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Old Town steel hardware dates?

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by MGC, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    For a short period during WWII Old Town used steel tacks, steel diamond head bolts etc. I do not specifically recall the build dates of the steel tacked canoe I owned (1944?) . Does anyone know when the use of steel began and how long it lasted?
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I have not tracked this and it would not be easy to research since this information was not noted on the build records. My guess is that steel hardware was probably in use during the period when slat seats had replaced cane. The first Old Town canoe with slat seats that I have found was from 1944 and the last one was from 1946. Your mileage may vary... Let me know if you can get more accurate information to answer this question. Thanks,

  3. OP

    MGC Paddlephile

    Thanks Benson...that's as expected...
    I wonder if we could narrow it down here on the forum?
    Those of us that have worked on/owned and dated a steel nail Old Town might comment here and possibly narrow it down.
    I may still have the SN from the canoe that I once owned. You looked up the build sheet for that canoe and I'm sure that you have done many others.
    You are correct that that there is a correlation between steel nails and slat seats. The one that I had (and as I think about it, sold to Howie) had slat seats.
    There's a freshly restored 1944 in the classifieds....I wonder if it has steel hardware?
  4. MRoberge

    MRoberge New Member

    I just acquired 140873 built between October and December 1944. It has slat seats and steel tacks, but the diamond head bolts are brass. It came without canvas, keel or stem bands, so I have no idea what metal they would have used for the stem bands.
    MGC likes this.
  5. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Our 1943 Double End boat has steel tacks, serial number 137321. According to the build sheet it was planked on March 31, 1943 so at least on that day they were using steel tacks. When we restored it I added at least one new brass tack through every plank and rib even though the steel tacks appeared to be in decent condition. The rest of the hardware on the boat, bolts, painter rings, stem bands etc are brass and original to the boat. The seats are spruce planks, Double End boats did not have caned seats so there was no need to substitute slat seats for cane on this one. Pictures of "Stephanie Lynn" can be easily found using the search box above.
  6. OP

    MGC Paddlephile

    Outstanding....March 1943 becomes the earliest known dates for steel tacks and brass trim are still being used. If anyone has an earlier date that could push us back to the beginning of it. Now I suppose we need to come at it from the other side...a late 1942 build with brass?
    The one I owned used steel was pretty bizarre to see steel diamond headed bolts.
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    You may find that the mixture of brass and steel probably changed over time and varied by grade. Old Town was actively searching the entire country for suppliers who had stock left in their warehouses during this period and they occasionally succeeded. I know of two examples. The first is documented in the Kennebec records stored at the Maine State Museum archives. It contains some letters exchanged between Old Town and Kennebec at that time. Kennebec had been buying a variety of supplies from Old Town and requested a keg of canoe tacks. Old Town responded saying that they were down to their last half keg and wouldn't sell any more until they could find another keg.

    The other example is a story about how excited everyone at Old Town was to find a roll of canvas at a remote supplier after they had completely run out. They quickly used it up covering a batch of new canoes. A big dealer from New York state personally drove to Old Town with a large trailer to collect his order when they were finished. The canoes were all wrapped in the usual hay and burlap to protect them during the trip. The dealer's girlfriend flipped a cigarette out the window shortly after the return trip had begun and the entire trailer went up in flames. The crew at the factory were almost as angry as the dealer that day.

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
    Just1moredave, MGC and MRoberge like this.
  8. Just1moredave

    Just1moredave Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I have #140711 built between August and December 1944. Steel: tacks, rib end nails, stem bands, stem band screws, all the fasteners into the stem or deck. Brass: gunwale screws, keel screws, diamond head bolts, painter rings and their screws. I think the seats were slats but I only have parts of one slat seat.
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