Hi everyone,

I've had a chance to read through some of the incredible play-by-play I've seen in this forum, in addition to Fletcher. What a cool community you have. (Is this the 2000th post?)

I am now reaching out for some help assessing a 40-something-year-old homemade boat I've inherited.

Seems to be a standard Rogue-style, 14'10" up top, 68" beam, 46-8" at the bottom.

Overall, my goals are to end up with a relatively river-worthy craft I can use for:

  • steelheading close to home base in Portland 

  • mid-valley and Deschutes trout day trips
  • the occasional family day float

I'm not looking for a showboat, but rather a utilitarian angling vehicle that won't blow apart on first contact with a rock. And, as an inexperienced rower (but experienced passenger) I'll probably stay below Class III for the foreseeable future.

So, on first, beginner's assessment here, it looks like I have a few problems:

  • Overall, there's checking throughout both interior and exterior (I think this boat spent a lot of years outside).
  • The epoxy (West System applied about ~2 years ago) appears to be have peeled, and is peeling in stress areas along the chines and at the stem cap, and at the bottom where it rubbed on the trailer or ran over rocks, exposing the soft outer chine wood (see awl pokes in some of the photos) and bottom. Near the stem cap it seems like a chine has even been replaced with some sort of filler substance, which is new degrading to an off-white, powdery on contact something.
  • There are a few places where the sides are weak, likely from crashes. Where contact with rocks and whatnot has bent the boat and caused cracking. Like, one of the sides in front of the oarlock between rib 5 & 6 looks like it's a result of a flex of the craft. Is this fixable, like, with sanding, and filler epoxy? Or will the sides ultimately need to come off and be replaced?
  • And, the inner chine log and frame braces (are these common? I haven't seen them in many plans I've seen) are pretty thrashed, either from checking or overfastening.

As they say, "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the theater?"

So, major questions:

  • What's the clear-eyed take on how gnarly this will be?
  • How should I prioritize repairs and ongoing maintenance on this Ship of Thesus?
  • Can I take this out in the meantime?
    • If only to do gentle training floats?
    • Or will it make things worse? She lives in a garage now, so can dry out fully between trips. What are the chances that my first mistake at the oars will result in a bunch of turquoise driftwood completing the float, instead of an intact craft?

Thanks so much for your input. There are additional photos available at this link. Or maybe I can upload them at my profile page? Not entirely sure.

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Here are some additional photos. 


Hi Nick. Here’s my two cents. There’s no way to repair rotted wood. Rotted wood must be replaced. Damaged wood can be glued, fiberglassed, sistered, or replaced depending on the situation and extent of damage. After structural repairs are made, you can consider stripping the outside of the hull and applying a layer of fiberglass. But after you fiberglass the hull, you have to store the boat in a dry place to prevent rot. Send me a message if you want to talk. Guy

Thanks Guy, that's a great litmus test.

I'll shoot you a PM to continue the discussion. 

p.s. wow, what epic stuff you've been working on!

Hey Nick,

Sorry I didn't notice this sooner.  Cool looking project.
That boat looks awful.  Sell it to me!! haha
I have a 50 year-old aluminum Rogue River Special and I absolutely love the size and shape.  I'd love to fix up a similar style woodie.

My best advice is "no. Once your boat is dry, don't get it wet until you've completed all your repairs for the season."  It takes longer than a week to fully dry.  If it's been dry for a year or two, get EVERYTHING done so the wood is sealed.  otherwise, if you're partially repaired, water can get in next to paint/epoxy and won't dry from under the new paint/epoxy.

Ha! Thanks Shawn. 

I followed your advice along with others on this thread and did all the exterior work I wanted to over the last few months. Updates to come soon!

Hi Nick,

I just restored an old Rogue River Pritchett boat and had to learn a lot of this stuff recently. And I just bought another one to fix up.  It looks like a solid boat to work on.  I wouldn't worry about it.  I did find a product called Rot-Fix which is a penetrating epoxy that goes in and binds what ever is left of the wood.  Remember that wooden boats are meant to be on the water and are generally fixable.  Looks like it was holding air in some of your pictures when you had it on the water so that is a good sign.  Looks like a great boat to learn on and enjoy.  Just my two cents, there are lots of more experienced and educated people on this site.  I would say just don't be worried about messing it up, you can always fix it again.


PS Are you sure it is a Rogue style?  The seats backs look more like Don Hill or Greg Tatman style.

Thanks for the encouragement Wayd! 

> PS Are you sure it is a Rogue style?  The seats backs look more like Don Hill or Greg Tatman style.

Great question. I'm not sure! I'm still figuring out the differences. What are the key characteristics that could help me suss it out definitively? 

Hi everyone, thanks for the perspective and encouragement.

Here's a little bit of an update! I've spent the past few months doing a series of exterior projects to get a feel for this little boat's composition and construction.

I know I probably did a lot "wrong" but the experimentation and learning has resolved to my satisfaction.

I started with the trashed pair of 9'6" Barkley Sound oars that came with the boat, because I felt it'd be good to get them refurbished to bang around before I made a "graduating from rowing school" investment in something nicer.

I had to clean up some splits in the blades, and places that the blade tips had lost wood material. This was a great opportunity to become familiar with West System and its various fillers. I spackled on a bunch of peanut-butter consistency epoxy (and used a modeling clay mold to fill the more battle-scarred of the oars and then did a shedload of sanding to get things back to smooth.

After that, it was a layer of fiberglass over the blades, then topcoat of epoxy and spar varnish. They are heavy, but they'll service for learning, and as a spare set down the road.

On to the boat itself!

First, I built a little dolly from a spare pallet, framing lumber, and casters and managed to get the boat up onto it from the trailer, and flip it.

Step one was pulling off any old peeling graphite from the bottom. It became clear in this process that there hadn't been much prep of the bottom before the last coat of graphite-epoxy went on, and there were some spots of rot, so I brought back the thickened epoxy and filled a few really low spots (like where a whole layer of ply was lost), and used a heat gun to warm some others so the straight epoxy soaked through.

Then I went and levelled with the poured graphite impregnated epoxy, trying to use various contrivances of elevation to keep the boat roughly level and the epoxy mix rolling. In hindsight I would do this in warmer temps so it set faster and I didn't have to contend with so many drips.

Then it was a matter of the exterior sides, so I pulled off the rub rails and got to work with the sander again. I don't have to overstate how acquainted I was with that tool after this project.

The sides had previously been covered with Pettit EZ-Poxy but it appeared to be only one coat, so I dug out all the product literature and decided to go for it fully.

Once I was down pretty deep I added EZ-Fair, smoothed out all the various gouges and checking, then put on a couple coats of EZ-Prime and EZ-Poxy with the hardener additive.

I'm pretty happy with the finish, but know I'll have an easy time identifying which rocks I hit and leave my mark on.

Once that was all set I got to work on the trailer, which was a royal pain.

I pulled all the old hardware / added bits (winch, stop, bunks, lights, wheels / tires, hubs) off and set about refurbishing it.

I stripped and stripped and stripped some more until I was down to bare metal, then applied the multipart POR15 system over the whole deal (including wheels). I questioned my sanity at various stages of this, especially in the stripping, but am happy with the POR15. it feels like it'll last a while and prevent some rust.

Then all the accessories went back on (new bunk carpet, winch strap, safety strap, re-packed and upgraded bearings [don't get me started on my feedback for whoever built the trailer with nigh-impossible to source replacement parts]) and there we have it, a trailer.

Then it was just a matter of borrowing some muscle, flipping the boat again, and getting it back onto the trailer.

And, it floats without water ingress! Voila. I'm going to do the interior refinish at some point in the future, after I take a while and learn how to row the thing without too much drama / breakage.

I have a few beginner local-ish to PDX floats on my list; please let me know if you have any good "training run" recommendations, or other feedback / thoughts)!

Nice work.  I am impressed.  Looks like new again.  Super impressed and you are boating!!!

So I definitely would say that it is a McKenzie style boat.  The Pritchett boats have a sloped back transom as well as a flat section in the middle bottom.  Also that seat style for the passenger is more of a Mckenzie design.

I had to replace the axle on a trailer because it was too old to get replacement parts, so I can totally relate.

Thanks for the pictures and update.  I am in Southern Oregon but I could connect you with a friend who lives in Sandy, Oregon.  He was a fly fishing instructor and is a knowledgable oarsman.


I was still getting leakage so pulled off the chine caps to shore things up, and found they were backed with shot fiberglass tape and 90% of the nail heads are rusted off. The wood around the nails is discolored and in some cases soft.

Could someone talk me through the task of knocking the nails out of the chine logs and replacing them? 

I'd assume that's starting from the inside with like a punch or similar, and knocking them from the inside chine, then wiggling them out, then what? I want to make sure to do as little harm as I can to the OK wood in the removal.

Epoxying in some dowels or filler, fairing the holes, letting that set, then re-do with better fasteners? 

What's the best procedure? Thanks in advance.

You got me.  I was told to not take the chine off because they were usually put on with ringshank nails and it can be very challenging to repair.  I hope you have had luck with this.


I guess you could try drilling and doweling, but that may make the chine log buckle either during the process or later when you bump a rock. I hate to say it but your best bet may be to pull the bottom and replace the chine logs. There’s a few restores documented on here of some pretty rotted boats so hopefully one of those guys can chime in. There was one guy on here that did a bunch of them I think his name was Dutch or something like that.


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