Lowering Stems on HW?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have a 17' Old Town HW that has all of the usual issues; tips of stems, inwales, outwales and decks are rotted. The rest of the boat is sound. I'm starting on the project over Christmas vacation. Here's my question:

I've never been crazy about the cheek profile of the HW. I really like the lower stems of the OT Guide. I know the hull profile is also different on the Guide than the HW, but, as I'm going to build new decks, inwales and outwales and splice the stems, can I drop the bow and stern tips to make the boat less cheeky? Obviously I'm not trying to restore the boat to it's original condition. This will be a tripping boat.

As always, I appreciate the input from this group.

It's only my opinion..... I think a vintage canoe should be restored as near to original shape as possible and not intentionally modified to some other configuration. :eek:
Find an OT Guide or less cheeky model. They are made for tripping.
The HW was sometimes shipped from the factory with "low ends"... I'm not sure what the formula for that was (how much "lower" they were made)... but one showed up on eBay not long ago and I thought it was a fifty pounder until I looked up the record.

So, it isn't necessarily "not authentic" for an HW to have lower ends...

OT factory ordered "Low End OTCA"

There was a build record posted some time ago which I thought was interesting so I made a copy of it for future reference. Iit was unusual in that it had the dimensions on how the OT factory lowered the ends on an OTCA as a special order for the customer. I will have to go to my files and locate this build record and post the information for those interested. I have an old OTCA that was given to me that is way down onmylist of canoes to restore . I plan to replicate those factory low end dimensions from this build sheet on this OTCA. As has been said many times on this forum, " it is your canoe and you can do what you want with it"

Thanks Kathryn,

It was not my intention to make huge changes to the design, just drop the ends a bit as you note. I have seen other threads where people have taken the entire shear line down an inch seeking solid rib ends. I just thought that if Iwas going to rebuild the ends I could push them down a bit and was wondering of anyone else had done it before.

I understand and respect the view that any vintage canoe should be restored as close to the original as possible. I love looking at those boats.

Our family used an OT that my father modified by lowering the stems.
He was from Northern Maine and he preferred the lines of a White over the lines of the OT.
The canoe was not a precious and priceless antique so what he did was (we thought) the right thing to do to a canoe that was going to be used for trips and fishing.
The high ends that he trimmed down where sails in the wind and not of much use to us.

I do cringe whenever I hear about someone chopping up old W&C canoes, but to put this in perspective, there are still lot's of OT's available and this one is already in dire straights with respect to all of the parts that would get modified.
A restoration on this canoe is not going to return it to original condition if the rails and decks are swapped out.

As I recall, my father simply cut the stem to the new height and then matched the rails to the new shape. It was a seemingly straight forward repair.
I just posted a 17' Old Town HW on the WCHA Classified site so if you want to know what they like look like [ or you want to purchase one ]...........
Low End OTCA

I went to my files and found the build sheet copy I referenced in my earlier post.
The OT employee hand written note from the Old Town Build sheet for the customer ordered "Low end OTCA" reads as follows :

" Lowered rail on end rib 3 5/8". Started lowering rail from first rib off stem".

I have and restored a 1950 17' Low End HW.
When I 1st got it and didn't know about the low end option, I thought I had a rare 17' Guide. :)

Off-hand can't tell you how much the ends are lowered, but a pic is attached.

I like the look a lot.


ps, I added a pic of it before restoration
and for fun, guess what is sitting next to it.


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That's the exact look I'm going for. I love that shearline. You don't still have access to that boat by chance do you? I'd like to know what the height of the ends are. I'm going to start with the number that Ed provided and see how it looks. I'll post some pictures when I get there.

PS, I have no idea what that other boat is.

I canoe is hanging in the garage, so getting measurements isn't easy or accurate, but, as best I could, I measure the height of the ends about 9 1/8" above the top of the gunwale (shear) in the center of the canoe.

Here is another pic, though it doesn't show the whole canoe so it may be hard to take measurements from it.


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These canoes were built to be used. Several of the canoes I've restored sit hanging in a house somewhere never to see the water. If the modifications allow the canoe to be more usable, go for it. Old Town made lots of them. Pete

Thanks, this is just what I'm looking for. I should be able to get close to the right profile with that view.

As I mentioned before, the hull is in very good shape, it's just the ends that have rotted. This is my first WC boat and I'm not familiar with the feel. It has no canvas on it, and when I pick it up it feels loose, if that makes sense. I have read some threads where people have started the rebuilding by re-cinching all the planking nails. Would that tighten things up, or is the looseness more a function of having open ends from the rotten stems? It's probably not a fair question without being able to see the boat, but...

I'm diving in tomorrow, wish me luck.
The loose feeling is probably a combination of the open ends, tacks that need reclinching, and possibly loose thwarts and seats. Once you get those tightened up and the ends repaired it will be pretty stout.
Have fun!!
for comparison

Before and After photos. I decided to modifiy this one to make it more useable. It was in really bad shape when I found it slaathered in 'glass and rot and tin flashing and dry wall screws. It's a '26 18' sponson HW. the modified finished version is very nice but not original and not likely to fetch what I paid to have it rebuilt. but it is a great canoe for trips and fishing. I do have a '23 18' sponson HW that I will restore to as original as I can get it and I even have a trailer for it. Now where did I park those photos?


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