Old Town Canoe 174 Warped

We purchased a used Old Town 174 last year and after several sort trips we took a couple of all day river trips with not too good results. My husband has the experience and had trouble controlling the canoe and after looking over it last night we realized its warped - maybe explaining why it leans to the right. I was wondering if anyone had heard of these canoes warping, maybe a manufacturing defect in past years or just poor past owners upkeep? Thanks for any info.

bought a new Old Town 169 in 2006 …

– Last Updated: Jul-04-09 3:23 PM EST –

..... this is somewhat long post , but I went with it anyway because i believe it could be useful for others who suspect plastic boat problems ... I want to be clear up front , that I "do not" believe such problems as plastic boat deformity or assemerical moulding conditions are centered in any direct way "just" on Old Town , but more of a reality throughout the industry and all mfgs. ...

I noticed early on it always seemed to lean left at the Bow . At first I was just thinking she (my lady in the Bow) wasn't quite paying enough attention to ballancing when paddling on left , so keep reminding her to lean right more or scoot over some to right in seat .

It was awkward for me because I found myself (Stern), trying to counter more than should be required .

This was our first tandem together , so I just figured she would catch on soon ... also she didn't seem to realize the canoe was leaning left as much as I did from the Stern .

After enough times out and the same problem repeating , even after she was getting comfortable with her ballance and leaning , showing markable improvement , I still found myself needing to counter ballance toooo much (to the right) .

I started to suspect the canoe was adding to the problem , so I did some string line test on it .

With the canoe on it's bottom , I stretched tight a line from tip to tip right down the center line .

I measured carefully from the line to the gunnels on each side about every foot or so starting from the end (same point on line , same point on gunnels each side) .

No doubt about it , the measurements revealed a twist to the left !! It wasn't alot , but it was progressive over the intire length .

With the line in place and the canoe ballanced so that the gunnel at center thwart was the same measurement from floor to gunnel ... if you stooped down and sighted the length from one end you could acually see the twist (I think the line helped focus the differences making it easier to see also) .

Well , I was sure the canoe had a mild twist now , and that was magnifying the problem , but wasn't sure I wanted to go through the process of doing something about it yet .

**** The remainder is how we and the dealer went through a process for us to exchange ... no need to read on unless interested ... we have a perfectly semetrical boat now and are satisfied .

I contacted the seller (Bass pro Shop) , explained the situation and made sure they put our conversation on record for future decision . They said I could bring it back and exchange for another new one now , or just make my mind up at a later date ... either way it was up to me and they would keep the call on record .

Winter came and we didn't start paddling again until Spring . We paddled our canoe through the Spring , it was becoming "our boat" , we were getting attached to it , sentimental lol ...

As Summer approached , I had a mind struggle going on ... we didn't want to part with "our canoe" , so kept entertaining the idea of just living with it .

Called Bass Pro again , ask how our status was there on the return issue citing the previous phone call record . Also told them that the canoe was starting to show signs of progressing oil canning . They said the managers' word (name on record) who assured me by phone we could bring it back whenever was good enough , so whatever I chose they will stand by it ... good enough for me ... we kept paddling it a little while longer !!

When early Summer came , I decided to take it on back in . Made the call to tell them that we were bringing it back , they said ok , they have several to chose from , but when we got there they said all they had in stock right now was the floor model ... we got it down and I checked it , it showed a twist also ... get the manager , we want this attempted exchange event on the record . Manager came out and said we'll have more in later if you want to come back again ... I said fine , put this in writing for me please , and we went home with our original canoe and the letter in hand !!

I might add here that I called and talked to Old Town personally and explained the problem at the beginning of 2007 , they told me to stick with trying to resolve it with Bass Pro , but in any event they will see we have a canoe without any problems and are happy with ... if it comes to that . They said that sometimes it happens in production , not often , but some canoes get cooled too fast , taken from the mould too soon and a few other possibile things can happen .

Come the Spring of 2008 , the oil canning was getting worse , had become more than acceptable , the twist seemed to be more prominent , so i called the shop and said we are bringing it back ... they said come on in , we have a few of them in stock and one on the floor .

When we got there with the canoe , they showed us the floor display canoe ... I got them to lay it out on the floor while I set up the string line ... nope , not this one , see the twist as I showed them with tape measure in hand , let's look at another !!

They disappeared for too long and we waited . Finally when we rounded the guys helping us up , they told us that they didn't have any more in stock right now .

Oh , that's just great !! ... why did you tell me on the phone you had several in stock for us to chose from ?? ... get your manager out here , we won't take this one in exchange , we don't want this one , it shows some twist like the one we have now .

The manager came out , same person from initial phone conversation and initial exchange event , and soon the floor workers were off to bring more 169's from a local storage Bass Pro apparently has 15 mins. away !!

We waited some more , they finally got back in a cargo truck , and when the rear door rolled up there were 3 more all wrapped in plastic in there .

I said we'll have to unwrap and do the checks and line thing ... they were much more cooperative this time !!

Unwrapped the first one , nope not this one , I want to see another ... the 2nd one looked good , but checked the last one anyway , it was perfect !!

In the exchange , it was a bit of a hassel , but worth it . The new 169 carried the name Expedition 169 instead of Discovery ... it seems to have a "slightly" more arched hull than our original Disco. 169 did , but Old Town says it is basically a Disco. but just for Bass Pro Shops .

We have had no problems with this new Expedition and believe it to be everything we expect ... love this canoe !!

Since your 174 has been purchased used , your options don't look as promising , but you could talk with Old Town and see what if anything they might be willing to do about it , I'm of the belief that they do care and "might" be willing to go beyond if your boat came off the production line twisted originally ... even if you are a subseqint owner ??

pretty sure it’s

– Last Updated: Jul-04-09 4:38 PM EST –

the construction. The disco's are "superlink", and some other OT's are "polylink", at least when I was looking into them a decade ago. Other models are Royalex. Every rental Disco I've seen at the local canoe shop is hogbacked, oil-canned, warped or whatever you want to call it.They sell the beat 169's and 174's for $125 on occasion. The Royalex boats seem to hold their shape, Old Town or otherwise.

Can you say poly…
Haven’t met a poly canoe yet that can hold it’s shape.


– Last Updated: Jul-04-09 11:05 PM EST –

Polyethylene works for smaller kayaks because the deck adds a lot of rigidity. The small, short partially-decked whitewater OC1s likewise. But a 17+ foot long open boat made of poly is going to oil can and develop warps and twists over time.

Leave it right in the sun for the day, it’ll straighten right out…if left out properly. Most canoe warp problems are from improper storage. Poly has no “mind of it’s own”…it comes out the exact shape of the mold it was formed in, and stays that way. If it warps, it was helped to shift that direction and heat ie strong sun or a hair dryer will return it to the original molded shape (unless stresses in the poly strong enough to involve stretches were involved). Too many people lean a canoe against the shed, hang it on ladder hangers, or just flip them over on the lawn. The proper storage manner is on saw horses, with the canoe flipped over and resting on the gunwhales. In the shade perferably. The saw horses should be 2 feet in from the ends, thats about the best way you can store a canoe and retain it’s intended hull shape.

let us know if this works
Local livery would appreciate it, I’m sure.

frequently have oil-canning of the hull bottom that doesn’t go away when left in the sun.

well pblanc

– Last Updated: Jul-05-09 8:48 PM EST –

now you did it ;-)

I’ve seen a lot of Discoveries
owned by liveries, as you suggest, or clubs that spend a lot of time in the sun, hull up, supported on the gunwales, either on racks or on canoe trailers.

Granted, storing boats subjected to continuous UV radiation isn’t ideal, but sometimes these agencies don’t have big indoor storage facilities.

Discoveries were always popular because of their toughness and price, but eventually most demonstrated some type of hull deformation, usually oil-canning, and it didn’t go away.

Not a bad boat, but just one of the con’s of the material, along with its weight.

Thanks for all the comments
Thanks for everyone’s comments and humor. You certainly helped us confirm our thought and stopped us getting into any more fights (on and off the water)! We’ve decided that a smaller, lighter ship is in order…I think the 174 might make a very nice raised flower bed.

I store my royalex canoes in random patterns and places, and they have held their shape, some for 18 years now. Royalex, the choice of paddle snobs everywhere!

My suggestion for anyone starting with
a new, unwarped Discovery is to install a minicell pedestal between the thwart and the bottom of the hull. This will add a little floatation, and better yet, will prevent the hull from warping upward from water pressure and stupid storage. If that doesn’t keep the hull bottom where it belongs, add a thwart or two and install minicell support there also.