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ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) HalfDork
2/28/21 11:27 a.m.

A lot of nearby reservoirs and lakes don't allow powerboats, so we're shopping for used canoes. There seems to be a lot of less expensive fiberglass ones on book of faces and list of craig. Does anyone know the pros/cons for fiberglass versus aluminum?  Safety/durability/capacity? My son and his scout buddies will be using, so think it'll catch a beating. Thanks?

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/28/21 11:32 a.m.

Aluminum is heavy, can be hot in the sun, and is indestructible. They're cheap, and if the scouts can pick it up it is a good option. Grumman or Alumacraft or Lowe or anything else, doesn't really matter. 
 

I haven't had any experience with fiberglass. Assuming it's anything like motorboats, its strength will be in its thickness, which will correspond directly to weight. 
 

My preference is Kevlar, but it is expensive. 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa UltraDork
2/28/21 11:39 a.m.

Fiberglass should be lighter.  Will make it easier to portage and potentially easier to row and navigate.  

Older fiberglass can start to have the exterior coating wear through, and then you start getting fiberglass fibers in everything, so they may need a new topcoat.

Harder to repair, more likely to crack than deform.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
2/28/21 11:46 a.m.

My friend was given an 18 ft. Grumman sailing canoe.  It does save a bunch of paddling, but even though I know how to sail, this was a PITA.

Perhaps newer ones are more operator friendly.  Are electric trolling motors allowed on those lakes?

boxedfox (Forum Supporter)
boxedfox (Forum Supporter) Reader
2/28/21 12:04 p.m.

I would go aluminum for a canoe that's going to be beat on. We had them when I was in scouts, and boy did we abuse them. We hit in them rocks, dropped them on the trail during portages, carried stupid heavy loads in them (think like a waterlogged wooden picnic bench strapped across two canoes), and did silly things like turn them into sailboats when the troop leader wasn't looking. 

They're a little heavy and the reflective hulls make it a little bright when it's sunny out, but I still think it's worth the tradeoff.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/28/21 12:19 p.m.

Fiberglass doesn't do well with impacts or abrasion. Aluminum is hot in the sun, and noisy (not good for fishing). Aluminum canoes and boats also tend to leak as they age, a used aluminum canoe is guaranteed to leak. 
 

Here's mine. It hasn't been used since I bought my first Miata. 
 

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/28/21 12:22 p.m.

I recently picked up two aluminum and one plastic (ABS?) that had been retired as river rentals. I expect that the aluminum ones are over 20 years old and have seen heavy abuse. Repairs will involve riveting and some aluminum welding (a family member working at a body shop repairs two and keeps one), but then they should be good for many more decades. They are 17' long and although I can lift them alone to put on the roof of the Sequoia, it's not easy. Two teenagers should be able to handle carrying it for portage and in the water. My dad bought a similar Grumman 17' about 50 years ago. It is still in great shape with generally light use by the family.

The 'plastic' one is a Pelican 15.5' model. It was stored in the hot full sun and has sagged badly on the bottom. The plastic seats have cracks that will need to be repaired. My guess is that it has seen five to ten years of hard use as a rental. It feels like it weighs about half as much as the 17' aluminum ones and I can easily carry it. I expect to be able to repair it with a heat gun or very hot water to re-shape the sag. The seats will have to be replaced or plastic welded.

Aluminum -  sturdy, durable, heavy, more noisy, holds value better.

Plastic/Composite/Fiberglass - light weight, quieter, less expensive, less likely to scratch/dent your vehicle when loading.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/28/21 12:38 p.m.

A 17 foot Grumman is a great canoe for camping, and virtually indestructible. 
 

Another thing to consider is that the shorter they are, the harder you have to paddle. 

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/28/21 12:50 p.m.

There's a nice wooden paddle on Amazon, Made in USA, for about $25 right now. Get a pair, whatever canoe....

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
2/28/21 1:06 p.m.

I had a early 70's fiberglass Old Town from new for 25-30 years of occasional use. Didn't have any issues with it and did nothing to it but use it.

No Time
No Time SuperDork
2/28/21 1:12 p.m.

In reply to AAZCD (Forum Supporter) :

I'm interested in how your repair works out.
 

I have a similar plastic one with a mild sag (mainly loss of "keel" under the yoke) that I'd  like to reshape to correct the sag. I hadn't considered using heat, but was considering using fiber glass. I think heat sounds like a better option. 

11GTCS
11GTCS HalfDork
2/28/21 5:00 p.m.

My dad bought a 17 ft Grumman in 1973.  We put more miles under the keel of that thing and as previously mentioned they’re pretty much indestructible.   The 17’s are narrower for their length than the 15 foot version yet only a few pounds heavier.   With the longer water line they’re much “faster” for the effort so you don’t get as worn down on a longer trip.  Grumman also used aircraft style flush rivets that help reduce drag.   I used it a ton when I was in the scouts, we did several multi day trips camping out of it.     We still have it, I’m sure it will outlast me. 

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/28/21 5:19 p.m.

If the aluminum gets nasty, you can always polish or paint it to look nice again.  All you can do with 'glass is paint.

 

ABS and plastic is a whole other ballgame,  rather "floppy" compared to the others and will sag over time.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/1/21 9:11 a.m.

I have to say that the fiberglass canoes we rent at the lodge have endured 30+ seasons of abuse, and the surrounding shoreline is all granite and quartz.  They get absolutely abused and don't break a sweat.  At the end of the season there are one or two that we mix up some epoxy and smear on some questionable parts, but I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to get a fiberglass canoe.  Just make sure you get one with actual layered cloth and not just the slurry of fibers put in a mold.

The cheap (and incredibly durable) button is a polyethylene canoe.  They start with beads of poly and put it in a heated mold until it melts and roll it around to make a canoe.  Those are the ones that sometimes have a saggy bottom, but honestly they're pretty bulletproof.  Poly canoes are often seen as rentals for river floats (not whitewater) where they will see a lot of abuse from riffles and rocks.

I like aluminum, but it will always leak a little at the seams and it doesn't fit my canoeing style (fishing/wildlife photography)

MattGent
MattGent Reader
3/1/21 9:38 a.m.

A Grumman is basically a lifetime purchase. 
 

Weight wise aluminum can be a little heavier or a little lighter than fiberglass depending on the spec. 65lb +/- 5 or so for either at 17'. Poly are heavy. 
 

I have a 17 Grumman. The length is great for straight line speed and carrying capacity. It is tough to maneuver in a tight creek. It is old and never leaks. I did manage to damage it towing behind my powerboat but a quick adhesive and AL stock patch and it's back in action. 
 

non-GRM pimp canoe: https://www.krugercanoes.com/Products.html

Brett_Murphy (Ex-Patrón)
Brett_Murphy (Ex-Patrón) MegaDork
3/1/21 10:40 a.m.

If you get an aluminum canoe, get familiar with Gluvit. It works.

 

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
3/1/21 11:05 a.m.

I have a friend who runs a rental and river-float business. She says the only good use for an aluminum canoe is watering horses - IF it will hold water long enough for them to drink it. Most of here rentals are FG Old Towns and plastic kayaks. Of, and inner tubes, of course. 

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/1/21 11:31 a.m.
MattGent said:

A Grumman is basically a lifetime purchase. 
 

Weight wise aluminum can be a little heavier or a little lighter than fiberglass depending on the spec. 65lb +/- 5 or so for either at 17'. Poly are heavy. 
 

I have a 17 Grumman. The length is great for straight line speed and carrying capacity. It is tough to maneuver in a tight creek. It is old and never leaks. I did manage to damage it towing behind my powerboat but a quick adhesive and AL stock patch and it's back in action. 
 

non-GRM pimp canoe: https://www.krugercanoes.com/Products.html

HOLY COW. $8k for a canoe that weighs 90lbs??? A Wenonah Champlaign only runs about $3k new, you can get them a year or two used for about half of that, and they only weigh ~50lbs.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) HalfDork
3/1/21 11:40 a.m.

Thanks everybody! I grew up with Grumman aluminum scout canoes, so that is where my heart took me, but my back was hoping a lighter alternative would be better.  I have a good lead on a 17 footer about an hour away.  Now to figure out a sail rig. 

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
3/1/21 11:43 a.m.

I have an old royalex boat.. if  you can find one get it..  

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) HalfDork
3/1/21 11:52 a.m.
914Driver said:

My friend was given an 18 ft. Grumman sailing canoe.  It does save a bunch of paddling, but even though I know how to sail, this was a PITA.

Perhaps newer ones are more operator friendly.  Are electric trolling motors allowed on those lakes?

My plan is to let the kids paddle when goofing around, but to add in a used electric trolling motor when my lazy butt is in charge of propulsion! 

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/1/21 12:21 p.m.
Fueled by Caffeine said:

I have an old royalex boat.. if  you can find one get it..  

I'm not sure I've ever laid eyes on a royalex boat, but everybody who has one speaks very highly of them. I'd like to see one sometime. 

 

My dad just bought a used Hoefgen. Big boy, 18'. I'm hoping it is Kevlar, since that would be significantly lighter. Dad thought it was fiberglass, I thought it looked like Kevlar but the pictures were crappy, and since we haven't taken delivery yet, no way of knowing. It was a really good deal even if it is fiberglass, but will be a tremendous deal if it is kevlar.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
3/1/21 5:40 p.m.

We bought our 15.5-foot Quintus new in 1975 in Flagstaff, fiberglass, it's 56 pounds, it's still in great shape, but we are careful with it.  It's a lake/fishing, cruising around canoe, wide beam, not a good whitewater canoe, but very well made, so we like fiberglass.  A little bondo over the years, a couple of paint jobs, easy peasy care.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/1/21 9:44 p.m.
Fueled by Caffeine said:

I have an old royalex boat.. if  you can find one get it..  

This ^^^

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) HalfDork
4/2/21 2:23 p.m.

Ok, after a month of searching, a result:  This is my Grumman aluminum canoe.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Its amazing the stupid prices people are asking for these things, I came across a few for $1,000+.  Not on my watch.  I came across this late last night on the list of craig, picked it up this morning for $250, and it included paddles, roof rack foam and some pretty nice life jackets.  It was listed as a G17, but its actually a slightly older 1984 Standard 18. Has the usual scuffs and scratches, but no gouges or big dents. When it warms up I will turn my boy loose with a scotchbrite pad and some cleanser, and it should look great.  I think I'm more excited about the canoe than I am about getting the "big" (15 foot, haha) boat in the water!

The original dealer is still in business:

In maybe the luckiest buying day of my life, I also picked up this little guy for $80, less than a mile away from the canoe seller.  Its sat for 3-4 years, but hopefully a carb rebuild and some gaskets will get it purring again.  Searspartsdirect.com still has a bunch of parts, as does eBay.  A carb rebuild kit is $5.50, but a whole new carb is $16.  Should be a fun little project for me and my son, and will really zip the canoe along as well as being a backup for the other boat.   I'm really really excited for this summer!!

 

 

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