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Old Town hull identifcation

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by sander63*, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I would like to request hull information on s/n 7468-17. From the wcha website I think it maybe an early HW model with sponsons. The canvas was removed by family member of the long time owner and the hull looks to be in good shape except for a small section of the keel. I was really looking for a useable OT so probably should not have bought it, but thought it need to be saved. Do you think it could be made useable for a somewhat reasonable cost? Thanks!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Your canoe appears to be in excellent condition and very restorable. However, it may either be a Carleton with that serial number or an Old Town with a digit or two missing from the serial number. Number 7468 would put it in the very early 1900s (like 1905) if its an Old Town, but the shape of the thwarts and the presence of diamond-head bolts places it no earlier than the late-teens. Check the number carefully. If it really is 7468, then it's likely a Carleton.

    There may be a professional builder/restorer located near you (see http://wcha.org/builders-and-suppliers-directory). If you have or want to develop skills, there are probably WCHA members with restoration experience nearby. These forums can help you find help.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Michael for your help and comments. Have some experience with varnishing etc. but not canvas, maybe time to learn. I will scape away more around the s/n area. old town 7468-17 f.jpg old town 7468-17 a.jpg but here is what I could see now.
     
  4. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Hmmmmm... that decal does kind of suggest Old Town, doesn't it? I don't have build records here, but someone should come along shortly and check out that serial number. As for canvassing, its not nearly as challenging as it might seem. There have been some great threads here and some nice articles in Wooden Canoe. Are you a WCHA member? If you don't have them, back issues of Wooden Canoe are available in the WCHA store (http://wcha.org/store). An article on canvassing sponson canoes was in the Wooden Canoe #194, the April 2016 issue.
     
  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    The Old Town canoe with serial number 7468 is 17 feet long, CS (common sense or standard) grade, HW (heavy water) model with western red cedar planking, spruce gunwales, maple decks, thwarts and seats, spruce finish rails, and equipped with a keel. It was built in 1907-08, being finished on February 3, 1908. The exterior was originally painted dark red. It was shipped on February 15, 1908 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link behind the thumbnail image attached below.

    7468 - 2394.jpg

    There is no mention of sponsons on the build record, and it would be very unusual for sponsons to be not shown on the build record of a canoe equipped with them.

    Is the serial number visible on the stem at the other end of the canoe?

    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/catalogs/old-town/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-wcha to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/store/membership to join.

    When considering any restoration work, whether you plan to do it yourself or to hire a professional,

    In addition to asking questions here, there are three good sources of information about canoe restoration that you would do well to get, or at least look at, before making any decision about how to repair or restore your canoe:

    The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok
    Building the Maine Guide Canoe by Jerry Stelmok
    This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood-Canvas Canoe, by Mike Elliott

    The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe and its construction. The third is the most recently published and has been well received.

    Of course, you can always ask questions here on the forums. There is a good deal of information here, and we are happy to share and pass on what we have learned.

    You might also want to look at The Old Town Canoe Company by Susan Audette and David Baker, a great history of the Old Town company and its canoes.

    These books are all available from the WCHA store, are often on eBay, or from Amazon.

    As Michael says, a nice canoe, in good condition, and readily restorable. Good luck.

    Greg
     
  6. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    There's also no mention of the floor rack in the build record, though that could easily be added later. Where was the canoe located? These boats usually don't wander far from their original destination, so if it was in the Milwaukee area, it might indicate it's the right boat. But the sponson omission would be really odd, as mentioned above.
     
  7. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Not only does your canoe have diamond-head bolts which began to be used long after 1908, and your thwarts are shaped those on Old Towns (and Carletons) well past 1908, but also the 7468 build record indicates a closed-gunwale canoe (yours is open-gunwale). Also your decks and thwarts appear to be oak or ash. And to push Greg's comment about sponsons, people take them off of canoes, but I've never heard of them being added. Surely your canoe isn't Old Town #7468, and I doubt it's Carleton #7468. Even a Carleton with a serial number this low probably wouldn't look like yours unless the hull sat in the factory for many years before being trimmed out. So check carefully for extra digits. Maybe try a chemical stripper on the other stem. Scraping could eliminate or obscure lightly-stamped serial number digits. I believe you have an Old Town sponson canoe in CS grade with oak/ash trim and floor rack from sometime between the 1920s to the early 1940s.
     
  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    There appears to be at least one more digit to the left of the 7468 shown in your picture. The spacing of these serial number digits can be highly irregular. Can you strip that area to see what digits are hidden along with all of the numbers from the other end? This clearly isn't the Old Town or Carleton with number 7468 as others have mentioned. Let us know what you find. Thanks,

    Benson
     
  9. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    With diamond head seat and thwart bolts, it is likely a post 1920 build. Check the other stem for a clearer serial number.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Many thanks everyone for all the really great information ! The books and articles sound amazing too. I will work on investigating the serial #'s on both ends. Is their a safer stripper to use than the old methylene(sp?) chloride? So happy to hear that it looks readily restorable and am excited to learn more about restoration process . The family's grandfather was the long time owner who spent most of his life in the lakes region of northern New Jersey. Prior to that they also had a cabin somewhere in Maine. The canoe was then passed down to the granddaughter in the Midwest who was getting ready to move again and could not take it along. Years ago I had the opportunity to use some canvas and wood OT's and always remembered their classic looks and quietness in the water.
    Thanks Again
    Tom
     
  11. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    methylene chloride is probably the most effective stripper to use, but precautions should be taken to use it safely. See the discussion at
    http://forums.wcha.org/index.php?th...per-banned-for-consumer-use.16087/#post-81403

    The small amount of chemical needed to strip a stem end should not be a problem, but do provide for good ventilation. And wipe the softened paint/varnish off with a rag or a soft-bristle brush -- even light use of a metal scraper can eliminate a poorly stamped number.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    As suggested I used stripper with a brush and rag and found two more digits lurking under the paint. Both numbers match and are 127468-17. Hopefully this will be of help and I would appreciate seeing a copy of the build sheet if available. Thanks for the safety reminder, I used a clear face mask and was glad to have it on when working underneath it I managed to fling a glob of paste on what would have been my cheek.
    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Bingo, the Old Town canoe with serial number 127468 is a 17 foot long, CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, HW (Heavy Water) model with open spruce gunwales, a keel, and sponsons. It was built between April, 1939 and January, 1940. The original exterior paint color was fire red. It shipped on July 5th, 1940 to Long Island City, New York. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

    127468.jpg

    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/catalogs/old-town/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-wcha to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/store/membership to join.

    It is possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.

    Benson
     
  14. OP
    OP
    sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    That's it! The little bits of canvas left look like they could be fire red. Kind of interesting that it was started April '39 , finished Jan 40 and then shipped in July. Were these built for stock or generally to an order? I will be using it on small lakes mostly and have never paddled a canoe with sponsons before. Should they be kept on to keep it
    original? Really looking forward to getting it back in the water. Thanks Benson and everyone else for being so willing to share your knowledge and experience.
     
  15. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    You may restore with the sponsons or you may opt to leave them off....sponsons make the boat a bit wider, heavier, slower, less lively to paddle...but they make it less likely to dump...
    There's a raging debate about whether or not to replace them and many of us like to leave them off. You can search on this forum and read some of the comments related.
    If a canoe with historic value has sponsons it should be restored with them...an Old Town is not such a canoe unless it is a very old or special one. Your's is not that unicorn...but it will be a beautiful wood and canvas canoe that will be a joy to paddle with or without them.
    You decide if you want to replace them..if you choose to leave them off you may keep them in storage so that someone might put them back on next time the boat is restored...or just lose them...no one will probably care once they are gone.
     
  16. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Sander, You may find it useful to have a copy of Wooden Canoe issue 173, October 2012 in your library. Back issues can be ordered thru the store. In this issue I wrote about the restoration of OT127140, also a 17' CS grade, HW model, also built in 1939 and shipped in the spring of 1940.
    RE: Sponsons, they add significant weight. Do your restoration and then think about mounting then near the end, if you really want them. Tom McCloud
     
  17. OP
    OP
    sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks MGC and mccloud for thoughts on the sponsons and restoration. Interesting Tom that your restoration canoe was so close in specs and serial number as mine. I just ordered the back issues from the WCHA store and cant wait to learn more!
     
  18. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi, Sander and you are in for some good fun with your new boat. Regarding sponsons : I have restored two Old Towns , a 16 and a 17 footer with their original sponsons and they were not in the class of antique that I wanted in the collection. But they were as yours, clean and perfect for a well deserved resto. I decided to keep the 1928, 16 as original, with its floor rack and patented oar locks. Later the boat made its way to the Lake Tahoe area. The special folks who unzippered the custom Sunbrella cover were stunned at the beauty of it. Off she went and I later heard that the unveiling of the boat here in real life was an image they will never forget. It made the trip worth while ! NICE. So when I came across an Old Town 17 ca 1942 again in mahogany, I decided again , to save another as original, and unveiled it after the resto at a WCHA Assembly. We returned to the Grounds after a nice hike and found a card in the boat, saying it was SOLD, please. Later a fine woman ( and ACBS member ), revealed she did not really know much about canoes , " but I know beauty when I see it. Wait til my husband sees this !" I think the 5 yellow stars at the bow, on the glossy deep blue Epifanes hit a nerve. Off she went to Lake Hopatcong. So, as others say...." just sayin.....its your boat. " Have fun and don't be afraid to take her out just after iceout in that water and troll some streamers for salmon.
     
  19. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Canoes with sponsons often make great sailing canoes (though sailing is not their only use). See the picture of Benson Gray in his avatar above sailing his Old Town with sponsons.
     
  20. OP
    OP
    sander63*

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi dtd , thanks for your comments, sounds like you brought back those two boats to amazing condition, better than new I am sure. The new owners are lucky folks! Like most new things the
    more you learn the more you realize you don't know, but that is part of the fun.
     

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