MR explorer with no serial number - help with id


Just purchased a MR royalex explorer (?) and have some questions that I am hoping someone might be able to answer.

It looks quite old (1970s based on stickers??).

The boat has no serial number on the hull. It also has a strange skidplate/caps on the bow and stern. Any help in ID’ing this boat? Is the bow cap (has an internal part as well a repair or an old school why of making the boat more useful in whitewater?

paid 425$ - might have been a bit much given the strange caps in bow and stern.


What is the overall length of the canoe? Mad River made a 16’ Royalex Explorer beginning in 1975 until Royalex production ceased. But they also made a 17’ Royalex Explorere from 1983 to 1991. It is possible that the canoe has been rerailed or otherwise modified. The 16’ Royalex Explorers came stock with only a single center thwart/yoke, but the 17 footers (which were actually 17’ 2" in LOA) had a second thwart placed in the aft half of the boat. So your canoe has either had an additional thwart placed or is the longer version.

The Royalex Explorers came with either wood trim or synthetic gunwales and deck plates. The synthetic deck plates used by MRC usually had a circular logo molded into the top. I can’t tell from your photos whether that is the case or not.

I suspect that the canoe was repaired externally and internally after the hull wore through which happened due to abrasion in Royalex hulls. It looks like there is a mulit-laminate aramid internal repair in addition to an external aramid patch over a preexisting skid plate. Judging only from the photos it looks as if it was pretty well done and if the person who repaired it got a good epoxy bond to the ABS of the hull, it should hold up pretty well.

If the aluminum plate with the hull identification number has been removed, look at the interior up under the deck plates. The HIN was sometimes marked with a marker in that location before the gunwales and deck plates were added. The Royalex sticker was common on Royalex boats for decades and does not suggest a specific vintage. I suspect the Costeau sticker was added by a prior owner.

just measured - 16’ . It does have the number 3180 written in marker under the deck plate in faded black marker. 1980 boat?

Probably not. The hull identification number used different formats over the years but the first three characters of the HIN were always letters that formed the manufacturer’s identification code (MIC). The last four characters identified the year and month of production but did so in different ways. The middle five characters could be used by the manufacturer to denote serial number and sometimes the model, and different manufacturers used these characters in different ways. Mad River Canoe usually used the first of these five characters to denote model and the last four to denote serial number.

Since the model of the boat could be determined simply by looking at the molded hull, my guess is that these four numbers denoted the serial number of the hull. If the boat was made between 1975 and 1984, the last four characters would have denoted year and month of manufacture in one of two different ways. In the “model year” format the first of these four characters was always the letter “M”. The next two characters were numbers denoting the model year and the last character a letter code denoting the month of production beginning with “A” for August, then “B” for September and so on. So clearly the four numbers on your hull could not follow the model year format for year and month of production.

In the other “straight year” format all of the last four characters were numbers. The first two of these denoted month from “01” (January) to “12” (December) and the last two denoted year of production. Since there are not 31 months in a year, the 3180 can’t be denoting production date using that format either.