OK... I looked up this topic last year and couldn't find much so I kind of winged it and wanted to share the results.
I picked up one of Max's (AlaskaCanoe one of the forum moderators) end of season rejects last Oct for cheap. A Royalex Old Town Camper... well used, Ends worn through the first layer with the foam core exposed and quite a few dents and dings... pretty typical rental boat usage... Max said when I purchased it was 3 years old so purchased in 2006... like I said well used but still lots of life in it. In hind sight I should have taken starting pictures and "evolution" pictures for this post but I wasn't thinking that far ahead at the time Sorry Maybe Max has a pic or two he could post of a typlical end of life rental boat . Anyway i restored and refinished the canoe and now after a season I'm pretty happy with the results considering.
I wanted to run the for a season before posting so I could show how the finish "wore" over the year. Now after a season of moderate to heavy use.... Use being: 3 river trips; Eagle River from mile 7 to the loop bridge, Little Willow from parks to Willow campground, and week long Gulkana camping trip. the River trips featured the regular scraping along with one big hit on a submerged sweeper in class 1 flow and subsequent rollover dunking (Little Willow where my front paddler was substantially less experienced than he indicated to me before the trip) and numerous trips to local lakes for paddling around with the boys... I'm pretty happy with the way the finish wore and how it looks at the end of a great season.
Anyway here's how I refinished the boat... Remember this is a royalex boat with the factory gel coating.
1. Wash down with pressure washer to remove dirt and grime. I did this in the fall right after getting it. then put it up until Feb when I had time to work on it.
2. In Feb... Took it down from the rafters and propped up in the garage on sawhorses. (not a heated garage but connected to the house and insulated so it doesn't get below freezing.) And washed it down again with dish soap and pot scrubbers. then rinsed it down good and let it dry.
3. trimmed off the hanging bits of the first layer that had worn away on the ends and sanded the whole hull with 80 grit sandpaper on a little hand mouse sander. then wiped down with Denatured alcohol to clean and dry.
4. Repaired the ends with Kevlar skid plates from Northwest Canoe Northwest Canoe skidplate site The Large Size kit.
5. flipped the Yoke around to face the opposite direction
6. Added a middle seat Middle Canoe Seat as I have 4 young boys so it was kind of a needed item
7. covered everything with a grey base boat paint primer from West Marine. Brightside Pre-Coat
8. Used 8" wide plastic putty knife to use an amine based epoxy from interlux to fill all the dents and dings in the gel coat royalex material this stuff worked great but took patience and some practice to get it right. I had to sand it out and redo a couple times to get it right but it did work. Really in the end I found the best way to apply was to put a little on the putty knife and pull slowing in the direction of the dent. the putty was left behind in the divet/dent and filled it up back to the level of the main hull leaving a uniform flat surface.. the curves were a little tricky but with practice I was able to bend the plastic putty knife to the right contour to match the boat. Interlux Epoxy Resin
don't get me wrong this step took QUITE a bit of hours to do and get right. But I had all winter and i was something to do.
9. Applied 2 more coats of Primer - IMPORTANT - the first time I did it I only did 1 coat of primer then a finish coat which was what the manufacture instructions were. BAD idea.. the exoxy and finish coat were not compatible and the finish coat blistered up... so the trick here is to 1. take your time and allow plenty of time for the expox to cure (I'd recommend leaving it a couple weeks) and 2. make sure it's warm enough to be painting the finish coat. (instructions said 50C.. I think it was a little cool in the garage when I first tried it which may have contributed) anyway I had to sand it back to the filler and try again... not fun.
10. Apply 3 coats of finish coat. I used Interlux Brighside topside paint. Brightside Topside Paint Which was a nice compromise in ease of use and toughness. Marine West sales guy recommended a different brand but they didn't have it in the color I wanted.
11. Finished up with a couple custom decals I found from a guy on Craigslist and hooks, anchor points and other rigging for a tripping canoe.
Total cost was around $300 for materials and way too many hours to probably make it worth it but it was a nice little winter project and I enjoy doing that kind of thing so for me it was worth it... At the end of the day I ended up with a custom Old Town Royalex Canoe for about half the price of buying new from REI.
As you can see the finish held up pretty well for being dragged across the rocks of 3 rivers including one really hard hit (the big chip in the paint). Honestly the epoxy resin in my opinion actually toughened the Royalex from getting more divets, and dings, and the Brightside paint was as effective as the original gel coat. In a couple years a quick sand and reapplication of another coat and it will look like new again.
anyway cheers all. see you in the spring...