Temp repair over damaged canvas, Pennyan cartopper


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Picked up a Pennyan Cartopper LXH52433 (not positive about the first two letters).

The ribs and strakes are in good shape outside of a single 1 inch gash through the planking 6-8 inches above the waterline. The canvas is in bad shape. It has a tare repaired (light green line in hull photo) with fiberglass years ago but near the keel (shadow area) there is a big ripped section (hand photo). The section of canas next to the right bilge keel is seperated from the canvas going under the bilge keel and can be lifted to expose the strakes. Given that I would guess the canvas runs on the keel and both bilge keels are very weak. There are also sections along the bottom of the transom that have exposed canvas and wood sections so would leak.

Would it be possible to put on a quick repair to get some use out of it this summer? The thought was to lay some fiberglass on after stripping and sanding or apply something like Xynole. The keel and bilge keels would have to be removed and large layer of something put on to cover the whole bottom about to where it starts to curve up i.e. the flat section of the bottom.

I don't know what the white paint is and the canvas cover origin so the fill the original aluminum stuff Pennyan used. It's brittle in some areas due to being in the sun.

What can be done if anything to put on an easy patch to get some use out of it before a later restore? Would anything even stick to the old canvas? Pennyan_LXH_52433_03.jpgPennyan_LXH_52433_13.jpgPennyan_LXH_52433_14.jpgPennyan_LXH_52433_15.jpg
Last edited:
Gorilla tape, maybe. The normal patch job involves slipping canvs under the rip and contact cement/ Pliobond it there. Then sand/prime/paint. Maybe some bondo as needed. The underside of the canvas looks to me like it's ready to be replaced.
Looking for some feedback on a possible large canvas/fiberglass patch.
Would it be feasible to cut the existing canvas away 2 inches on either side of the 2 outside keels up past the prior slash patch towards the front, then angling in about half way up the flat section of the stem band and also cutting to the back of the transom up an inch . Then sand a few inches up all around from the cut areas to expose the fill and some of the old canvas. Then install a large patch of fiberglass or canvas.
If the two inch area around the cut away sections would mate with the fiberglass glue then the patch would work. One issue would be later removing all the canvas and fiberglass for recovering in canvas. The concern would be would the fiberglass adhering to the strakes and damage strakes? I don’t think so given people remove fiberglass all the time with minimal damage. I think that can be done because the fiberglass glue that makes it to the wood is not clamped but does bond to the wood but not very well. At least that’s what I think happens. If that’s right then a huge bottom patch would be possible and not destroy the strakes making a restore much more involved. Currently the strakes and ribs are fine. I would appreciate any comments about the possibility of doing a big patch.
Last edited:
The right thing to do is recanvass it.
To temporarrarily fix it well is difficult due to the proximity of the keel. You could wet down a canvas patch with ambroid glue, pliobond, of even shoo-goo and slide it beyond the margins of the tear, then press the torn flaps onto the patch. Put some Sika -Flex along the keel to seal that, bondo, sand and paint...... Anything beyond that as a temporary patch would be a waste of time, given the general condition of the rest of the canvas.....
Canvassing a boat with transom can be intimidating for those that have not experienced it previously. I's not that difficult. Possibly you could appeal for som help from other members in your area, or local chapter. Bottom line (IMHO) is new canvas is the right thing to do.
Canvasing is out for now.

Pliobond was mentioned in a prior post. I'm looking for something "more temporary".

Also, the bad areas are large and I would not feel cumfortable with pliobond. It seems like a get back to the shore type fix. I would not feel cumfortable with pliobond for several trips out on big lakes.

If the type of patch I've mentioned would work it would be a great out for my situation and not necessairly the best or right thing to do. I'm interested in if it would work. It would give me time and flexability. Or if some other better method of installing a large patch would be possible i.e. other fabric types with glues that would securely bond to sanded sections of Penn Yans aluminum fill and canvas.

One option I though of but not sure about is installing fiberglass or canvas and expoxy filling the patch area with a light first coat of expoxy to only just saturate or half satureate the patch part covering wood. The idea of doing that is the expoxy would not penetrate fully to the wood. For the parts overlaying the sanded aluminum canvas original area the fiberglass cloth or canvas would be fully saturated as usual. After the initial layer dried then put multiple layers above for strength. I've done some car patching but nothing on boats so not sure if any of this would work. From googling though it seems like such a patch could work but I'm not sure and the reason I'm asking.

I saw an imcomplete repair a few weeks ago at an antique boat auction which made me think it might work on my boat. It was on a 19 foot grandlaker style canoe with a missing transom. It seemed like it was originally covered in fiberglass. The owner sanded back a bevel about 4 inches long on strakes next to the transom. My guess was he was going to install a new wood transom then wrap the fiberglass around the transom and over the long bevel then sand it smooth. That's the type of thing I'm thinking of but for me the match would be fiberglass to Penn Yans aluminum fill and canvas and I'm not sure if the fiberglass would "stick".
I should add I've been searching the net for weeks trying to find a similar situation but cannot. I've read lots of posts about patching but nothing specific. The closest is a suggestion that doing and getting a strong bong would be as good as the bond to the aluminum fill. I think bonding to canvas is ok. ?? I guess I could put a test patch on the boat say a foot long patch by six inches and see how it bonds.
Last edited:
Your methods may work. However the rest of the canvas looks suspect to me for several trips to big lakes...
especially along the keels.... better caulk them up as well.
Let us know how you come out...
Don't forget your life jacket.
>>Your methods may work. However the rest of the canvas looks suspect to me
The canvas along one bilge keel is open along most of the length of that keel. Several areas on the bottom are bad. The keels are rotted and have to be replaced. The sides going down just below the curve to the bottom seem ok though. If clearing out the bottom section and attaching a large patch would work then canvassing could be avoided for now. Canvasing is just not possible for a while.
I’ll try a large test patch and see how it goes.
Originally I thought of removing all the bottom cover up to just below what would be the water line, put saran wrap over the large area and sand and bevel the left on side cover edge two inches. Then cover the whole thing with fiberglass. Insead, the following was done.....

Put on test patches of polyester resin and fiberglass over the white paint, exposed original green paint and exposed (I think) butyrate impregnated with aluminum. They all held well so the 3 keels were removed and the bottom under and beside them scraped. Three to four inch strips of fiberglass run the length of each keel and covered with polyester resin. The big slit opening in a post above and other small opens were backed underneath with saran wrap, cover with fiberglass and resined over. The transom edge got a few layers of polyester resin.

Took the boat out for a two hour paddle and the boat leaked. The leaking had to be bailed and bothersome but not enough to cancel the trip. It was depressing though until it got home and flipped over. The patched places seemed fine so the boat flipped again and filled with water. The leaks were from several missed areas which were very small and easy to patch.

The keel patch strip is on well but rough in a few places. Much of what’s on there will get stripped and second layer applied and sanded. It should end up fairly smooth. The new keels will be bedded so I think they will be fine. The only concern is flexing along the keel edges and cracking of the fiberglass. I don’t think that will be a problem or at lest hoping it won’t be.

Since the patching seems to work the boat is getting the outside stripped of the white layer while trying to leave on the original green or worse case expose some of the butyrate aluminum layer. Almost all of the white layer will get removed but a very thin layer will be left on as weave filler as it seems to be very tightly bonded to the green paint.

The boat should end up with a fairly smooth bottom, new keels, paint and work. Over the summer the inside will be stripped and a new back seat made. Some time in the future the boat will be stripped of its cover and re-done. I’m still looking into it but I think the boat is covered in Ceconite not cotton canvas and there is no “filler” as such.

It was probably sprayed with “dope”, non-Tautening nitrate for the first layer and topped with butyrate mixed with aluminum powder for UV protection. So the process is different than canoe canvassing. For the Ceconite (which I think is Dacron or polyester fabric ((twill)), it gets put on and not stretched but heat shrunk with a calibrated iron (shirt ironing iron). Next is spraying on the nitrate layer (no lead based filler and no waiting several weeks for drying). Then the butyrate aluminum layer is sprayed on. Then paint.

Just guessing but I think the process is not similar to aircraft polyester wing construction but the same as…. That Penn Yan used the same materials and process. If anyone knows please post that this is the case. Also can the nitrate be put on with a brush? I think the butyrate aluminum layer which was for UV protection can be dropped with modern UV protective paints. If that’s reasonable please let me know.
Tripper_patches_1.jpg Tripper_patches_2.jpg
Last edited:
A bit off topic but I was wondering how much the temporary patch is going to cost? You may end up with more money into it than you want. But then again, you may end up using it for a couple years.
So far $20 in resin and about $3-4 in fiberglass cloth. The keel areas are getting sanded today and will determine just how much more resin and glass will be used. I think about $5 in resin and $2-3 in glass will do it. With keels that’s roughly $60.

The temp route was to bottom patch, install new keels and leave it at that. Since the bottom is going well and should be ok for a few years it’s getting paint outside, stipped inside, re-attach about six feet of canvas at the sheer strake, scarf the outwale tips at the deck The boat can be used before doing all of the work so will go to the camp and completed there over the summer. Going this way will allow the start of the real project, another 14foot cartoppper that needs several strakes, 15-20 ribs, gunwales, cover, transom, braces & etc….

White Oak keels and scarfs roughly $15-$20.
Stripper, inside & out $35.
Paint $25 (left over Pettit from 12 footer repair).
Sandpaper $10.
Resin & glass $35.
About $125 total, with a fudge factor $150.
That's not a bad return on investment. But I could probably do the whole canvas job for that much. But the boat would be out of service for maybe a month.
“A bit off topic” is looking like a troll post given your next post that’s irrelevant to the topic or much else. Sort of inline with MGC’s “helpful” post. Given the irrelevance you should have started your own thread about canvassing costs or possibly you could explain what your doing a recanvas for whatever amount has anything to do with the topic other than trying to spread a little skunk spray?

As mentioned a few times above, recanvasing is not possible at this time. Even if the situation was permitting a canoe type canvassing would not necessarily be the first choice. The process and costs of doing an original Penn Yan cover are still being looked into and it will be a while before enough info can be gotten to be comfortable with it. Again, even is the situation was permitting I’m not ready to undertake a Penn Yan original cover yet.

If you feel the undertaking is a waste of time that’s fine and I’d like to read a considered why.
I was actually thinking the undertaking was time well spent. Sometimes the written word is not perceived as intended. Certainly no offense intended. What I have learned from the few projects I've done is that generally speaking, diverging from traditionally standard practises results in less than desired results. It sounds as if your project has proven satisfactory for your purposes. Now you get to enjoy it for some time. Congrats.
“A bit off topic” is looking like a troll post given your next post that’s irrelevant to the topic or much else. Sort of inline with MGC’s “helpful” post.
If you feel the undertaking is a waste of time that’s fine and I’d like to read a considered why.

Trout....I am sorry if you did not perceive my suggestion as "helpful".
It was actually a sincere suggestion considering your desperation to get "a floater" even at the expense of making an eventual and correct repair more difficult.
Given that I don't know your restoration and canvassing expertise I improperly assumed that you were interested in experienced advice.

In reality it does not matter all that much nor do I care if you cover your boat with roofing tar or fiberglass patches. It's your boat to do with as you please.
In this case literally, "whatever floats your boat".
How old is that boat? How long did that original canvas job do its work? If it was good enough for PenYan why wouldn't it be good enough for you to do it right. and that means to recanvas. I just recanvassed an 18' Old Town and the cost of all the materials was $125. You could spend a lot on temp patches and still have to do a recanvass later anyway. I also believe that doing it right is less work than the temp patches.
As mentioned in prior posts it’s not possible to recanvas at this time. Even if the situation permitted I’m not ready to do a Penn Yan style cover yet (much different than a canoe cover).

A few have balanced repair versus canvas. Since it would be lame to just recanvas the actual balance is repair versus full repair of new inwales, outwales, keels & etc.....then canvas so "canvasing" is much more involved.

The repair cost was $35 as the old keels were used. There is no impact on the hull from the repair, no added damage or anything to back out on a later restore. The patched parts were over wax paper and saran wrap.

The patching is complete so the boat will be brought to Maine and used there.

If I had opted for recanvasing the boat would have been sidelined until the spring of next year.
14 foot Penn Yan.jpg
The repair(s) went well and seemed strong enough to go a bit further and paint the boat. The first time out it had leaks in the stem from prior holes so I pulled the stem band, filled a few with small dowels and remounted the band with screws and 5200. It's been out several times now usually for a 4-5 mile exercise rows and few long toots on the lake of several miles with a 2hp. It has stood up to some mild bottom wave pounding and no leaks, zero water.
The repairs are not the best but were worth the effort and gives me a very nice boat to use now versus being at home waiting until next year.
Picked up a very nice trailer for $30 minus lights but with wiring, bunks and bearings and tires in excellent shape. A little plaining of the bunks and the 14 footer fits on nicely with some thick carpet for bunk sliders.