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 Post subject: Cracked Esquif Mistral
PostPosted: August 18th, 2015, 11:13 pm 
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Location: Montreal
I bought my mistral 6 years ago. Today, Esquif is closed and bankrupt.

On a trip last year, the side cracked on a "light" tap against a rock. I patched it with Patch n Repair. Expensive stuff, and I dont trust the patch. Its not like resin and kevlar. The next canoe ran the same line down the rapid, hit the same rock, and managed fine. A kevlar canoe took the hit better than the twintex?!?

This year, during a trip last week, I saw the floor of the canoe flex while paddling. When on site, I realized there was a 1 inch crack, allowing water to enter in the air core that lines the bottom. What was more upsetting is that the hull material seems to be at most 1/8 inch thick!

This was marketed as a white water canoe. I am so upset at the money I spent on something that clearly wasnt of quality. What are my options now? Do I patch the bottom? How do I make sure that theres no water remaining within the floating core? Do I invest in a new canoe? I do mostly flat water these days, and in low water, I empty the canoe and use rope to line it through the rapid.. would kevlar be a better option for me?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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PostPosted: August 19th, 2015, 5:07 am 
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Contact Esquif. They are back in business.
I have friends who have just bought a couple of their boats.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Esquif/112522078761145


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2015, 8:09 am 
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Most of us have found Twintex to be pretty durable, but not majic. My Zephyr is now worn out after 6 years of fairly hard use. It has been to the factory for repairs once after landing on a rock on a 3 foot drop. Factory repair is best, but anticipate losing the boat for an extended period, plus the hassle of transport.

Twintex is notoriously difficult to fix as almost nothing bonds to it. However, we have found that 3M Scotch-Weld Acrylic Structural Plastic Adhesive DP-8010 will do a good job in holding anchors and patches. I have repaired several cracks along the chines of my boat using this and fibreglass patches and they have held since the start of the season with no problem. The catch is the glue is pretty expensive and requires the use of a special applicator which mixes the two parts of the glue -- even more expensive, but avoids a lengthy trip to the factory.

Others will have to advise on what to do about drying out the core. I would guess that you will have to open it up to some extent, dry out and maybe inject with DP-8010.

Good luck.


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2015, 8:25 am 
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It sounds as if you may have one of the original Mistrals. These did not have an "air core" in the hull bottom. They had a balsa wood core.

If your boat has a raised bottom core in the shape of a truncated diamond 10 feet long running from one side to the other it is probably one of these boats. If so, there is likely no realistic means of repair. The balsa wood core is sandwiched between two relatively thin layers of Twintex.

Putting a balsa wood core in the bottom of what is perceived, and was marketed as a river boat was one of the stupidest moves I have ever seen any major manufacturer make. The Twintex material develops pinholes (whether cracked or not) that allows water to seep into the core. A wood core, unlike a closed cell foam core, then wicks the water along its length. The core material then progressively rots. Once the integrity of the core is sufficiently compromised, the hull bottom loses its rigidity.

Esquif modified the original Mistral by removing the wood core and substituting a grid work of raised Twintex ribs crisscrossing the hull bottom to provide some degree of rigidity. Unfortunately, they did not initially take into account that without the wood core and without tanks or supplemental flotation, the boats were negatively buoyant (oops). They retrofitted some of these boats with foam blocks or flotation bags after a number of second generation Mistrals sank out of sight. After that, the boats were sold outfitted with Gaia tandem end bags.

I agree that your best bet is to attempt to contact Esquif. This may not be as easy as it sounds. I have sent a number of emails to Esquif and attempted to get a response through their facebook page, and never received a reply. I know a fair number of people here in the US who have had warranty issues with their boats, mainly Mistrals, Zephyrs (a Twintex whitewater boat), and cracked polyethylene L'Edges. Their experiences have been mixed. Some of them were only successful after many attempts and a fairly long period of time. If you do not receive a response within a reasonable period of time, if you bought the boat from a dealer, and that dealer is still in business, I would ask if they could help you.


Last edited by pblanc on August 19th, 2015, 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: August 19th, 2015, 8:33 am 
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Peter K. wrote:
Most of us have found Twintex to be pretty durable, but not majic. My Zephyr is now worn out after 6 years of fairly hard use. It has been to the factory for repairs once after landing on a rock on a 3 foot drop. Factory repair is best, but anticipate losing the boat for an extended period, plus the hassle of transport.

Twintex is notoriously difficult to fix as almost nothing bonds to it. However, we have found that 3M Scotch-Weld Acrylic Structural Plastic Adhesive DP-8010 will do a good job in holding anchors and patches. I have repaired several cracks along the chines of my boat using this and fibreglass patches and they have held since the start of the season with no problem. The catch is the glue is pretty expensive and requires the use of a special applicator which mixes the two parts of the glue -- even more expensive, but avoids a lengthy trip to the factory.

Others will have to advise on what to do about drying out the core. I would guess that you will have to open it up to some extent, dry out and maybe inject with DP-8010.

Good luck.


I have attempted to repair a balsa core Mistral. This boat actually had been replaced under warranty by Esquif (after a lengthy struggle on the part of the owner). The owner then attempted to find out what Esquif wanted him to do with the balsa core boat. After sending them multiple emails over the course of I believe a couple of years with no response, he eventually signed off. He asked me to look at the boat to see if anything could be done with it. I contacted Blue Mountain Outfitters in Pennsylvania, which was the only dealer certified by Esquif to repair cracked Twintex hulls in the US. They had no experience with a problem of this type, and could offer no advice whatsoever.

This boat did not have visible cracks on the hull bottom, but the inner layer of Twintex was clearly delaminating from the underlying core in areas, and the hull bottom was demonstrating an increasing degree of oil canning. I exposed the wood core by cutting through the inner Twintex layer with the hope that I might be able to rebuild the core in some fashion, then replace the inner Twintex layer with fiberglass.

This was found to be a hopeless proposition. The balsa was largely rotted and fragmented in areas. Some of the fragments adhered to the inner Twintex layer and some to the bottom layer. There was basically no realistic hope of rebuilding or repairing the core.

Based on my experience, I would advise the OP not to attempt to repair the core. I think it would be a matter of throwing good money after bad.


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2015, 10:31 am 
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario
Not close to home but Jamie Dors at www.paddlesportsrepairs.com does Twintex repairs - there must be others out there in the Montreal area that do the same.

Twintex - I don't think we'll see anymore of those boats being made with Esquif back in business, with reason.


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PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 7:33 pm 
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Location: Montreal
Im in Quebec, and I could leave the canoe with them now, since my summer ends Monday.
I'm very disappointed, since I dont do white water anymore. The boat has done 2 trips (total of 8 days) in white water. The wear and tear is from flat water, and the tiny rapids in La Verendrye that connect lakes. I find it so disappointing that this canoe was a total flop.

So, if the fix isnt worth the money, what's my next canoe? Im ok portaging 50lbs, 60 gets to much (no Royalex for me).

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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2015, 10:54 am 
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You might have a look at the Souris River line of boats (Kevlar-Epoxy). We have had several Queticos in our club for 6-7 years and while they have not been abused, they have not been treated like coffee tables either. So far they have stood up well and are very popular with members.

BTW, there is no Royalex for anyone anymore.


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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2015, 11:27 am 
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Peter K. wrote:
BTW, there is no Royalex for anyone anymore.


the local MEC still sells their used one at the end of season.
I'll check out your suggestions too
Thanks

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PostPosted: September 1st, 2015, 12:46 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
pblanc wrote:
It sounds as if you may have one of the original Mistrals. These did not have an "air core" in the hull bottom. They had a balsa wood core.


I have been told, by a reputable first-hand source (ie the people who paddled the canoe) that the earliest Mistals did not have a balsa core. They had no core.

I don’t know if this was a prototype Mistral or a very early production model, but the paddlers told me that when they got into some waves the floor of the Mistral oil canned severely, popping up and down several inches* with a sound like a bass drum.

The original balsa wood cores may have been an “Oh *#$@!” attempt to remedy a design/construction failure quickly and with little added weight.

* Actually "several inches" is understating what they said happened.


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PostPosted: September 1st, 2015, 2:53 pm 
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Could be, Mike. All I know for sure is that the one I have been working on had a balsa core. The HIN indicates a 2008 build.

With the core out, and one of the two Twintex layers removed, the hull bottom is ridiculously floppy. If there was no core, but two directly opposed layers of Twintex I think the hull floor would still be unacceptably floppy.

The boat that Esquif provided as a replacement for the one I have had no core but did have a grid work of raised plastic ridges. My friend paddled it some. I do not recall him saying that the bottom of the replacement boat was floppy.

There may be some people still out there who like Twintex boats despite the repair difficulties and the known tendency of this material to shed painfully sharp fibers as it ages. I don't think anyone can argue that Twintex was a commercial flop for Esquif. And it seems to me that they made an incredible series of missteps with the Mistral in particular.


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PostPosted: September 2nd, 2015, 2:39 pm 
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Wow, lots of troubles with Mistrals. I am quite amazed that people have had so many issues. I have one of the original Mistrals - no core, some rib-like structures, doesn't float when full of water without retro-fitted and supplied foam floatation.
I have had none of the issues mentioned. My boat has not been babied at all. Lots of hard bumps from rocks in moderate (Class 1 and 2) whitewater. Lots of dragging over rocks, roots, grass, beaver dams, etc. even when fully loaded.
It is a great boat and has performed very, very well.
FWIW.


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