Wisconsin Bell's

After some searching I did not find much regarding the quality of the Bell canoes now made in Wisconsin. Originally there was talk of serious blems in their boats which makes me more than a little gun shy. Has anyone done a thorough inspection of some of the newer models to see if they’ve improved?


Only thing I know
When they first took over the company, they had more than average blems, which the lady explained as the new company getting used to the machinery or the process or something similar (I cannot remember what she said exactly). It was my understanding they corrected this & discounted all the blems, but I really do not know. The only way I know the above is that I got one of the blems for a steal. I have no information on how they are doing currently.

Last summer,
I bought a 2007 Northwoods in KevLight with wood trim.The build quality was absolutely fantastic on it. The layup and trim work was cleaner and better fitted than any of my 4 Wenonahs or the Sawyers I have had.

This in no way is to suggest there was anything bad about the other canoes, just that it seems like more care was taken putting the cloth into the mold and in trimming the fabric and the gunnel materials.

There are also no pin holes in the resin surface on my Bell which all of the other canoes had to some extent. The only very minor issue was some excess resin on the inside surfaces that seemed to have dripped in after construction, and I was able to remove 90% of that after I got it home.

Last weekend I was looking at a 2008 Royalex Northwind that was being sold as a blem for a decent discount. The blem was a slighly raised spot on the outer surface smaller than the size of a quarter and maybe 1/16" thick. It took us quite a while to even find it when we were looking for it.

Bought a New Northwind Last Year
No problems, no blemishes noted. Bought a Mad River, not a blem, with several imperfections. No comparison in quality of fit and finish between the two 2007 boats; the Bell was the better of the two. WW

Bell’s back
I agree w/Outdoors4me: At Canoecopia the Bell boats looked very, very good. All the Black Gold boats now have the insides sealed to smoothness. You won’t know what a difference this makes until you see (and feel) these boats. This is a very real improvement. From the look of the boats they had on display (all of which appeared to be '08 models), the production unpleasantness from the move from Minnesota to Wisconsin is over. These boats are more beautiful than ever.


– Last Updated: Mar-16-08 10:52 AM EST –

I was not criticizing Bell. This was the person who answered the phone at Bell that said all of the above in my post. Someone told me they had quite a few blems for sale cheap, so I called the company. All of the info in my email came from my conversation with the person who answered the phone at Bell. And, yes, I agree that what they called 'blem' was hardly noticeable.

Heard from a dealer last fall
Bell had a higher than average number of problems compared to their usual record into earlier last season because of a switch in where and who was doing the manufacturing. With at least one dealer I spoke with, it acted out less in terms of their getting blems and more in terms of it taking a longer time to get the boats they ordered. Possible that the blems often weren’t leaving the work site as the new folks figured out what exactly made for a blem boat.

As part of getting things back on track, their rep for this part of the country stopped and visited at least one local dealer personally to get feedback on what the dealer needed from Bell. The dealer we spoke with was encouraged and felt that odds were things would be back on track by this spring, and from the above comments it appears he was right.

It seems likely that they’d have some blems around at the factory from their “break in” time period. I suspect that somewhere on site is a person with whom you could have a good conversation about what the problem is with each boat to see if you wanted to give it a go.

Bell Yellowstone
I picked up a Yellowstone blem. I could hardly find one blem they pointed out (an ever so slight wrinkle) and the other is a bubble in the bow that is hardly noticeable. I am VERY happy about my purchase.

I was impressed with the lady on the phone. Very friendly. She gave the impression these blems were an isolated problem from the initial transfer, as Celia pointed out.

and the boats are made in the USA
and giving people employment…people that take pride in what they do…everyone has a learning curve