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Sponsons Sports not

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by thechief, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. thechief

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I know that this question boils down to personal preference I just wanted some expert opinions.I am restoring a 1940s OT 16" CW it came with factory sponsons I'm the 2nd owner. I live in South Jersey it won't see heavy use. I'm like the aspect of keeping it totally original. I'm at the point of making the decision. I just filled it yesterday. I'd like some input. How much weight would I eliminate by not putting the sponsons back on? Being an antiques dealer and a purist so to speak I can't decide. I already have a 1928 , 17' OT Otca fully restored so i have a good small lake canoe. HELP,any input greatly appreciated. thechief
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The catalog page at indicates that a 16 foot long HW without sponsons weighs 65 pounds and a 16 foot long sponson canoe weighs 95 pounds so the total difference will be about 30 pounds. It really is a personal choice. I decided to put the sponsons back on the 18 foot long Otca shown at because that is what my grandfather had chosen. It is well over a hundred pounds and my children do not like to help me move it. The lighter canoes in my garage get used more frequently. Good luck with your decision,

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  3. goldencub

    goldencub Carpenter

    Chief - I think you answered your own question: it came with sponsons, you like the aspect of keeping it original, and you're an antiques purist. Put 'em back on!! Don't worry about their weight, unless you plan to portage it somewhere, which you don't seem to be anticipating, or perhaps have a concern about putting it in a rack on top of a car all by yourself. If there will be two of you putting on top of a car, neither of you will notice the slight addition of sponson weight! In fact, if you can get an old 17' Otca up on the car rack all by yourself, I'll bet you'd have no trouble with a 16' sponson OT. Good luck! Al D
  4. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    I'll offer the a 40's OT it's not a rare antique..that's not to diminish what is.. a very well made wood and canvas canoe from a premier builder. At 16 feet the hull does not benefit from the addition of the sponsons..not only do they add weight, they also push the width of the canoe out just enough to interfere with your paddles. From a resale perspective, 16 foot canoes tend to be very desirable because they are an easy to use size. When you add sponsons it makes it a much harder canoe to sell.... Most folks can hoist a 16 footer..until you add sponsons to it. Sponsons turn the canoe into a pond paddler and restrict it from being a canoe that you would use on a weekend camping trip and certainly make a portage an undesirable encounter.
    It it were mine and if it did not have sentimental value, I would leave the sponsons off and store them in the rafters...that's a much more interesting canoe without them.
    That said, it's yours to restore as you want...paint color, keel or no's yours to decide..
  5. OP

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks im loving this forum your a bunch of great guys gals too! I suppose . 2 out of 3, thank you that's the way I was leaning, as a purists perspective. I'm 61 the value isn't important to me plus chances of me porting it,are slim. I saw a photo of a canoe not sure of its maker it had sponsons painted marron it looked pretty cool. With the extra added and finished gunnels. Who knows If I still have functioning hands i might seek out a classic to restore ,a short one. That's what I've always wanted 16' isn't short in my older eyes. I'd like something I can pick up with out hurting something,me or the canoe . Could be hard to find though. TU
  6. OP

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Benson Your GFs Otca is beautiful. The building records show my 17' Otca was painted like that when it left OT. Is locating and installing a sailing rig possible? Thanks Hank
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, this is a common addition. There are some listed at and on eBay. I found that you can often buy an old canoe with most of a sail rig and then resell the canoe alone for nearly the same price as the whole package. However, it is unusual to find a complete sailing package with one canoe so you typically have to buy several to get everything that you need. Good luck,

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  8. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Hello Hank - Based upon everything you've said, I'll add another opinion to leave the sponsons on. I appreciate that some owners prefer their canoes without sponsons, and if I had only one canoe it would be a tough decision. But like you I have more than one, so I appreciate having one that while not as sleek looking as a non-sponson canoe, has an unusual look and its original construction is intact. Plus for me, if I removed sponsons, every time I would see those screw holes in the ribs that serve no purpose, I'd know something's missing. We have a 16' HW with sponsons and we use it. Yes it's heavy but my wife and I can move it (with effort) without a trailer. This was my first sponson canoe and when I got it I thought that this tubby, heavy canoe would be a slug on the water, but it's surprisingly agile and easy to paddle. And when it's on the water, the usual "What a beautiful canoe" conversations from wooden canoe admirers are even more excited because of the sponsons - something most admirers haven't seen before.

    As is often said on these forums, it's your canoe and you can do with it as you please. The good thing about sponsons is that you can always take them off or put them back on at a later time... but realize that sponsons aren't very robust when off the canoe, so they can easily be damaged in storage. For what it's worth, I've had the choice and every time I've restored a sponson canoe, I've put them back on. But that's just me...

  9. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    0BA3B7DC-9FBF-4618-A4E5-5691163B00E8.jpeg 8BE6A378-7CE4-40EF-9C94-053071BA6A83.jpeg 5DF0C4D5-0B7C-4EE5-B932-1FC279887851.jpeg Here is a 16’er with sponsons...
  10. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Rotten Wood Hoarder

    So here is my 1 cent,
    I think sponsons are ugly and have no place on a canoe, and I would only put them back on if the canoe in question was historic or
    significant for some reason.
    That said, a 16 ft HW is about the most common canoe there is, I would leave off both the sponsons and the keel.

    But as has been said, it's yours, do what you want to it and make it so you will be proud to paddle it.

    MGC likes this.
  11. OP

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Beautiful Dave, they way you painted it almost make the sponsons blend in. Handsome through and through. I was thinking marron for mine the natural spruce and interior accent each other.
  12. OP

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Dan, thanks I understand completely both opinions of my question. I'm having a delema. It sure would be easier to skip the keel and the sponsons. Fortunately I'm under no time frame. I think I'm still leaning to putting it all back on. Resaleis not a factor its not a money making project for sure. I have the 28 Otca also. I'm leaning to the original state. Definitely not the original dark green.
  13. OP

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Michael, thanks, I'm am leaning towards your opinion. The idea of the canoe becoming sleeker and LIGHTER are tempting but if I really want a light canoe ill seek a 15 footer. Good lord willing, I've e got the bug. If my hands hold out im game for restoring another maybe a true classic.
  14. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  15. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    It seems to me that members of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association should not ignore the historical, collectible, antique, oddity, curiosity, rarity, novelty, traditional value of an unusual canoe such as a sponson canoe.

    Auto enthusiasts do not keep Model T Fords or Stanley Steamers because they are good cars for highway travel; airplane buffs don’t keep Stearmans or Bonanzas or Otters because they are the best way to fly cross-country. Neither should we spurn an unusual or the sometimes impractical canoe because it is not an ordinary or all-purpose craft -- it should be valued precisely because of its unique nature.

    As noted above, a 16’ HW is about the most common canoe there is. Why turn an uncommon canoe into just another one of “the most common canoe there is’? Uncommon canoes -- 9’ Sairy Gamps, 20’ Grand Lakers, 32’ War Canoes -- have a value and an interest all their own, in large part because they are uncommon.

    And as a further matter, discussions of sponsons in these forums tend to ignore the actual purpose of sponsons -- safety.

    Most members of the WCHA are at least moderately skilled paddlers who know how to swim, who are comfortable with the tender nature of canoes, and are comfortable both on the water and in the water. We don’t worry much about going out in a small, narrow tippy boat. As a result, the designed utility of sponsons is given short shrift.

    But Sue Audette notes in her history, “In an age when many people could not swim, sponsons were very reassuring and customer response was positive.” Sponsons do make a canoe very difficult to capsize -- early Old Town catalogs stated: “A sponson Canoe is very hard to upset. It is particularly fitted for all who wish a paddling, rowing, and sailing canoe combined.” Later catalogs pictured three or more people sitting on the gunwale of a sponson canoe without swamping it. The Old Town Canoe Company: Our First Hundred Years, p. 19

    Sponsons today still give stability to a canoe, and there are still people who are nervous in boats, and people who are not swimmers. So if your social circles might include such a person (and you might not know who they are -- people tend not to broadcast the things that make them nervous), a sponson canoe might still be actually practical. I’m not a sailor, so I don’t know if they are actually useful on a canoe that is sailed -- Benson could perhaps speak to that.
  16. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Well said Greg
  17. OP

    thechief Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I agree,
    I'm just another one of those guys you refer to I'm fine with that. 1 thing different is as lover of folk art, history and human ingenuity I can appreciate the tradition and the hand work that goes with wooden boat building. From about 1940 on construction of common hand made items has been in decline. Its a great thing keeping the old traditions alive. Common or not to me its more than that . Who knows maybe I'll graduate into a Indian Girl or some other less common craft. I'd imagine most of you serious guys that have spent a great portion of their life involved in wood boats didn't start out in one of the rarities. I've made my mind up I'm going to make it what it started out life being. Value is irrelevant it's all I mention above. If the day comes I'll have a little bit of knowledge about what to do. Thanks for all the feedback wherever it comes from, it all added up and made my desion easy.

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