Do it Yourself
Fix a broken Old Town Poylink3 canoe of kayak
Here is a skill you hope never to have to use, but it is still good to be able to do it if the time comes. The following pictures are of an Old Town Loon 138 kayak that came off a car at 110kph when the roof rack failed. One of the cross bars went right through the side of the kayak below the waterline. This never would have happened if the kayak was tied at the nose and tail as well as secured to the roof rack. It is important to know how to transport your boat, then you won't have to ever learn this boat fixing skill. That said, you may encounter other incidents that may cause this type of damage. Falling trees, automobile accidents, there are a number of ways your boat could sustain damage. Almost all are fixable in some way. (No one was harmed in this accident)
The hole must be carefully cleaned of any dirt, and the edges of the hole sanded or cut back to reveal the core foam material.
The first thing to do is to mask out an area to work on, several layers of wide masking tape should do. I used 80 grit sand paper to rough up the whole area first, and then followed with 100 grit on a palm sander to smooth things out a bit better.
Sanding both sides is important because you will later apply a patch on both of those sides. Working on a kayak is infinitely harder than working on a canoe. Lucky for me I am not that big, but this is still a very hard job. Make sure to wear a dust mask and ear plugs if you are using an electric sander. the sound is amplified by many times inside a kayak and there is no ventilation.
Remove the tape and get out your Old Town Discovery/Royalex repair kit. This is a dealer only item so if you don't have an Old Town seller in your area, go to the Old Town website (www.otcanoe.com) to locate one. This kit cost me $60 Canadian, but the price will vary depending on your location.
The next thing to do is to take a propane torch on low heat, with about an inch and a half flame, and prepare the sanded area for the resin. This is called polarizing, and it is a fancy way to describe burning off impurities to allow a bond to form with the patch. No melting is occurring and the hull temperature does not rise significantly, but it is important not to touch the area once this step is complete. If you do touch the area by accident, re-sand and re-flame the area to ensure that a proper bond can be created. Remember to do both sides of the hole or crack. Inside a kayak will be very tricky.
Once the area to be patched is polarized, apply more masking tape around the area, and a plastic drop sheet if you think you may make a mess. Remember not to touch the prepared areas. This has to be done on both sides of the hole and the next step is the most difficult.
There will be detailed instructions in your kit on what to do, how to mix the resin and hardener, and how to cut the cloth to make the patch. The cloth should be cut about two inches larger than the hole on all sides ahead of time, and the second and third layers of cloth should be slightly smaller to aid flexibility. The kit provides a brush to use which works, but a small roller will do a nicer job. The resin, once mixed will harden fast so there is a small window of opportunity to do things right. Do the inside patch first and mix only enough resin to do one side at a time. Once you have three or four layers of fabric and resin on, let the inside start to dry a bit before attempting the other side. A bit tacky is the perfect time. Apply the outer patch with a second mix of resin and hardener. It is easiest to apply the patch fabric if you roll a thin layer of resin on the prepared area first. This will help to hold the fabric in place as you build up the patch layers. Rubber gloves and protection of you skin is very important as is ventilation. This product causes cancer and is very nasty. Just do not get it on you! The product also comes with a warning sheet and info on who to call if you do come into contact with it. Hopefully you wont need to use it.
When the patch is dry and solid you can remove the masking tape. It will be a golden brown color.
Sanding starting with 100 grit paper and working up to what ever grit you feel gives you the smoothest finish is not necessary, but desirable. I thought that 220 grit was fine but you could go higher.
There are more technical ways to color the patch. You can get pigment that will match the color of your boat from the manufacturer, but a good plastic based paint will work. I used a forest green Varithane based paint that is close. I wanted to paint a big beige bandage on the side but the client preferred green.
Once tested the patch held up good. It even survived some pretty intense rock strikes running in white water.
This one was a bit more intense and needed to be rebuilt but used much the same process as the smaller hole above. I got in touch with Old Towns repair guys and they said "Toss it out, buy another one." That is about 40lbs of unrecyclable waste that will last for about a million years so I didn't take their advice.
I managed to cut all of the delaminated wrinkles out of the tail section and with a bit of aircraft aluminum and some pop rivets, fabricate a means of salvaging most of the back end of the kayak.
As an insurance policy I installed a minicell bulkhead and "went to town" on the silicone on both sides. You want to be small and dexterous to do this kind of thing. The result is that no gear will disturb the inside of the patch job and in the event of catastrophic failure the kayak still will not sink.
After sticking the tail back on, it started to look like a kayak again. I wanted to see how strong it was going to be so I gave it three or four good smacks with the back end of my axe to simulate a drunken yahoo out of control floating backwards at 8kph into a rock. It survived the test.
With the new skeleton in place it was time to add some fabric and resin to build up the hull. This is done using the same process as described above.
First thing is to mask it out...
Then of course sand it and flame treat it...
To complete the project lots of sanding, more fabric and resin, and lots more sanding. This is where the kayak becomes seaworthy again. The next step is some more added insurance; Drill a hole in the top and fill the back end with expanding liquid foam that will harden into a light fluffy semi solid that will keep any water out in case of hull failure, or bulkhead failure. The last step is to put a final layer of fabric and resin over everything and paint it. In the end it should be stronger than the original and the affect on the weight is not too bad. Even if it does affect the trim a bit it is still better than tossing it out.