outboard motor and canoe

I have an old 3 hp. outboard that I would like to put on a canoe with a motor mount. I am thinking of getting a canoe that weighs 55-60 pouonds so that I can get it down from overhead storage easily. Anyway, if I went with an Old Town canoe of this weight and used their motor mount, do you think it would be stable enough? for some reason it seems like the canoe would just heel over to one side with a motor that big hanging there (unless someone was in the boat and constantly counter-balancing).

Any suggestiuons on canoes are welcome as well. As I stated I am trying to keep the weight down and the cost as well. If it proves safe in smaller water, I plan on using the canoe with motor on the Missouri River, but will also use it as a general purpose paddler. Thanks!

I’d look at these. I have some experience with motors on canoes and can tell you it will be very unstable when you turn.


How much
does the motor weigh?

These are good ones.
Many years ago I used these and other stabilizers for various configurations with electric and small gas motors. The sponsons do make a lot of sense when using motors that can very quickly flip your canoe. Have also used stabilizers as outriggers in sailing configurations.

These older more square Ethafoam Stabilizer Floats like I used work fine too. A lot cheaper. The fancy bullet ones are not necessary unless you just gotta have 'em. http://www.canoegear.com/catalog/home.php?cat=53 You can also make your own if you are handy with tools, materials, and ideas.

As for the boat, well I always think it smarter to start a little higher end rather than join the “trade up every year club”. But that is me. You get the canoe you are comfortable paddling and fits your pocket book. The main rule here is to paddle, paddle, and paddle some more different canoes to see which one you like BEFORE you buy.

“Many years ago”? Yup, it just doesn’t make sense for me to haul around all the extra junk and weight to go do what I really like, paddle. I found that motors saved very little time and effort in the grand scheme of things. Gas is stinky, batteries are heavy, and the extra unnecessary gear a pain in the butt. The motors have not been wet in years and years.

Good luck!



Some advice from Mohawk.

– Last Updated: Feb-12-07 6:47 PM EST –


Why not just slap a decent trolling motor on? Costs less and makes less noise. And you’re not in the canoe to set speed records, right?

I experimented with electric and gas
motors on a canoe, and gave up on both. The electric is better because you can use the battery weight for your weight compensation program. There are still risks, especially in a river when you encounter cross currents or rocks. An outboard is what you seem to be set on, so, because it is heavier than an electric, I would recommend a square stern canoe. Ideally, that is where a motor belongs on a canoe, and that’s why they are made, sold, and used.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but if you have the physical agility to handle hauling and setup of any motor on a canoe, then you should develop that by paddling the canoe. That’s what I ended up doing. Enjoy the canoe and paddling experience for what it’s meant to be! Happy paddling!

Actually, it costs more, because …

– Last Updated: Feb-12-07 8:24 PM EST –

... he already has the gas motor without paying a thing. Also, for the cost of a good battery he can probably keep it gassed-up for several years unless he uses it a lot more than most people with such a rig do. There's nothing wrong with a small gas motor if a motor is what you need.

How about a different sort of boat?

– Last Updated: Feb-12-07 8:52 PM EST –

I see you already have the motor, and apparently you are thinking "what kind of boat" can you get to create a set-up for cruising around small waters, fish a little, etc. I'd recommend a square-stern canoe, as somebody else already suggested, but a small jonboat might be even better. A 12-foot jonboat will be great for one person, though a little slow and doggy with two, and will work reasonably well with your 3 hp motor. Cartopping a 12-foot aluminum boat is just about as easy as cartopping a canoe IF you provide some sort of loading aid (when I was a kid we always used an auxiliary bar running from the front to rear cross bars. You just lean the boat on that extra bar, slide it up there and twist it to line it up with the car. Nowadays I have an extra bar I can temporarily install at the rear of the car, and again, you just lean the boat on that bar and push it up there). By the way, I actually have a 12-foot aluminum jonboat, and overhead storage is pretty easy - actually easier than any of my other boats because you can hang it from the handles instead of rigging up a proper rack or sling setup (lift the rear end up over your head and attach two hooks, then lift the front end and attach one hook, and you're done).

Gas and skills
I put a 3 horse motor on the back of a Grumman square stern for a few years and it was fine for awhile. My top speed was 8 mph- a canoe is a displacement hull rather than a planing hull and its important to realize that putting a motor on a canoe is about like putting a motor on a log. It will plow you along, and with alot of noise. The noise was the reason I finally gave it up- couldn’t hear anything beyond the motor, and the vibration and inability to talk to my girlfriend that was splayed in her beach chair forward of the center thwart became not very relaxing. If you are set on an outboard I would also recommend a square stern. My other recommendation is to search out a really good instructor and get some lessons in how to really paddle a canoe. Good technique outweighs loud stinky motors in my book, and is much more relaxing, but it takes a little while to figure out- a good instructor can help you with that. All that said, I still will- about once every two years- take my girlfriend out for a spin about the lake with the beach chair just for old times sake- she loves it and I need all the points I can get.

Thanks for the replies thus far. I will give little more info. because I don’t think some of you understand the situation. The lower Missouri River, in the state of Missouri, is channelized for barge traffic. There is no way you can get upstream by paddling. I need something I can get upstream to go duck hunting, etc., but was hoping to be able to drag it to the river without driving to a boat ramp.

As for the overhead storage thing, my folks have an old 17 foot Coleman that is up in their garage. I was taking it down once, one end slipped and it felt like my spine compressed a bit when its full weight (probably 80-90 lbs.) all of a sudden transferred to me. I have no desire to repeat that experiment, and that combined with the ability to drag or portage are why I want something lightweight.

I’m not even sure something other than a square stern would be safe on a big river with an outboad, so that was one reason I was asking about others’ experiences. Other than that I am loking for product ecommendations. By the way, my muscles are developed!

stabilizers, square sterns
Just looked at the links, those stabilizers look like a good idea. As for the square stern canoes, I haven’t yet found one that is lightweight, so if anyone knows of one please let me know. I’m guessing that alot of weight is added in reinforcing the stern.

For what it’s worth, my 12-foot jonboat weighs about 70 pounds. I find that it’s pretty easy to carry on my back, and very easy to get on or off the car roof. For years I loaded it on the top of an International Travelall, and even a full-size van with no trouble using the loading bar described in my earlier post, and never had a bit of trouble, even as a 145-pound teenager!. However, even though lifting one end is a piece of cake, there’s definitely a trick to getting yourself under the thing and into the carrying position when you don’t have the car’s roof-rack to help you. It’s a great duck-hunting boat, and before it became mine, it hauled a pair of hunters plus a dog on numerous occassions. For open water with sizable waves, it might be a little small for two people (it has rather low sides, which is one reason it’s so light), but it’s perfect for backwaters and such.

I have some experience
with the Wenonah Bluegill. Sold a few. With electric trolling and with a 2.5HP outboard.

If you are carefull, you can handle both configurations. But I would take neither on a larger river. For backwaters and portaging, the Bluegill is a nice fishing/hunting craft, though.

Little info: A dangerous thing
The full expression is a little information is a dangerous thing, right? I have some limited experience with outboards on a canoe.

The canoe was a 20’ wood boat weighing a bit under 100 pounds. It was definately a two-person carry. Not what you are looking for, I know. But, that canoe was 37" wide, and I think that is the dimension you should be concerned about. The motor was a 3 or 5 horse and would drive that boat at a real good clip, 15mph is my guess, and I think it planed.

The canoe was pointed on both ends and had an LLBean clamp-on motor mount. We would mount the motor near the stern. Sitting in the stern seat, the driver needed to turn around to look at the engine, and controlled the engine by reaching back behind to grab the tiller/throttle.

At rest, the canoe was stern heavy and listed over to the side of the engine. In motion, everything straightened up.

We took the canoe on Moosehead Lake, where the waves can get pretty big. The boat would bang on the waves, but I never saw any deflection in the bottom of the wooden canoe. The only thing I worried about was engine failure, because the trim was awful when the boat wasn’t under power. I’m sure the boat would have weather-cocked so that the stern faced the wind and oncoming waves, and after that I thought things would get ugly.

The Mainers use this type of setup for fishing the fast moving rivers (e.b., West Branch, Penobscot). I saw a number of boats set up in the same manner. In any of these boats, my guess is that if you crank the motor to one side while under power, the boat will flip. So, either get sponsons as recommended by the other posters, or don’t crank the motor to one side. The Mainers I saw apparently opted for the latter solution, because they didn’t have sponsons.

I suggest you not consider electric trolling motors, which I have fooled around with and consider a PIA. But, neither would I put the gas motor on my boat, because a. the PIA factor, and b. if you have a motor, you are not paddling, you just sit there, and I think it is boring. But those are just personal preferences based on my situation.

Now, for your situation, you want a 60lb boat, which means a 15 or 16 foot boat. You need as much beam as possible, three feet or more, I’d say. You’d also like a boat that is as beamy as possible in the whole middle half of the hull. It’s not an automatic correlation, but I would look at the carrying capacity of the boat as a proxy for beaminess, and go for high capacity. I don’t know what canoe you’ll end up with, but suggest you go on the weight, beam and capacity parameters, and try to minimize weight while maximizing the latter two parameters.

You’ll want to mount your motor as close as possible to the stern, to keep the weight and thrust close to the center line of the hull.

I suspect your target waterway is too deep for it, but have you considered polling? Polling is a way to move upstream against stronger currents than you can overcome paddling. Again, its personal, but I don’t like motors.

That’s all I know. Maybe a little more (extrapolated). Good luck and don’t forget to post your results to the board!

~~Chip Walsh, GAmbrills, MD

Sportspal S-13
It certainly seems like a Sportspal S-13 might be what you’re looking for:


I do not have any experience with square stern canoes, but I did run a 3.3hp Mercury on my 17’ double-ender for a brief while, using a bracket on the port gunnel, just behind the stern seat. At the end of each voyage I always felt like not overturning the canoe was a major accomplishment. It was very squirrelly, and I finally ended up buying a 12’ Porta-Bote to use my motor with:


I certainly enjoy paddling a canoe; however, I must admit that I prefer to use a motor when my main purpose is fishing. Best of luck!

grumman square-stern

– Last Updated: Feb-15-07 1:11 PM EST –

The 16 foot model grumman square-stern weighs in at 64 pounds. Pretty close to your 55-60 lb criteria. The square stern is a beamy canoe and designed for up to 5HP. It will be much more comfortable then a regular canoe with bracket hanging over the side. You can put a portage yoke in it to make it easier to get to the river and on and off the car. This is a bigger canoe for the weight than the Sportspal 13.


some experience
20 years ago, I used several different motor rigs for fishing in the middle and lower Meramec (which you’ll probably know since you’re from MO).

  • Regular canoe with one of those side mounts for a 3.6 hp outboard.
  • Square stern canoe with the 3.6 or a trolling motor.
  • Jon boats from 10 to 14 feet with both the 3.6 and a 7.5 hp motor.

    None of these boats required a trailer. Used to shove the jon boat in the back of a station wagon with the motor laying in the bilge. Would put it together at the putin. That actually was more convenient than cartopping either of the canoes.

    Canoe with side mount was the least desirable. Not particularly bad underway, but it was awkward at rest. In fact, I broke a finger when the boat heeled as I was raising the motor. Hand slipped, motor swiveled back down and pinched the finger. Glad it was the 3.6 rather than the 7.5. Otherwise, my nickname would probably be ‘stubby’.

    Square stern canoe performed okay but was a better lazy man’s river camper than it was a fishing vessel. Ran many a multi-day trip on the Meramec with a trolling motor on the back.

    10 foot jon boat was too small to be of much value on a river - unstable and not much freeboard. We sold it pretty quickly.

    14 foot jon boat was great. Stable, still easy to slide in and out of the back of the car, easy to move around in while fishing. The 7.5 pushed it along briskly, the 3.6 would have it barely making headway in some of the faster chutes. Not sure if a 3.6 would have enough oomph to get you upstream on the Missouri if you have to run the channel. I have fond memories of the 7.5 setup. Used to motor upstream a few miles, kill the motor, and then float fish back to the start using oars.

    If you do go with a motorized canoe, be careful of making turns in current. I never flipped either of our canoes back in the day, but I learned very quickly to be conservative when changing course. Also, I never messed with the Mighty Mo. In any of the rigs above, I’d be a bit nervous about barge wakes and the funny water you get around those Corps of Engineers wing dams…