I was looking for a used 16 ft.old town penobscot at an outfitters. I noted that the stems on the majority were split. Is this common?
What “is” common…
Outfitters canoes = damaged canoes.
Outfitters canoes are rented for a fee.
The majority of people who rent outfitter's canoes do not feel any sense of ownership in the canoe they use. They are not much concerned about the damage that occurs to the canoe.
It is, after all, not "their" canoe.
That combination equals damaged canoes.
Do I think that the problem is inherent in Old Town Penobscot 16 canoes?
My Penobscot 15 is 12 years old, and in fine condition. Rarely used/never abused.
I think it is noteworthy that so many outfitters use Old Town canoes. I don't think there choice is a coincidence; more likely because Old Town canoes will take a lot of abuse.
Not on mine
I have a Penobscot 16 that’s about 7 years old, and she’s lovely. No splits, or issues other than some scars on the bottom from running rivers.
If you abuse any boat, you’ll cause damage of some sort or other. I’d ask owners rather than outfitters about the boat’s durability. You’ll get a more real-world opinion there.
I have a Penobscot 17, 10 years old, and same experience as above. I would certainly buy another one for an all around family canoe that paddles reasonably well and hold up to hard use.
An outfitter’s boats get abused, BUT
if several are split deep or clear through the stem, that may be a sign they are old and brittle, rather than that they were abused in a way that Royalex boats usually can’t handle.
I would not buy a Royalex boat with split stems at ANY price, because the time and material it would require to do a proper fix would offset any savings. And because the split stems suggest the rest of the boat may be old and brittle, what would one have after the repairs? We buy Royalex because it stands up to abuse. If an old Royalex boat no longer can stand up to abuse, what is it worth? “But if salt should lose its savor, with what could it be salted? It could only be thrown out on the ground…”
it’s a rental problem
We rent Royalex boats from several brands, and I’ll attest to the correlation between rental use and stems that are broken open.
Why? Because entirely too many renters think that it’s perfectly ok to simply drag their rental boat across the pavement on their way to loading it on top of the car, and other abuses of the sort. Each one who does it only compounds the stress from the previous user, and eventually, the vinyl outer layer and eventually the ABS substrate layers are damaged. It doesn’t happen to EVERY rental boat, but it does happen on a lot of them.
So yes, if you’re buying a used rental boat, you should inspect it carefully and assume that at one point or another, it was treated a little roughly by a weekend warrior or two - and pay accordingly.
I was assuming that “slit” mean split,
not worn through. Whitewater canoe stems may split when the boat makes violent head-on contact with an immovable object. Usually a Royalex boat in its first decade of life will crush or crimp on impact, but not split. I saw an old MR ME split when it got away from its owner and went down a steep slope, hitting a tree. The nature of the split indicated brittleness, because of the relatively sharp, angular faces of the broken ABS.
It would take a lot of dragging to cut through a Royalex stem, but if there’s anyone up to it, that person would be a rental customer.