Bell Canoe Composite Hull Flex???

Just a quick question here. I have owned several composite Bell solo canoes now…buy them used and paddle for a while and then sell and get something else.

I have owned two Merlins and one Magic that had a lot of flex to them. They were all white gold layups with wood gunwales and on all of them the canoe would flex at the gunwales from my weight on the seat when I sat down or when crashing through waves. Basically the gunwales were flexing inward. Even was a little bit of “creakiness”.

I weigh 200 pounds for the record…

I have also owned a two black gold layup boats and a kevlite…all with aluminum gunwales and none of them flexed like this at all.

So…is this flex a result of the layup being flexier (the white gold) or a result of wood gunwales being more flexible???

I suspect it must be a function of the gunwales.

The next question is whether or not this flex can be seen as a positive attribute. I did not care for it personally but would someone maybe see this as being “liveliness” or character in the hull? I have heard some say that wood gunwales add more liveliness to the boat. Is this what they are talking about?

I like the look and feel of the wood gunwales but not sure I like that flexiness in a sitting boat.

Just curious.



Z fold
The benefits of Yost’s "shouldered tumblehome, narrower paddling station, wave deflection and increasing firmness when heeled, are obvious.

The problems are too, the requirement of a two piece mold and the inherent weakness of what amounts to a Z hinge.

The easiest way to solve the latter issue is more guts: reinforce the shoulder with something stiff. Carbon fiber works, as in Bells Black/Gold, Placid’s Diamond layup and Colden’s. Foam ribs as in Bell’s UL laminates works too, with the understanding that when foam ribs are overstressed they fail catastrophically.

The simple and lowest cost solution for a FG/Kev, price pointed hybrid would be an 11oz carbon belly band where the seat hangs.

I doubt there is much difference in rail deflection between wood and aluminum, especially now that Bell has lightened the Alu rails with thinner wall sections.

so basically…
the Black Gold models and kevlite models do not display this flex becuase of their design whereas the White Gold models do because they do not have the stiffness or stiffening of the formre layups…???


I can’t see how wood gunwales would
add more “liveliness” to a boat.

I don’t see anything positive to having the hull flex in relation to the seat, but it might be a long time (if ever) before anything bad happened. Personally, I would probably find a way to brace the seat bottom against the hull below.

Real world experience
I ahve a 2005 B/G Magic. I am 280, and the first thing I noticed was that my weight was sufficient to pull the inwale so that it was not fair with the outwale at the drops by, oh, maybe the thickness of a SS ruler. I added intermediate screws to correct that.

Upon returning from the BWCA (loaded for a week, slamming waves etc) I saw that very small stress cracks were visible in the Kev laminate over the ribs closest to the drops. My solution was to add a couple of layers of 6-oz glass to reinforce. I have since distributed my weight over a longer area of the inwale due to a slider seat frame I fabricated.

In discussing this with Charlie at Raystown he suggested that in a design like the Magic with significant tumblehome a hull-mounted seat would make more sense.