Bell Canoe Wooden Gunwale Followup

OK…I took the canoe back to the dealer. Unfortunately the bosses were out but the three employees there agreed that the separation was not normal and said they had another boat recently (a Rockstar…mine is a YS solo so very similar boats) that was doing the same thing but worse.

It is separating at the seat hanger and a bit at the bow and stern.

When I sit on the seat getting into the boat, prior to getting on my knees, the gunwales shift and creak a bit so I think that this will make it worse in the long run.

They told me to keep an eye on it and that if I wanted to drop it off some time (liek in the winter since I will be using it a lot in the meantime) that they would try to fix it.

I will keep an eye on it but really think that it needs to be replaced.

I am still debating though whether I woudl go with wood again or not for this boat. The wood looks great but I am not impressed with it given what is happening with this boat. Is this an isolated thing or do you think this may be a function of wood gunwales on a plastic boat where the flex of the plastic may be too much for the gunwales?

Would the vinyl covered rails be more durable?

Is there a difference in rocker between the wood and vinyl railed YS solo???



If I bought a new canoe or a kayak
and it had a noticeable defect, or it developed one in the first few months of use, you can bet your sweet bippie that the boat would be returned for either a new one or a proper fix.

If it is a used bought, then “caveat emptor” !



Wood, ABS and Rabbets

– Last Updated: Sep-28-09 1:08 PM EST –

Wood is seldom a good choice for ABS hulls because of cold cracking in the North and rot in the South.

The issue is that there is no rabbet to stop the inwale deforming. This is also true of Composite hulls, witness older Curtis or Mad River hulls. The rabbet6 is on the outwale and the inwales often deform under body weight.

Bell and Placid have the rabbett in the inwale which stops deformation.

That said, one cannot rationally have a rabbet wide enough to cover the ABS blanket, so the inwale and outwale end up ~1/4 inch apart. The width of the ABS sheet also allows screws to lever or toggle, allowing more inwale drift downward under the paddlers weight. This will be more pronounced if the paddler sits rather than kneels. This is characteristic of all wood railed ABS hulls, not just Bells.

The solution beyond not putting wood on ABS, is adding additional screws on 3" centers in the seat area and making sure all screws are tight.

The way Bell puts wood rails on a hull minimizes downforce on the stems, but vinyl will probably be better in that regard. Failure to prebend aluminum rails causes the most stem diformation and loss of rocker.

Pros and Cons

– Last Updated: Sep-28-09 1:32 PM EST –

If it were me, I'd fix it, rather than switching to vinyl or trading it in on a boat with vinyl gunwales, for one reason. Two of my canoes have vinyl gunwales, and both are boats with which I do lots of hard manuevering. Doing pry strokes off vinyl gunwales is murder on paddle shafts. I understand that this isn't a problem with wood gunwales, so if it were me, I'd stick with wood. Also, if it were me, I'd have just one Royalex boat with wood gunwales, and it wouldn't be a problem for me to store one canoe inside during the winter, but most people don't have that option. If you mostly "just paddle", your paddle shafts aren't getting beat-up and vinyl is probably the way to go.

By the way, I like the idea of adding extra support below the gunwale, as described in a response to your previous post. If you sandwiched the hull below the gunwales between two pieces of wood, and especially if you angled the connecting screws at a slight angle so the screws were lower on the inside piece of wood than on the outside, your problem would be solved. You could even use strips of 1/4-inch plywood and substitute bolts and washers for screws. Cheap and easy!