id and judging a used Mad River canoe

I am going to look at a canoe from craiglist in the morning that is advertised as a 16 foot fiberglass Mad River. The seller seems to have no idea what the model is and can’t find the serial number. They seem to think it’s 12 years old but also think it’s an Adventure 14.

Anyhow, I’m relatively new at this and wondered if anyone could give me some advice on what to look for. Does anybody have any idea what this model is? Why do I look for as far as condition goes? It’s clearly very faded and scratched up. Do they have serial numbers etched in anywhere that they could not be lost?

Here is the ad:

Here is a link to a couple of other photos she sent in my google drive:

looks more like RX to me
I dont see any weave of fiberglass inside.

The outerskin looks like RX.

Looks like it needs some compounding and is in otherwise good shape.

The HIN would be etched in the stern outside just under the gunwales. Look for the last two numbers for the year.

Its not an Adventure 14 (thank god) but don’t let them know that.

I am guessing here an Explorer… A classic.

kevlar or RX?
Thanks, I wondered that. As far as I can tell Mad River mass produced very few fiberglass canoes. I had suspected that it was kevlar because that would be easier for somebody to confuse with fiberglass but would not have the weave. Those they seem to have made a lot of.

By compounding do you mean like compounding a car?

Kevlar is tan inside and has a weave
that pic seems not to have a weave.

I bet its Royalex…its probably in good shape. If its been stored outdoors the outside could have oxidized. Its not ideal to store outdoors. Many say UV degrades the material but in the Northeast in the forest shade its not a big deal

where is summer?

The other alternative is k-glass and it’s beginning to look like the strongest possibility to me. I’ve been digging through archives of the mad river site and found that anywhere around early 2000’s they used that color only in Explorers with K-glass or kevlar. You wouldn’t see the weave in that because the fiberglass is layered in kevlar. It brings the costs down while keeping it light. From 2003.

I can’t find a whole lot about them but what I can indicates that they are a pretty tough construction. I’m wondering though if the very faded color means that it’s been left out in the sun and if that can damage it badly.

2000, sky blue

Wrong size but that’s it.

Mad River did make an Explorer

– Last Updated: Jul-09-16 7:10 PM EST –

in "Triple Tough" it was 16 feet. They also made an Adventure or Explorer 14 TT that was smaller( I think both names were used). ( no relation to the currently abominable Adventurer)

Unfortunately, its made out of nothing like Kevlar or a glass Kev combo( very common from other makers). Its made of polyethylene and my guess weighs about 80 lbs. The page you linked to does show Kevlar and I hope your sought after canoe is.. Vinyl gunwales as your sellers has tended to be on poly and RX and wood on Kevlar and ilk boats.

Youll have to go look at it as the sellers seem to have some facts mixed up.. part true and part their guess.

If your quest is disappointing there is a bonafine just almost as good as new older Exolorer in RX in Connecticut

North Adams is not very far from Norfolk CT. about an hour or so.

Oh you are right. That’s just what came up when when I searched for sky blue explorer. Looking closely all the 16TT seem to be very different at the stern and bow but I don’t know. I can’t find anything that looks exactly like it.

Do the gunwales look like vinyl or aluminum to you?

Mad River Canoe
made a whole lot of fiberglass canoes.

But that canoe is Royalex. If it is 16ft in length it is most likely an Explorer which is a quite decent all-around boat. It looks like a 16’ Explorer to me.

If so it will be pretty heavy, around 70lbs or a bit more.

so how can I be sure?
With the model name worn off and me only knowing a little as I understand it the HIN will tell year but not model or material.

I think it’s worth the money if it’s royalex and in decent shape but not if it’s triple tough.

just lift it

– Last Updated: Jul-09-16 9:48 PM EST –

TT ought to be a little pebbly looking inside and RX a uniform color

RX is a sandwich and in cross section has layers and poly is uniform. But without taking the gunwales off you have no way of seeing that.

MRC Explorer 16 TT
I do not recall if I have seen a 16’ MRC triple layer polyethylene Explorer in the flesh. But all the photos I have seen of that boat have a second thwart between the center yoke and the stern seat and have very different looking synthetic deck plates with carry handles molded into the deck plates rather than short, wooden carry yokes as seen in the photos of this boat.

As for gunwales, MRC used wood on all of their composite boats. Wood was an option for Royalex boats. The synthetic gunwales that MRC usually used were vinyl with a reinforcing strip of aluminum underneath the top surface of the gunwales. The synthetic gunwales were usually a couple or few pounds heavier than the wood option for the Royalex boats.

TT vs RX
I had a MR Explorer 16TT briefly. Like all Explorers it was a great boat, very versatile, but HEA-VY! Well over 80#. Tough as nails, but a beast to wrestle with.

As mentioned previously, the TT has an extra thwart that isn’t in the one you’re looking at. The interior of the TT has some slight texture to it, where the RX is smooth. Probably the most obvious difference is the MR name, logo and model name are molded right into the TT hull. On the RX hull they would be decals.

Be sure to check the keel line on an Explorer. That Vee keel tends to get a bit of wear. A little white from the ABS layer showing shouldn’t be too bad. Past the white and into the foam core can be a problem. If the foam core soaks in a bunch of water it can start to delaminate.

I’m not sure what your used canoe market is like, but around here I’d say a MR Explorer 16RX in good condition for $400 is a great deal. When I sold my Explorer 16TT earlier this year it went for $550 and it was on and off Craigslist in about a day with a wait list of other interested parties.

Good luck.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

So waht about royalex light though? I noticed there were a few of those made in the time frame this was supposed to be from.

Could be
Royalite is a little different from Royalex but fine for occasional moving water

It’ll be smooth inside too not rough

Royalite AKA R-84
I was not aware that MRC had used R-84 for Explorers.

The R-84 canoes that I have seen produced by other makers looked pretty much identical to the standard Royalex models. There was no easy way to tell the difference.

Some people thought that R-84 was a little less durable than standard Royalex. Others did not notice much difference.

If the material is in good condition an Explorer in either Royalex or R-84 would be a good boat. The R-84 would make it a few pounds lighter. The R-84 does introduce some potential problems for bonding anchors to the hull interior.

One thing about R-84/ Royalex Lite:
I frequently paddle with a friend in her Mad River Eclipse which is made from whatever style of lightweight Royalex was used in certain Mad River canoes. The the hull of that boat is extremely floppy and flexible, to the point that I can hardly believe a a company like Mad River (in the old days when that boat was built) would even let something like that out the factory doors. As the stern paddler, looking down at the floor, I can watch the floor flop up and down more than an inch just due to very slight shifting of my position on the seat. Any large motions of the stern paddler cause the bottom to bend much more, and of course in waves the bottom of the boat flops all over the place. I believe the Eclipse was a model which was ONLY available in lightweight Royalex.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about old Mad River canoes made from standard Royalex.

flex would be a function of thickness
The structural elements of R-84 and Royalex are the same: 2 solid lamina of ABS sandwiching an ABS foam core. The difference is the absence of an inner an outer vinyl layer. The vinyl layers do not contribute anything to stiffness.

Hull flexibility is mostly a matter of hull thickness. But if the manufacturer specs especially thin sheet as a weight saving maneuver, the hull could certainly lack sufficient stiffness. If MRC made an R-84 Explorer, I have no idea what thickness of sheet they specified.

We all expect to hear results
from your used canoe therapy.

There is nothing on a rainy day like a canoe mystery.

The vinyl doesn’t help at all?

– Last Updated: Jul-10-16 1:13 PM EST –

If the vinyl has better tensile strength than the material it encloses (or compressive strength too, for that matter), it would would improve the stiffness, but I've heard of course that it's mainly there for resistance to abrasion and sunlight. I'm no expert on the characteristics of any of these materials, though. I do recall a couple of regular posters here saying they've seen a big difference in stiffness between regular and lightweight Royalex on certain Mohawk canoes as well, but I won't guess as to the reason for that.