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Old Town, S/N 16800

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by rzang09, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Old cane can last a good long time... I wouldn't re-cane seats unless they broke. I've had dining room chairs with cane over 100 years old, holding 200 pound men just fine.

    The old paint design could be under the current one (under the paint, I mean--- there's only one layer of canvas)... sometimes a little archeology can uncover old paint designs... but my guess is that the original canvas was removed. You can re-create the original design though.

    Long decks were an option on any of Old Town's models, and this is true of most of the old canoe companies. The customer could order whatever was on their mind, whether in the catalog or not. The teens and twenties were a time when long decked courting canoes were the height of canoe-fashion, and your grandmother's gift was certainly a fashionable one.

    I hope you find that middle thwart sitting where you imagine it might be!

  2. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    As far as restoration of your canoe goes, if you want someone else to do the work, there might be a name in this directory:

    Those who restore canoes also advertise in the WCHA journal "Wooden Canoe". Connecting with a local WCHA chapter can be helpful too... in every chapter, you'll find those who restore canoes.

    It's up to you how much or how little you want done. With most canoes, "value" isn't decreased by a careful restoration-- one that would be authentic to the canoe, that would take it back to original, or better.

    Some folks love the old patina and don't want the wood stripped and refinished.... but a canoe isn't an eighteenth century highboy, and value isn't lowered by removing old varnish. An antique canoe, like a Ford model T, can become more "valuable" if restored and made usable again--- with the exception of (for example) a very old Gerrish, where we can learn about early building techniques by leaving the canoe intact.

    Some folks prefer leaving the interior as-is, with the aged patina reflecting all who used the canoe over the years... imagining the hands that touched the wood, the bare feet on the floor, the paw-prints of family dogs now gone... well, it's up to you.

    It can be nice to be part of the restoration, if you want to be.... to find someone who'll take you into the shop, along with the canoe, and work on it with you. You wouldn't have to worry about having the right tools or where to find the right wood... but you'd have your hand in the restoration, which might feel good.

    I'm sure others here have thoughts and opinions-- these are just mine, and by no means are authoritative... and anyone who works on canoes would love to help with your project, however you visualize it.

  3. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Painted Stem Bands

    This likely doesn't apply to this canoe, but I have seen a few Old Town's in original condition with the paint job going right over the stem band. I certainly like the idea compared to trying to be neat around it!

    Here is an example of a Design No. 4. I have also seen it on a couple of dark green guides.

    Attached Files:

  4. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Makes sense not to interrupt a design that goes one side to the other with a piece of shiny metal.
  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Fitz – the stem band on that canoe with design 4 painted over the stem band is remarkable, but I offer for consideration a picture of the stem band of another design 4 recently on eBay (not a factory paint job), as well as a couple of other pictures of well-used and repainted canoes. Factory paint perhaps sticks better than most amateur paint jobs, and in any even, I would guess that the canoe you show gets exceptionally careful handling.

    The problem with painted stem bands -- a/k/a bang strips -- is that paint often does not stick to metal as well as to other surfaces, and stem bands, serving their protective function, do get banged. I have painted over the stem band of my OT (shown as bought in the first picture of the yellow OT) both because I wanted to cover the old paint – a somewhat different color -- and because it would have been very difficult to paint the stem without painting the band. However, I have had to touch up the paint on the stem bands a couple of times since to deal with nearly inevitable chipping.

    When I restore the canoe in a couple of years, the outside stem will be finished bright and the stem band, with all paint removed, will be left unfinished to develop a nice patina.

    Attached Files:

  6. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Paint and Stem Bands

    This topic probably deserves a thread of its own, and I think it is a worthwhile topic. I love to find those barns and sheds with those "fresh from the factory" canoes. By looking at the details, we have some benchmark to shoot for when finishing our canoes. There may be some debate about the canoe in my photo, but the story is that it saw very little use, and it looked that way to me.

    As it turns out, one of the dark green guides I was "remembering had painted stem bands", was finished bright, so for that I stand corrected. However, the two design No. 4 pics that Greg posted show a canoe currently on ebay and from the pics there you can see the stem bands were likely painted and the paint has chipped away from the face of the stem band. (The OT ad is confusing and I am left wondering who did the paint job, but it kinda looks like OT did it to me). Apparently, the build record does not record a factory No. 4 paint job.

    I think painted stem bands make some sense in a factory situation. Presumably, the canoes may have been completely finished before paint to avoid dings and messing up the paint job. Also, what better sealer in a problem area like stems than paint to ensure that the customer doesn't put his brand spanking new OT in the water and find a leak??!!

    I also think stem bands were considered as utilitarian hardware and painting it was a non-issue. Maybe only today with our fancy antique canoes do we worry about shiny brass trim.

    I personally would like to know more about this. Maybe only the fancy paint jobs continued over the stems, maybe not. I would be interested to see more original Old Town paint jobs. These discussions are great. They are the only way that we learn.

    Here is a photo of one of those pristine Old Towns (circa 1940). I took the pic to show what the canoe filler job looked like. Note you can make out a bit of the canvas weave.



    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  7. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    painted stem bands

    Fitz -- I agree that this is a topic of considerable interest for which we need more information. My assumption that the stem band on OT canoes were not painted is based primarily on my observation of the usual practice of contemporary builders like Rollin Thurlow, Jerry Stelmok, and others. The few times that I have seen a new OT wood and canvas canoe (at the OT factory store), I have not really paid attention to the finish of the stem band, and I can't claim an actual knowledge of practices on older canoes.

    I have no particular reason to think that OT did not paint stem bands at least some of the time, and I have no reason to doubt that the photo you posted is of an original OT design 4 paint job.

    But I am quite sure that the eBay OT that I posted pictures of does not have a factory paint job. I had some correspondence with the seller of that canoe (still listed) which did not clear of some of the confusion around the canoe – but the build record shows that it was painted green at the factory, and the seller insists that the person he bought from bought it new, ordering the design 4 paint job, from the store OT shipped the canoe to. But the story also is that the "original" purchase was not made until five years after OT shipped the canoe to the dealer. I speculate that the dealer painted the canoe for its customer before selling it, and it's anyone's guess as to whether it was a new canoe at that time. In any event, the eBay photos show triangles with inconsistent and irregular sizes, a star in a location unlike that seen on most design 4 canoes, and marks still present from masking or pencil guide lines that would not likely have been allowed out of the OT factory. In an email exchange about that canoe, Benson expressed to Kathy K a very strong opinion that it was not an OT paint job.

    All of which leaves open the question of how OT (and other classical builders) treated stem bands – paint or no paint -- and when and why that treatment might have varied.

    Your photo shows that stem bands can be successfully painted and maintained intact for a long time, and the design 4 does look very nice with the band covered by the design instead of interrupting it.

    Does anyone out there have any thoughts?
  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The use of paint on stem bands did vary because they were painted by hand. Individuals try different things from time to time for various reasons. There are even cases where just the middle of a full length stem band was painted as shown at on a Molitor that I purchased in 1982 from the factory.

    The version of the design number four on the canoe advertised at does not appear to be from the factory for many reasons. The mast, rudder assembly, leeboard thwart, sailing seat, and step aren't the usual style either. The motor mount, leeboards, and repair kit look original. The pictures don't show enough detail to determine much about the rest of the sailing rig. The price is still exceptionally optimistic so it is not likely that anyone will actually purchase it.


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