1924 Torpedo End Old Town on eBay

Take a deep breath...

Interesting canoe. I'm in the process of writing an article on C.J. Molitor, and appreciate whenever the Molitor-name comes up. In the case of this particular canoe, it's the seller who is calling it a Molitor, because the canoe's torpedo ends (it's a T.E. or "torpedo end" model, according to the build record) are similar to the torpedo ends on the Molitor model Old Town began making in the '60s, which they may have patterned after a Charles River canoe brought in for repairs, which was reminiscent of Old Town's Molitor model made during the '20s, which was a canoe-type favored by C.J. Molitor for his livery on Belle Isle in Detroit, that was formerly supplied by B.N. Morris. *whew*

I'd call the eBay canoe a "torpedo end" model... and leave it at that. To my mind, there's "an original Old Town Molitor", which is an 18 foot canoe with 36 inch bow deck and 24 inch stern deck, which was originally built to C.J. Molitor's specifications after the Morris factory burned. And there's a "modern Old town Molitor", which is a 17 foot canoe with a flower-petal deck.

The eBay torpedo-ender has the traditional Old Town short deck style. It seems to me that the degree of recurve is greater than what we see on the Molitor of the '20s, but that's only my impression from the pictures.

Interesting canoe.
This canoe has generated more electronic mail for me than any other in recent history. The seller is a member of the WCHA who attended the Assembly last summer and has owned it since 1986 as shown on the back side of the build record attached below. At least one of the bidders is also a member of the WCHA. I believe that both the seller and this bidder have occasionally posted messages in these forums.

Some other TE model build records are attached below. The messages at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=2069 and http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=1899 also discuss this model. It is not clear what distinguished the Molitor model from the Torpedo Ended model other than the long and asymmetric decks as Kathy mentioned. Old Town was shipping both of them at the same time during the early 1920s. My guess is that the TE had a more elongated curve to the stem profile but it is hard to tell from these pictures. There are some similar pictures of a Molitor that I once owned at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=4175 for comparison.

I have no financial interest in this auction and will not be bidding. Good luck to all,



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Gil Cramer said:
It could have been that just as the early Old Town molitors were made by Morris, this Old Town was possibly made by another builder. It would make sense for production purposes not to have OTCA builders do special orders.

The first Molitors do appear to have built by Morris but they had no connection to Old Town at that point. It was only well after the Morris factory burned in January of 1920 that there are any records of the Molitor model being built at Old Town. Morris, Kennebec, and other builders appear to have subcontracted with each other but there is no evidence that any boat with a standard Old Town serial number was ever built outside of the factory before the 1980s. The story on page 52 of Sue Audette's book shows that subcontractors were not even used to expand the factory buildings after 1910. It was not ususual to have employees that would plank canoes in non-standard ways but special orders were usually done in house as far as I know.

Hi Gill,

Well, I have traded mesages with Sue on this topic and she isn't sure either so we may never get a definitive answer. Can you provide the serial number of this Molitor to see if the build record can offer any additional information? Thanks,

I have attached several build records for Molitors that shipped in 1922 including three that went to South Akron, Ohio. Several of them have unusual notes but nothing to indicate that they might have been built outside the factory.



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I would like to add a picture of my 1922 Molitor that has short decks, (sorry no pic of the deck). The build record may hold the record for number or repairs done by Old Town. The second pic is the back of the build record.

As Gil mentioned, the planking pattern is definitely not the usual Old Town construction method, but as Gil mention how the tips of the plank come to a point. You can only see a little bit of it, but it's there.

Hope it warms up someday.



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Paul Miller said:
The build record may hold the record for number or repairs done by Old Town.

I hate to disappoint you but serial number 109409 currently holds the record for repairs from 1931 to 1966 as shown below. This was a special sailing dinghy that was originally designed by and built for John Alden. It is also shown in the background of the image at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=6208&d=1222825989 and was his design number 512.



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Nailed outwales

The seller sent me several photos of the damaged areas. Both inwales are broken through the bolt holes that held the seats. I asked him to check how the outwales were attached. He said that they were nailed from the inside of the inwale into the outwale in the manner Gil described earlier. I do not intend to bid on this canoe but if someone needs me to pick it up and store it in my barn for a while I might be convinced to do so. It is located about 1.5 hours south. I really don't have time to go look at it before the auction ends. Good luck to those who do bid.

Jim C.
Well, Benson, eBay is usually attractive and active on a regional basis when items, such as these canoes in question, are too large to ship at a reasonable price. Then again, it depends on how well the seller presented the item and, perhaps more importantly, how educated the bidders are. One never knows with eBay auctions. I've seen true gems in the rough go very cheaply, and those that should have gone cheaply sold for a lot more. One very good example is the auction that just closed for the 1913 HW in Mequon. One must be careful when using and eBay auction as a price example - there's a fair amount of bidders out there with fat wallets and slim knowledge. :D