Waterproofing for canvas leaks?


New Member

I have an 18 foot B.N. Morris with 30 year old replacement canvas that was not filled before it was painted. I don’t have time to replace the canvas before a scheduled canoe hunting trip in two months so I’m looking for some advice on sealing the leaks, about 12 of them.

There is only one tear which I’ll patch with canvas and ambroid cement. The other leaks were caused by river canoeing over unseen rocks and branches. In these spots the canvas isn’t ripped, but scored and the paint is cracked, in some spots up to 20 inches long. These scores leak when tested by filling the canoe’s inside with water.

The five options I’ve found so far to seal these leaks are:
1. Orange shellac (this forum)
2. Zinsser waterproofing paint (this forum). This appears a bit too thick and might compromise the smoothe flow
3. Mink oil
4. Candle wax
5. Marine enamel paint with an epoxy additive

I plan to re-canvas the canoe after this trip, as authentically as possible, so I don’t want to cause damage with the waterproofing method. I was also thinking of brushing on Ambroid cement to cover these leaks. The waterproofing method has to last a week during a November northern Maine deer hunt, so I’m skeptical of the candle wax and the ability to successfully reapply it in those temperatures if needed.

I’d appreciate any feedback or thoughts on addressing this situation.

Bob Cooney
paint it

for 10 bucks you can get oil based enamel from the tractor supply store. Valspar- It is tough stuff.

Zinsser water tight is used to fill canvas. Is ready for sand/paint in a week instead of four wks. Is not traditional.

I'd go with two coats of paint. Porch paint or tractor paint. Sand with grit 150 to 220 first.
take a roll of duct tape on the hunting trip.
Regards, Dave.
Several have responded about the use of duc tape. I always make sure I have some on a trip. Other material which is very handy is a tube of Tear Mender which is a rubberized material. I've used it many times to patch a canvas tear and keep it in my canoe repair kit along with patches of canvas. Sets up in minutes.
why not some pine sap with a smidge of animal grease and charcol, that works.... I have some of those repairs that are 30 years old and still holding, besides its more fun than buying something off the shelf of walmart. peter
Thank you very much


Thank you. You've given me ideas I would have never considered.

Bob Cooney
My friend Chuck in Millinockett who makes birchbark canoes always has a small can that he saves his bacon fat in when out on a trip...spring a leak?...build a small fire, find some sap, mix it with the bacon fat, fill the leak and smear it smooth with the flat of a heated knife, and then your ready to continue....Works for him, but then, thats just the old traditional method.