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Old Town hull identifcation

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

  1. OP

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Greg, I never noticed that in Bensons picture, cool! Someone was asking me if my HW was a rounded or flat bottomed canoe as sometimes they could be either? To me it looks roundish not dead flat like most aluminum canoes. Also looking at the sponson area more closely it seems originally the hull was canvassed and painted and then the sponsons added after that?

    Attached Files:

  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The picture at shows the sponsons better. My grandfather ordered this canoe with sponsons so I felt that they should go back on when it was restored. The messages at have some more pictures of it and additional discussion about sponsons.

    The HW model is generally considered a round bottomed canoe but the difference can be subtle as shown in the illustration at from a 1920s catalog. The other issue is that the hull shape of a wooden canoe usually changes over time. The differences can be especially radical if it was not stored properly. What you see now is probably not how it left the factory.

    Yes, sponsons are usually added after the canoe has been canvassed and filled. Each sponson must be canvassed individually before they are installed so it can be a lot of additional work. Good luck with your decision,

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  3. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Again, Sander....I referenced the Thurlow and Stelmok book see recanvasing sponsons. The process is simple and if you are patient and fussy here and there , they will come out very well. I did do them on the boat after the hull was canvased. Be fussy here : Removing the ears at both ends. Mark from whence they came. / Be patient getting them off. Fasteners may be hard to find. / spend time getting sponson wood well fared and refastened to the " D" s Fill any divits in the strip surfaces , esp on the top. These are areas that will be seen at first glance when you are done and you won't be happy. / Be fussy when you refit the ears and when you pull the canvas to cover them. Hiding the lap and fold at the ends will go easily if you are patient. / Don't forget the seam compound in the bottom of the sponson. / Get a clean ,thin, smooth taper at the end of the ears and they will blend with the hull nicely. If you use a material there to soften the transition it may show later with a crack. . Be careful.
    I assume you saw Benson's sailer. It is a WOW up close. A sponson canoe is incredibly safe under sail, in cold water, with young aboard, rough water and a tiny outboard will get you down that 20 mile lake in no time. Have fun ! Dave
    Shari Gnolek likes this.
  4. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    It's god to see some people supporting sponsons. There may be many people who remove them, but then there are also many people who leave them on. The issues are real - sponsons add weight and bulk, but I'm with Dave - it's not that difficult to restore a canoe with sponsons. It takes extra time and reasonable care in the details, but the process is straightforward and the rest of your restoration should involve similar care anyway. But as was already said, the choice is always yours what to do with your own canoe. An Old Town from this era isn't particularly rare among wood-canvas canoes, but how many Old Town HWs with sponsons have you personally seen? They're not everywhere, and this one is yours to do with as you wish. If this were my only one and I weren't dead-set trips involving portages, I'd keep the sponsons just because that's the way it was built. If I were to have more than one wooden canoe (they can be addictive...), I'd want my next one to be one built without sponsons - best of both worlds!
    Shari Gnolek likes this.
  5. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Is it possible to build it back without the sponsons, keep them stored and add them back at a later date?
  6. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, my grandfather's canoe shown in my avatar was being converted to a solo canoe without sponsons when I purchased it. Half ribs and a middle seat had been added along with an unusual deck coaming among other changes. The former owner had saved the sponsons, fortunately. I removed the half ribs and the middle seat. The sponsons and original style coaming were put back on during the restoration.

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  7. OP

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Benson, Dave and Michael thanks again for all the advice . My mind is racing and I have images of some possible paint schemes including the hull one color and the sponsons contrasting. Hopefully the floor wasn't painted because the varnish was gone and dirt ground in. Putting the cart before the horse I know! Just ordered Thurlow and Stelmok book from the WCHA store so hopefully I won't have to ask so many questions!
  8. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Tom.......looking at your pics, it seems there is easy separation of the paint from the surface below. I would bet you will have an easy time with the stripping. I have become a believer in using a power washer for the final clean-up. Of course you need to be careful and reasonable using it. The key is an adjustable nozzle , distance from the hull and patience with a good measure of FOCUS. My washer is only 11oo psi and does draw from the hot water side in the garage. Have fun. Dave
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Tom --

    I would encourage you to be inventive and creative. There are, of course, many great traditional designs and colors -- see and for Old Town’s traditional, and not so traditional designs. Nothing wrong with plain vanilla, of course, but I enjoy the unusual -- the creative (which does not rule out the traditional), the idiosyncratic, variations on a theme -- a random sample:

    traditional creative
    ssm cr 100_5492.jpg

    sm tiger rag.jpg ss cr 100_2621.JPG ss cr 100_2620.JPG ssm 100_0955.JPG ss 100_5718.JPG

    sm 100_9311.jpg red green.jpg

    I've been tempted to try the checkerboard, but so far sanity has prevailed:
    Traditional theme -- and two variations
    sm cr triangle bows2.jpg

    So let your mind race -- and don't be timid when you settle on a design.

  10. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Tom...Greg has it right as you can see, and it was the case when some of these boats were ordered from the builder. I consider the ultimate expression of the privilege to be The Stelmok centennial Canoe. And then there is gold leaf in fashion in the Day. The possibilities are essentially endless. But take your time with design, colors bouncing off each other, how the boat will be used. Bear in mind that the sponsons on a 17 footer have considerable presence and can easily take center stage visually. You are in the art world now and it can be a very fun experience.
    I am attaching a pic of a Kingsbury courting canoe that shows nicely in any light. I tinted the white with some of the hull color and in real life it appears opalescent. The trick was to get the add correct with some sampling. The gold is another story. Have fun. Dave
  11. OP

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, I am completely blown away by these beautiful boats!!! I can only try and imagine the work involved. Thanks for sending all pictures, really opens your mind especially when you have only seen hunter green or blond canoes. Were those amazing Old Town designs available to order or specials? On a You Tube video there is a nice 17 HW with sponsons shown with blond rails which I thought was very nice too. It also had an outside stem which looked attractive and practical. Was that an option? Could be added later?
    I am going to do most of the work myself so have a lot things to get started on ( decent saw horses, sling supports, canvas clamps etc.) will have lots of time to dream about the final finish designs. Might be nice though to somehow incorporate the original "fire red " color as shown on the build sheet.
    Thanks again everyone!
  12. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    If you go to the WCHA store, then to the "Special Publications" section you will find the Old Town color chart. If you post one of these on your shop wall you can study the designs that OT offered for the next several months. Just about any color, design or inscription could be ordered for a few bucks more.
  13. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    The Old Town designs were special order -- and Old Town would also do custom designs as well on special order.

    Outside stems were an option to be ordered (except they were standard on the Ideal model). They are both attractive and practical -- they do provide an element of protection to the stems. They can't really be added to a canoe built without them -- the inside stem needs to be built wider than standard to provide a base wide enough to fasten the outside stem to.

    Some of Old Town's color cards are around (Benson has some), but they are old, often are faded, and so are not reliable indicators of what the colors originally were. So pick a red that you like and that fits with any other colors you use, and go to it. Sometimes a bit of original paint is found under a gunwale, if the canvas is original -- unlikely on your boat.

    The time involved in a simple design (like the yellow canoe with triangles above) need not be great. When I got our OT 50 Pound canoe, it needed painting, so I experimented with a triangular design, based loosely on Old Town's design no. 4. Two years later, I changed the design a bit, still triangles, but a little less busy. Note the painted outside stem -- it was painted when I got the canoe -- the paint is now stripped, and the stems will be finished bright when re-installed on the canoe (in the process of being restore
    sss 100_6451.JPG
    sss 102_0001.JPG

    Other designs, though, call for the work of an artist -- some builders are artists, like Jerry Stelmok (one of his Millenium canoes below), some owners are artists, and some folks hire such work out -- see the owl below.
    ss millenium 2.jpg

    sssm 100_0767.JPG

    Outside stems are often finished bright, sometimes painted over. The yellow stems of my canoe above were painted when I got the canoe -- I have stripped the paint and will be finishing them bright when I complete the restoration; they are ash, and should look good bright, though probably not as good as the mahogany ones on the 1922 Ideal:
    sss 100_3490 cr.JPG

    Playing with the appearance of a canoe is, for me, one of the ways to enjoy a canoe.
  14. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Greg.....thanks for the terrific posts....esp. Jerry's Millennium which is 10 times as nice as I had indicated with my OOPS ! The image is off the charts, for sure. Dave
  15. OP

    sander63* Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Greg, as Dave mentioned thanks for the great posts and pictures, they are an inspiration for sure. The outside side stem does appeal to my eye, especially the blond and mahogany variations . Maybe when I get the sponsons off there might be some original color left to go by and I like the idea of being able to ad to the design after you have lived with it for a bit.
    Thanks Again
  16. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    The topic has turned away from sponson canoes and paint but as long as we are off in the weeds I'll go on record saying that the work that Jerry did on his special edition canoes demonstrates extraordinary talent, skill and artistry. They are in a league of their own. I'm happy to get a solid color on a boat without ripples and orange peel....I can't even imagine the patience and craftsmanship required to execute the special designs as he has done.
  17. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  18. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    63EFC45D-353A-4D0A-B422-B355266FDF65.jpeg Sponsons......
  19. crosscuts

    crosscuts LOVES Wooden Canoes

    P10100208.JPG P10101001.JPG P10101001.JPG What happens when you give the artist free reign. Crosscuts
  20. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes whet a captivating event with more to see than at a first glance WOW. What is that surface within the red lines....very textural and interesting ? Did you do all the artwork ? And at first I thought you laminated a keel....but not so, right if one looks closely ? Dave

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