Goodbye Tripper

Pine Island-Trek-Soccer 2010 036 Almost 25 years ago I spent a week in Bangor on business. It was difficult business with very high stakes involved. The outcome, although a favorable result for my client, required a fair amount of professional soul-searching. At the conclusion of my obligations I drove to Old Town and found the factory store of the Old Town Canoe Company in the basement of the manufacturing plant. A short time later I was driving back to western Maine with a red, 17-foot, Old Town Tripper, factory-second MOOSE RIVER BOW 08-09-09 117canoe strapped to the top of my truck. The canoe has been a fixture in my life since its purchase in 1991. It pre-dates my marriage, and my kids — it has outlasted two houses, two jobs, several trucks and a faithful bird dog. I have paddled it in Class IV rapids, saltwater bays and tiny trout ponds. I have slept in it and underneath it. I have portaged it, poled it, rowed it, motored it, lined it,

Poling the Allagash

Poling the Allagash

dragged it, dropped it from barn lofts, lost it from roof racks of moving vehicles and scraped the hull over innumerable rocks and ledges. The Tripper model is famous for this type of versatility and ability to withstand abuse. Since its debut in the medium of a space-age plastic known as Royalex™ (in the late 1970’s) this boat has been the wilderness workhorse. Guides and outfitters across North America rely on it to carry mammoth loads, slide over mid-stream obstructions and make novice clients look like pros. MOOSE RIVER BOW 08-09-09 072 But this year, the Tripper, and other wilderness tripping models like it, have disappeared from the catalogs of canoe makers across America. The culprit is the lack of the wonder-plastic Royalex™. Originally made by the Uniroyal Corporation and then by a succession of others — this sheet material is no longer being manufactured. Heavier, less durable sheet material, used in family -style canoes is still available. But all of the manufacturers relied on Royalex™ for their premier tripping and expedition boats. I suspect that this class of boats has also fallen in popularity and sales in recent years as  kayaks and silly stand-up paddle boards have taken on increasingly large segments of the recreational market. The internet is abuzz with the hope that some new company will acquire the manufacturing rights to Royalex, or that some new wonder-material is in the works. But the reality is that the Tripper and other Royalex™ boats are in danger of simply fading away into history.   Webb Lake to 1st day School 2009019

 

Thanks to Chris Dalton who contacted me with some corrections on the history of Royalex.

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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine. Find Self-propelled on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Self-propelled-Guide-Service-1098692573535403/