reading Mad River serial numbers

I learned once how to decipher serial numbers but it didn’t quite stick. Who knows the code?

I’m looking at MADJX982E888-K. Obviously MAD = Mad River, JX = Slipper. I think 982 = how many were made up to and including this one (can that be true?). Logically, E = May, 88 = 1988 and K = Kevlar. That leaves an extra 8. I suspect that means it is the normal configuration for the model year, not an early '89 or custom job, but I’m making that up. Does anyone know for sure?

Almost right…
It was finishe in the year ending in 8. The model year is 88. Sometimes boats are not finished in the same year they are started. Say a model changed in 1989 but was started in 1988. the numbers would then be 988. Year of 1989, 1988 model.

so, mine is unambiguous because it’s all 8s, but if it had been built in August or September it might have carried over to the next production season, in which case the number that rolled up would be the first 8, rather than the last 8. Right?

And is the fist 3 digit number, 982 in this case, the production of this model so far this year, or ever since they started making Slippers, or perhaps something else? It seems a large number for an ash-gunwale, mahogany-deck solo canoe, either way. If that many were made, I’d expect to see more of them on the water.

the model name and number in production is NOT part of the HIN. they are ramdom numbers/letters.


This explains it clearly
HIN number URL

sorry, does not compute
That’s why I specified Mad River. HIN doesn’t mandate what the 5 letters and numbers mean but manufactures can use their own internal code. I’m quite certain that in Mad River’s case, at least back then, each model had a two letter code and the following numbers were production run totals. That yields a unique HIN, but more informative than random letters and numbers. I don’t know the period of a production run, nor do I know that the counter ticked over exactly once per hull. There may be more information there than a simple sum, but I’m sure there isn’t less.

I see that the tenth position is the last digit of the year of starting the hull, not finishing it, so if mine were not 888 it would be most likely be 889 rather than 988.

Thanks for the info.

it explains what the Coast Guard requires and convention demands and history teaches, which is all good information, but what Mad River encoded in their hull serial numbers is not addressed. It’s also not important. I just wondered if anybody remembers what their system was in 1988, when they were still in Vermont.

well now…
I stand corrected. NOW-a days the numbers anen’t related but back then they did matter.

This from Buff Grubb who’s been with MRC along time:

steve, pretty much on target. JX is the model code. 982 does not have specific relation to # of that model made as the serial #s were issued as work orders came through and model code was changed as necessary. So only thing that might tell you was this was #982 of all models made thus far in that year.

Memory fades but I believe our model year ran August to August or perhaps July to July back then, tied to the fiscal year the company was on. E would designate that boat was made in the 5th month of that particular model year, definitely not a calendar year. Count 5 months from August would make it a January 88 boat, 5 from July would make it a December 87 boat, etc.


thanks, Steve
that does make sense. 1000 hulls ordered during 5 months production in Mad River’s heyday is more plausible than 1000 Slippers cumulatively. A former employee did tell me that the model year was August-July so I’ll take this E = January 1988, even though that contradicts the HIN convention which has used calendar years since the mid-80s, I think. It’s of no consequence. I just get curious about details.

Thanks for running it down.

no problem
EZ as sending a quick e-mail to a co-worker.


I purchased a Mad River Canoe last year and would like some help to understand the serial number.“MAD6X846F090-K” I know it 17 ft long, and made of Kevlar. Thanks for any help .