I have the opportunity to purchase a vintage Old Town Royalex canoe in what appears to be nice condition for a low price. I only want to use it to paddle around a calm lake, nothing more demanding. However, it is about 40 years old. I read about the gunwales possibly cracking but they look OK. Thanks!
Royalex is no longer made and is good stuff. Gunnels can be repaired or replaced. That’s 2.
It’s not the gunwales that crack. It’s the hull itself, at the locations of the screws that clamp the gunwales to the hull. And this is only a problem with boats that have wood gunwales and which spend the winter stored in a very cold environment. Wood does not contract in cold temperature as much as the Royalex does, which leads to too much tensile stress on the hull where the two materials are connected. If this has happened, you’ll see a crack extending downward along the hull from some or many of the screw locations. You probably wouldn’t even need to know the cause of this, since when you saw such cracks, you’d recognize that there was a problem with the boat.
For what it’s worth, I live in a place with fairly cold winters and have yet to see a Royalex boat that this has happened to, though admittedly, most Royalex boats I’ve seen have vinyl gunwales and therefore shouldn’t have this problem.
I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but my brother has a Royalex canoe that’s 37 years old, and it’s still very sturdy (it even has wood gunwales).
Thanks! The gunwales are vinyl. There don’t appear to be any cracks.