I just bought it, what is it?


student of canoes
I'm at a loss, have any of you seen anything like this? Here's the specs.
17' overall length, 33" wide at center without the outwales on, 11" deep at center.
No serial number stamped on it anywhere.
2 1/4" x 3/8" ribs, spaced 4" on center, tapered to 1" wide where they fit into a rabbet cut into the bottom of the inwale.
Planking is 3 3/4" wide, it comes to the very top of the inwales where it is fastened with iron tacks. Planking is held to ribs with copper tacks
There are small holes evenly spaced along the top of the inwale. Was there a cap?
The inner stem and planking is 5/8" wide at the outside end. Was there an outer stem, or a wide stem band? Whatever it was, it was held on with rivets going through the inner stem.
There are tiny holes on the decks, maybe there was a name plate mounted at one time.
The seats are bolted directly to the under side of the inwale, with the stern seat having short round spacers at the rear. I can't tell yet, with all the putty the previous owner put on, what the bolt heads look like. They don't appear to be diamond shaped.
What do you guys think it is?


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For what it's worth:

I was talking with someone a few weeks ago who had worked on a canoe with rivets through the stems. Seems to me he said it had cedar stems. I can't recall what canoe he associated the rivets with, but the conversation was pretty much limited to Robertson and Morris Canoes, so maybe one of these?

I know your canoe doesn't have splayed stems, but the decks look similar to Morris canoes.

Did you look the thwarts over good for a Robertson stamp? Usually within a inch or so from the inwale at the top of the end of the thwart.

Okay. Now how are you gonna get all that PUTTY off? :(
I took a look at the thwarts for a stamp and found nothing, not even a shadow from a stamp. The thwarts may not be original though. They are a bit crude in their construction, the edges seem to be rounded over by hand instead of a machine. I scraped the stem a bit and it appears to be oak, or ash.
There is a bit of planking that has split. There isn't much damage, maybe a total of four feet worth. The section of planking with the longest cracks is maybe two feet long. The rest of the cracks are very short. They appear to be from drying out, not from any collision. What would you guys do with them? I would prefer to leave them, as long as they don't pose a structural problem. Do you think I should fill them with a varnish wood dust mixture? Or leave them alone entirely?
Any ball park guess on age?


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The putty doesn't seem to bad to scrap off. It has remained some what soft. For the life of me, I don't understand why he smeared it all over. Maybe he should have contacted the WCHA before making such a blunder. Oh well, I enjoy a good challenge. :)
I'd be inclined to say to leave the cracks unless they are extremely wide. I'll get in touch with you and stop by to see it. Closed gunwales and indicate it is early 1900's I think.
Being a total amature here, I'd say if the splits go through tack locations, it would be best to remove the tacks and fasten on either side of them.

There might be a clue to the maker in the seat caning. If there isn't any cane left, you might be able to figure out the pattern that was used by the varnish or other build up in the seat frames.

That's a very distinctive stem shape. I'd say early 1900 also.
crack repair

At the risk of being banned from this site I have found that 5 minute epoxy on small cracks [ no saw dust ] works great . After the epoxy has set clean up the area with a cabinet makers scraper . When varnished the repair is often invisible .
Didnt Racine make canoes with the torpedo ends and rivetted costruction.I remember BC (before the crash) that a member posted pictures of something simular.Are the outer and inner rails rivetted also?
The recurve on the ends is very extreme, I'm not sure if Racine built one like this or not. It doesn't appear to have had rivited rails. Does anybody still make rivits like these?
I doubt its a Racine, they didn't make a torpedo stemmed version as far as I know. The planking lines don't run the way I expect to see in a Racine either (should be somewhat similar to a Thompson).

My guess is that it may be a Kennebec Torpedo model. The decks and stem profile look right for this. Kennebec usually stamped the SN on the stems, but it was also found stamped on a metal tag. It may or may not be found both places. I recently sold a closed gunwale Kennebec Kineo that had the full thickness ribs set into a rabbet in the inwale. I have not seen a Kennebec with rivets through the stem before, but given the close relationship between Kennebec and Morris (who did rivet stembands on), I would not be surprised to find this.

Attached is a portion of the 1924 catalog page showing the Torpedo. Note that the stem profile is very similar, and the dimensions are pretty close to what you gave.



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:) Thank you all very much!
Now I need to search for as much info as I can on Kennebec trim options, colors, and such.
Dan, It's funny you showed me that catalog page. The color and pattern scheme is exactly how I wanted to do up this canoe.
Do you know off hand the years in which the Torpedo was produced?
Thanks again, Mark.
I'm not at home right now, so I can't give you full details, but the Torpedo was produced from 1917-1927 (this is shown on my ID Guide at http://dragonflycanoe.com/id/).

More information about trim, color, etc. is found in the catalogs, the best source being, of course, the Wood Canoe and Boat Manufacturer Catalog Collection CD-ROM available from WCHA or myself.

Check those stems again - if you can find a number on them, we might be able to tell you the specific year it was built, color, options, etc...

I found a number, but...

I'm afraid it won't be much help. It's so faded that I can't read it.
I can tell that it has five digits, and the last two are 4 8. The third might be a 2. After such a close inspection, the stems are definitely oak.
It would be nice to know more about my specific canoe, but, I'm sure without a full number there is little chance to find much more information.
I am going to get the CD, just to see what options were available on a Torpedo.
Have any of you ever rivited your outer stems back on? I'm curious as to what you used for rivits. If you had to make your own or are they commercially available.
You may want to try again to see if you can read the rest of the serial number. The numbers should be the same on the bow and stern so this may help you piece together the complete number. They may just be encrusted with dirt, old varnish, and other junk that a good cleaning with varnish or paint remover will make them readable again. Sanding is not recommended since it is very easy to unintentionally remove the number completely. You may need to use a flashlight at a low angle or even paper with a crayon to do a rubbing like they do on old grave stones.

The Kennebec records show 977 Torpedo models and 553 of these were identified as being 17 feet long. The only ones of these with serial numbers that end in 48 are: 10848, 10948, 11148, 11348, 11448, 13648, 14048, and 14348. They were built between 1916 and 1920. The only one ending in 248 was 11248 but it appears to have been marked as being 18 feet long. It was originally red and shipped to Marshall Fields.

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Thank you for investigating the partial number Benson. I looked on the bow stem, but even after some careful cleaning and scraping, I couldn't find one on it, only on the stern.
My wife looked at the stamping very closely. She says that out of all the numbers you came up with, 11348 looks to be the most likely.
So I'm going with a Kennebec Torpedo, built around 1920. I sent for the catalog CD, hopefully it shows some photos of the gunwale system, and some paint job patterns. My canoe came without the outer stems, or the outer rails and caps.
Thanks again for all you help, Mark.
The Kennebec canoe with serial number 11348 is a 17 foot, Torpedo model. The "Rails" column has a "OG" notation with an "X" over it. This may mean open gunwales. It was planked by Lane on May 19th, 1916. It was covered with canvas and first filled by Roy on May 23rd, 1916. The second filler coat was applied on July 26th. The rails were put on by Cormier on March 31st, 1917. The painting was done on April 9th, 1917 and the color appears to be listed as "A. Red." It shipped to "Thieroff." on April 7th, 1917. This line also contains an additional note saying "Also 17' Torpedo to Edward H. B. Sickler 8-20-19" which may mean that this serial number was duplicated.

The Kennebec canoe with serial number 11248 is an 18 foot, Torpedo model but the length is not clear and a seven could have been written over the eight. The "Rails" column is blank. It was planked by Swain on April 22nd, 1916. It was covered with canvas and first filled by Roy on April 24th, 1916. The second filler coat was applied on August 2nd. The rails were put on by Lacombe on March 30th, 1917. The painting was done on April 7th, 1917 and the color appears to be listed as "A. Red." It shipped to "Marshall Field" on June 16th, 1917.

The original Kennebec records are stored at the Maine State Museum. I am unable to attach a scan of these records since their policies do not permit any electronic reproduction of their materials.

The microfilms of these records were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA). I hope that you will join or contribute to 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.html to join.

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.