Aluminium comparison

I don’t know much about aluminum canoes, except to say that I have spent plenty of time in a Grumman 17’ and think those are pretty fantastic for what they are.

It seems to me that the Michicraft I have tried are not as well designed, and I have heard the misty river boats have a lower sheer, so they tend to take on water much sooner.

Does anyone have a ranking of aluminum canoes from best to worst, or comments on the relative strengths of the different makes?

Oh, and I should note that this thread is about aluminum canoes, so any comments to the effect of “kevlar is better” or “I prefer wood” are really not necessary. I know aluminum is not the best canoe material for all situations, but it has its place.

a bit tangental
If you find out which alloy was used, you can get rough comparison at McMaster-Carrr

search for “Aluminum alloys”

choose one of entries in the left sidebar

Expand “About Aluminum Alloys” in the right pane

those are pretty popular on the texas racing circuit. I dont know the different model types. I think the grummans are more of the tank type boat.

Ryan L.

thicker , heavier gauge …

– Last Updated: Jul-11-11 10:32 PM EST –

...... is stronger . Softer grade but thicker gauge makes strong impact durability , dent and give but not split or fracture . Thinner gauge but harder grade might be comparable strength wise , but my guess is it will split or fracture more easily before flex , dent and give .

Just my thoughts about aluminum boats . 120 gauge makes a great river Jon boat (jet drive O.B.) ... full weight high speed impact on nasty rock leaves a scratch (and a bit of a jolt to occupants) !!

Funny you mention it
I stopped by a paddling shop (as I do whenever I’m in the neighborhood) while I was shuttling last weekend. This guy always has unique stuff laying about. And for quite a while now he’s had three old aluminums that just keep drawing me back for a look. I still have my Grumman and probably wouldn’t buy one, but they’re interesting canoes…

The first is a Beaver super-aluminum solo. Don’t see those everyday. It looks like it could be very fast. Its light enough. It also looks fragile. I wouldn’t take that anywhere near sharp rocks.

They have two Lowes aluminums also - a tandem and a solo. They are narrower than most aluminum canoes I’ve seen, with a vertical bow/stern, and have much sharper entry lines than the Grummans and Alumacrafts that I’m more familiar with. They remind me of old Jensens, but in aluminum. Interesting.

I think the Alumacraft aluminums are the preferable square sterns, if that’s of interest to any of us, as they have a more standard canoe waterline at the stern and would paddle backwards pretty much like a regular canoe, where Grummans square sterns wouldn’t. I also think the Alumacrafts are a tad lighter and have less freeboard than the standard Grummans. Grumman does make a lighter model than the standard, though its still not exactly a light boat by today’s standards.

Of the aluminums I’ve seen though, I prefer Grummans, though I admit that in this case my reasons are perhaps more emotional than logical. I’ve had so many fine times and good trips in mine. And because after all those trips - I bought my current one in 78 - its still in near perfect shape. Its never been stored inside or any had any maintenance beyond cleaning every five years or so. The stickers looked better when I bought it and a there are a couple scratches, but there’s still no better boat in my modest fleet to turn kids loose in, for nervous first timers, for hauling large loads in shallow water, or for river clean-up trips.

Had a 16’ boat (Eagle?) that was much better in whitewater than it’s traditional 17’ design. It was very similar to the 16’ Royalex boat that Grumman had for while.

My recollection is that Beaver also had more sophisticated designs in aluminum although I’ve never seen one in person.

Grumman vs Alumacraft
I’ve owned an Alumacraft for a very long time. It served me well. I think it’s a good boat, but I’ve always felt that the Grumman boats were more “classy”, with a better fit and finish. Of course at this point in life I don’t want to lift them and have moved to lighter composites. I check CL regularly and there are some really good buys for aluminum boats there if that’s what you are looking for.

He missed the word
"canoes" in the heading between “aluminum” and “comparison”. Because this is what he wants to know - which aluminum canoe is “better” or “stronger” (both are kinda hazy definitions, to begin with). Anyway, I think alloys characteristics are less important there than gauge and design of the boat.

Made in Missouri
Here in Missouri we like these

They have thinned down there selection over the years. Just three canoes in different lengths now. They used to have a light weight made of thinner material.

Still very popular with canoe rentals on Ozark streams.

Pat Moore interview from 1983…
*** Quote from “Paddlers Out In Front Interview” by John Viehman ***

First, let me say that everything that has been done was done with good intentions. But when the first aluminum canoe was designed it was misguided. There wasn’t any knowledge used or even pretended to be used in the hull configuration. There were a lot of marketing dollars to promote it and they promoted canoeing. And when canoeing was promoted, everybody and his brother got on the bandwagon.

Dozens of canoe manufacturers popped up out of nowhere, and they all copied the big guy, Grumman. They figured a 17-foot aluminum canoe was the most popular canoe, so a guy would buy a barrel of resin and take a fiberglass mold off of a 17-foot Grumman and go into business.

It’s just that it was poorly designed or not designed at all. And an awful lot of them were made—thousands and thousands and thousands of them. Because canoeing was such a dead sport before that, the promotion used to market them indoctrinated even more thousands of people to believe that those boats represented what canoeing was and what it should be. And we are still dragging ourselves up from those concepts.

*** All from Canoe Magazine, April, 1983 ***

alum has its place
My dad has kept a Gruman upside down in his backyard for almost 40 years now with no more maintenance than occasionally hosing it off. Try that with a fancy pants composite. Hard to beat alum when you want to spend more time paddling and less time doing maintenance. Worry-free dryfoot put-ins and takeouts are nice too.

Design vs Construction…
Pat Moore didsn’t say anything in that interview about the relative merits of aluminum as a material for building canoes: his objection was to the poor use that was made of the material, rather than to the material as such!

I’ve no idea how limiting the material is for hull design… but let’s acknowledge straight away that one can manufacture second rate designs out of even the best of materials. A poorly designed canoe that’s vacuum infused using carbon fibre and kevlar is still going to be a hull of very limited interest…

What’s potentially interesting is finding out whether anyone’s ever produced aluminum canoes with more sophisticated designs :slight_smile:

Clearly did. That was their justification for their existence since there were many other aluminum canoe mfg’s at the time. Their failure is an indication that there’s no preference amongst the general public for good canoe designs.

Any solo, other than Grumman G-129?
I’ve got a G-129. It actually paddles pretty nicely. It is high volume and slow, but quite maneuverable.

Beaver canoes
There’s a picture of a Beaver aluminum canoe in this thread.

Sophisticated like this?

More (Moore) disagreement
I think the 17’ Grumman is a perfectly reasonable design for those who like volume and stability more than speed and efficiency. I find them to be 100% predictable, which is nice for beginners.

Look at the picture of the Beaver canoe I posted down below and make your own judgment. I say yes.

Glass virtues

– Last Updated: Jul-14-11 9:45 PM EST –

The primary virtue (besides lightness) in glass, at least as it was argued years ago when Saywer and a few others started making fiberglass canoes, was that they could be made in shapes that were difficult to make in any other material. Flared bows with tumblehome in the center with smooth transitions between, for example would be hard to make and expensive to mass produce except in glass. They could perhaps be done in wood/canvas, but it would take a lot of craftsmanship and time (therefore expensive). So by using glass a builder could produce a canoe that was at least, and probably more, sophisticated than could be made in wood, was lower maintenance, and yet was potentially competitive in price with aluminum - which was one of the things that made aluminum canoes take off in popularity in the first place. At least that was what folks were saying then and it seems sensible to me.

I didn't, however, appreciate all the "friends don't let friends paddle aluminum" snobbery that some exhibited in those days. Aluminum canoes were affordable, did almost everything adequately and some things very well. The sport might well have died out had it not been for aluminum. I'm glad it didn't. Credit where its due...

I just don't think aluminum can be stretched to a form as complex as what designers were wanting to do. (I'm thinking maybe Pat Moore most of all - at the same shop as the Beavers were at least three Moore boats, two Proems and a Covenant. Absolutely beautiful boats, with very complex curves flowing into each other...)
But the designers at Grumman weren't exactly amateurs at hull design and were masters at practical sturdy design in aluminum - along with truck bodies one of their very first products, considerably before they started making aircraft, were floats and hulls for Loening flying boats. Canoes must have been pretty easy after such a beginning, I'd expect, especially after the company's experiences with designing and building naval aircraft throughout WW II.

Those beaver canoes don't have any very complex curves either - but they look fast. Like a knife made to slice water.

aluminum canoes
In my opinion, the 17’ Grumman “Standard” is the best aluminum canoe ever. Most other aluminum canoes are poorly designed, but the Grumman does a good job in wind, and waves. Grumman makes a lighter weight version too, but it dents easily. The lighter weight version has twice the ribs, but seems to develop a “wavy” bottom due to the thinner aluminum. I have a Standard version and it has served me well for years.