1929 keel/stem details


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am finishing up a 1929 OLD TOWN HW sponson model. I know it had a keel because of the countersinks visible on the inside. But how big is the keel supposed to be? How does it taper & where does it end? How does it intersect with the brass stem band?

Any help or pictures would be appreciated!

Thanks, Doug

The keel runs from where the stem bend forms into the bottom minus a couple of inches. The keel is fashioned from a piece of white oak or ash that measures 3/4" wide at the base, narrows to 1/2" at the top and the height is 7/8". The base (3/4") which screws to the bottom is slightly hollowed to help hold the bedding compound to make it water tight.

Here are a couple of pic's that may help...it was so bloody cold in the barn I couldn't hold the camera still...if you cannot figure it out, please let us know or maybe some else has a better pic from a heated shop! The pic's show how the stem band and keel join, the taper in each end of the keel so you don't snag on objects in the water and the general shape.

Best of luck in your restoration,

Ric Altfather


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keel/stem band

Thanks! I think I am starting to get the picture. In your reply, by "top" did you mean the ends? Also, I was thinking I should spar varnish the keel, but maybe that is not right? Should the keel be painted to match the hull? At the end of the brass stem band, does it just stop, or is it sunken into the keel to level it all out? And now I am thinking, when I put on the brass, how do I waterproof that?

Thanks again, I really appreciate everyone's help.

By "top" I meant the top part as you view the canoe upside down...so, from this view, the top is the narrow edge and the wide edge with a slight hollow is what attaches to the bottom of the canoe. Sketch attached. Leave this profile for most of the bottom but when you start to get to the ends, start shaving it down in thickness and width but not so small that the stemband will not cover it or you jeopardize the holding power of the screws. When attaching the keel, you will have about 3 screws that will be driven from the outside into the stem at each end...the rest will be driven in from the inside. If you are not restoring to original condition, most leave the keel off and fill the holes...your choice. The stemband has a slight hollow in the base and you fill this with the same bedding compound...let dry and paint or varnish, again your choice but paint touches up much better. Most paint. The stemband also is rounded not let into the keel...you just want to round everything so it doesn't catch on the bottom, logs, rocks, etc.

I would go out and take some more pic's but they just announced that it will be -25 degrees by morning!

Hope this helps,



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1915 18' HW w/sponsons

I are an engineer, so I can't help but get the verniers out and supply you with decimal dimensions. I'm not sure of the material, though I suspect it's oak. My keel measures 0.80" wide where it meets the hull, 0.56" wide furthest from the hull, and 0.90" tall. Two pics: one where she hangs right-side-up in my basement and the second which was supplied to me when I was entertaining the acquisition. I hope you can see where the keel is scarfed to the stem, and how the stem band lays over both. Let me know if I should get you more details.

Good luck, Tom


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