Will be looking at a Royalex canoe this week. How can I tell if the Royalex is in good condition? What signs should I look for… Thanks.
Look out for
-Cold cracks radiating from rivets in the gunwale.
-Areas that are softer, (delamination) check high wear areas.
-Damage to the ends from dragging.
All of these are repairable, but are you looking for a canoe, or a project?
“cold cracks” and wrap restoration
Google “Royalex cold cracks” and you can find description and images. If it happens, it is usually at a gunwale rivet. A boat restored from a wrap will usually have a slight twist to it; sighting across the gunwales, it just doesn’t quite line up right. Neither of these things make a boat unusable, just less valuable.
Synthetic gunwales are (usually) attached to Royalex canoes with pop rivets.
Wooden gunwales are attached with stainless steel screws.
I have never seen, nor heard of, cold cracks occurring in Royalex canoes with synthetic gunwales. Perhaps others have.
I own, or have owned, 4 royalex boats with aluminum, and or vinyl gunwales with cold cracks.
If the vinyl outer layer is worn though exposing the inner ABS, prolonged exposure to UV light can make the ABS brittle.
Usually the ABS is a different color than the vinyl.
Keep in mind
that most of these issues are not major problems. Personally most of these issues would not cause me to avoid a canoe - instead I would use them as price negotiating points. I’ve been paddling canoes with most of these issues for over 30 years. I have one now that I am thinking about retiring. I bought it in 1979. The only reason I might retire it is because the wood trim is rotting away and I don’t know if it is worth the effort to replace the trim. What could happen is that one of my kids might take it and do the work and get another 20 years out of it. It is beat to cr**. Cold cracks, spider web cracks interior, ends all beat up. But it has taken me to so many places and I have so many memories with it that I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Plus, it is still paddling fine - major issue really is that the center thwart attachment points at the inner gunwales are shot and so I have to fix that before I take it on another trip.