Morris Rudder Hardware

Roger Kontak

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Early in the summer, I talked Craig Kitchen out of his Circa 1908 Morris B Model. The owners prior to Craig had the canoe in the family for 47 years and included a variety of sail components. Craig had also acquired a few more items. I'm relatively new in the hobby and am hoping to learn more about properly equipping the canoe as I go about having fun sailing it. It evidently had been sailed using a paddle as a rudder. Even so, a rudder and some hardware were included in the package. The rudder doesn't fit the shape of the stem so I suspect that none of the hardware was ever fitted to this canoe.

My question is what is known about early Morris sailing hardware - specifically the gudgeons and pintles. Did Morris use the same setup that I've seen on Old Town with a removable pin secured by a cotter pin on the top pintle (I am missing said pin from my assortment of hardware)?
Morris sailing canoes seem to be very rare, and rudders even rarer. I don't think Morris made a rudder in the manner of Old Town and some other cedar-canvas canoe builders. There is none described in the catalogs (that I recall), nor gudgeons or pintles. The catalog images of their sailing canoes don't show them outfitted with rudders either, though there is a photo of a couple of canoes on the water with what appears to be some sort of rudder attached to one of them. In one catalog (1916), there is a description of a "folding drop rudder, nickel plated", available for $8.00. This type of rudder is likely more akin to those used on all-wood canoes such as shown in the third post here:

That's somewhat what I expected. I presume that the items that I have were added to the canoe to take it sailing and not originally from Morris. The one exception is the lee board thwart with a Morris sticker that Craig had acquired in his collection.

Wish I had one of those nickel plated folding drop rudders.

The 1893 Morris catalog had a variety of sailing canoe rudders as shown below but very few after that as Michael mentioned. This and more information is available from if you want additional details.

The Old Town style pintle pins are often missing from old sailing rigs. I got some replacements from the Springfield Fan Centerboard Company a few years ago. The page at has his old contact information. He was at the Assembly this summer but has stopped paying to advertise here so this may be out of date. Good luck,


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Thanks Benson. I didn't look that far back. The 1893 catalog lists a variety of skiffs, rowboats and decked sailing canoes with vertical sternposts that would accommodate a drop rudder as shown in the 1893 catalog image. The wooden rudders were probably also for boats like this rather than for double-ended cedar-canvas canoes.

Attached here are two pages from the 1916 catalog, one of which shows your leeboard assembly, and the other of which mentions the drop rudder but no wooden rudder. Some catalogs before and after 1916 don't mention rudders at all. Note the image of the "complete sailing rig" which lacks a rudder.


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Thanks Benson and thanks again Michael for the additional information. Quite interesting.

The picture of the leeboards is helpful as they do seem to be the shape of the leeboards that I have. It does seem that the vertical rudder would be suited for a square stern watercraft rather than a canoe. For now, I'll set mine up to use the paddle as a rudder.
Using a paddle as a rudder can be tricky when the wind picks up so you may find it helpful to mount an oar lock or something on the rail to brace against. See for one example.

The first Old Town rudders were vertical as shown in the 1914 catalog below. I used to sail one of these regularly and it worked reasonably well. The more modern gudgeon design is much stronger and better (except when you lose the top pintle pin).


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So there must be a skeg coming back from the keep to provide a mount for the bottom pintle on the rudder or something. Otherwise, I can't see how they mounted a vertical rudder.

The rudder was supported by two gudgeons mounted relatively close together on the stern as shown below.


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So Benson, do we know that a straight vertical rudder post was offered from the Old Town factory, intended for cedar-canvas canoes? The photo on the 1911 catalog page doesn't indicate that the canoe's rudder was supplied by the factory, only that the canoe when photographed had a rudder on it. The photos of the canoe above show gudgeons that don't appear professionally installed (they don't seem to be well mounted - not parallel). And the build record, assuming it is for the canoe pictured, lists only mast step and seat; it doesn't indicate a rudder was supplied by the factory at the time or the canoe's order. Curious...

A vertical rudder was first displayed in the catalogs starting in 1914 as described previously. A rudder was added to the sailing equipment price list as shown at in 1917. The newer style rudder and gudgeons were first shown at in 1924. The evolution of Old Town's sailing rig is outlined at in more detail.

The HW with serial number 54692 is the only Old Town sailing canoe that I have ever seen with rudder gudgeons from this period. It is unusual for an option to be left off the build record but this is known to have happened. It is certainly possible that these were added after the canoe left the factory. However, they appear to match the style of vertical rudders shown in the catalogs. This is another case of having more questions than answers,

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