Canadian Canoe Routes

Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help
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Author:  Hugh [ June 11th, 2013, 3:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

I've just had back surgery so I'm looking into getting a lighter boat:

My go to boat is a NC 16' prospector R-lite 64# with bang plates probably 68#
Love it on AB and eastern BC rivers. Bow, Vermillion,Kicking Horse, Kootenay, Kananaskis R.
Pops in and out of eddies,surfs and rides out big waves really well.
We have tripped up to 2 weeks with the prospector with a north water sprayskirt.
My solo boat is a Bell Wildfire in some carbon layup.

In light of this I'm looking for some pros and cons of some of the newer (to me ) materials for a tandem boat.
I know from Bill Layman from LaRonge loved his Blue steel NC
I've seen Twintex boats but hear they are hard to repair and to affix D rings to (no idea if it's so but...)
I see there are carbon layups, fusions etc but have ignored this part of the market.
I'm talking materials here.
I'll ask a separate thread about models etc just want to get a handle on material. durability, ease of repair, etc


Author:  canoeguitar [ June 11th, 2013, 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

I've had a NC Prospector in Kev/Spectra for a very long time. Pushing 20 years (I think it was the first year they offered this layup) and to date no leaks. I've been very happy with it. It's quite a tough boat. Their Blue Steel layup will shave off about 4-5lbs, but add $500+. You'll likely find that a composite NC Prospector is a bit faster than your R-Lite version.

Author:  Peter K. [ June 11th, 2013, 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

I've had a Zephyr for 5-6 years now so I know Twintex. It is impossible to glue anything into it that will be under tension (like bag cages or thigh straps), but D-rings for drink bottles or gear can be glued in quite well with contact cement and will last a couple of seasons before coming off.

The only field repair possible is duct tape -- which fortunately will work quite well even on major damage. The usual field damage (for solo boats anyhow) is impact on rocks. I put a couple of cracks in my stern going over a drop of about 1 metre onto a rock that was hiding in recirc. Had to be fixed at the factory. I don't know how a tandem boat would respond to a wrap. Twintex seems very resilient and remembers its shape well. I've been run over by tandem boats coming over drops while I'm in an eddy and although the hull bowed in, nothing broke.

Right now I'm looking at signs of abrasion on the chines. I think in a couple of years I will have to send it back to the factory to have the chines cut out and replaced. The good news is that Twintex is like a glass boat -- you can keep replacing parts of it and it will last forever. Unlike ABS which will degrade and become unusable at some point.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Author:  Hugh [ June 11th, 2013, 7:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

Peter; How low does a twintex boat float swamped? do folks use flotation? If so does the contact cement work well for Hull attachment. Assuming a traditional bag set up of rope from gunnels down to hull etc.

Author:  mr_canoehead18 [ June 11th, 2013, 9:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

Being in the West, I would certainly consider a Clipper Duraflex and any Hellman. I believe that short of a wrap, these canoes are better than Royalex. I haven't hit mine hard enough and long enough to really know for sure, but I love the Slocan in moving water.

Author:  ezwater [ June 11th, 2013, 10:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

I suggest at least looking through Kaz's tandems on

They are all very light and very sturdy for their weight. He does not offer a "big" flatwater tandem, but the Coho (designed for poling) and the AC/DC can be used for flattish camping. Both are also pretty agile, especially the AC/DC which was originally designed for the combined slalom/downriver class at the open canoe nationals.

Kaz uses S-glass outside and Kevlar inside, a long proven combination. His prices are very reasonable.

Another line I would look at is Bluewater. I saw a 20 year old Bluewater Freedom that was in beautiful conditon. They now mostly use vinylester rather than epoxy, but having canoes made from both, I haven't seen that it makes any difference.

Author:  Ralph [ June 11th, 2013, 11:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

I have had a Mistral 16 for about 6 years. I have found the material to be very tough although it does show scratches.

Watch this video (the pertinent part starts at about 6 minutes)

They were able to continue the trip.

I really like the design and, if I had to have one canoe to do everything, I would certainly consider the Mistral 16 or 17.5.


Author:  Peter K. [ June 12th, 2013, 7:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help


There are no flotation compartments in the Zephyr (or any other solo boat for that matter). The anchors for the bag cages are factory installed. Contact cement can't be trusted for any anchor that is going to come under significant stress.

With full 4' end bags, it floats fine!

Author:  pblanc [ June 12th, 2013, 7:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

I have not owned a Twintex boat so my information is second and third hand, but based on what I have seen and heard I would steer clear of it, at least for a river boat.

I have a friend who bought an Esquif Mistral which developed significant delamination. Esquif was good enough to replace the hull but he had to jump through a number of hoops and it took a fair bit of time to get the new one.

I have always liked the looks of the Esquif Zephyr and used to encounter them pretty regularly a few years back on whitewater streams in the Southeast US. I asked several owners about their experience with the material. Some were very happy but others had experienced cracks and advised me not to consider one. For what it is worth, I have not seen a Zephyr on the water for some time now begging the question "where did they all go?"

It is true that Twintex can be repaired, but unless one has very special expertise, it is a professional job that will likely require taking or shipping the boat to someone qualified to do it. A composite boat I can repair myself in my own back yard. Based on what I have been told, I am inclined to believe that Twintex does not provide any durability or weight advantage compared to a well-made composite boat.

I have a Clipper Duraflex Viper 12 whitewater boat and I can attest that the layup is very tough.

As for Royalex boats degrading to the point of becoming unusable over time, I know some folks maintain this is so. All I can say is that I have many whitewater boats dating back to the early 1980-1990s none of which appear to have become brittle and I know a number of folks still paddling Blue Hole OCAs that date back to the early to mid 1970s.

Author:  Charlie Wilson [ June 12th, 2013, 10:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

Several builders use hybrid fabrics, one material in the woof, another in the warp.

Combining carbon and Kevlar/Twaron looks great but does not work well, as the fabric is prone to zipper tears. The aramide stretches, the carbon cuts, we have a long tear across the carbon/glass strands.

Combining two colors of Kevlar and in Bell, both variations, is fine, but. The colored Kevlar is Kev 29, used in fire clothing, bullet proof vests, etc. It's coating is not resin friendly and weavers suggest no more that 25% Kev 29 in a fabric used in lamination. [Hence Bell's tweed, 25% black in a former life, now red.]

I do not know if Blue Steel is 50% or 100% Kev 29, but either number is more than 25. We made some all red, 100% K29 hulls at Bell, but , in the words of Archie Bunker, "Stop that there, right now!" when we got the news. But faith springs eternal in humans.

Modern armour theory suggests compression layers, glass or carbon on the outside; high tensile layers, Aramid, Spectra, M-5, Vecrtan, Innegra, etc on the inside. Those enamored of Spectra are advised to look into it's coating requirements for lamination. The shelf life of the coating is absurdly short, leading to wild sheet delamination when over-age material is utilized, but again, faith often trumps fact.

Author:  Peter K. [ June 13th, 2013, 3:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blue steel, Twintex, Ultralite layup help

All the Zephyrs that I know of (about a dozen) are still on the river, but often not being paddled by the same person. Many have traded their Zephyrs for Zooms or Ocoees. The Zephyr is a middle of the road hull, so those that want something sportier move on. There is canoe fashion as well as engineering.

What kills Royalex boats is either brittleness of the hull (which is at least partly preventable by controlling UV exposure) and grinding down the chines so the ABS between the vinyl layers turns to dust (controllable by reducing exposure to rocks). I've seen lots ot Zooms and Nitros with rebuilt chines.

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