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Old Town Penobscot hull identification number help

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by oakvan2, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. oakvan2

    oakvan2 New Member

    Hi. I recently acquired (for free) a blue, 16' 1" OT Penobscot with HIN #XTC96417H788. It's been under a bridge next to a stream for many years and the thwarts, yoke and and cane seats were rotten (all the wood was recently removed), but the vinyl gunwales and plastic decks are fine. The hull looks good; it was hardly ever used (I know the owner). I know some of the Penobscot's were Royalex and others were a poly material; I'm wondering what this one is.

    The outside looks like it will clean up easily, but the inside sat with water in it for years, and it's pretty dirty. If anyone knows the safest cleaning product for the material that will get rid of the stains, I'd love to know.

    Thanks for your help!

    Attached Files:

  2. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    That one is Royalex.
    The 164 material boats are not desirable (can you say junk?) but the Royalex Penobscot' have a following.
    Mine is my "beater". It goes where a canoe shouldn't and unlike all of our other canoes it has no pretensions about where it wants to be stored. It sits outside by the shed year round, always ready to go.
    You may try cleaning it with TSP and a pressure washer....
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome, I'm sad to report that the scanned Old Town records stop just over 250,000 in 1984 so no one here can provide more detailed information for this canoe with serial number 296417. Your hull identification number indicates that it shipped in 1988. The information at may help you decode this. This canoe is made of Oltonar / Royalex / ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic as MGC mentioned. The page describing it from the 1988 catalog is attached below. More information like this is available from in the scanned collection. I have always just used water and a sponge to clean canoes like this. Armor All can help make it look less dull once you get it cleaned up. Good luck,


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  4. Shari Gnolek

    Shari Gnolek Have dog, will paddle

    I just finished reading The Old Town Canoe Company: Our First One Hundred Years. The book describes how the prototype for the first production run of Royalex (1973 Tripper model) was tested which included sending it bouncing from rock to rock through Class III rapids, filling it with water and allowing it to be wrapped around a concrete bridge embankment, and throwing it 35 feet off the top of the Old Town Canoe Factory. Seems like Royalex has its roots in being able to take a beating.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
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  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

  6. OP

    oakvan2 New Member

    Thanks to everyone for all of the great information, catalogue screenshots, etc.! Much appreciated. I'm definitely going to put this boat back in the water.

  7. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    In addition to the Penobscot 17 I own, I also have a 16 foot Camper living here. It belongs to my son. It once belonged to a college outing club from whom it was was stolen. The folks that stole it abandoned it and allowed it to drift downriver where it eventually got jammed into the turbine of a small power dam. When the canoe was extracted the damage looked like it was beyond repair. The bow of the hull was crushed and cut through on one side. The decks and gunnels were also damaged. The canoe was replaced by the insurance company and eventually found it's way to me. I replaced the deck, gunnels and made an horribly ugly repair to the cut. The shape more or less returned to normal. We've been using it for the last 40 years without any problems. It's never been covered.... I did add Kevlar stem guards to (all of my Royalex boats) it.

    I also owned an Old Town Royalex I think about it, that was also stolen once but it never got stuck in a dam. It got stuck on a rock in the St. Regis river. A particularly inept paddler (me) dumped it while running spring thaw rapids. I managed to get swept up against a massive boulder midstream and as the current pushed on the canoe it wrapped itself around the rock. I managed to get out just as it collapsed from the water pressure. It was unable to remove it so I left it there and found my way to the road and then home. The next day 4 of us returned and with considerable effort somehow got it off the rock and out of the river. The cowling was damaged but the hull popped right back to shape.
    Royalex (Oltonar) was incredible material! Old Town really had a winner. It's a shame it is no longer made.
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  8. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The outer and inner skins of Royalex (Oltonar) canoes are vinyl. In addition to adding color and some protection to the ABS layers on either side of the foam core, the vinyl protects the ABS from UV deterioration. Typical automobile products for use protecting vinyl can be used to help restore it once cleaned. If you are careful and don't rush it, you can remove a lot of dents and creases using a heat gun. Heating makes the foam core expand in spots where it has been compressed during the damage. Even sticking it out in the yard on sawhorses during a hot and sunny summer day can cause some damage to disappear. A Penobscot should have an aluminum extrusion inside the gunwales as a stiffener, so don't be surprised if you're ever drilling holes in the gunwales for seats, thwarts, etc. and strike aluminum. As Royalex boats go, the Penobscot has always been one of the sleekest and fastest models available.
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  9. OP

    oakvan2 New Member

    Thanks Todd, it's good to know it's vinyl, which explains why Benson said Armor All was safe. I think I'll pressure wash it as MGC suggested, to cut through the outer layer of grime. I was a little worried, but hearing that Royalex is apparently super durable puts my mind at ease.

    MGC, those are great stories! I grew up on a lake in an area with lots of homes nearby. We had a couple of boats, but not too many others did. One day, someone stole our red, 17+ foot aluminum bomber. About a week later we saw the boat on the lake, painted black! My brother and I sprang into action, ran to both sides of the lake, and started calling them to come ashore. After paddling a half a mile trying to get away they made a dash for the shore, and started dragging the beast up a steep hill. I guess their brief tenure with the canoe hadn't taught them how heavy it was, and they soon gave up and ran off. We painted it red again and continued to use it for years.

    It's been years since I've done any real paddling but I'm excited to get back into it, and to fix up this boat. So I need seats, a thwart, a yoke and some carrying handles and all the hardware. The Penobscot description Benson posted says the boat had a 34" width. Does that mean I buy a 34" yoke, or were the gunwales included in that measurement? Also, it looks like Old Town sells all the parts. Is that the best source?

    Thanks again for all the help.
  10. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    I'll hold my story about putting a hatchet through an aluminum canoe in reserve...I'm not a big fan of aluminum...but that was not the reason.

    For canoe bits there are quite a few sources of inexpensive options. My son used seats from these folks for his Camper.
    The seats and thwarts come long, you cut them to fit. It's pretty easy to eyeball the lines to fit even if you are not sure of the exact original dimensions.
    Webbed weave seats are a matter of preference...they are lower maintenance but I don't like the way they grip your rear when you are sitting on them. I like the way you can slide around on cane to adjust your trim or plant a paddle in a hurry.
    303 is the sort of de-facto standard for the hull...
    I've used it once on mine..and I have used Armor All and a very fine scouring pad to brighten it up....twice perhaps, in 35 or so years. It's my beater...what can I say.
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  11. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The center thwart will need to be trimmed and parts are available from a variety of sources as MGC mentioned. The details of construction that Todd mentioned are illustrated and described in the catalog page below. Uniroyal's first experiments with this material were not very successful due to a lack of the exterior vinyl covering among other reasons. See for more details about these. Have fun,


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  12. OP

    oakvan2 New Member

    MGC, thanks for the links and helpful information. I'd love to hear the axe story sometime. I can't see paddling an aluminum canoe today given all the other options, but I sure loved it back in the day. My mom and I used to paddle our big aluminum boat on the creeks and rivers in Virginia. It seemed indestructible.

    Benson, thanks again for the information about Royalex. A week ago I had never heard of it!
  13. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    Here's what a Royalex hull looks like after it jams a power dam and a few truly ugly repairs....
    That really is fiberglass covering the holes that the scouts managed to wear through the bottom of the hull. For many years a local scout troop used the canoe. It suffered for it. If you don't have Kevlar wear pads on yours you might want to think about adding them.
    The hatchet story....still being held in reserve....

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