I recently purchased a Bell Flashfire at an auction with clear gel coat in white gold and no serial number plate. It has writing on the skid plate that lists “Test Flash 1/8 Cross Scored”. Was it typical for Bell to sell test boats? Any idea on the weight of this boat, the Gel Coat seems thicker tha usual.
I don’t know, but…
... just so you know, even on production models there is no "number plate". To see if your boat has a serial number, look for very fine, faint markings in the hull made by an engraving tool. Look just below the gunwale, on the outside, near the stern. I can't recall if the numbers are on the right or left, but if it's a production boat, they will be there.
Okay, I was wrong. I was sure I remembered seeing engraved numbers on my Bell, but it has the aluminum plate described below by Charlie. I have other composite boats with hand-engraved I.D. numbers.
Flash fire with a skid plate?
Older Bell canoes had the HID on a sticker on the inside of the hull. My '93 Wildfire has the sticker on the RR inside. I haven’t looked all that close but I’m not positive that it’s even buried under resin. If not it could turn up missing easy enough.
chronology of Bell S# imprints
In the beginning, Bell serial numbers were hand written on 1X2" typed papers and laminated inside the hull’s aft.
A visit from the USCG caused us to place a 2" piece of Magic tape on the mold under the right rear rail prior to spray up. Serial numbers were then etched in the mat finish area left by the tape.
Later we purchased one of the last reverse type Dymo imprint tools, the serial number imprinted on an aluminum strip that was placed in the mold prior to spray-up. The gel coat then had a deeply imprinted serial number.
When Bell moved to skin coat, they started using purchased aluminum plates with etched serial numbers.
The hull in question is obviously one of the first two options. The paper S# could have delaminates, the etched patch could have been sanded and buffed out. The test notes on the skid plate probably refer to hull treatment to improve skid plate application, are probably not placed there by the factory.