Here are two videos that deal with kevlar canoe repair of a Souris River Canoe’s flexible ribs. No other kevlar canoes offer anything like this as they ALL have a foam core bottom with is just a piece of flat foam (like Styrofoam) that is sandwiched between two sheets of kevlar using a vacuum bag process. This makes a very stiff bottom in the canoe and is great if all you want to do is race. For the other 98% of the canoe world, we just want a canoe that will paddle nicely, be stable, easy to control on water, is user-friendly and light weight. That means that the bottom of the canoe should have some give designed into it because everybody WILL paddle over an obstacle at one time or another. Foam core bottom canoes don’t do very well when they plow into a rock. This is particularly true in the heavily rock laden, Boundary Waters Canoe Area (my back yard) where paddling racing-oriented canoes and hauling gear in them is kind of worthless. They are particularly worthless on windy, rough days and there are a lot of Wenonah canoe paddlers out there who know exactly to what I’m refering. Low freeboard of the Minnesota II, the low stern of the same canoe, and a quartering, following sea of 3.5 foot whitecaps = water over the stern and the sides. (Ring any bells?) Those are the days when Wenonahs stay hiding and peeking around the points and from behind islands waiting for the wind to die down before they take their lives in their own hands. Souris Rivers, however, just go and make it to the other side on top of the water, high and dry, all gear and people intact. Souris River’s forward thinking about known problems in everyday wilderness/recreational canoe paddling is why there are ribs on the bottom of Souris River Canoes and no vacuum-bagged beer cooler in the floor. Depending on how they were flexed and how many beaver dams Souris Rivers were carelessly slid over while heavily loaded, they may experience issues like the occasional cracked rib. Wenonah’s can experience cracked floors and being built with vacuum bags, can result in very difficult repair issues for you and me. There is no repair kit for a crack across the floor, in the foam layer sandwiched between two sheets of kevlar. Good luck with that one.
These two videos show you how to repair a stress-cracked rib in a Souris River Canoe:
Rib Repair using fiber glass
As you can see, I doubled up fiber glass to solve the problem and it does a good job. In this kind of a crack, the foam is rarely damaged. The crack in the rib is actually just in the fiber glass top sheet and kevlar immediately under that. The cracks are not in the hull itself. These do not leak, nor do they affect the seaworthiness of the canoe. Glassing them as I did in the video will re-stiffen the rib at that point and usually puts an end to any oil-canning should there be some. Like I said in the video, it’s not a huge deal, but they should be addressed for better paddling. Wenonah owners get all excited when they see this sort of thing because they think the world is coming to an end due to all that programming about hull efficiency, speed and performance. I know for a fact that a little stress crack in the rib of a Souris River Canoe won’t stop the planet’s spin.
For epoxy resin to do this repair, the West System 6 pack is all you need. One packet will mix enough resin to usually do about two rib cracks with glass (or kevlar) patches. If you need more, crack open another packet, mix up both halves and apply. It’s pretty simple. Here’s where you can buy West System Epoxy repair packets.
Want to experience the real beauty of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? Come stay at our lodge and take day canoe trips in all directions. Visit our lodge site (Northwind Lodge) here