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Are Strippers Really That Fragile?

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by algale, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. algale

    algale Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Today I had an exchange with the leader of a local canoe club who advised me that my "cedar bark" canoe might be ok on flat water but would be destined to disintegrate on any river. When I explained that it was actually a cedar/fiberglass composite, the leader explained the fiberglass canoes "go crunch" on rocks. Mind you, these trips are Class 1 and Class 2 at worst!

    I'm new to this stripper business and a novice paddler. I never thought my canoe was going to be indestructible like a royalex and do not intend to run any Class 3 or higher rapids with it, but am I to understand that these canoes are really that fragile?? This canoe was built with 6 oz S glass -- with an extra football layer on both the outside and the inside.
  2. kayamedic

    kayamedic Kim Gass

    Me thinks you need a new leader. Its not the material that counts its the construction. No they are not that fragile. Like you alluded to with the extra footballs,that adds strength.

    Here is a birchbark

    Millbrook Boats builds whitewater canoes. They are partly fiberglass.

    You have a fiberglass canoe

    You are fine with the rapids you want to run.

    I'd like to hear from some of the many fine cedar strip builders here. Their boats are not flimsy
  3. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I agree with Kim, they are not "flimsy", however,

    the rocks ALWAYS win, so assume that if you find a rock, you "may" have to do some repair.

    I problem I have with strippers on rocks is they "usually" are made to be a ridgid as possible, and so maybe don't slide over the rocks as well as other designs/materials. And the glass then gets punctured as the wood crushes.

    With this said, if you make it, you can repair it. So go paddle it and have fun.

  4. Jim Dodd

    Jim Dodd LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The double layer is a great move !
    I build all of mine that way, sometimes I will use S-glass to add another level of protection..

    Quick test take two pieces of scrap 6oz cloth, Lay on a piece of plastic, lay the other piece over half of the first layer. Saturate both with mixed epoxy. Wait a week. Pick them up off the plastic, and with just your hands flex them.
    It's incredible how much stiffer the double layer is !

    Double lay is good !

    Last Summer I lost a canoe off my truck, doing 60mph, down a black top road. Banged up the gunnel on one end as it landed. Skidded for about 50 ft on it's bottom. Bottom just needed varnish and two small patches.
    They are tough !

  5. whalen

    whalen Will canoe, and have been canoed,

  6. Trailguide Pictures

    Trailguide Pictures Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Having been building strippers and using them all over I will say openly and honestly that I do not baby my canoe. I treat it the same as I would treat anything that I've invested a few thousand dollars into.

    Here's the thing, a canoe is only as good as the person paddling it. I do Class one and twos and feel comfortable with the design of my canoe, the materials its built with, and my skill.

    If you're not comfortable with running rapids (and that's totally cool if it's the case), then portage. No big deal.

    Your leader sounds like he doesn't know anything about canoe construction... which in a way is fine, that's not what he's there for. Just don't get him to help you build your next cedar strip canoe.
  7. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I have been paddling my wood stripper for 6 yrs now and most of the time I was given the same response whenever I mentioned taking her on rapids.
    You wouldn't want to do that she'd end up as a pile of splinters etc etc..
    Then earlier this year I was given the chance to run some grade 2 with help from some very competent paddlers who helped me through them by guiding me through them and suggesting the correct line for me to follow.With a bit of coaching and this approach my boat and I got down without incident.
    As I paddled I felt the rocks occasionally tapping and scraping my hull and thought on my return I would find her completely scratched and bashed.
    However when I examined the hull she had the usual fine scratches and although there were more than I would expect for a days paddle they hadn't penetrated the resin only the varnish layer with the exception of one deep one that required a small cloth and epoxy patch to put it right.
    Here is my repair blog.

    I guess what I am saying is I would n't take my boat on the rapids every day.I was able to do so because I had the right people guiding me and at the end of the day if you do damage it it is not difficult to repair.
  8. garypete

    garypete LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Fragile? I sailed the first stripper I built off my car at 60 mph onto concrete. I looked in the mirror expecting to see just sticks and splinters, but saw only a flying canoe and the terror-stricken eyes of the tailgating driver behind me. This was before cove-and-bead strip construction, and before epoxy, so it was built with polyester resin. One stem was pretty abraded from the concrete, and one thwart was torn out because it was attached to the cartop carrier bar which also came off. A little sanding and some resin fixed the stem, and the thwart was easily screwed back in.
  9. OP

    algale Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well, I now have some experience to answer my own question: no they are not that fragile. A friend and I loaded up the canoe with camping gear and took a trip down the Paw Paw Bends section of the Potomac River. The river was 4 feet above normal and two feet above caution. We covered the 21 miles in about five hours and never broke a sweat paddling. So we were moving at a good clip. A fair amount of white water. At normal levels these are class 1. Not sure what to consider them at the levels we were running. Along the way we twice managed to bit submerged boulders-- one head on and one broadside. Not glancing blows; full on ran over them. Sounded terrible, but at the take out nothing but superficial scratches in the fiberglass. Nothing got close to the wood.
    Tnic likes this.

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