Canadian Canoe Routes

Best lightweight hull material
Page 1 of 3

Author:  RHaslam [ April 1st, 2013, 12:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Best lightweight hull material

I've been thinking about retirement...six years away. I've also been thinking about actually buying a solo when i retire, instead of building another one. I'm gonna want something light, I've been lightening up my loads last few years. I'm afraid of those lightweight materials....will they hold up to the sharp granite take outs that i routinely run into.

So what's the best lightweight material?

Author:  Charlie Wilson [ April 1st, 2013, 12:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

A carbon outer, Kevlar inner with integral foam rails covered with C/K Tubing is the best current lightweight laminate. Spectra delaminates too readily, Innegra is ugly and Vectran and M-5 are unavailable.

You'll want the hull infused, not hand laminated to minimize weight and eliminate voids. Check out Colden, Placid boatworks, Savage River, Swift Canoe & Kayak; all very different concepts.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ April 1st, 2013, 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

You might have meant what is the best lightweight layup. Composites are that. Not one material but a combination. Layup schedules vary and are proprietary.

Boats with few layers of fabric often depend on foam to keep the bottom stiff. I would avoid them. Like a disease.

I have tripped in Wabakimi, Algonquin and Woodland Caribou with my Peregrine for about six years. Its 32 lbs. I get out without running it up on the granite take outs are not an issue for me. Stems are well reinforced anyway.

My Swift Heron (yellowcanoe) is 38 lbs and a veteran of many multiweek Shield trips. Its got a few patches and gained weight( so it was replaced by another bird . Curiously the wear is not from rocks but from a wrap from a tree on the Willamantic River in Connecticut( birdbrain fault).

I use a RapidFire on Lake Superior that comes in at 23 lbs. Vacuum infusion technology makes the right mix of resin to fabric and maximizes hull strength. It is carbon fiber/kevlar.
Part of the weight savings is due to the Cobra Sox rails that are foam cored. Personally I don't care for them nor the Cobra Sox thwarts. It is possible to get a vacuum infused hull with standard wooden outfitting, at least from Placid and Colden. Not sure about Swift.

Author:  rblturtle [ April 1st, 2013, 12:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

sharp rock takeouts? gelcoat with s glass underneath? hemlocks premium layup is also a tough lite layup. hand layed,but competitive with vacuum infusion. i am satisfied with my 27# hemlock kestrel as well as my colden infused 25# flashfire.


Author:  RHaslam [ April 1st, 2013, 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

OK, Kim and Charlie, I'd like to get your opinions on specific hull recommendations, as I trust your opinions. I have only paddled a couple of solo canoes, the Osprey and the Raven, although I have put several thousand kilometres on both. I don't have access to a wide range of solo's up here to try.

I'm not a tall guy, 5'7", short arms, but I do weigh quite a lot. Even when I'm thin, I'm about I'm looking for a larger canoe that can hold around 100 pounds of gear and me in a tough but light layup.

Traditional or asymmetrical makes no difference, although I find myself leaning toward traditional hulls lately. I want some rocker, I've never had a problem making a canoe go straight.

All the trips I do involve white water and large lakes at some point during the trip. I don't want to play on the rapids, but i do want to run most of them, with a minimum of wetness. I will run up to C3.

I know six years is quite while from now, but if something really good comes up, I might snatch it in the next year or two.


Author:  RHaslam [ April 1st, 2013, 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

Kim, I see your name on the picture with the Dragonfly shown on the Colden site. That looks like a nice design as does the Wildfire. How does a Canadian go about buying one of those?

Author:  littleredcanoe [ April 1st, 2013, 1:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

You call Paul Meyer, owner of Colden Canoe, and have a chat. Paul loves building canoes, but does not make much on each; still has his day job.

And prepare to fork over your non-harmonius tax to ON. By law dealers in NY cannot wave State sales tax IIRC which makes the tax situation even more painful for Canadians.

Or you can just steal my tarp blue DF on its next pass through Geraldton. Its a skinny deep boat..and has an intimidating reputation with its round narrow hull

Curtis used to make the DF and while only 85 were ever made, some of them pop up now and then. They have a cult following though.

Author:  RHaslam [ April 1st, 2013, 3:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

That was a good read Kim, thanks. I'm going to try to find a few different solo's to try over the next year or two.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ April 1st, 2013, 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

I'm thinking you are as hard on boats as I am. None of my boats are pretty except for the DragonFly. I have beat on the others. Its not the granite approaches to ports..its things like the 30 foot canoe throw down the cliff in Temagami.. (this Peregrine flew but not like its bird namesake)

I wish you could come to the Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous. Usually there are talks about canoe construction and design and plenty of solos to swap and play in. But its near Erie PA..a wee bit of a drive from Geraldton.

Author:  ezwater [ April 1st, 2013, 4:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

Yeah, if you're not pounding whitewater, carbon outside and Kevlar inside is still light and practical. If you're doing whitewater, S-glass outside and Kevlar inside is still good. The inner glass layer can be replaced with carbon.

S-glass is the hardest cloth that can be used outside, and E-glass is next. Did someone say gelcoat? Don't.

The c-1 in my avatar is a first-out-of-the-mold experiment by Dagger, S-glass outside and carbon inside. Very rigid. I haven't broken it yet, but if I do, the pieces won't hang together the way they would with Kevlar.

Infusion appears to be a wonderful method for small to medium series production, though an experienced vacuum bagger may match it for weight and strength of single examples. Vinylester resin works with infusion and comes very, very close to epoxy in strength. I thought I saw Bluewater implying they could infuse with epoxy, but I will believe it when I see it.

Author:  pblanc [ April 1st, 2013, 6:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

Both the Swift Osprey and the Colden (or Bell or Placid) Wildfire are swell boats for combined flat water and river use, but neither has a lot of depth for running Class III rapids with a big load. I think your planned load would also bog down the Wildfire and further reduce the freeboard to boot.

The Raven is much better in that regard but as far as I know, only available in Royalex.

Nova Craft Canoe also makes infused hulls and a boat you might possibly consider is the Supernova which has 15" of center depth and 2 1/2" of rocker at each end. They make a Spectra version of that boat. I haven't seen one but I haven't heard about any delaminating. For what it is worth, and it probably isn't much, I own a 1989 build Spectra/S 'glass canoe that has seen extensive whitewater use and has not, at least as yet, delaminated. The Nova Supernova is also available in a aramid/carbon/Spectra infused composite version.

The Colden (or Curtis) Dragonfly might possibly be just about ideal for your planned usage.

I would also give strong consideration to the Hemlock SRT which has 14 1/2" of center depth, 2 1/2" of bow rocker and 1 1/2" of stern rocker. It is not infused but comes in at 39 lbs in Dave's "premium layup" S 'glass/Kevlar/Kevlar-carbon.

A somewhat off-beat choice would be the Hemlock Shaman. Although this is viewed as a "whitewater" boat it is a fairly efficient hull for a canoe with this much rocker (5" bow, 5 1/2" stern) and has plenty of center depth (15"). The Shaman was designed by Harold Deal to compete in the combined whitewater racing class - slalom and downriver. The Dragonfly was designed for Harold to compete in the same category a number of years earlier.

Lastly, you might take a glance at the Wenonah Rendezvous with 14" center depth and 2 1/2" of symmetrical rocker. The current Wenonah website only shows this in Royalex, but Wenonah made composite versions of this boat and if the mold is intact will still build you one if you like it. Plus you might come across one used. Although not as light as fancier layups, Wenonah's Tuff-weave (a proprietary blend of fiberglass and polyester) is quite tough.

Author:  RHaslam [ April 1st, 2013, 7:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

Thanks people! Some excellent observations there. Yes Kim, I do use my boats hard, although if I pay 3000 or more, I might change that pattern. pblanc, some good thoughts there, I was looking at the SRT as well. I wish I could get to some of these canoe rendezvous type things too, but that will have to wait a few years as well. Lots to think about.......

Author:  Mattt [ April 2nd, 2013, 8:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

what's the best is dependent on how you will use it. an expedition kevlar layup may be the best for your uses - certainly not ultralight

for Algonquin type tripping with lots of portaging, any of the ultralight layups would be fine, so long as you wetfoot the exits and take care of the boat - I've got very few scratches on my two UL kevlar boats.

You might take a look at Millbrook boats - composite ww boats are his specialty
(no personal experience)

and just fyi - no matter who, if you buy anything at a "store", that is the point of purchase and you have to pay all local tax unless you have a legal exemption (e.g a government entity, or a charity, or for resale). makes no diff if you are going to take it out of state or out of the country or if you are a Nun. Buying from a dealer, and having it shipped to you generally becomes FOB Destination, making the point of deliverty the point of sale - so most of us, buying stuff over the internet and having it shipped to us from an out of state dealer don't have to pay the sales tax (unless that dealer, say a Cabelas also has a store in the my state) so If I were to buy a Millbrook boat, and have it shipped to me in Colorado, I'd make sure terms were FOB Denver, and I wouldn't have to pay NY taxes - though technically/legally, I'd be obliged to pay the catch 22 "Use Tax" to Colorado. Not sure if Canada has "Use Tax " equivalent, or how VAT works, but virtually all US states and cities have the Use Tax to tag you if you haven't paid sales tax on the purchase equal to the local rate. just pointing out that if you did buy a boat at a shop in the US, you will pay the sales tax to the shop, so add somehting lke 8% to the boat price.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ April 2nd, 2013, 8:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

VAT in Canada?? Never heard of it. I have heard of HST, which adds approx 14 percent to boats imported to Ontario

Its best to call Dave Curtis or Paul Meyer or Millbrook if you are interested in their boats re the tax situation. Paul does ship overseas to Europe.

Mattt most of the boats discussed are not available at canoe dealers but rather from the canoe works itself. It's been a god awful long time since I bought a canoe at a canoe dealer.

I agree with Mattt that you do want a gel coated boat rather than a skin coat. Gel has substantially more abrasion resistance.

Author:  Charlie Wilson [ April 2nd, 2013, 10:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Best lightweight hull material

Comparing lamination techniques; Contact, Wet Bag, Infusion verse Pre-preg Autoclave

Contact lamination is always a messy business; the laminators wearing discardable cloths, Tyvek suits, charcoal filtered respirators and rubber gloves. Fabric sheets and shaped partial parts are placed in the mold and wet out with catalyzed resin by hand using rollers, squeegees and brushes. Additional resin will be catalyzed several times through any given lamination; the time pressure of the part starting to set before lamination is complete drives an energetic process. The best hand laminators using all fabric fibers may achieve a 45% fabric ratio, but the number is usually closer to 40%.
Aerospace components are seldom manufactured in open molds. The potential for inclusions the vector structural failure is too great and the fabric/resin ratio is unacceptable. Discardables include rollers per part and brushes and cloths weekly.

Vacuum bagging, also called wet bagging, was formerly used in aerospace lamination. Outer layers are often contact laminated into the mold. Successive layers, often including foam cores and their partial “covers” are contact laminated behind the initial layer. A perforated ply and absorbent blanket are placed over the part’s inside before vacuum is applied. The vacuum forces excess resin through the perforated ply into the blanket, which is discarded after the part gels and sets. Problems with vacuum bagging include those of contact lamination, the time pressure and health problems of working with catalyzed resin, the inclusion of some contact lamination in the finished part and variability of weight, fiber to resin ratio and voids inclusion due to early catalyzation of resin and incomplete vacuum. When things go well fabric/resin rations run 53/47%. Discardables are the byproducts of both contact lamination, rollers, brushes and vacuum construction, inner ply, blanket and bag.

Vacuum Infusion, also named Closed Cavity Vacuum Infusion [ccvi], or Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding [vartm], is a technique used in the manufacture of aero-space components. Multiple fiber sheets and shaped pieces are precisely placed in the mold and vacuum applied. Negative, vacuum, pressure pulls a measured amount of resin through the fabric components and resinating the part. The single vacuum “pull” and closed resin application greatly reduce resin and processing material waste and reduces styrene emissions by 90%. Error is also reduced because the resin is not catalyzed until after the parts are placed and vacuum is stable. Discardables approximate thos of the second half of vacuum bagging, peel ply, flow medium and bag.

PrePreg Vacuum lamination further improves fiber to resin ratios by employing a heat catalyzed resin impregnated fiber which runs ~ 58% fiber to 42% resin ratio. Again, sheets and shaped pieces are placed in a mold, then vacuum bagged in an autoclave, the heat, ~600dgF, catalyzing the resin. Epoxy resin is easily formulated for heat catalyzation, a recent development allows VE to heat set as well.

Other than the cost of prepreg fabric, the significant problem with heat set epoxy is the cost of the autoclave, which can run to $1M for a canoe/kayak sized unit. A tertiary issue is the need to oven cure epoxy parts before use. Medium size ship builders use a lower temp epoxy formulation that sets in room-sized ovens. Discardables include resinated scrap and the bag.

For those who like numbers: Hand, or contact, laminated Placid boatworks SpitFire hulls weight 16.5# with tanks installed. Vacuum infused hulls weigh 14.5#, both with gel coated outer surfaces. With CCVI, our 12’ SpitFire fabric content went up 24oz, resin use down 48oz, and total part weight down 24oz. Our fiber to resin ratio improved from 45/55 to 56/44. CCVI parts are of higher and more uniform quality, lighter, stiffer and stronger than contact laminates or traditional vacuum bagging ar reduced cost compared to the latter. PrePreg Autoclaved parts are better yet if the buyer will pay for more expensive equipment and materials.


Page 1 of 3 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group