dacron on Old Town

Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

I am restoring an Old Town which accoridng to Old Town was originally covered in dacron with little or no filler, just paint. Can anyone give me more info on the weight of the material and possible retailers of the cloth in the Vancouver area. Old Town has not been very responsive to questions in the past.

Dacron (by the way) is merely Dupont's trade name for their polyester fabrics. Other brands may have different names or just be called polyester, but they are all made from the same stuff. There are, however, lots of variations in the way polyesters are finished at the mill. The type you are looking for is most often used in fabric-covered airplane construction and you shrink it tight once it's on the hull. This is not the same kind of fabric as Dacron sailcloth, polyester or Dacron cover canvas or fabric-store Dacron (though leisure suit polyester from the late '70's is pretty close if you can find one big enough to cover a canoe).
More confused now

Thanks for the response. The customer does not care whether the canoe is recovered in Dacron or canvass, but I kind of like to keep things original and Old Town did provide me with the info on this particular boat with the serial number but has never responded to my inquires about the cloth. His family (grandfather)is the original owner
I have used dacron on a number of canoes with good result and can pass on my suppliers if you want. They will send it all by courier so it is a phone call and visa no. away. I also have a few canoes in town (west Van) and some fabric samples if you want to see them. peter
I would appreciate that. Give me a call at 604 312 4784or send a private email and we can talk. I have a sample of the old material to compare.
Hi Peter,
I have removed the old canvas from an OTCA in preparation for Dacron and stripped varnish & paint where necessary. The cedar planking is in good condition but I need some advise on how to condition the wood outside & inside. If I oil the wood, will that affect adherence of HeatnBond glus strip. Any an all info, links or advice on the complete process would be greatly appreciated.
is welcome.
I am sure there are others who can give you more authoritative information, so take this for what it's worth.

I recently completed a new canoe and covered it with dacron. From that experience I can offer the following advice.

1. Be sure the hull is well faired as any imperfections will show through the dacron more readily than through canvas and filler.

2. Rather than oil on the hull, a wash coat or two of thinned varnish might be better. Before covering the hull apply a generous coat of paste wax to all areas except where the ecobond is to be applied. You don't want the filler penetrating the dacron and gluing it to the hull in places.

3. After you've applied the dacron and heat shrunk it drum tight, go over the entire hull again with the calibrated iron. I skipped this step and my dacron tends to get small loose pockets. They can be heated with an iron and they disappear, but eventually come back.

4. If you want a really nice looking hull, use the ecofill as directed, but before applying the paint apply about two coats of Zinzer 123 white primer. This stuff builds up and really fills the weave. The ecofill does not. Sand with 320 between primer coats. Skipping the primer will result in a nice looking job, but the fabric weave will still show through. I originally finished my hull with aircraft finishes ($$$$$). The first contact with a rock resulted in leaks. Upon the good advice of Pam Wed, I refinished with the Zinzer and applied Kirby enamel with a 4" foam roller. The results were a hundred times more satisfactory than using the aircraft paint.

5. As to the details of actually applying the dacron, check out Alex Comb's article a few months back in Wooden Canoe. It's not difficult and the stuff is kind of fun to work with.

Good luck with your project and keep us posted. Pictures??
I would agree that the aircraft paints are too soft for the odd rock, so I used epoxy as a filler and toughener for subsequent layers depending on how the canoe would be used, with a graphite/epoxy layer to help those pesky rocks from being inconvenient, then a colour coat. (I think I posted the routine I have settled with, on this forum before). If you are planning one layer, then you need a very well constructed hull, as with people, thin (spandex) coverings should be worn by the truly young and beautiful only. That is the only advantage of canvas in my view, the cellulite of these old girls does not show with canvas but will with one layer of dacron.
I would spend less time trying to fair the hull and rather add another layer of fabric impregnated with epoxy and graphite. It will do more to hide any imperfections as well as protection from rocks etc... I initially recoiled from using saran wrap to prevent adhesion to the wood, but I got over my preconceptions.
The MEK based plasticizer coat is a really good route as the first layer and will not be a problem if you use saran wrap and epoxy as the covering layer.... it is incompatible with all the non aircraft paints I have tried.
The dacron still happy with surf landings after all these years. photos from 2 weeks ago. peter


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Dacron Covering

We have been covering with dacron for the past 18 years with great success. The proper material is an aircraft covering material known as ceconite. We use the 3.7 oz. material and a onding tape (Heatbond Ultrahold) (NO TACKS AT ALL). Finish of with acryli latex high gloss enamel (with a wee bit of polyurethane mixed in).

We would be happy to put a covering kit together for you.

Russ Guibord
Dacron Covering Supplies

I'm ready to start re-covering a 16' OTCA. Would you please provide a list of supplies with prices and ordering information? Thanks


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Okay, here comes another question from a newbie restorer. I have been readin this thread about Dacon instead of canvas with great interest. Is it easier to apply the dacron than canvas? I have actually been dreading the recanvasing portion of this project after looking at pictures of come-alongs attached to both ends or hanging my canoe in a hammock with tons of weight in it!
What are the benefits and drawbacks to using dacron? One reason I'll probably go with the canvas it that I already have it (previous owner purchased it), the other is that was how it was originally made, but none the less I sure would like to know more about dacron.
to jakden: Check out the web sit of "Stewart River Boat Works" You will find the article on Dacron there--good luck Bill
Having done both, I would say that canvas is really easier to apply. If you don't like the idea of putting tons of weight in the canoe, try the upside down approach. I personally prefer this method. Simply make a couple of supports the same width as the gunwales at the support points and put your anchors for the stretch down low. Once you have all the equipment (come along, "clothes pins" to hold the canvas, large scissor like clamps to attach the ropes or chains to the come along, staple gun with SS staples etc. The job goes very easily and much more quickly than dacron. The down side is that you have to wait at least six weeks for the filler to harden and cure. The filler itself is very easy to apply.

My first experience with dacron has not been a particularly happy one. After many weeks, when exposed to cool overnight weather, the dacron loosened and formed many blister like pouches on the sides of the hull. I just finished going over the entire hull with a hot iron and they disappeared, but I'm afraid they are likely to come back. Time will tell. My first experience with canvas went off without a hitch. There are some very good photographs of the upside down method in Jerry Stelmok's book about Joe Saliga (available from the WCHA store.) The dacron was fun to apply, but took much longer than a canvas job. Many others have used dacron without a problem. I believe that i did not use enough heat in the shrinking process although the covering looked drum tight.

The real issue is to answer the question "How important is the weight of the canoe?" If you're going to do a lot of portaging, you can save about 10 lbs on the finished weight. If not, I'd stick with canvas. It's much more rugged, time tested and reliable.
Thanks, good advise. I will stick with the canvas for this one,, but I sure want to learn more about dacron as it sounds interesting and the weight savings is substantial.
I find it hard to believe that someone can have a harder time with heat shrinking dacron than canvas (the value of a good instruction manual may be relevant) but for some, it may be. I have found heat shrinking dacron a whole lot easier and more durable (having used both). I think the abrasion resistance is largely in the coating/filler of the fabric, the dacron on an ounce for once is much stronger the first year, and every year after that. The weight savings are real and well appreciated. Canvas has not held up for me when compared to layers of dacron and an abrasion resistant coating. However canvas is cheap, and does hide a host of imperfections well. peter
Peter Osberg and Ceconite

Sure would appreciate a phone # for Peter to enable securing possible WCHA member?builder sources for Ceconite and discuss application tips. Thanx.

My McGreivey Racine

has a polyester material on it and it been used pretty heavily for 17 years now. It has Rand-O-Fill on it made by Randolph Aircraft Products. It's tough as hell and I've dragged it over beaver dams. 17 foot canoe and weighs 58 lbs.
I have one canoe with ceconite (polyester backing cloth) which is still going after 37 years. It is heavier than the routine I have come around to, and not as abrasion resistant as the layers of lighter polyester cloth, epoxy/graphite filler plus colour coat. If you let the fabric adhere to the wood you will get puckering as the wood shifts, the trick is to use a barrier to adhesion.
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