model differences


I'm new with all this so bear with me. I have a 16' 1953 otca model which I bought last summer from an old timer in the southeastern ma. area. I'm right on the North river and have two young boys to enjoy the canoe with, but is one model more stable than the other? A 3 and a 7 year old need all the stability you can get.
thanks :confused:
Canoe stability is highly subjective but your canoe should be fine. My solution to having two small children in a canoe is to kneel in the middle and have them sit on the floor with one in front of me and one behind me. The rule of thumb is that a wide canoe with a flat bottom and good tumblehome (i.e. inward curve on the sides) will usually feel more stable than a narrow one with a round bottom and no tumblehome. The diagrams at and dimensions listed at show that your Otca should be reasonably stable. If it doesn't feel stable to you then a longer and wider canoe could improve things. The logical extreme would be a war canoe model as described at with a 34 foot length and 44 inch width. Feel free to reply here if this doesn't answer your question.

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war canoe

the war canoe sounds a bit much, and where do these exist? I'll try your idea on the kids location as soon as I finish restoring this project. I really appreciate your idea.
thanks again,
Another concept is a canoe with sponsons. I own an eighteen foot Old Town HW with sponsons. Not only will my canoe carry lots of gear (volume and/or weight), it would take quite a bit to capsize her. The only downside to this canoe is that she weighs over 100 pounds, so getting her into the water requires some logistics. However, once in the water, regardless of the conditions of waves or wind, she's a wonder to paddle.
Get the kids in the canoe. Show them the variuos strokes and safety!Young folk have remarkable learning and athletic abilities.When the water is warm turn them loose together in that canoe and let them play in shallow water (supervised of course). Tipping and swimming with that boat Canoe desgn will not matter a hoot you will have a pair of naturals on your hands.
swimming lessons

The swimming lessons sound like a great idea. The river here is a great place to start learning to swim. The sponsons sound like a good idea but I have to admit carrying it to the water is enough, by the way how are the the canoe carts? Has anyone had luck with them? I have to venture around the corner and down a slight hill to the river which is about 1/4 mile away. It's all paved with the exception of the boat ramp path which is in the woods and pretty rough. It's only for canoes and very small boats.
Thank you for your help
This may seem counter intuitive, but sometimes adding weight helps.

Some ballast like a full 5 gallon plasitic water jug laid flat on the bottom will damp out a lot of 3 year old wiggles.
My sponson canoe lives on a trailer during the canoeing season, and I either slide her off the trailer into the water, or onto a home-made dolly to get from trailer to water. This method has worked well for me for a couple of seasons. I wouldn't advocate adding sponsons to a conoe; I'm told re-canvasing a canoe with sponsons is akin to canvasing two canoes. However, if stability is a potential concern, and a sponson canoe became available, I would encourage you to give it a try.
Greatly appreciated

Your ideas are greatly appreciated. I'll have to keep an eye out for a few human bobbers :rolleyes: as well as a sponson canoe to look at.
Thank you, Jeff
Hey, Jeff, I'm just noticing that you hail from Norwell. You'll have to join us for some paddling adventures this year. I'd love to give you a first-hand view of our sponson canoe. I work in Franklin, and as the days get a little longer, perhaps we should plan a late afternoon/early evening paddle down your way.:rolleyes: Tom
restoration 1st

I't sounds like a great idea. The only thing is I've got a fire underneath me to finish my canoe before the season gets away from me. I was anticipating painting my canoe but I got dejected with all the raised cracks in the canvas. So instead I decided last weekend to peel the canvas off and go nuts. It's my 1st attempt at this, I do auto body work for a living so I'm hoping it can in some way help me out.I'm somewhat a perfectionist and a little short on time with 2 boys that I have to spend time with so I've got to go at it hard in order to get it done. there is also a canoe race down here at the north river which I would like to get to. (I'm not sure when?)
Thanks, Jeff


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Hey Jeff:

Seems your canoe is on the fast track back to the water. There's a lot of fierce Norumbega's running around these parts. If you need help with the canvasing or filling, just shout. As an auto body pro, the filling, sanding and painting should be right up your alley!

I have a '58 Otca and I can testify to it's ability; during college it surrvived numerous trips down sections of the Delaware & I've hung it on a rock in the middle of Foul Rift, an aptly named section of the river...The first time you see the wood canvas deflect as you slide over a rock in rapids, you'll understand what wood & canvas is all about.

As far as stability, you can lean over till water pours over the rails at the widest point and still not go over...but once enough water is aboard it will turn turtle.

PFD's are manditory.
Hey Jeff, I live in Milton, am one of of the founding fathers (creak—that’s my bones) of the Norumbega chapter and have two daughters who’ve canoed with me since about the ages of your sons (now they’re 20 and 13.) My advice is model of canoe is not so important as model of paddler. Work on your skills first. Then don’t take them out for too long. Maybe at first don’t take them out at all. Get them thinking “jeez, dad goes canoeing all the time and it sounds like fun. When is he gonna take me canoeing?” Instead of, “I hope dad doesn’t drag us off canoeing again today.” If it’s a privilege they earn, then they cooperate and play by the your rules.
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Hey, Thanks for the tips from all of you. I am a rookie here and I'm amazed at all the help you can get with a simple question. Larry I have to admit your advice sounds right with the kids earning the trip. After all who else would they have to wake them at 4:30 to go down to the river. (sounds like the springsteen song) In regards to your point Mark I hope not to fill er up like you have pointed out and end up turtling. I have to askwhat is a Norumbega? Again if I have any questions in restoring this soon to be beauty I know how to ask.
Thanks again,
Norumbega is the boston area (?) chapter of the wcha, going 12 years old now. Was my paddling boot camp. Some might find my advice cynical, but I think it works. If you want kids to like doing something, don’t make it easy for them to join the club. My youngest has been pestering me for months to go canoeing and that’s the treatment I used on her. Contact Steve Lapey at to get it on things.

You do auto body work? I have an 86 Volvo 240 wagon I am loathe to give up on.
If the wood is good and canvas is off (meaning outwales and stembands off too), then the ball is rolling. All you need is canvas, filler (both from Bill Clements), tacks or staples. If old stembands are not re-usable, then get new ones from Bill C too. I have canvassing clamps. We can stretch canoe between two cars, trees and the house, whatever is handy in your backyard. With the canvas off, though, you might ponder whether its time to strip the old varnish—if any’s left--and start that fresh.

It does take some time for the filler to cure: 3-5 weeks I think about average.

One thing that speeds painting and makes hull maintenance a breeze is using a combination of paint on the sides and amber shellac on the bottom, which is what Jerry Stelmok does on many of his canoes and I did on my Prospector. I’m 100% sold on shellac bottoms for a tripping canoe.

If you need pfds for the kids, I have some and would be glad to give them to you—they’re now just taking up space and children have a discouraging way of outgrowing things.

Now about my 240 Volvo wagon. Personally I think keeping 240s on the road ought to be a sub-category of the mission of the WCHA as 240 wagons are the perfect canoe carrying and canoe camping car. The so-called wagons being made today, the mini-vans, and the SUVs (SUV stands for “spastically up-lifted vehicle.” Sorry, Fitz, I know you drive a Ford Exploder, but a man has got to say what a man has got to say) don’t come near a 240 wagon when it comes to putting tires under a canoe (which is really all that cars are good for.)

Ok you can start laughing now.What are pfd's? I told you I was a rookie. In regards to the volvo I agree with your feelings about the car, they're great simple cars. I bought one for my mom a few years back after my dad passed. It's a 93 240 sedan which if memory serves me correct, it was the last year for the 240. The problem with some of those 240's was that the floors rotted out a bit especially around the braces under the seats. Then the body usually held up decent for the most part unless you ended up with one that just seemed to have a real cancer issue. I actully used to do a bit of work for boston volvo as well as dalzell volvo in foxboro in the late 80's early 90's so I at one time was somewhat familiar with them.The 240 is still my favorite because of it's simplicity. Oh back to the canoe, I have the stem bands off as well as the outer gunwales and have started stripping the varnish off the inside but the weeknights are tough to get out to work on it. I prefer to strip the finish out in the open air.(like all of us ) I'm not familiar with the gentleman you mentioned for parts and materials. I found some cracks not large but they are there, in the planking. Needless to say the time is crucial in order to get it in the water for summer. It's going to be later than I want but it's important to do it right.
Thanks for the help
Sounds like you have all the usual issues of a busy father with a living to earn and family to keep happy: cost, do-it-yourself, do-it right vs. a deadline and get it done fast. These issues are manageable if you have some options and a production plan. Parts of the job you might want to sub-contract out if they make things go faster.

I would say the whole job looks like this:

First remove the old varnish and replace any split planks. If ribs are a problem, then things slow down a lot. Some use professional strippers (NOT that kind), if they can find one. Some go DIY with the usual home-use chemical strippers. After, wash real well and apply thinned boiled linseed oil to get the wood moistened up a bit. Some varnish at this point, before recanvassing, but that slows things down I think as you can varnish while the filler cures too.

Recanvas, DIY or have someone do it for you. Recanvas takes a day or less, filling 2-4 days. Then the filler must cure 3-4 weeks. Bill Clements (P.O. Box 87 N. Billerica, Ma 01862 978-663-3103) can do this for you. Also down your way Canoe Passage Outfitters in Raynham (Ray Brierly runs the whole show: 401-245-9025) has a canoe restoration shop that may be able to do the canvassing and filling for you. The Norumbega fellas can help you do the recanvas but the filling, you’d have to give some time to on your own. I’d say $3-400 to have someone canvas and fill for you.

So, then, once the canvas is on and the filler curing, you can clean up the outwales, thwarts, and seats, if they need it.

After the filler has cured (scratching with your fingernail should leave no mark), you can varnish the interior and paint (or paint and shellac) the exterior. 3-4 coats of varnish means doing it over 3-4 days as varnish must dry between coats. Ditto paint. Varnishing itself may only take 1-2 hours, depending upon how fussy you are about sanding between coats. Some varnish boats like they were a Stradivarius. Ditto painting. Some aim for an auto quality paint job and some are not so fussy.

Once exterior hull paint is done, reinstall outwales and stembands. Stembands can be tricky.

So your summer deadline is certainly not impossible: depending upon how much you choose to do yourself and how much spare time you give it. The first time I did a canoe it took me nine months as I had no WCHA network to help. The second time things went a lot faster.

Pfds are personal flotation devices, Life jackets.

Floor rot is the big problem in my 86 and I can’t find anybody to tackle it. The one body shop I took it to said buy a new Volvo and I said they don’t make 240s: I keep the car for its capacity and canoe carrying. I got it at Dalzell in Dedham when the old man still had the place (86) and before they became Ford-Vo. My mechanic—a great guy-- keeps shaking his head at me over the floor rot. Mine has 171k on it, but otherwise very sound. Rocker panels are in poor shape but I can live with that. I’d consider a low mileage later year 240 wagon, if I could find one, but people who own them, like me, are loathe to part with them.

I'd be glad to try to come down your way this weekend and eyeball the job for you.