Electric Trolling Motor Canoe




About: I'm a highschooler who is interested in technology, science, and engineering. In my spare time I work on projects that allow me to learn new skills and concepts.

If you are not looking for super-speed, or want a quiet way to fish, get around the lake, or extend your camping trips, an electric canoe is the way to go! This canoe modification is easy to build and will get you a top speed of 6km/h, or 10km/h if you paddle as well. You can also expect to get up to 7.5km on a single charge with one battery on a four person canoe. The range greatly increases with less weight.

Another added advantage is the sound. It's actually quieter than regular paddling.

The idea here is that you add a 12v trolling motor to the side of a canoe and use it (at an angle) to get around. Watch this video to get a better idea:

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Step 1: Materials

Here's a list of materials/things you will need for this project:
  • A canoe (the victim)
  • Trolling motor (Minn Kota Endura C2)
  • 2x4 (that is longer than the width of the canoe)
  • 2x (3/8” by 4” bolts)
  • 2x (3/8” nuts)
  • 2x (3/8” washer with an outer diameter of 1.5”)
  • 12v deep cycle marine battery

The trolling motor was bought at Canadian Tire, batteries at Costco, 2x4, nuts, washers and bolts at Home Depot, and the canoe we had lying around.

Step 2: Drilling Holes in the Motor Mount

One of the first things we did was place the 2x4 about two inches behind the rear seat. Then we marked and drilled two 3/8" holes that touched the outside of the canoe edges. We made sure that on the right-hand side of the 2x4 there would be at least a foot of space for the trolling motor. These holes are for the two bolts which will keep the mount secured to the canoe.

After threading the bolts, we decided to use a large drill bit to sink the bolts in a bit further so there would be more space for the nuts.

Step 3: Cutting Notches

We put the mount back onto the canoe (2 inches from the back seat) and marked out the inside and outside edges of the canoe (see gif). These four marks (remember to do both sides of the canoe) will be used to make the notches that help hold the mount.

We cut about half an inch down these four lines and chiseled out the excess. We sanded the rough edges down and dry-fit the mount onto the canoe by threading the bolts, putting washers on, then threading the nuts on.

Step 4: Finishing the Mount

We cut the mount down to size by trimming the left side at the bolt, and the other side, about a foot from the bolt. Then we sanded down the surfaces and edges and spray painted it. We left the mount out in the sun and worked on the batteries in the meantime.

Step 5: Connecting the Batteries

You can get away with connecting only one battery to the trolling motor, but we decided to double our range by connecting two batteries.

Connecting the batteries:

Since the trolling motor was 12v, and each battery was 12v, we connected the batteries in parallel to double the capacity. Depending on your motor, connecting the batteries in series might break it. See the above diagrams.

Securing the batteries on the canoe:

We had an old box made specifically for carrying two of these batteries lying around. We sanded the edges and surfaces down (resulting in super-cool sparks) and gave it a spraypaint. Be sure to use more than one newspaper layer when spray-painting.

Step 6: Putting It All Together

We secured the motor mount onto the canoe by tightening the nuts. Then we mounted the trolling motor onto the mount by tightening the larger bolts. Very simple.

The batteries were already connected in parallel so all we had to do was connect the leads from the trolling motor to the positive and negative terminals.

We tested the motor and we were happy with the results! The trolling motor had 5 speeds and the first speed was barely audible, even close up! Time to get it down to the water!

Step 7: Testing It Out!

We placed the batteries quite far back and used a wheel assembly to get the canoe from the car and into the water. The batteries were quite heavy, but even with a 5th person and the batteries, the canoe still would have been underweight.

We got a 6.5km/h speed while on motor only and with only two people in the canoe. We did the same thing with four people and paddled and got a top speed of 10km/h.

In all we had a ton of fun using this canoe, and we'll probably use it every weekend for the rest of the summer!

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    9 Discussions


    1 year ago on Step 7

    excellent video and instructions. One thing would help - addressing the length of the 2x4, especially of the side that the motor is to be mounted. How much does the 2x4 extend out from the side of the canoe?


    2 years ago

    During my research while creating mine, I learned a stronger motor at a lower speed uses less electricity than a smaller motor at a higher speed, giving you the same cruising speed for a longer period. I also changed out the wire leads on the motor to quick connects and added pigtails to the battery.


    3 years ago

    With an Optima Bluetop sealed AGM battery I can run for 8 hours straight and still have 25% battery in reserve, about 3x what I got with 2 traditional marine batteries. The battery cost 300 dollars but well worth the investment.


    4 years ago

    What size motor? I'm about to follow your Instructable to make my own, thanks!!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That trolling motor we have is availbile at Costco if you are in north america. Pretty much any trolling motor will do


    4 years ago

    I made a similar design. Have problems steering. Over length of 50 feet alright, nothing shorter though. Thinking of a rear mount. Any suggestions?

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable. I really like how you didn't alter the canoe or motor (like a lot of these mods do) to mount it. It really helps with resale value later on if you ever want to sell the canoe/motor.

    One thing I would like to point out: check your local laws on motorized craft. Where I live in Oregon in the USA, *any* motorized craft has to be registered. Other states have different laws. Some don't require registration unless the craft is under a certain size, if power is under 10 HP (~7.5 KW), etc. Don't get caught with a fine by not following regulations.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    That's right. Here in Canada we only need to licence if the power is over 10HP, and even then, licencing a boat is free!