17' Old Town

Mike Mooney

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I recently acquired what I believe to be an Old Town canoe with a serial number 73240. I'm very interested in any details about it before I start the restoration.

Thanks in advance
Hello Mike,

Old Town 73240 is a 17 foot AA (top) grade Charles River model canoe that was completed September--> December of 1922. It has red Western cedar planking, open mahogany gunwales, and mahogany decks, thwarts, and seat frames. Seats would be hand-caned. This canoe was fitted with a keel and a brass bang plate that extended the full length of the keel. It was also shipped with a floor rack. Original color was dark red. The canoe was shipped to Mt. Holly, NJ, on May 28, 1923 and would be considered a 1923 canoe, even though it was finished before the first of the year.

If this description doesn't match the canoe in front of you, be aware that several of the old canoe companies had 5-digit serial numbers and we can work at determining what you have. If this description matches your canoe, it sounds very nice and I hope it remains so-- or can soon be restored and used.

The scan of this record is attached below-- click on it to get a larger image. This scan and several hundred thousand others 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 http://www.wcha.org/ot_records/ if you want more details. I hope that you and anyone else reading this will join or renew membership in the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/join.php to renew.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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Its pretty hard to tell as its in desperate shape it has the diamond head screws and the correct shape deck for the time. However the brass keel is missing the floor rack is totally gone. A good portion of ribs appear to be cracked and will be replaced, the seats are not original and the gentleman before me had no idea how to use fiberglass or care for such an awesome boat. I hope to restore it back to its former glory.

Thanks for looking that up.

Hi Mike,

I've uploaded information on the Charles River model from the 1923 Old Town catalog, courtesy "The Complete Old Town Canoe Company Catalog Collection, 1901- 1993", available on CD from http://www.wcha.org/catalog/ and http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/cdrom.htm on the web.

In determining whether the record is the correct one for your canoe, consider whether the length and general lines of the canoe appear to match, if the original destination makes sense, and whether the wood species of the trim and style of deck are correct. Keels often need replacing, and it would be a shock if remnants of the original floor rack remained after over eighty years (some folks are lucky and find intact floor racks, which can be used as a template for re-creating others). If the glassing-job was a poor one, that's in your favor: the better the fiberglassing, the bigger the chore removing it.

Removal of fiberglass via heat gun is the most popular method:


(the guy in the video is the most popular fellow at my house...)

If you want to replace those replacement-seats with authentic reproductions, there's probably someone who can make you a template. Do you live near a local chapter of the WCHA?

We love seeing pictures of work-in-progress--- or before-n-after--- so keep in touch!



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I live in Toms River NJ so I believe the closest one would be in PA.

I will have to upload some pictures soon but my goal for the rest of this year is to strip the fiberglass and the varnish. Right now most of my free canoe time is spent constructing an 18' cedar strip canoe. We have most of the strips cut and now need to cove and beed them all, the strong back and the forms are all set and ready to go. So the old town will be an in between here and there project.

Thanks again