Floor Rack Details - 17 Foot OTCA - 1928-29


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
In Memoriam
I pulled out the floor rack for a 1928 17 foot, OTCA today and here are the details:

Floor Rack:

Total length: 12 ft. 2 inches.

6 Slats.

Slats are 1-3/8 inches wide, 1/4 inch thick and the width tapers from the halfway point to 3/4 inch.

The rack is secured to the canoe using small blocks and 1-5/8 inch long stem band material.

The rack is supported with 5 "half ribs", looks to be half rib material, which are 1 inch wide and 3/8 inch thick. The half rib supports occur at 9.5 inches, 3 ft-7.5 inches, 6 ft 1 inch, 8 ft 6-1/4 inch, and 11 ft 3/4 inches along the length of the 12 ft 2 inch rack.

The "half ribs" lengths are
7 in. , 11 in. and 12.5 inches, 11 inches, an 7 inches.

The half ribs are attached with small brass tacks that are clenched.


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Small blocks


I'm not sure those small blocks are original, but the stem band turnbuckles sit on those at the stem of the canoe. The end of the rack fits over the stem of the canoe. Someone may have installed them to take up some slack and to keep the rack from rattling.

I'll look around and see if they show up in other pictures I have of floor racks.

That makes sense. I didn't think about the additional height of the stems. Mine don't have turnbuckles at the ends.

Floor Rack

Hi Fitz,

Fred here. Do the slats in the Old Town floor rack taper on both sides or just the outside? Thanks Fred
Good Question

I don't know what to tell you Fred. Good question. I don't have a floor rack to look at, and I have never built one. The one in the photos was in someone else's canoe that I rehabbed. I was thinking only one side is tapered, but there must be more to it than that for the slats to come to a point. Maybe they are tapered on one side and bent to fit the end, but it seems to me bending those slats laterally would not work.

I went out to look at the one I'm restoring and it "seems" that the outside slats are tapered only on the out side edge while the rest have a taper on each edge. Could be an optical illusion and without taking one off it's hard to tell.



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Same here...

I had the exact same thought...I looked at my 1931 Otca rack, and the interior ones are definitely tapered on both sides...but the outside ones are difficult to figure out...I think they are tapered, angled at the end, and bowed into that position somehow....
What's really strange about mine is that the canoe has half-ribs...so the rack only fits in upside down!
The blocks at the ends are probably not original. I agree with Fitz that they were likely installed later to help hold the rack more securely at the stems. It seems that usually the rack would have to be pressed into the canoe a bit in the ends where the curve of the hull is greater. That pressure would hold the rack pretty securely, but maybe this rack just took the curve well and started rattling around. The blocks in the center of the canoe (3rd and 4th photos) appear to be original.

Also, the number and width of the longitudinal slats changed over time. This rack with 3 wide strips per side seems to have been in use longer, and is therefore much more common. An earlier style (used at least during the teens) had 4 slats per side and the slats were narrower. Many canoes that are missing their racks will show the size and number of strips as discolorations in the ribs where the rack sat for a long time.

Jimbo- Old Town did sell racks with canoes that were built with half ribs, and yes, the rack was inserted "upside-down" in those canoes because otherwise they wouldn't fit- there is nowhere on a half-ribbed canoe for the crosspieces to drop in between the ribs. This arrangement is probably relatively rare, though. The build record project indicates that only about 35% of Old Town's canoes had floor racks, and only 10% had half ribs. If you assume that there was no correlation between half ribs and floor racks, then only about 3.5% of canoes left the factory with both of these options. In fact, I would bet that the combination is even more rare- if a person ordered either floor rack or half ribs, they may have been less likely to order the other option because (1) the floor rack cross-members couldn't fit between the ribs and therefore help secure it, and (2) the "on-top" cross-members of the rack would be obstructions in the floor of the canoe.

Attached is a build record of a canoe with both half ribs and floor racks.



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