Let’s Talk Classic Boat Fenders. Not Trailer Fenders, Boat Fenders.


Woody Divas famous Mermaid, on her U22 on Lake Arrowhead

Not a Fender guitar, or fenders on a car. We’re talking about the things I call a Bumper that gets everyone all riled up and corrects me. Now. I am here to say, I know nothing about Fenders. No not Bill and Tammy Fender next door. UGH As I said, boat Fenders. So here is the question. What is the right fender for your Classic Boat? Is there a pre war fender? Post war fender? Ya ya, there are those rope things.


Those Canadians sure love their fenders

Those are beautiful, but feel strange on certain boats. They feel like old pre pre pre war ish, and on those larger boats all stringed along. OK, but what about a simple runabout? Or simple U22? Does anyone have any original fenders from back in the day to share? And yes, Jim Staib will have an entire shed full I suspect. Here is a cool site on the subject, Classic Rope Fender website HERE, and of course they are in Canada.


Image from ClassicRopeFenders.com

And of course there is the Taylor Made Co, who in 1971 offered the first Vinyl Fenders “Guaranteed for the life of your boat” Here is their history page.

Taylor Made Fender ad

Original Taylor Made Ad 1971



28 replies
  1. Sean
    Sean says:

    I think fender choice is very important. First and foremost, they must be functional. There’s no point to them if they are not. Fortunately, our 1972 Greavette can use modern vinyl fenders and not look out of place.

    However, if you still want options… you can use fender covers to hide the vinyl, or provide a more “friendly” surface to caress your fresh varnish. I have seem them made out of lambs wool, micro fiber and even chamois cloth.

    I believe no matter what style you pick for everyday use you should keep some spare fenders of other sizes/shapes on board for situations that require more protection….and hang the looks! Be prepared!!!

    Lastly, yes Canadians seem to love our fenders and I’m not a personal fan of the “perma-fenders” rigged along the gunwales for most boats. Many, many Greavette’s had this feature from the factory and even so, I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks… But again, some of the older launches look naked without their rope ornaments. Luckily, they are not the boats I would ever own.

    In closing, I think there is no “right” answer. It depends on the boat and it’s owner…. as long as they do the job, go with what you like.

    • John Baas
      John Baas says:

      Sean, first wall hanging collection I’ve seen with a strap on each guitar. Does that mean that you actually PLAY them?

      • Sean
        Sean says:

        What’s the point if they don’t get used? Personally, I can’t play (I wish I could… and I try) but, there are musicians in the family that do play them. I just build ’em because I like making each one different, and able to do different things… then I move ’em on and build more. It’s a winter pastime that is lighter, less physically demanding and cleaner than working on cars & boats in a cold garage 🙂

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    There are certain things where I think historical accuracy should take a back seat. Safety, especially fire/fuel safety, and also protecting your investment.

    You want to use lines and fenders that protect your boat as best as practical. Appearance is secondary, historical accuracy is a low level concern.

    As for Fenders, they also made some great amplifiers too!

  3. Wes Yandt
    Wes Yandt says:

    Check out these classic “fenders.” Just grab a 2 x 4 and staple a rope….sorry a line to it.

    That’s how we roll out here in wild west.

  4. Christopher Stang
    Christopher Stang says:

    On our boats we call them SHOTS. Sh!t Hanging Over The Side. There is nothing worse than a single Shot banging the side of the hull (usually fiberglass) while the owner drives on oblivious into some preconceived notion of a sunset!

  5. Tom Gruenauer
    Tom Gruenauer says:

    Canvas with rope slings, got these out of a boat house in the 1000 Islands. No makers marks 14″ long. They look like they are from the 1920’s.

  6. Martin Feletto
    Martin Feletto says:

    European fenders are very heavy as compared to any Amercan ones. They weigh 3 or 4 times as much. This is because there are no finger docks, the boats are all rafted stern in and the weight is to keep the fenders from riding “up” the topsides.

  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    No one has mentioned kapok? filled canvas fenders vintage c. 1940-50? I have 4 originals for small outboards about 8″ long with brass ferrules and manila lines. They came with a Penn Yann Cartopper in Clayton NY. I can see why they wouldn’t be too popular because they pickup any gas/oil floating on the water and had a very coarse thread count.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      Well Tom posted before I hit enter, so there’s your canvas fender. Mine had an exposed flat seam all the way around with the brass ferrules punched thru the seam for your rope.

  8. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I guess I am a little late to this party, but I found this great fender shot this morning, so I thought I would share it.

  9. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    I have a canvas bumper from the 40s or 50s. It is filled with course sawdust. Like what you would get from a plainer taking a fairly deep cut. It is a fairly course canvas. I plan on duplicate these for my 1942 17′ Century Sea Maid model 172.

  10. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    Another note about fender or bumper? Both terms have been used since at least the 1920s. I prefer the term bumper. most people understand bumper. Fender is another story.

  11. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    On this hull card from Chris Craft from 1937 it calls them bumpers. Chris Craft Called them bumpers at least back to 1928. Chris Craft just called the cleats to mount them small cleats. I believe Century Boat Co. in 1942 called the cleats “fender cleats”. The term “bumper” back in the day was the more widely used term. So call them what you want. Both terms are acceptable. But when talking to a non boater they tend to understand what a bumper is without explanation. If you say fender prepare to explain what a fender is.

  12. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    This is what we use on our home dock . 2 x 6 with canvas fire hose 2 layers. the permanently mounted to the dock. The chrome rubrail is all that touches these type. We still carry traditional bumpers for use at other docks.

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