Keel? Motor Mount?


I am a new owner of a 1981 13ft. SmokerCraft aluminum, flat bottom, canoe. I want to use a 30# electric trolling motor. I am concerned about the lack of a keel on the bottom of my canoe. Is a keel necessary? I am disabled and have a hard time paddling thus the need for a motor. Also, I read somewhere that there is no need for a motor mount on an aluminum boat…that I can mount the motor directly to the side of the boat. Is this true? Thanks in advance for any answers. Ron

Good news
No, the keel is not necessary. While a keel helps in some circumstances (tracking) these are easily overcome with decent paddling or steering technique. Most of the time, a keel gets in the way, and often times a keel’s only purpose is to overcome structural or material deficiencies in a canoe to make it stronger.

I’m not sure about the motor. Depending on the type of mount, you can probably attach it directly tot he canoe. otherwise, you may have to devise a system with wood and clamps to fabricate a mounting area on the side of the canoe.

Have fun!


can you mount an elect. motor …

– Last Updated: Nov-16-09 12:33 PM EST –

...... directly to a canoe without using the standard mounting bracket made for a canoe ??

The short answer is "yes" you can with a wood block added in the deal .

The long answer is , there are compromises (not mentioned here yet) you need to consider if you want to direct mount the motor without a standard or custom made motor bracket being used .

The basics ... the motor is designed to tilt in it's own screw down bracket from vertical to horizontal . The motor is designed to be raised and lowered vertically also .

With a standard canoe motor mounting bracket and the motor attached to that ... the motors' own screw down bracket is 90 degrees to the haul length (centerline). This has the advantage of allowing the elect. motor when tilted , to tilt in paralell to the haul centerline .

Without using a standard canoe motor mounting bracket ... the motors' own screw down bracket is paralell to the haul length . This has the disadvantage of the elect. motor tilting away and outwards (as oppossed to paralell) from the hauls length .

Look at the picture in the minds eye and see how the motors' "tilt" and "vertical" adjustments desinged into the motor wil be functioning in relation to the canoes' center line length , and see the difference and compromises .

If you wanted to tilt the elect. motor into the horizontal position for stowing , you will need to first raise it vertically to max. limit and then tilt it to lay down across the gunnels (as oppossed to paralell with center line) . Other wise if not raised first , but tilted first , you end up with a cantilevered motor prop pod hanging out in the air far out off the side of your canoe ... this is a ballance issue because the prop pod is by far the heaviest part of an elect. troll motor . In reality you will need to raise the motor to some degree before tilting to horizontal stow position no mater which way it is mounted to the canoe , because that pod has noticable weight , and the simple fact of over coming the cantilevered weight effect is amatter of muscle strength if not raised first and reversing the cantilevered effect in your favor .

I wouldn't discount the idea of mounting the elect. troll motor directly to the haul skin (using the wood block) ... it is a doable method , but has those compromises (and perhaps some benefits too) , you'll need to determined what you think after considering the opts. .

Another compromise is the tilt trim effect , but that would be automatically negated which I will mention "why so" at the end later . (my personal preference) .

Using a standard canoe motor mounting bracket , is another independant part in the set-up , and has adavantages , but not "absolute" in the sense that not using it makes mounting an elect. troll motor imposible or impractical .

FYI , on most all elect. troll motors it is a fairly simple matter to "shorten the shaft length" if you want to customize it some .

I have saved this one for last because it is "Safty Factor" ... Elect. Troll motors can be locked into any of the tilt positions in it's own bracket . But you can also rig the tilt function to be "free tilting" so the motor is not locked at any time .

This is a very good idea to do (free tilting) if there is any chance of the motors' submerged prop pod striking or coming in contact with "submerged" things like rocks , the bottom , etc. . In the best case scenario of such an event , the motor will not "HANG" on the object struck causing the canoe to become unstable enough to throw you out ... it will most likely just bang , "free tilt" up and ride over the struck object (some unstableness and change of canoe direction will occur at impact , but not like a "HANG" at cruise speed if the motor is locked in a bracket position).

For using the reverse function of the elect. troll motor , you may find that locking it into the bracket is prefered at those brief times , because applying much power will try to cause the motor tilt up when in reverse if not locked in . (this is a play it by ear thing) .

To finalize , if the motors' own screw down bracket is attached directly to the haul skin , (remember which way the motor tilts in this fashion) ... it "Will Not" be able to free tilt and raise over the object struck by the prop pod . This is something to be very aware of and decide for yourself how you wish to handle it .

The "keel" or no keel isn't a factor , it's just a preference or design thing , having it's own pos. or negs. ... but not a concern either way in the use of an elect. troll motor .