Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

1921 Old Town Molitor

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Howie, Jul 24, 2020.

Tags:
  1. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I've just completed restoring this 18' Old Town Molitor made in 1921, serial # 66010-18.

    It's AA Grade with all original mahogany inner & outer rails, seats, decks, and thwarts. It also has the original external stems and keel. The tops of the seat & thwart bolts are covered with mahogany plugs.

    The seats are mostly original - looks like someone in the past replaced at least one of the longer parts of the front seat with a length of walnut(?) carved with a vine & leaf design. I didn't have the heart to replace it!

    Keen eyes will notice that the decks are not typical for Old Town - the build sheet lists them as '16 Mahogany'. Also notice that there are no screws visible on the outside of the outer rails. These rails are held in place by a pair of #8 screws at every seat and thwart - finish nails are used to hold the rails elsewhere.

    What's also odd is the placement of the thwarts. First, the 'center' thwart is not actually placed at the center of the canoe but rather one rib aft of center. And the two other thwarts are different lengths: counting from the front, the front thwart is between ribs 18 & 19; the rear seat between ribs 16 & 17. Odd.

    I've got too many canoes, so off to the Classifieds it goes...

    IMG_5216.jpg IMG_5214.jpg IMG_5219.jpg IMG_5212.jpg IMG_5221.jpg IMG_5213.jpg OldTownBuildSheet.jpg
     
    mccloud and Benson Gray like this.
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Maybe our friend Bert had a hand in building this canoe.
     
  3. ticonderoga

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    "I've got to many canoes" I don't think that's possible!
     
  4. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Dan was referring to Bert Morris. The Molitor model was built by Morris and was named after C.J. Molitor who operated the canoe livery on Belle Isle ,Mi. Kathy Klos' book should have more info on the model. The Molitor with the second lowest serial number is in the Dossin(sp) Museum in Detroit. The lowest number Molitor is somewhere in Northern Michigan.
     
  5. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Those rails look like the optional "oval" style that are held on with screws from the inside. You should probably keep this one and part with another.
    Or send it my way. :)
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Gil: Thanks for the info on Molitor. I had no idea.

    Dan: Yup... The outer rails could indeed be called 'oval' or a 'squished-D' shape. Only other time I've seen them on one of my canoes was on an 11ft 1939 OT '50 Pounder'. It too had screws entering from the inside inner rails - though it didn't have the finish nails. Anyway, the Molitor is way too long for me to use.
     
  7. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    That's a nice boat. Good color choice.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks Mike. I appreciate the comment about the color - I wasn't sure it wouldn't go well with the mahogany trip. But the wife, & I, agree - we like it. It's Epifanes Deep Red 3213. Had some on-hand so it was an easy decision.
     
  9. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    There is still much that isn't known about the Old Town Molitor model. It is clearly based on a Morris but I'm not aware of any document that provides details of how Bert or Charlie Morris may have been involved (if at all). The messages at http://forums.wcha.org/index.php?threads/15944/ describe one of the oldest Molitors and my analysis of the first order that shipped to Charles J. Molitor. The pictures at http://forums.wcha.org/index.php?threads/12325/ show one from the first order in 1921 and the one shown at http://forums.wcha.org/index.php?threads/4175/ indicates how it had evolved by 1922. Both of these have oval outside gunwales that were nailed on. The 16 inch decks on yours also show how much variation there was between canoes that were built with the Molitor model name. The pictures at https://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/15261/ show a Carleton version of the Molitor. This model was never listed in any catalog from that period. It appears that any fancy canoe with lots of mahogany, extended stems, and unusual decks could be called a Molitor model. I hope that you can find an appreciative home for this one. Good luck with the sale,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
    MGC likes this.
  10. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    It's stunning.....I'm going to paint one that color. I have a number 4 pattern reversed (red instead of white) that I think I'll use that color for. Very elegant with the mahogany. That is one heck of a fine looking boat. I'll trade you straight up for a really beat up Old Town Camper...it's Royalex. ;)
     
  11. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Don't let this pass by Howie - wood still grows on trees but Royalex is now as rare as unobtanium!
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Benson: So you believe one of the oldest Molitors was completed on May 20, 1921, and mine was on July 5, 1921. Cool. The fella who gave it to me (Dan) told me that the person he got it from thought it was one of the 1st ones ever made and that it was made before it was mentioned in OT's catalogue. Sadly, Dan died about a week after I picked up the canoe from him last December so I can't consult his memory.

    Mike: Tempting as the OT Camper is I think I'll pass. Remember, I still have that 1902 15' Rushton Indian! Ya know, I'm one lucky SOB... I've had a Viezie, a Morris, a White, a 10' PY AutoCanoe, and the 15' Indian, plus a few Yankees and an Otca, all in the past 2 years! And I was just days from being given a 13' OT 50 Pounder but Cuomo scotched the deal by banning people from North Carolina from coming to NY. Dang!
     
  13. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Banning So. Carolinians ?? Please, Howie.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Dtdcanoes: Well, yeah. Sort of. There's a list of 31 states that are strongly advised not to travel to NYS. Any folks that do are required to self quarantine for 14 days. There a $2000 fine of they don't and are caught. Plus any person that arrives at an airport must fill out a form stating where they came from. If they came from anywhere that's on a quarantine list they themselves must self quarantine for 14 days, and there's fines if the form isn't filled out and filed.
     
  15. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Charles J. Molitor probably found himself in a very difficult position early in 1921. It appears that he had been buying some very fancy canoes from B. N. Morris for many years to use in the Belle Isle livery fleet. This was a city contract and a copy of his bid for the 1911 and 1912 season is available at https://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/40669/ which includes an agreement to "furnish and maintain at all times during the above contract, boats, canoes, and accessories equal in number and condition to those now in use." The Morris factory burned in December of 1919 and did not reopen. This means that C. J. Molitor was probably at risk of losing his contract if he could not come up with some fancy canoes that looked like the existing Morris fleet. It appears that his solution was to order some similar looking canoes from Old Town. The Old Town build records show that 33 Molitor models were shipped to him under order number 578. However, there are at least 18 other build records for Molitor models that shipped to other locations which have order number 578 crossed out as shown at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/29365/ for example. This seems to imply that Molitor may have originally ordered over fifty canoes but later reduced the total substantially before they were shipped. Old Town appears to have offered the excess Molitor models to other dealers as a way to recover. A total of 92 Molitor models were started between March and May of 1921 so it seems that they were popular. They continued to make them until at least 1923.

    The new Molitor was introduced in 1965 as shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/covers/large-65.gif on the catalog cover. This was built on a modified Otca form. The pictures of the current form appear to confirm this. The story I heard was that an old canoe with torpedo stems and a 'flower petal' deck was brought in for repairs and it got so many complements that the company decided to build them again.

    This is likely to be more than you wanted to know but it seemed like a good idea to get the full story down in one place for posterity. Let me know if you want more details,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
    MGC likes this.
  16. OP
    OP
    Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Benson: This is fascinating! So you're saying that you heard a story about an early Molitor being returned to the factory for repairs that had a 'flower petal' design on the deck. Is it possible the story got a big mixed up and that the flowers were not the deck but the front seat?... like mine has?

    My build sheet seems to say that it was ordered by 'O.L.C Co.' (or perhaps 'Go.L.C.' or 'George L.C.') and 'Notify R.E.Haucer(?), Olyphant, Pa.'. Does that mean anything to you?
    OldTownBuildSheet.jpg
    Also, what is the last word in the Color spec on my build sheet: Light Brown... Packed?
     
  17. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    "Order of O.T.C. Co." = "Order of Old Town Canoe Company." This is seen a lot, and is presumably when OT received an order from and individual rather than a dealer. R. E. Hauser was the customer (I'm a Hauser, btw).

    Color is Light Brown, packed would be when the canoe was wrapped in burlap for shipping.
     
    MGC likes this.
  18. johnmetts

    johnmetts Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Really nice work. I agree on the color. My next one will be that color.
     
  19. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Not really, I don't recall seeing the canoe used as the basis for the modern Molitor in person so can't confirm much of this story. There is a repair record for a 16 foot long "Molitor" with serial number 560 that came in for eight hours of work on May 30th, 1964. This serial number is too low for an Old Town Molitor from the 1920s. My guess is that this was a canoe from the Charles River area with torpedo ends and decks that looked similar to the ones at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/15027/ and http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/490/ for example. This is why the modern Molitor decks look like the one at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/36522/ rather than the more traditional Old Town style or the original Molitor decks. I don't recall any mention of a flower design on the front seat like yours nor have I ever seen that on any other canoe. I have not been able to contact the original owner of the canoe with number 560 so please let me know if anyone knows where this canoe is now. I would love to see some more pictures of it.

    The "Order of O.T.C. Co." or Order of Old Town Canoe Company notation means that this was a custom order sent to an individual rather than to a dealer as Dan mentioned. The "Notify" comment usually indicated that the canoe was being delivered to a caretaker, neighbor, or someone other than the person who originally ordered the canoe. The "packed" note confirmed that it had been wrapped in hay and burlap for shipment as Dan described. The picture below shows how packed canoes looked upon delivery. Let me know if this doesn't answer your questions. Thanks,

    Benson



    HAYPACK1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020

Share This Page