Max Peterson

LOVES Wooden Canoes
I recently acquired an Old Town sailing canoe. It needs a bit of repair and new canvas. The gudgeons for attaching the rudder seem to be riveted through the rear stem. I haven't spent much time looking at them, but the only solution I have at present is to drill them out and use new brass rod to make new rivets. Does anyone have other suggestions for neatly removing the gudgeons so that they can be replaced after re-canvasing?
I don't know what type of rivets ou have, but If they're like most traditional boat rivets (as opposed to pop rivets) you can generally just grind the flared part off of the shank, pop off the rove, washer or whatever is there and drive the shaft back out enough to get hold of it and pull it out. It's generally a lot easier and neater than trying to drill out the rivet.

These rivets are the same material as the gudgeon and ground flush to the surface. It is a very clean, smooth look. I scraped away the paint on the surface to see if there was perhaps a screw slot, but no such luck.

I started with a small drill and worked my way up with progressively larger bits and had no problems saving the gudgeons on one of my sailing canoes. It does take some time and patience though. New ones are available if you have a problem. Good luck,

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I am in exactly the same situation as Max. I am just beginning the restoration of an Old Town sailing canoe, and the gudgeons on mine are fastened just as Max described. Instead of drilling out the rivets, would it work to wiggle a hack saw between the gudgeon and the stem and cut the shaft? Then, with the gudgeon removed, perhaps I could tap the shaft/rivet right out. Would this work?
I've always done exactly as Benson describes. Thought of the hacksaw idea, but there's usually not much room to get a blade in there. Drilling seems to work fine, but as Benson says, approach the full diameter of the rivet with care so as not to damage the gudgeon. When re-installing, you can insert brass bar stock, cut slightly long, peen the ends, and file/sandpaper smooth.

Is a special drill bit required to drill out the brass rivet? I tried drilling it this afternoon with my run-of-the-mill drill bits. All I managed to do was put a little dent in the brass. The drill was not making any kind of hole. My drill bits are nothing special. I assume they are bottom of the line twist bits from Sears. Do I need some kind of specialy bits? Do I need better quality (i.e., sharper or harder) twist bits?
Start with a center punch, then use a sharp drill bit. Most twist drills are designed for boring into metals, so if it is not cutting, it is not sharp. Use firm pressure and slow speed. A little cutting oil might help, but shouldn't really be necessary for this.
Thanks all for your information and discussion. I think I now have a pretty good idea of what to do. I just need to find the time to do it.

I drilled the gudgeon rivets out last night starting with an 1/8" drill and working up in size just as Benson suggested. It worked like a charm! You do need a sharp bit. This stuff doesn't cut as easily as I would have expected. You also need to be sure to line the drill up well. I used a center punch to mark both ends of the rivet and then I held the punch in the opposite side for reference while aligning the drill.

I got the same problem..

Max, you started with 1/8th - what did you end up finishing with?


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The hole I ended up with is 3/16", but I think that is the original size. I still have the rivet remains and it looks like I drilled a bit smaller and worked out the shell. I haven't repaired the boat yet or put them back on so I still don't know for sure what modifications may be necessary in re-attaching them. There is not a lot of stem thickness left under the canvas after you drill the rivet holes. I wouldn't want to hit anything too substantial with the rudder.


Thanks Max. I'll give it a shot.

This canoe is a 15 foot lightweight Old Town. A previous owner did hit something with the rudder and it twisted the top of the stem. I need to get in there and assess the damage, but it didn't give totally away either. My plan is to use this sailing gear on another canoe, and convert this one back to a paddler. The sailing gear was installed later on this canoe and it was well done by a boatshop in Maryland.