Shop Tips » Fitting Out Your Boat
Bow and Stern Rubstrips
Years of hard beachings can gradually abrade the bow and stern of all kayaks, wood or otherwise. A couple of layers of ordinary fiberglass will hold out for most paddlers, but if you want serious protection, we suggest you employ this system developed by CLC staffer and experienced paddler Lee Gardner. He has been applying these rubstrips to the CLC demo boats, which were beginning to succumb after a thousand hard landings.
Our rubstrip system employs multiple layers of Dynel, an unusually abrasion-resistant polyester fabric, set in epoxy and coated with a graphite powder/epoxy mix. The finished rubstrip will stand proud of the hull a bit; there's no mistaking that it's there. A careful job of it, however, will result in a neat, functional appearance that will protect the bow and stern for years. Here's how:
- Mark off an 18" section of the keel on the bow and stern as shown. With 3M FineLine Tape or the equivalent, mask the section so that no epoxy can drip down the side of the hull. Once the rubstrip area has been masked, sand down to the epoxy with a sanding block and 80-grit sandpaper. All paint and varnish must be removed on finished hulls.
- Cut two rectangular strips of Dynel, one about 18" by 1", the other 16" x ¾". It's critical that the strips of Dynel be cut on the "bias," or with the fibers at 45 degrees to the long axis of the strip. This is the only way that the fabric will conform to the curve of the bow and stern. Mix up some unthickened epoxy and brush it onto the prepared surface of the bow or stern. Press the first layer of Dynel into the wet epoxy, brush on a little more epoxy, then apply the second layer. Add epoxy until the Dynel is completely saturated.
- The loosely woven Dynel frays easily, so it's very likely you'll have rough edges. When the epoxy has dried, use a razor knife to trim carefully along the edge of the masking tape. With your sanding block and 80-grit sandpaper, smooth the overlapping edges of fabric.
- Mix graphite powder with epoxy until you have a mustard consistency. Fill the weave of the Dynel with the graphite/epoxy mix. The graphite/epoxy likes to sag, so it may take several thin applications before you've completely coated the Dynel and achieved a uniform black finish on the rubstrip. You're done.
A Rubstrip Kit including the Dynel fabric, graphite powder, FineLine Tape, latex gloves, and a 24oz mini-kit of epoxy is available in various options from CLC. The Rubstrip Kit can be applied either to a hull in progress or to any finished wooden or fiberglass kayak.