my canoe is getting beat-up

Joined
Feb 13, 2014
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minnesota
I just bought a new OT Discovery 158 last spring. I have a few minor scratches in it, no big deal. But whats worse is my seat (they are plastic) is getting bends in it ( I only weigh 180 lbs) and starting to split. Also, the canoe is oil-canning. I know most plastic canoes do oil-can, but it makes you wonder if the canoe is performing like it should.

Am I just too rough on my canoe? Maybe I am, but at least I'm having fun with the $1000 bucks I spent.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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Polyethlene boats tend to deform. Oil canning is flexing. No most poly boats do not oil can. Lets be sure that we are talking the same problem. Poly boats stored supported only at the ends upside down tend to hog over time especially in the heat. Polyboats really need to also be supported in the middle when stored.

As for your seat issues, to me the cracking is unacceptable for a boat less than a year old. I'd contact Old Town re warranty repair.
 
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I just bought a new OT Discovery 158 last spring. my seat (they are plastic) is getting bends in it ( I only weigh 180 lbs) and starting to split. Also, the canoe is oil-canning. I know most plastic canoes do oil-can, but it makes you wonder if the canoe is performing like it should.

I would certainly contact Old Town about the seat issues, something doesn’t sound right there.

As far as the oilcanning (or deformation) goes you might try a trick that some canoe liveries use with rental hulls. Find a piece of stiff foam 3” thick of so and cut a block to span the area between the bottom of the seat and the floor of the canoe. Stuff it under the seat along the keel line.

That will help maintain the bottom shape (at least under the seat).
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Messages
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minnesota
Polyethlene boats tend to deform. Oil canning is flexing. No most poly boats do not oil can. Lets be sure that we are talking the same problem. Poly boats stored supported only at the ends upside down tend to hog over time especially in the heat. Polyboats really need to also be supported in the middle when stored.

What are some models of canoes that do not oil can?
 
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My Bell Prospector never did. RX. My RX Dagger Legend never did. My RX Swift Raven never did ( a friends Swift Kipawa did) and my RX Dumoine did not either. Friends mostly have OT trippers and they dont either.
 
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Feb 1, 2013
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My experience with poly canoes is that MANY of them oil can. It's not a huge deal, if you put packs in the canoe, you won't notice it. It can be disconcerting to watch the bottom of the canoe ripple up and down, but it won't fall apart. The seats are another issue. See if OT will give you some good wooden seats to replace them with. First thing I did with my poly seats was haul them out and replace them with seats I made.
 
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What are some models of canoes that do not oil can?

Oil canning and deformation

Deformation first. Poly canoes are the most prone of materials to deform on their own over time, and flat bottomed hulls are especially susceptible to deformation.

I don’t remember seeing an RX hull on which the bottom deformed simply from sitting on the racks in the sun. I do remember seeing stacks of some virgin (discontinued) poly Old Town design already wobbly bottomed still at the factory back in the 80’s.

Even poly canoes of the same make/model/year can differ hugely in how much they deform, from a minor hog in the bottom to something that is so sickeningly wavy bottomed as to be unpaddleable.

I guess some of that is due to storage and usage, but I suspect some may be from flawed manufacturing. I don’t know how exacting the process churning out poly canoes is, but I can see the potential for poorly distributed pellets in single layer poly rotomolding, or foam core/other issues in 3-layer.

Oil canning, which I think of as the bottom flexing up and down when paddled (especially in waves), happens with both poly and RX boats. Some lightweight composite hulls will oil can as well.

As with deformation flat bottomed hulls will oil can more than a canoe with a shallow arch or vee bottom. Having some shape on the bottom helps prevent oil canning. This U, or this V, has more structural integrity than this \___/.

Other reasons for oil canning – Manufacturers specify the thickness of the Royalex sheets they use. The same goes for the quantity of pellets/rotomolded thickness or 3-layer poly composition.

Some RX canoes, like old Blue Holes, were beefy throughout, and the beastly weight proved it. Good Lord, early Blue Holes were 3/8” thick RX even at the gunwale line.

Other manufacturers opted for weight saving in some of their RX designs, especially in Royalex’s later years, when the aching backs of boomer paddlers began to complain about 70LB boats.

I have a Wenonah Wilderness in RX that oil cans badly despite having some arch in the bottom. Perhaps that is to be expected in a 15’ 4” boat that weighs less than 50 lbs. Once I stuff it full of gear I can’t see most of the floor anyway, even if I can feel the “road” under my feet, like driving an old MG.

There are other, less common reasons that RX hulls may oil can - I’ve seen two Royalex Mad River canoes with major oil canning issues that were produced soon after the factory moved to South Carolina. I know that MRC was, at the time, having problems in the new facility.

Those canoes both had shallow vee bottoms and, even in the mildest of paddling conditions, the bottoms wobbled up and down like a rubber raft. Apparently the foam core had not expanded properly during the manufacturing process. Hence my suspicions that the poly manufacturing process may have similar process failures from hull to hull.

(Hence also my suspicion about why the same make/model/year RX hull would cold crack in Virginia but not in Maine….and why RX manufacturers preferred to leave the “cause” an unexplainable mystery)

Any mass produced RX or poly is only as good as the manufacturing equipment and operators at that particular time and place. I expect that there are Monday morning boats and Friday afternoon waiting-for-the-whistle-to-blow boats. I’ve paddled some.

In that regard builders who turn out a small number of canoes under a watchful and practiced eye have a distinct advantage.

Beyond the more simplistic bottom shape I think the overall design - how the chines, tumblehome, gunwales, thwarts and seat hangers all work together – has as much to do with oil canning and bottom performance as anything.

To that end I have greater confidence in a canoe from a known and proven designer, especially where the history of a canoe’s heritage, iterations, intentions and improvements are known. A willingness to put your name on a product design says something, and a design that appears to be an orphan says something else.

The worst the canoe world has to offer carries no one’s name and the “design” is often based on profit margin. See: stackable for shipment Coleman Ram-X canoes with internal keelsons. Or one-piece (hull, seats, thwarts, kiss-offs to the bottom and other structural stiffeners disguised as cup holders) poly boats.

Practiced designers do make mistakes (or suffer in manufacturing interpretation), but the best of them have long learned skills and years of tweaking and improving what they have conceived.

Apologies for a long-winded semi-rant. The number of open-boat designers was never large, the canoe enthusiast market is smaller every day and the guys with proven design chops all have AARP cards.

Given where the paddlesport market has long been headed, are there any young open-canoe designers coming of age? Or are they all playing with paddle boards and molded rec kayaks?
 
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Kevlar boats can oil can too. Our Wenonah Odyssey has relatively few layers of Kevlar in the sides and with a big flared bow, the sides of the bow flex in response to waves hitting them making that oil can pop-pop sound.

Some canoes as Mike said have insufficiently stiff bottoms. I have seen the same model of Swift..one oilcans one doesn't. Swift makes a good boat but because there are human hands in manufacture, especially hand laid and wet bagged models, there can be discrepancies. I believe Swift has moved on to use vacuum infusion technology which makes a more consistent ( but more expensive ) composite hull. There are a few builders who have, because they are a one man shop, like Dave Curtis, who can make a consistent canoe from one to the next though he does not use vacuum infusion as far as I know.
 
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Jan 31, 2013
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Middle of the Florida paddling paradise
From the older thread "I broke out the measuring tape and started cutting roughly 3/16" ribs from a plank of white oak I had lying around and unpacked my DIY steam box made from gorrilla tape, a piece of 12" long 2" PVC, coleman stove, old pot, and a box fashioned from 1/2" styrofoam board insulation. I steamed up 8 ribs and jammed them in." Other than that all I can say is make sure you soak the wood before steaming. Try a local one man cabinet maker shop to make the wood blanks for you. Make sure to buy extra as all the videos I have seen of bending ribs by first timers have them breaking a lot. Try posting in the wood canoe section of this forum on how to bend ribs. Lots of smart folks here.
 
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Anyone know more about the oak ribs? Thickness? Where to purchase? How to 'steam' them?

Meopilite, before committing to adding steam-bent oak ribs to an already heavy canoe I would try the trick that canoe rental places use – stuffing a chunk of stiff foam under the seats.

Unlike steam bending and installing ribs that fix is cheap, easy and easily undone if unsatisfactory.

The foam can be as simple as the (often white or grey) ethafoam used in packaging electronics or delicate equipment. If need be you can glue a couple of pieces of Ethafoam together to make a slab 3 or 4 inches wide and a bit taller than the distance between the bottom of the seat and the bottom of the floor, so when you wedge it in place along the keel line under the seats it stays put.

If it works to your satisfaction glue the bottom of the ethafoam to the hull. A 3” chunk of minicel would be more durable (ethafoam degrades somewhat over the years), but minicel is pricey and that rigid closed-cell packing foam can be had for free from a friendly retailer stockroom. This stuff:

https://www.google.com/search?q=eth...F%2Fwww.easyfoam.co.uk%2Fethafoam.php;170;170

If you end up with some small slabs of ethafoam leftover they make dandy stabilizers when you put the canoe on sawhorses to do repairs or outfitting. Four chunks of ethafoam, with an angled notch cut out to fit atop the sawhorse crossbar.

 
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
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minnesota
Actually, I took a piece of 6 x 6 foam 3/4" thick and layed it on the hull directly under the yoke. Then propped a 2x4 between the foam and yoke. This did the trick. I cut the 2x4 short enough as to not put too much pressure on the hull.
 
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Actually, I took a piece of 6 x 6 foam 3/4" thick and layed it on the hull directly under the yoke. Then propped a 2x4 between the foam and yoke. This did the trick. I cut the 2x4 short enough as to not put too much pressure on the hull.

Perfect. The foam is important to act as a shock absorber so that the hull can still flex a little when going over a log or rock without breaking the yoke. Or worse, the bottom.

Some manufacturer (Wenonah I think) installed mechanical shock absorbers on light weight hulls that flexed and oil canned.

Depending on what you hear from OT about replacement seats a couple chunks of foam there may be in order as well.
 
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Feb 26, 2013
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Long island, ny
Sorry I haven't been on in a while... the oak. Was cut on a table saw from a 1xplank of white oak. I didn't soak it first. You just have to go slow and if the board don't want to take a bend easily, steam it some more till it does. I have noticed one thing about the HOT wood when you place it in a PLASTIC canoe though. Plastic don't like heat. If I were to do it again, I would have placed some sort of barrier in between the wood and the plastic while waiting for the ribs to set up. There was one spot where I can see that the hot rib may have pushed into the plastic a little. Not a concern for my situation with a $200 used beater... I wouldn't want it to show on a 1 year old most though. I would wager that my ribs are lighter than the foam application though. Although on a discovery, they would be much longer as it is a wider and deeper boat. I only added 2lbs to the boat and that included the perimeter line, ribs, and the PVC pipe added to the bow and stern for grab handles. Hope this helps Jason
 
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With my oil canning MR Explorer, only when unloaded, there is no measurable change in wetted surface area so the force due to frictional surface drag should be constant. So I don't care if it oil cans, it certainly does not seem to be any thing that can wear out the canoe. I tend to think oil canning is good, my canoe will give some when I hit a rock compared to a FBglass or carbon boat.
 
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