If anyone has thought of doing a skid plate, or attempting any other project, but shrunk away for fear of making a mess of your canoe or kayak, or botching the job, let me boost your confidence. With a little thought, some research, and a bit of planning, you can do as good a job as any professional, and better than most. The difference in his job and yours is not in quality as much as it is in time. The professional can’t spend all day doing a job to perfection. To stay in business, he has to keep shoving the work out the door. We, on the other hand, can take as much time as we need. We have the luxury of concentrating on the perfection that suits our pride in our boats rather than keeping man-hours to a minimum. The pro does have the advantage of experience and some tricks he’s learned, but with proper preparation, we can accomplish the same result or better.
A professionally installed skid plate.
When I ordered the canoe, the builder asked if I wanted him to install skid plates on the canoe. I usually do such work myself, but was pushing to get ready for a trip, and time was an issue. He had all the materials on hand, where it would take a week for me to order the skid plate kit and receive it, so I told him to deliver the canoe with the skid plates installed. He used a skid plate kit he obtained from North West Canoe. (Link below)http://www.shop.northwestcanoe.com/Repair-Maintenance_c5.htm
Buddy, with the completed skid plate.
I also wanted to put epoxy and Kevlar skid plates on my Hornbeck 14, so I later ordered the appropriate kit from the same supplier. You can compare the pictures of the installation jobs and make your own decisions. North West Canoe sends excellent installation instructions with the kit, but with some additions and more explanation that I feel may be beneficial, here are the steps.
1. Select the appropriate skid plate kit. The ‘Repair and Maintenance’ page in the link above explains which kit matches what type of canoe or kayak, whether a composite hull with a fine entry, or a broader-stemmed bow regardless of whether it is on fiberglass, wood, Royalex, or polyethylene. The kit will give you two Kevlar felt plates, two cans of epoxy, parts A & B, and a brush, rubber gloves, and sandpaper. What you will need to also have on hand includes a pencil or felt marker, a 48 X 24” piece of cardboard with plastic over it, clean rags, making tape, denatured alcohol or dewaxer, acetone, talcum powder, and 2“ cellophane strapping tape.
2. Pick a work area away from ignition sources and good ventilation, and a day that will hold 50-degree temperatures to make the epoxy cure. The optimum temperature is 70F, and the warmer it is, the faster the epoxy will cure, and the faster you must work to finish before it begins to cure.. Invert the boat on sawhorses and cover the floor with plastic or newspaper. Clean the hull of dirt, grease, or oil (Dawn or Simple Green), and alcohol, and I would recommend using a dewaxer as well. West Marine, Interlux, and other paint retailers carry cleaner/dewaxers. This removes the mould-release wax the builder uses to pop the hull out of the mould, and is critical for complete adhesion.
Marking and taping the installation location.
3. Position the dry felt on the stem, and when it’s where you want it, tack it in place with a couple pieces of masking tape. Draw a line around the felt. Allow room around the edges, as the felt will spread as it is worked, mostly in length. (About 3/8” on either side and 1 ½” to either end.) You can use a pencil, but I use Magic Marker, because when I clean up the edges of the epoxy later, the acetone will remove all the marks and not leave pencil lines.
4. Remove the felts and apply masking tape around the perimeter of the outlines you have drawn. Over this tape, tape a skirt surrounding the application area and covering the hull. This is to catch any drips or spatters of epoxy, and may be of newspaper, plastic, brown shopping bags, etc. Take a piece of about 80-grit sandpaper, and sand the area about to be covered. This is just to remove the gloss and provide a slightly roughened surface for mechanical attachment by the expoxy. Don't assume that sanding will make dewaxing unnecessary. Sanding in that case will just smear the wax around and make removal more difficult.
Surrounding the work area with a paper skirt.