stripper and wants me to refinish it. What do you charge??? I would want what he paid for it. I don't want to do it and advised him to just sand it and slap on some varnish and go paddling.

The water knot is great for shock cord. Most knots creep loose after awhile.

I often intentionally leave damage to see what happens. I think a lot of people fear catastrophic repercussions if they don't immediately fix damage. I've let serious wounds go untreated for years with water able to soak into the wood. While it is not good for the wood, it doesn't really have any noticeable effect on it either. The exposed wood on the bottom of my Petrel Play shown in the video was a bit silvered, but that sanded off easily.

Water doesn't soak far into the wood during the few hours a day a kayak is used and has plenty of time to dry out the rest of the week when it isn't used.

I don't have enough experience with the 2-parts yet to know if it is worth it. They are harder to use than traditional varnish. Hopefully they last longer.

I have never charged for just varnishing, it has always been done as part of a larger building project. Depending on the condition of the existing finish it could be a couple hour project to something that takes a week or more. There is also a question of what level of finish do they expect, a good protective finish, or a full showpiece restoration. Applying a few protective coats of varnish can happen quickly, making it look like new is a bigger task. There would have to be some managing of expectations.

I would recommend he do it himself also. If he doesn't think he can do a good enough job, it is probably not cost effective to do the job he wants.

Around here the quote would be too high even before you have covered the cost a couple of tins of varnish, never mind the work involved. Decent sanding disks, roller covers, brushes... None of it is considered. 

I avoid repair jobs like the plague. If people do their own fixing they begin to understand the time, effort, and material costs that go into even relatively simple jobs. They also take more care if they have to fix it themselves.

It is too easy to pick up neglected boats for peanuts. The expectation is, too often, that repairs should be for peanuts too.

Life is short. I'd rather start a new project than repair other people's stuff.



Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:48

About the comments above: "Me, too!" 

I'll do structural repairs for friends, and work on boats I've built/renovated and sold, if necessary.

I encourage people to do cosmetic repairs (keel strips, gelcoat hull gouges, etc..) themselves and will freely give advice and instructions for that.

Managing expectations -as Nick said- is crucial. The art/skill of auto body craftsmen has set the bar way too high!! :-)


I'm lucky - Blackline in Sidney will work on composite kayaks ($80/hr labour + materials, they generally keep the boat for 2-3 weeks) when they have time between yacht work. I refer folks to them.


Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:57

Etienne said:

They also take more care if they have to fix it themselves.

This is probably true for some folks.

I encourage my friends to learn simple repairs (usually gelcoat work) so they can go out and play and use their kayaks - some would say my ideas of 'use' constitute 'abuse'.. :-)

Drag that boat out of the surf zone and fix the scratches when you get back from the trip........

A friend brought a used composite boat over to my place yesterday for a 'look-see'.

It was built in 2002 and looks 'hardly used' - a few marks from beach sand on the hull and the deck is absolutely like new. 

My reactions:

First: "Great find and great buy!"

Second:"What a pity that the original owner didn't get to use this (excellent) boat more!"

I don't shy away from repairs. In fact, that's most of what I do. Second only to finishing other people's projects. Time and materials, that's the only way I can do it. I rarely give estimates because each job varies. I do the best I can, in many cases improving the overall quality of the boat. Around here the shops that do repair work are few and I find my services are much appreciated.