On an Old Town Discovery 17, can anyone recommend how to install a keelson and what to use for material?

When you say keelson do you mean?
Dear msingle,

When you talk about a keelson do you mean the bracket made of pipe that runs down from the front and rear seats and then turns 90 degrees to lay in the depression made by the molded keel of the boat?

If that is what you mean then why not get 20 feet of 3/4 galvanized schedule 40 pipe and take it to a machine shop or plumbing shop to have it bent to fit? You would need to measure the keelson on an existing boat to get the right pipe diameter but if it is 3/4" you can get 20 feet of it for $33.00. If it is 1" pipe 24’ runs a little over $ 60.00. Both prices are from Discount

With those lengths shipping would be pretty stiff but if you checked plumbing and electrical supply houses locally I’ll bet you can get it.

You could also consider using elbows and building it out of pre-cut pipe. Similarly, you could probably build it yourself using PVC pipe and press on fittings that you can by at any decent hardware store or Lowes and Home Depot.

I never made a keelson but I’ll bet I could make decent functional one out of PVC pipe in a few hours. The galvanized one that was custom build on a pipe bending jig would be better but I’ll bet my $ 20.00 one would do the job too.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs


keel vs keelson

here are keelsons:

could be you visualize a keel or shoe keel built into a hull for straight line stability on a round hull.

If you paddle upright then there’s a keel function but if you tilt the hull over onto a round side then less so, faster and more maneuverable.

Grumman’s have shoe keels.

Search canoe keel in Google Images

That’s what I thought it was
Dear datakoll,

A keelson to me is something that is above the actual keel of a ship or boat and tied into the ribs and the keel to add structural strength to the keel line.

I think the OP is talking about the bracket that connects the seats on an Old Town Discovery 15 or 17 to the keel line that is molded into the boat.

If all he is wanting to do is add support to the seats from the underneath he could easily build squared brackets out of pressure treated lumber. Glue a piece of kneeling pad under the seat and build the bracket so it just fits under the seat. It will add rigidity to the seat when it is occupied and take any sag out of it. The kneeling pad will provide a “friction” fit to keep the bracket in place.

But if he wants to duplicate what was originally on the boat he’s going to need to make something out of pipe, either steel or PVC, but it will take more time and more money to do it.

To the OP, you may want to contact Old Town to see what they suggest? I’ve asked them about spare parts for my OT Discovery 13 Sport and they have been able to come through with NOS pieces. They are pretty good at answering emails.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

Maybe the OP needs to report back

– Last Updated: Jul-11-14 8:57 PM EST –

The Old Town Discovery canoes that I've seen do NOT have a molded-in keel, and no keelson either, so I don't believe replacing original equipment is the OP's intent. Pictures on Old Town's website show this as well. My guess is that he's looking for a way to reinforce the bottom of the boat, since nearly every Discovery in existence is hogged, and his probably is too, but he'll have to report back to clarify his intention.

Looking at even more photos, I see that the 15-foot square-back version has a molded-in keel, and so does the 12-footer. None of the other models do though.

the 15’ and 17’ had "keelsons"
Dear Guideboatguy.

The OT 15 and 17’ Discovery Sport boats had “keelsons” for lack of a better word, from the factory.

This is a 15’ but I assure you the 17’ version is identical.

The 13’ version does not have a “keelson” but it for dang sure has a keel, as all of the Discovery Sport boats did. Unless of course I somehow managed to acquire the only one in history that was mis-formed at birth.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

Here is what I’ve seen:

– Last Updated: Jul-11-14 9:54 PM EST –

The Discovery models I've seen look like the center two boats in this picture.

And besides the ones I've seen around here, I've seen countless Discoveries on storage racks, trailers, and piled by the roadsides at rental outfits in the Ozarks. It's one of only about three models that are popular with the Ozark rental places, and it's possible to see thousands (sure seems like thousands) of canoes when driving an hour or so on the backroads in that area.

And the square sterns have a keel
Dear Guideboatguy,

All of the square stern Discovery series have a defined keel molded into them. Without one they would not be able to be operated very well while under power, and they are built to be operated primarily with either electric or gasoline powered engines.

The pointy ended Discoveries are another bird entirely. They are the ubiquitous, “livery” canoe. Every canoe rental place on Earth has at least a few of them. They do not have keels although some of them may have a somewhat “V” shape molded into the bottom.

I can’t claim that I’ve personally seen or used every version of the Discovery series but I’ve owned the 15’ Sport model square stern and still own a 13’ version so I am very familiar with them.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

I am not doubting you …
… about the square-stern models. Since the OP didn’t mention anything about his boat being that type, and since the 169 models are normally called “17-footers” when people refer to them by length, I would not have assumed the motorboat version was the one he was talking about. Now, I can see that it makes sense that this would be the case. It looks like they don’t currently make a 17-foot square-stern version, but maybe they did in the past.

The OP does need to get back
Dear Guideboatguy,

I seem to recall a similar question from the OP, or someone very much like the OP, a week or so ago and at that time was asking about a Discovery 17’ square stern canoe.

I naturally assumed, incorrectly perhaps, that he was asking the same question in a different way. That is why I am stuck on the square stern version.

And I am also following this thread because I covet a Discovery 17 square stern so I look for threads about them. One would be the ideal fishing boat for my local waters and I see canoes as a tool to get to fish, I don’t think I could last an hour paddling for paddling’s sake. :wink:

Take care,

Tim Murphy

Keelson for OT Disc 17 Square Back
Thanks for all the good feedback. We did call OT and they do not make keelsons for this size canoe. They do however make them for the squareback 15 that they currently produce. While they were not very helpful in determining what the original one was made of, I was able to order 3 fingerhats which is the bracket that goes under the seat where the upright popup goes from the keelson to the bottom of the seat. I’ve seen 94 that never had a keelson and then recently I saw a 96 that had a keelson installed. It seems to be a vinyl covered aluminum rod (about 1.25 inches in diameter). It’s my understanding that some of the OTs have them and others do not. It transfers the weight load from the gunnels to the bottom of the boat in order to keep it from “oil canning”. I guess that I’m going to make one from galvanized pipe. We’ll see.