How old is too old for Royalex?

I mean, when trying to learn how to pole my '91 Penobscot in cold water, and step in the wrong place whilst perched between rocks, am I likely to suddenly find myself in a FUBAR canoe (clarion says I’m fat, so weight might be at issue)? Does Rx become so brittle as to be vulnerable to catastrophic failure without warning? Has anybody ever seen or heard of such an instance?

now that’d be
a story to tell :-). “No, I didn’t fall out of my canooo, I fell THRUUUU my canoooo!!!”

Never heard of that one, personally. Turned my Encore 4 different colors last year in one run, due to scraping off the top 3 layers, and it’s still a trooper. Just realized between the black ABS/acetone mix I’ve been painting nearly everywhere, that the other color is the same as my sons Encore where he recently wore thru the outer layer. I remember nailing a rock in the Reflection or the Royalite Dumoine that made it look like a bowling ball was being born in front of me. Canoe was only a few years old at the time, but I think you’ll hit a period of wild oil-canning before anything catastrophic.

I’d say 55
When I turned 55 last year the danged things just got too heavy to load and unload and carry around.

I’d say that 55 is too old for royalex and that after that you need to switch to kevlar.

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I am 45
and I think thats too old for my 80 pound coleman canoe but a perfect age for my 40 pound sports pal. In 10 years I will be 55, then I can buy a kevlar canoe.

I had an over 25 year old Mohawk that is still seeing duty bouncing off Cypress knees in the swamp, no problems yet. however it was stored under cover most off the time and in the sunny south, i would think the cold north would shorten the life span. The canoe is around 25 years old now.

I never thought hot/cold cycles…
…were as hard on a hull as extreme heat/UV, but in any case, a boat that was stored indoors will outlive one that wasn’t.

Okay, I never really imagined

– Last Updated: Oct-02-08 8:11 AM EST –

actually going through the hull, but that would make for a good laugh (for anybody lucky enough to witness such an event)!

The canoe is in pretty decent shape for it's age. Most of the half-million scratches on it are superficial and I've only really rammed a few rocks here and there over the years. It does live outdoors, although under cover, and has endured countless freeze/thaw cycles and only sparodic 303 applications (don't get me started). I've always operated with the assumption that the thing was basically indestructible, at least that's what Old Town told us in all of their marketing material, right?

What got me wondering was my discovery of what I think is the first evidence of the dreaded "cold crack" (Barney Frank will tell you there's nothing worse) located about a foot from the bow. It's a hairline in the outer layer that extends about 1 1/2" perpendicular from the aluminum gunnel, originating at a rivet.

So, I guess, in my imagination, it'll happen that someday I'll stress the hull somehow and there will result a loud "snap" and that'll be it for our trusty Penobscot, an ugly patch and retirement to the local pond.

The Chipewan is 34
Somebody gave me a wrecked Chipewan, 1974 vintage royalex. I threw it down on some logs in the yard, climbed in, and jumped up and down all over the hull. The cracks didn’t seem any worse for it, and I decided to rehab it. That was before I realized both stems were split. I later wished I’d just taken her to the dump, but that’s hindsight & irrelevant. It got fixed up. And I took her polling.

This canoe had a demanding life and for the few years up to 2007 had sat outside a house in Virgina until the gunwales rotted off. She was outfitted as a whitewater boat and it looked like the river had got the better of the crew on more than one occasion. Old Town’s records indicate she was returned to the factory for bow repairs sometime in the 70’s. There are hull patches elsewhere, she was oil-canned, and there were lots of cracks visible on the inside. I put on an exterior layer of dynel fabric, covering the area from waterline to waterline. So it has been reinforced, although, based on the jump test, I think the royalex had enough strength.

I also paddled with some folks a few weeks back who were in a yellow OT Tripper. You don’t see many of those around. I looked at the serial number and saw it was a 1977 model. It was in great shape! So, a '91 is a young boat. You are not going to fall through your boat.


Hot versus cold environments

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All man-made compounds that I'm aware of (such as tires, plastics, photographic paper and film to name a few) last longer when kept cool or cold than they do at normal temperatures, and deteriorate much more quickly when exposed to warm temperatures. I would think of northern winters as a form of "suspended animation" for aging Royalex boats, as long as there's no problems with cracking at gunwale-mounting holes.

For what it's worth, and this adds nothing that hasn't been said in other posts, my brother's old Blue Hole is somewhere around 29 to 31 years old, and seems to be as rugged as ever. I can't be sure that it can take a hit as well as when it was new, but it's plenty tough.

13 years and counting
on a royalex beater boat that we store outside and let everyone in the neighborhood use. It does not see many extreme cold cycles, but it gets lots of heat and UV exposure and is still going strong.

A long long time
The summer camp I used to go to 20 years ago, still uses the same Old Town Campers and Trippers for all of their trips from little day trips on the Lower Ossippee,Saco, to the St. Croix, and all over the Gash.

The boats live in summer cabins all winter long. After a few ABS repairs along the chines, they all still float. The boats were all built between 79’ and 83’.