How to Repair Coleman Canoes

Written by tom king
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How to Repair Coleman Canoes
High-density polyethelene plastic canoes can be challenging to repair. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The ubiquitous plastic Coleman Canoe is found propped up against fences and garages in backyards everywhere. The Coleman "Ram-X" hull material is high-density polythene (HDPE) moulded plastic. Not much sticks to it and repairing a punchture or dent can be a bit of a challenge for the typical shade-tree handyman. Fortunately, there are some solutions you can try that can help you get back on the water.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Soap and water
  • Bucket and rags
  • Orbital sander
  • 60, 200, 400 sandpaper
  • High-speed rotary tool
  • Tear-shaped cutter/grinder bit
  • KC Plastic Welder tool
  • Plastic welding rods
  • Reinforcing mesh
  • Plastic cleaning solvent.

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  1. 1

    Scrub the hull of the canoe around the damaged area thoroughly. Wipe it down with the plastic cleaning solvent. You can buy this product wherever you buy the plastic welder outfit. The welder can be found online or at larger hardware stores. You may have to special order it.

  2. 2

    Align the edges of the damaged area as best you can. Work from the outside of the hull. Taping over the hole or crack on the inside with duct tape can help hold the area to be repaired steady enough that you can complete your weld. If there is a gap, press a small piece of sheet metal against the inside of the hole and duct tape it in place so the plastic welding material doesn't drip through.

  3. 3

    Grind out a "V" shaped groove along the path of the crack or around the hole with the disk sander to create a seat for the plastic welding material. If there is a gap, you will have to fill it bit by bit with the welding material as you melt it into place.

  4. 4

    Lay one of the plastic welding rods into the groove you formed or lay several pieces into the gap until the hole is covered. Cover the plastic rods with the thin wire reinforcing mesh that is made to work with the plastic welder. Turn on the plastic welder tool and lay the tip on top of the plastic welding rod or repair material at one end next to the edge of the area to be repaired. Work the tip of the rod back and forth across the top of the plastic rods until they reach the melting point and begin to puddle. Press the mesh down into the melted plastic repair material and smooth over the top of it.

  5. 5

    Move the plastic welder in gradually longer strokes back and forth over the area, blending the repair material into the edges of the hull. Make sure to completely cover the reinforcing mesh as you smooth the plastic. Work slowly to give the plastic time to bond and cross link across the repair, over the reinforcing material and over the edges of the damaged area. If the edges of the hull break don't soften and blend with the repair material, the patch won't hold.

  6. 6

    Add plastic welding rods as needed until the repair is slightly thicker than the original hull at the repair site. Allow everything to cool, then sand it smooth. The patch won't be terribly pretty and you may not be able to match the original colour, but if you did it right, your Coleman canoe will float without leaking.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice your plastic welding technique before trying it on the canoe. Like metal welding, plastic welding is a technique that needs practice to master. Do some practice repairs on scrap plastic before working on your boat the first time.
  • Wear eye protection and gloves when working with hot plastic welding materials.

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