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Researching my family's Old Town - cannot find in catalogs? 224541

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by areising, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. areising

    areising New Member

    Hello WCHA community,

    I just received my copy of the Old Town catalogs on the USB flash drive. What a collection!

    From the HIN plate, ours looks like a 1979 model, in the catalog it resembles a Ranger. But our finish appears to be made of wood, maybe it is clear fiberglass?

    The serial # on the deck plate is 224541.
    The HIN is XTC 24541 M79F

    The HIN seems like it might have been stamped wrong. Or maybe this is conterfeit, wouldn't that be a story! You can see in the photos the stamping on the plate is strange, it has a 2 and faint 4. So this hull # does not match the plate on the deck, exactly.

    I am confused whether we have a wood canoe or not. Ours does not resemble the "wood" canoes in the catalogs, because it has no ribs. It does resemble the build it yourself model "canoe-in-a-box" in the 1980 catalog.

    See photos below. I would appreciate any information you can offer - thank you!

  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome and congratulations, the Old Town canoe with serial number 224541 and hull identification number XTC24521M79F is a 17 foot long wood and fiberglass strip Canoe-in-a-Box model that was competed at the factory for a show in 1979. It shipped on July 23rd, 1980 to Downers Grove, Illinois. A scan showing this build record can be found below.

    This scan and several hundred thousand more 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 if you want more details. I hope that you will donate, join, or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to donate or join.

    It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. More information about this canoe is available on the top of page nine in the 1980 catalog. The HIN is correct. The regulations described at limit a HIN to 12 digits which only leaves five digits for the serial number. Old Town serial numbers first exceeded five digits in 1928 so they simply removed the most significant digit for the HIN. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.


  3. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Yes, it appears to be one of the "Canoe in a Box" models. At one point Old Town decided to attempt to jump on the wood strip/fiberglass bandwagon by offering a stripper kit. There were a couple of them which would show up at trade shows in the Old Town booth for a short while. They were a rather strange combination of a not particularly well built or well finished stripper hull and some typical pre-finished Old Town trim parts, which for some reason always looked like they had been stuck on the wrong canoe. I don't know about all of them (or how many of them actually got sold and built) but the first ones we saw had not even been sanded smooth on the outside, so the surface was pretty lumpy. I kind of wonder if this was originally one of the factory demos, as I can't imagine a customer building one and then after all that work pop-riveting that serial number plate onto it. I could be wrong, but as far as I know, the company never tried to retail finished strippers.

    With all that flaking varnish and weathering it's difficult to say what sort of condition the hull is in, but be aware that the fiberglass outer and inner skins of strippers are prone to UV damage if not protected, so if you intend to keep it and use it, it is in need of some serious maintenance.

    edit: Oops, Benson beat me to it.
  4. OP

    areising New Member

    Benson and Todd - thank you very much for this information!
    I have more photos of the hull condition on OneDrive, but am seeing that I cannot post links until I have more posts. The canoe has not been well maintained and I came to WCHA in search of advice on the restoration. We had been assuming a full restore would be needed, and in parallel I am planning out a proper storage solution so it can be protected during the in-season months. We use it regularly and plan to continue after the restoration.

    I am entirely new to wooden canoes and fairly new to woodworking. I am exploring which aspects to outsource to a professional.
    I purchased the Jerry Stelmock book, but I'm understanding that the construction of this canoe isn't "traditional."

    Is there anything I should be aware of as far as differences? Or does anyone have more general recommendations about how to approach this restoration?

    Thanks again, what a great community!
  5. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Step #1 would be to buy a good book on wood strip/fiberglass canoe building. The best is "Canoecraft" by Ted Moores. You can't even begin to fix the boat until you understand how it was built, and in many ways it is a very different construction from that of a rib and plank wooden canoe. In a lot of cases, old strippers which have been allowed to weather badly simply aren't worth the trouble to try to restore as it becomes more work and more difficult work than just building a new one (and also almost never ends up looking very good). It's hard to tell from the photos whether or not you have any fiberglass delamination going on. That would be an issue that will kill the canoe or make it not worth trying to repair.

    You have some serious issues to fix. Old, deteriorated or rotten wooden trim (gunwales, decks, seats, etc.) is usually easier to just replace with new sound wood. The hull is a different story and if you intend to fix it, you are going to need to learn how to do fiberglass repairs on strip canoes. Books like Canoecraft will teach you this, so again, step #1 is studying the proper texts and learning what you are looking for. There are also some good stripper canoe building videos on YouTube.

    An example: In your #3 photo above you can see that the fiberglass layers on the stem have been worn through all the way down to bare wood. Water is going to soak into the core, discolor the wood and eventually delaminate the fiberglass in that area and allow the wood to rot. This boat should not be put back into the water until things like this have been properly fixed.
  6. OP

    areising New Member

    Thanks so much Todd. I am glad you could see the photos.

    I was reading all about wood construction with canvasing, and will re-orient to research strip fiberglass construction, and get a copy of Canoecraft!

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