How to buy used

Everyone has been so helpful. I appreciate it greatly and have since changed my mind about which model to get.

Now that I’ll probably buy 15+ used canoe. What do I look for in terms of how well it has been taken care of? How would I know to “stay away from this one” aside from the obvious?

Right now I have a Tripper 172 Royalex I’m looking at…

A few things to look at…

– Last Updated: Mar-12-12 7:51 PM EST –

...assuming you are looking at royalex boats...

Make sure the hull isn't hogged.

Make sure the stems line up when sighted across them lengthwise.

Those two issues are not easily repairable, and I would walk away from any canoe showing either defect.

Most other issues are more easily repaired or can be tolerated as-is. But any defect can devalue the boat.

Seats and thwarts are easy to replace. If you're not a woodworker, you can get replacement parts here (note the prices)...

Damaged or rotted gunwales are harder to replace and should make a much bigger dent in price of the canoe.

Verticle "cold-cracking" at the gunwales of a royalex canoe can be repaired, but IMO should also drop the price considerably.

Abrasion damage at the stems is pretty easy and cheap to fix. Lower price according to how extensive the damage.

If the hull is old or otherwise shows signs of having been stored out in the weather, push hard all around on the outside and listen for crackly noises that might indicate the inner layer of the royalex getting stiff and brittle. This is a condition that is not reversible. Such a hull may still be perfectly usable for mild waters, but should be rock-bottom priced ($250 or less, depending on whatever else is wrong).

Forgot to mention…

– Last Updated: Mar-12-12 8:02 PM EST –

Small dents and shallow scratches are common in used royalex canoes. As long as the inner layer (either cream-colored or pale blue) isn't showing through, no repairs are needed. If you see no such markings on a royalex boat, it has probably seen little or no use.

If you see no fading and the skin is still shiny when dry, it has probably been stored indoors, or at least under cover (good).

If one side of the gunwale looks pushed in compared to the other, it may have been stored on it's side (bad - walk away if it's very noticeable).

Thanks for that link to Eds Canoe
I did not know of that supplier and as it turns out I work up in Derby once a month so I am going to have them install some cane seats in an old Old Town Tripper I own. I detest those plastic seats Old Town uses and much prefer cane seats.

look for excessive damage or wear …

– Last Updated: Mar-13-12 12:07 AM EST –

...... in the hull's outer skin . The outer and inner skin layer is vinyl .

Adrasion at the bottom of the stems is common because that's the 1st part to meet rocks or get draged up onto shore , concrete - asphalt and such . If the lower stem skin is abraided away excessively or completely worn through , it should be doctored up and the price come down .

Any creases in the hull's skin means it's ramed something pretty hard , the price should come down dramatically .

Check the thwarts right where they attach to the underside of the gunnels (they are bolted through the the gunnels) ... poke at the wood of the thwarts right there with a flat screw driver or similar to see if it's soft or showing any signs of rot at the attach ends . If a thwart or more will need replacement cause it's ends are soft , down comes the price , $50. bucks a thwart .

Any severe lacerations in the exterior skin , down comes the price , they will need to be doctored up . A laceration cuts clean through the vinyl skin . A long shallow dent like scrap is not a laceration and does not need to be doctored if it's not broken the skin .

Look at the plastic gunnels , do they have any bend creases in them showing they have been bent and sprung back into shape . If so the price drops to $200.-250.

For $700. and 15 yrs. old , that's top dollar and the canoe should be pretty pristene .

It's very doubtful the hull will be brittle . Roylex gets harder and more rigid (less flexable) as the years go by , and that's a good thing ... brittle is not a good thing but a 15 yr. old Royalex canoe should easily have another 15 yrs. left in it even if it's been stored outside in direct sun and weather .

If you want to you can tape a string on top of the deck plates from the bow center to the stern center , it doesn't have to be tight rope tight , snug is good enough ... mark the string every 2' or so with a black marker ... now just measure from each mark on the string to the gunnel on each side at a 90 degree angle ... if the measurements on each side of the string are equal at a given mark , the hull has no twist distortion (allow an 1/8" here and there , nothing's perfect) . The hull most likely is straight as an arrow w/o any twist .

You should noticably see the mild arch in the bottom of the hull (roll it upside down and look at it) , if it's flat or bulging any at all towards the inside ... forget that boat (the core is damaged) , it's either rode over too many rocks and damaged/weakened the core in the center section or it was a factory defect from the beginning .

The mild arch is noticably (visually) there and in solid condition (boat upside down - push hard on center section in the middle) , if it's solid or has a little give and springs right back , it's in good condition , the core is sound and not damaged .

A host of minor scratches in the exterior skin should be expected , dull or faded color isn't a concern , a few smallish dimple dents here and there are not a concern and expected .

Visually check the aluminum rivits that attach the deck plates and gunnels , it's ok if they show mild oxidation but corrosion to the point of metal wear or distortion means they will need replacing and the price goes down $100. w/o question .

Remember $700. for that Rx Tripper means it's in very good condition all the way around .

Good luck and hope it's a real nice one with mild use on it .

Not sure but I think around $700. is what it cost new 15 yrs ago , and if it's in very good condition it's still worth that much today in comparison to today's inflated prices on new ones .

After checking it over real good , and if it meets the real nice condition test ... if you intend to buy it , offer $600. and dicker from there .

Dirty can be cleaned up , but dirt is worth a discount too .

The Rx Tripper 172 is made to carry a fair amount of weight , when loaded lightly the wind plays with it a little , but that's pretty much all canoes . The Rx Tripper 172 is a very capable ww river boat in full cls II rapids , with air bags and experienced ww paddlers it should handle cls III well (but it's doubtful you'll ever be getting into cls III , maybe a quick in and out though) .

The seats are most likely going to be those flat foamed filled ones (extra floatation) , they are good solid seats but you'll want a seat cushion .

stay away from this one

Here it is…
This is the one I’m looking at…

You probably can’t tell much from the pics…except that it’s been stored outside most probably…

Bottom scratches visible.

– Last Updated: Mar-13-12 4:15 PM EST –

I know it can be a little different in every area - but let me tell you that every used royalex canoe I payed even close to $700 for had few scratches at all. That one looks decent in the pics, but it's a little overpriced IMO.

edt: Of course, prices are going up - but it's still winter. The spring/summer used-boat prices are yet to come. I looked at a 3 or 4 year-old Wenonah royalex Prospector just a while ago that sold (I hesitated too long) for $500. It had few signs of wear topside and a similar looking bottom to the Tripper in that ad. /edit

Looks like the stems have had kevlar skid plates added. Check those closely to see that they are not pulling or chipping away from the hull and leaving the inner layer below the vinyl skin exposed. If so, that will need to be fixed. Pretty unlikely though, and if they are intact, you don't need to worry about stem abrasion.

Speaking of those skid plates - IMO, you should not allow them to demand more money because they are there. There are better ways to protect the ends - but now that the kev plates are there, well...there they are.

Edit: That $500 price on the Prospector was incorrect. I was remembering this morning that it went for $450. And that included a couple paddles and pfd's.

Identify someone you trust and who knows
… then run your potential purchases past him or her. That’s you best bet.

more pics
Let’s say I bought a canoe with a crack or laceration in the outer hull that I didn’t see.

Water would leak in I assume… What then?

What would be the repair procedure before doing the patch work? In other words, how do you get all the water out? Or is it in there for good?

The guy emailed me more close up pics. Unfortunately, posting pics is isn’t allowed for me on this forum.

Posting Pics
If you want to show people pics, set up a free account with any of the many photo sites that are out there, such as Webshots or Flickr. Put your photos on such a site, and then when writing here you can post links to particular photos as needed.

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Looks fine
The tripper looks like a boat that has been used but not abused. We are always looking for a deal but is $100 or 200 going to make that much difference in your ownwership of the boat. Probably not. If the boat doesn’t work after purchase sell it and get most of your money back. Think of it as a rent before you buy agreement. Next topic???


That’s an old boat.
I’d say going on thirty years. And it has been well used. I wouldn’t go over $350 for that one.

If you’re in ME, just be patient, have cash on hand, and keep your eyes open. You can do better.

If you are desperate to try out canoes, you could put your own ad on CL looking to rent a canoe for a day for $40. Might be a good way to tease out some deals, too. There are more old OT’s in barns up there than anyone could ever count.

Ewww, white gunwales
I bought a Tripper in 2000. I love that boat. I paid about $1000 for mine, new.

The pictures show a boat that has white gunwales and very different deck plates than the one I have, which is at least 3 years newer. BTW, OT boats are stamped near the stern with a serial number, and the last couple digits indicate the year, so you can verify the age of the boat by asking for the serial.

What scares me about it is the white gunwales. I have another OT boat that is much older, and the vinyl gunwales recently cracked on it. I spoke to a friend, a guy who has fixed scores of boats, and as soon as I started describing the crack which resulted from very little stress, he asked if it had white gunwales. Apparently, for a while OT was putting white gunwales on boats and they just did not hold up over time. My friend advised me the gunwales are likely toast. Others here may be able to comment on this. My problem boat was built in the 70s, and it may be the OT corrected the aging problem with the white gunwales, I don’t know. But, personally, I will be very wary of acquiring an OT canoe with white gunwales. My 2000 Tripper is outfitted with black gunwales.

Evaluation advice posted by SiI and PW sound right on to me. Also, I think the price is a bit high for an older boat. It is Craigslist though, and we frequently see all kinds of items at unreasonable prices. It costs the lister nothing to try for a high price. If you decide you want the boat, offer a reasonable price. Market price is set between willing buyer and seller, not by Craigslist listings.


Well - used?
I don’t know about the age - but my 5 year old Prospector that didn’t have a scratch on it when I bought it looks very much like that on the bottom and sides. I guess some would say it is well-used, but I would call it pretty normal…and mild, compared to some I’ve seen.

The thwarts on that Tripper look pretty scuffed-up though. Doesn’t appear that anybody bothered to keep the finish up.

I also don’t know anything about the white gunwales, as mentioned by Chip. If there is a question about the durability of those gunwales - and especially if it truly is 30 years old, $350 is about all I would offer too.

The skid plates bother me more
than the scrapes, scuffs, and scratches do. The boat looks the way it should for its age, I think. Some of that old “Oltonar” Royalex was heavier and possibly more durable than my 20 year-old Penobscot, though. My boat is a better all-round hull and in better shape. I’d be happy to get half of the grand I paid for it new, if I were to sell it today.

It’s probably not the best time to be canoe shopping in ME right now. September might have been better. If this weather keeps up, a few more weeks will make a difference.

looks pretty nice to me …

– Last Updated: Mar-14-12 12:03 AM EST –

..... all those rub marks on the bottom are just compression marks in the vinyl skin where it has rode over things and are normal for a used river boat . They start immediately on new Rx canoes and add up with time and use . I also think Oltonar (Uniroyal) made the vinyl layer thicker (tougher) on the older ones , but don't know that for certain .

The skin doesn't look faded in the pics. , probably was cleaned recently and 303'd .

Some people never allow there canoes to run into or over things ... I'm not one of them . My feelings are a canoe should be able to be a battering ram if required and smile while it's doing it ... The Rx Tripper 172 was made to smile , lol ... and that's why they last forever .

Lacerations through the skin are what to look for , they'll need doctoring for best maintinace .

Of course pictures aren't the same as a personal inspection and those pics. are rather dark , go see it in person in the light . When inspecting it do what I mentiioned earlier to test the hulls center bottom section for strength and mild arch integrity (make sure the core hasn't been weakened , probably hasn't .

It's not possible to say if there was lower stem abrasion that was wearing through the stem vinyl before the skid plates were added , or if they were added earlier on to protect the stems before excessive wear had a chance to hasppen ... if they are stuck tight (edges stuck well) , I wouldn't think on it anymore , it's not a big deal anyway , those skid plates can be maintained . The skids are made to be sacrificial , ram rocks , etc. and protect the underlying stem .

My white gunnels are just fine , mine is a 1984 . I personally wouldn't concern over white gunnels , I'd think of them as any other plastic gunnel , if they haven't any visible creases , cracks or breaks caused by some seriously heavy impact , then they are good until otherwise .

Check the tharts for soft ends , it's always possible but definately not a deal breaker . replacement of a thwart is as simple as it gets . Even if the thwarts are solid , when you get it home take them out one at a time , sand , refinish them , re-install ... no big deal just maintinance and good idea .

That Rx Tripper is a nice canoe , lots of room , tough rugged boat made to do work on the river . It's not a fancy canoe , it's a plain simplistic canoe with a great hull design , very strong and safe when things get rough . Again , it's designed for mountain river use where things are 10 times meaner than a lake or pond .

If it were me I'd go look at it with money in my hand . If you like it and want it , offer $550.
and work your way up from there until you and seller reach an agreement .

Check the seriel # to confirm mfg. yr. . 15 yrs old ain't bad at all .

One thing is for certain ... if the integrity of the hull is sound , no cracks , center section of bottom hull arch is strong , no big bend creases , no patches yet ... you will like that canoe if you buy it . So what if you pay $100. bucks more than you should have (it's a judgement call) , when are you going to find another as comparable ??

If I was looking for a used Rx Tripper 172 , I'd have already gone to look at that boat with money in my hand !! Chances are it would be at my place now .

Penobscot is better…
…but the OP is expecting to have up to two adults and three kids in it, IIRC. I only know the Penobscot 16 - don’t have any familiarity with the 17.

I think…

– Last Updated: Mar-13-12 6:22 PM EST –

I think $700.00 bucks it way outa line for a canoe that old, and in the condition I hear being described.

I'd say outa line by as much as $350.00; maybe more if you were actually looking at the canoe in person.

Photos can sometimes be deceptive. Wet down the hull of a royalex canoe, and take a quick photo while it's still wet.Take another photo of the same hull when it's bone dry. Sometimes it looks like 2 different canoes. Try the same thing on a hull without any 303 on it; then take another photo after you've freshly coated it with 303. Shazam!

Wonder what, if anything those skid plates may be covering.

Also wondering how many Bangor, Maine winters it's spent outside?