how do you know if a used canoe is sound

I’ve been looking at used fiberglass canoes, and wonder how to tell if the fiberglass is good. I spoke with a general contractor who said until the late 80s, fiberglass lacked the UV inhibitors that are mixed in today. Furthermore, the fiberglass can look sound, but might crumble under a good kick.

As for royalex, I know nothing about the material.

I’ve heard that anything with a gel coat will deteriorate if left outside, and that aluminum can pretty much stay outside for hundreds of years without a problem.

any thoughts? thanks.

Do a little research here on pNet
There is much to learn from searching here in the archives about material advantages and disadvantages. True that aluminum is virtually maintenance free, as in, it can be stored outside in almost all weather conditions without much concern for deterioration. That being said, aluminum has many drawbacks in the area of enjoyment on the water. Royalex is (was) a wonderful material that has many great features but if it is stored outside in direct sunlight for an extended time period, the outer vinyl layer can become compromised and if bad, it can expose the underlying foam-core material which is very susceptible to damage from moisture and UV rays. Fiberglass probably is better at UV exposure and other elements of nature compared to royalex but the claim of early non-use of UV inhibitors can hopefully be addressed by someone here that is an expert in that field. BTW I had a 35 yr old Old Town Tripper made of royalex (oltanar) that was still in excellent condition because it was stored out of the suns rays which is the number one killer of plastics and vinyls.

identifying damage
thanks for the reply. I guess I should have been a little clearer. As for properties and advantages, I know a fair amount regarding the different materials. I really don’t know how to identify whether the materials are still good, or have degraded. I’ll look in the archives, though.

aged boats
Start by looking at the last digits on the id plate. That is the date of manufacture.

Royalex and polyethylene fade with sun exposure. Fibergass gets brittle. Look for old repairs. Press on the hull. Weakened boats are not that hard to spot if you look at them closely in bright sunlight. I would rather not have a used boat made before about the early 90s.

aged boats with gel coat
can be fine… The oxidation can be removed with rubbing compound…

I have picked up three thirty year old kevlar and fiberglass boats in the last two years… They were in very good shape. Not having the fabric layers exposed to the sun is a good thing.

All had either been stored upside down or had painted interiors.

Don’t write off a boat just cause it is old. Its a bit of hooey to assume all of them are degraded. You can get some fine deals on old boats… Old Royalex was thicker and many Old Towns going on 40 years old are still doing fine.

You can tell the intactness of a composite hull by pressing down on all of it…one palm width at a time…

Fiberglass is not friendly to body parts and is to the best of my knowledge covered with something.

all of this is just what i wanted to know. regarding pressing with one hand: what should happen if the material is bad? will it not flex, and start to crack?

materials age
Almost all materials weaken with age. Especially when left in sunlight. Take 2 tupperware containers. Set 1 outside, and 1 inside. See which last longer.

Any canoe can last for 20+ years if cared for properly. You may never know the difference between paddling a new canoe or one that is 20 years old. Until you run into a rock…

old canoes
I had an early Kevlar boat, a Sawyer Charger. It was a great design, but the boat literally started to come apart. It was built in 1978 and a I sold it around 2000 repairing it with a new floor.