Helium appearance options are - 1 Carbon Fiber and 2 Carbon Kevlar
Each is similarly constructed, but unique in their aesthetic appearance. Each has the same inherent characteristics relative to ultimate durability and rigidity.
The Carbon Fiber top Gel-coated hull is stunning and rich, The Carbon Kevlar over White hull is more generic and Earthy looking
Helium Carbon Kevlar by Design
The H2O Canoe Company Helium Canoe is constructed in mirror fashion to our Epoxy Pro Series Canoes with a few material selection changes creating choices of appearance – it is a craft combining advanced material selection with many innovate concepts and fittings. Each part has their own purpose within the system to fill a role in creating the ultimate package of performance, lightweight and durability.
Similar build concepts to H2O Epoxy Pro Series combine many techniques that all result in an important end goal. Which is – The most amount of weight and thus material (re-enforcement) is in the hull of the Canoe itself. The more substance in general and quality substance in this case the hull is made out of, the more resistant to damage it can be.
Too many Canoes on the market simply take away substance from the hull to make it lighter but carry on finishing the Canoe in a “standard fashion”, selecting heavy wood species, heavy Gunwales, wetting out flotation chambers with thick layers of FG and resin and covering the interior of the Canoe with a heavy, thick layer of Gel-coat. None of which these effects add value or reduce weight to an ultralights resistance to damage or enjoyment to carry.
It only stands to reason if a majority of the weight in your ultralight Canoe is made up of finishing’s and trim your hull can’t have much substance to it. This is why so many beautifully Gel-coated Canoes are quickly a mess of cracks and damage. They are simply a significantly heavy Gel layer backed by very little re-enforcement and an average quality resin. There is just not enough substance or quality products in the hull itself to resist damage.
Helium Specific differences to Epoxy Pro Series
The difference in our Helium from EPS Canoes is the use of Marine Grade Gel-coat on the hull with a clear top showing the Carbon Fiber or Carbon / Kevlar Fabric.
Since the Helium is made partially Gel-coated a selection in the Vinyl ester family of resin is necessary to marry like chemistries together.
These factors add approximately 6-8% in weight to the EPS Canoes which is still at the low end of weights for ultralight Canoes.
Helium Canoes are less costly than EPS Canoes since the resin system and processing requirements are less taxing. Helium also is an excellent way to get an ultralight Canoe that paddles comparably to EPS in rigidity and response, still highly durable with a variety of choices in appearance.
Key Feature to Helium Canoes – #1 Partial Gel-coat & Core Shell V/E
H2O Helium Canoes are constructed using Gel-coat on about half of the hull surface area. Compared to 8- 10lb of Gel-coat coverage applied to an average Touring Canoe, Helium Canoes start off nearly 50% lighter in coatings alone.
The top of the Canoe is covered with a very light UV resistant coating weighing much less than Gel-coat. The aesthetic of the Helium made this way is undeniably stunning. Helium provides a customizable look with multiple colour selections for the bottom, topped in the classy natural Carbon Weave. Carbon / Kevlar Helium come only with the White bottom.
With only a partial Gel-coat layer we are able to put some of that saved weight back into layers of re-enforcement in the hull.
Use of Gel-coat requires use of a chemically compatible resin which is Vinyl-ester. H2O has sourced the highest quality V/E resin, which currently is Core Shell.
Core Shell tests similar in many ways to Epoxy resin for physical stresses of impact, flex and is inherently UV resistant. H2O test results show Epoxy resin to be superior overall but the nature of the Core Shell for cost savings and appropriate processing in the Helium matrix is an excellent choice.
Key Feature to Helium Canoes – #2 100% Closed Cell Foam re-enforcement
Every Helium Canoe from H2O has a full closed cell foam core, bilge ribs, mounting plates and ICG Gunwale. Foam sandwiched between composite re-enforcement is very rigid & strong yet ultralight. By nature closed cell foam is buoyant; Helium Canoes have high inherent flotation characteristics as well before adding extra flotation chambers to them.
This technique can be compared to the effect of box and beam construction in buildings and the rigidity of Truss style construction on a bridge. Each component which is rigid re-enforces a typically flexible area around it. By attaching each stiffening member to each other we create longitudinal & inherent stiffness for speed and power transmission yet remain flexible and absorbing in enough areas to standup to impact and resist damage.
Key Feature to Helium Canoes – #3 Lightweight finishes and trim
As we discussed our goal is to place the most amount of substance (weight) in the hull itself. We accomplish this by selecting lightest weight species of Wood for Components; design a Gunwale system which is significantly lighter than traditional Aluminum or Wood concepts and apply techniques to add features typically heavier, which add no value being heavier.
Components of a Helium Canoe
Core Shell V/E & Gel-coat - Vinyl ester resin is a “snap” cure product which is advantageous in processing for time and curing efficiencies. A catalyst mixed with the V/E resin promotes a reaction which then heats and cures the resin into a solid. When it is cooled it is fully cured and needs no further processing to achieve top physical properties.
The single most important element in a Canoe is the resin holding it together.
The choices manufacturers make on where to save money impact greatly on the quality of product consumers receive.
Helium Canoes are a little less costly than EPS Canoes because processing and material costs are a little less for V/E resin and its cure cycle. The reason they are only a little less is that even though the materials have moved down a selection, the scale has only moved from ideal to excellent.
Like most choices in any materials there is a vast quality range. H2O Canoe Company Canoes from top to bottom make choices in the highest of that range regardless of what category of use they are targeted. Every aspect of the Helium is made from the best selection available for quality and durability in its material selection range.
H2O Core Shell V/E is currently the best available V/E resin for marine composites. It shows results comparable to Epoxy for impact tolerance, flex and bond. V/E cannot be used directly against a bare mold like Epoxy so it is processed with marine grade Gel-coat.
Gel-coat is a layer of substance which is brilliant and UV stable. It is highly attractive and impressive so some paddlers would not go without. H2O uses a Gel-coat with a flex agent making it more pliable to resist damage.
Both the Core Shell resin and Gel-coat is repairable and will marry to polyester and Epoxy repair resins.
The process to make a Canoe with the combination of Gel-coat and V/E resin is more cost effective than with Epoxy resin but only marginally less impact resistant and marginally heavier.
Advanced Fabrics – Re-enforcement in fabric form layered and positioned strategically for strength and rigidity of the hull.
Fiberglass – common boat cloth, excellent resin retention, easily repairable, structural when saturated with resin.
Innegra – polypropylene based material with excellent flex, impact absorption, ideally combined with another fabric in a blend to share bond and resilience characteristics.
Basalt – Earth mineral resource sharing characteristics similar to Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber. Wets out well with resin.
Kevlar (Aramid) – Aramid is the product, Kevlar is a brand within the product category, Twaron is another product within the Aramid family. Aramid is resistant to tear, impact absorbing and structural when wet out.
Carbon Fiber – Carbon Fiber is the most advanced material available for light weight composite construction. Elegant aesthetically - replaces multiple layers of Fiber-glass for structural rigidity.
Foam Core – the base of the hull is closed cell high density foam. Providing rigidity against Boat twist and oil canning, this component is essential to a well performing Canoe.
Skeletal Rib – The H2O Canoe skeletal rib system is part of a complete re-enforcement system. The ribs fill the role of supporting and tying in the foam core to the sheer line of the Canoe for bilge stiffness, eliminating torsional flex and are much lighter yet stronger than additional bilge layers of cloth
ICG – Integral Composite Gunwale is the combination of foam cored gunwale wrapped in Kevlar, Carbon or combinations inherent to the hull itself - with an outer aluminum trim for impact resistance and rack sliding. The ICG is the top plate in a joist type construction system of ribs and foam core. ICG construction weighs approximately half a regular aluminum Gunwale set.
Resin Infusion – this is an advanced process method of wetting a dry stack laminate under vacuum pressure. Only as much resin as is necessary to adequately wet out the laminate is used under pressure- surrounding core, filling voids and saturating the re-enforcement. Resin infusion ensures consistent weights, void free laminates and is environmentally friendly, as resins cure under closed molds with no off-gassing.
Preformed Flotation Chamber – Flotation chambers constructed on a form in a similar process to the Canoe hull by vacuum processing. “Float tanks” made this way are bonded onto the hull with an adhesive and sealed using much less product compared to wetting out a form with Fiberglass and resin to create flotation chambers.
Bilge mounted seat brackets – Attaching the seat on a bracket attached and bonded to the bilge of the Canoe creates a stiffening opportunity across the Canoe adding to its overall rigidity. This is further to the “system” doing everything possible to make each component in the Canoe fill a role in creating structure. Also seats mounted this way will not sway or wear on the gunwales.
Light weight component selection – Naturally rot resistant, yet ultra light wood species for the interior components ensure longevity and weight savings. Natural tone or Blackout available.