Any Info?

Ric Altfather

WCHA #4035
Hi everyone,

I ran across this "kit" canoe in need of help. Supposedly, it is a "Trails End" canoe kit which I believe was popular in the 60's - 70's as a Scout project for a badge. Does anyone have additional info on this craft? It also looks like the Mechanics Illustrated canvas canoe from that same era.


Ric Altfather


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It looks like a Trailcraft canoe, one of which I built from a mail-order kit around 1969-70. As memory serves, the three frames were sawn from plywood and the stringers and gunwales were some kind of mahogany. The instructions called for simply painting the canvas cover with a few coats of paint, without any filler.

I remember the canoe being surprisingly sturdy (given the minimum amount of wood in this w/c boat), a bit tender and a bit clunky. It made a couple of trips down the Housatonic River in Connecticut, and a canoe/camping trip to Kejimkujik Park in Nova Scotia. The canvas cover held up well. It was my first canoe, and I did not find it very satisfactory -- tender, but with none of the benefits (speed and responsiveness) that a tender boat can have. It was, in fact, a bit of a clunk. Perhaps I would have been more comfortable with it had I more experience, but I think not. I did have fun building it, and I did learn a bit about canoes and canoeing for the short time I had it -- I gave it away after one summer's use (to a Boy Scout troop), in favor of renting something better when I needed a canoe.

Trailcraft was allegedly still in business as late as 1998, although not building canoes. I have no idea whether they still exist, but their 1998 address was Trailcraft Inc. 405 State St. El Dorado, KS 67042. If they are still around, maybe someone there would have further information.

Whether or not your canoe is a Trailcraft, I don't believe that it was built according to the plans published by Popular Mechanics. The PM article and plans show a boat with a usual complement of ribs, and full planking over the ribs -- rather than the three sawn (plywood?) frames supporting spaced ribands on your boat.
Canoe on ebay -- claimed to be Old Town

Ric --

I just came across another Trailcraft boat that you might like to check out --the "Old Town" canoe being offered on ebay with a starting price of $899.99. See Item number: 320048193188. I wrote the seller to tell him that he did not have an Old Town boat, no matter what was painted on the side. We will have to see if he changes the description. But if he gets $900 for it, you might want to rethink your boat's future!
Thanks Greg,

I really doubt that one of these will bring that kind of money if it needs restoration, but then there's someone for every boat or something like that! It's not my boat but was offerd to, too much of a project for what you end up with.

I agree -- the burn pile is probably right for both boats. I will be amazed if there are any offers on the ebay boat -- but then, I've seen auction fever and/or ignorance do some amazing things on ebay. I believe that I paid $75 for the kit 35+ years ago, and I don't think the ebay boat is worth that now, given the materials and work that would be needed to restore it. I would have many better uses for both the money and the time (such as the glass-covered Morris hulk awaiting restoration in my Maine garage).