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Need help with an Old Town canoe

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by freemejersey, May 11, 2013.

  1. freemejersey

    freemejersey Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi, my husband was given a canoe that had previously been stored in an old garage. I located information on how to find the serial number. I have attached some pictures to show what numbers I could locate. The canoe is wood with a canvas cover. The cover says Old Town on one side and Swift Waters on the other. Under the canvas the canoe appears to be varnished/no paint. Can you help me identify the age of the canoe as well as the model. From what I can see the numbers from left to right say 17 and a large gap the 40391. Thank You.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Old Town canoe with serial number 40391 is a 17 foot long, CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, HW (heavy water) model with red western cedar planking, closed spruce gunwales, birch decks, birch thwarts, birch seats, and a keel. It was built between November, 1915 and January, 1916. The original exterior paint was bright red. It shipped on January 31st, 1916 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A scan showing this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

    This scan and several hundred thousand others were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/ot_records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/about-the-wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://store.wcha.org/WCHA-New-Membership.html to join.

    It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. The long decks and half ribs weren't mentioned on this build record so those were probably added later. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions,

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

  3. OP
    OP
    freemejersey

    freemejersey Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you for the quick response. You have me curious now whether the exterior under the canvas shows any traces of the original paint color. I don't want to damage the canvas anymore than is it is by pulling is away to take a peek. I don't think the long decks were an add on since the wood/varnish closely match the seats and top trim. You mentioned half ribs. Are they the short pieces in the floor of the canoe?
     
  4. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Half ribs are the short pieces in the floor of the canoe.

    The original red paint was applied to the canvas covering the hull, not to the wood under the canvas. It is likely that the original canvas has been replaced at least once -- as canvas ages and deteriorates, it is replaced -- a fairly routine maintenance task, akin to putting new tires on a car. Canvas can last 50 years and sometimes even more, depending on use of the canoe, the care given the canoe, and how it has been stored. Looking at your pictures, it may be that a new canvas cover is now in order -- a task that many people undertake themselves.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    freemejersey

    freemejersey Curious about Wooden Canoes

    That makes sense. I've learned more about canoes today than I ever thought I could! Thank you for the info.
     
  6. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Jersey,
    Are you sure about the serial number? The build record says Birch decks, but they don't look like Birch decks to me. Looks Mahogany. I would have expected the build record to note the long decks also.

    Jim C.
     
  7. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    The serial number sort of looks like ot could have two digits in front of the 0391... like maybe it's 110391? But the closed gunnels might not make much sense for a SN that late.

    Looks like a great canoe, in very nice shape, in any case...
     
  8. OP
    OP
    freemejersey

    freemejersey Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Not confident about the serial number. I tried everything to bring the number up under the worn varnish and dirt without scraping or sanding. Using the chalk powder over the area produced the best results. I guess its possible that the canoe may be another manufacturer but just has an Old Town canvas over it? The stem from opening to point of the canoe does have a ledgible "17" then about a 4" space before the next set of numbers. I originally suspected the number was 10391 but upon zooming in the photos I thought it looked more like a 4. Both stems are marked with the number however one is harder to see than the other.
     
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    The OT canoe with serial number 10391 was 16’ long and equipped with a mast step and seat for sailing, so is not likely your canoe -- see the build record for that canoe.

    10391 - 0638.jpg
     
  10. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    OT 110391 also is not your canoe -- it has open gunwales, sponsons, and no half ribs -- here's the build record for that canoe:

    110391 - 00610A.jpg

    So your canoe is still a bit of a mystery, though a nice looking canoe.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    freemejersey

    freemejersey Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Any other suggestions as to how to identify it? I thought this was going to be a simple research task. lol! We certainly are not going to restore it and it is obviously not in a condition to be used. I was just trying to get some history to have on hand when we list it for sale.
     
  12. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Can you post some pictures of the area under the decks near the ends of the canoe? If these long decks were added after it left the factory than the original short birch decks may still be in place under the long decks. The original short deck should look similar to the one shown at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=6392&d=1225896293 for example. The information at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?57 may be helpful when you list it for sale. Good luck,

    Benson
     
  13. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I'm not suggesting that I know the constructor of this boat but it is quite easy to see that the thwarts are not an OT style.
    They very closely resemble Rushton thwarts. Based upon the other details that are visible that is not the maker but personally I would rule out Old Town (what do I know?).
    I would love to know what is under those decks to try and narrow this down a bit.
     
  14. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Looking at the stem profile, the top end of it seems to recurve too far back for an Old Town? Just comparing to my 1918 HW; other models may be different. And I'm certainly no expert; just trying to learn something here.
     

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