My Family Legacy and an Old Town Tripper XTC48665M830G

Ryan Feero

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hello WCHA!

My name is Ryan and my grandpa was born in Bangor and grew up in Alton, Maine just 10 miles from Old Town. My family were potato farmers in Alton and my grandpa used to talk about the Penobscot, Old Town, and what it was like growing up there. He eventually came to Oklahoma City, while in the Navy, and married my grandma. He would often chuckle and say "how on earth did a Maine kid wind up with a city girl in Oklahoma?" He had 4 kids in Oklahoma and eventually I came along.

Flash forward MANY years and my dad moved us to Arkansas. I'm married now and have a growing family of my own that hunts, camps, and canoes in Arkansas and Missouri. I've always wanted an Old Town canoe, even had one as my groom's cake for my wedding! This month is my one year anniversary and my wife and I will be picking up my first Old Town canoe this coming weekend.

I found a 1983 Old Town Tripper for sale in Nebraska from the original owner. He bought it in 1983 and it saw waters mostly in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It has been garage kept and appears to be in excellent condition. The couple is retired and have decided to sell it for $600, which appears to be $175 less than the sticker price in the 80's! I've read some of the forum posts and was wondering if Benson Gray or Todd Bradshaw might have some additional comments on this one for me? I've done quite a bit of research on it already, but don't pretend to know much of anything about a Tripper beyond what I've seen here.

1983 Old Town Tripper
XTC48665M83G

Details from 1983 Catalog:
Length 17'2"
Width 37"
4" Waterline Width 35 1/2"
Depth 15"
Bow Height 25"
Approx. Weight 79
Approx. Carrying Capacity 1100
 

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@Benson Gray any chance this one was early enough to have some scanned documentation on it? I messed up the serial number in my title. The correct one is XTC48665M83G.
 
Congratulations and welcome, the Old Town canoe with serial number 248665 and hull identification number XTC48665M83G is a 17 foot long Chipewyan Tripper model with cane seats that weighed 80 pounds. It was built between February and March, 1983. The original exterior color was green. It shipped on March 8th, 1983 to dealer number 314000. This is probably an dealer number but there isn't any information currently available to further identify it. A scan showing this build record can be found below.

This scan and several hundred thousand more were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will contribute, join, or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/about-wcha to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/store/membership to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. It looks like you found a good one. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.

Benson



248665.jpg
 
@Benson Gray you've made my day! I joined as a member last night hoping that my faith would pay off :D. It did! I can't thank you enough for looking this up for me. I'm happy to support this historic legacy with the WCHA. I talked to the original owners who confirmed these dates and they said the dealer was Hoigaard's in Minneapolis. Do you know if this particular one might have the aluminum inserts. I read in another post where @Todd Bradshaw said "Gunwales were tan vinyl and those on the longer models had a piece of aluminum extrusion inside for extra strength and stiffness."
 
Yes, this canoe would have the aluminum inserts inside the gunwales. This one is a little different from most as it has cane seats instead of the usual tan, hollow, foam-filled seats of this era, or the white, non-foamed ABS seats from earlier models. Most of the flotation built into a Royalex (Oltonar) hull is the foam core, between the ABS structural layers. The foam seats add a bit more, which you won't have, but it's not a big deal. If you were ever to run any serious whitewater in any Tripper, a big center flotation bag is always the best bet and safest for both your and the boat's survival. At one point, Trippers outfitted with knee straps and pads, sometimes with foam block pedestal seats between the center and stern thwarts were even popular big water solo whitewater canoes in some places. My biggest gripe about Trippers was always that that broad bottom was awfully soft and a bit floppy, which isn't very good for efficiency, speed and glide, though for river paddling it usually isn't a big deal, and for lake tripping you would usually have a pretty good load of gear with you, holding it down.

If you turn the hull over and look at the bottom, there tends to be kind of a hump where the stem profile meets the bottom. These spots (on both bow and stern) get the most abrasion by far from landing, launching, running over rocks in rivers and any other time the boat touches solid ground than any other places on the hull. I have seen rental Trippers which were abraded through the vinyl outer skin, through the load-bearing ABS layers and half-way through the foam core in these lower stem areas. You don't want that, so if you run a lot of shallow water, keep an eye on the lower stems. If you start to wear into the vinyl, it is a good idea to add a Kevlar skid plate kit - a thick piece of Kevlar felt (looks like chamois shirt fabric) attached with a special flexible epoxy resin over the area in question. It will stop abrasion cold. Unless you're doing a lot of whitewater, the full-sized skid plate piece is much bigger than you need (and kind of ugly). It can be cut down to cover just the areas where the abrasion is happening. I've even used small slivers of Kevlar felt to protect the lower stems of stripper canoes in areas where abrasion was concentrated.
 
@Todd Bradshaw I appreciate you taking the time to share this information. This one actually already has Kevlar skid plates installed. You can barely tell from that first picture that shows a close up of the "tripper" sticker. One thing I was curious about is the longevity of the tan colored gunwales? I might be mistaken but it seems like I've found a few statements online voicing some disdain over these tan/white ones?
 
I haven't seen any evidence that I can remember of the gunwales deteriorating any faster than the rest of the boat. Like most plastic things, the greatest enemy of a Royalex boat is prolonged exposure to UV. The vinyl skin can eventually chalk and get brittle, as can the gunwales, though the hull's skin is likely to be damaged first. Note that this sort of damage happens during storage, not generally during use, so how you store your boat when not in use is an important factor in its condition and lifespan.
 
These gunwales and the cowlings on the OT Kayaks (Snappers) were made from the same tan ABS material. It does tend to crack and break. I've repaired dozens of these. The newer black replacements seemed to hold up better than the original tan ones. The challenge now is finding them......
Coincidently I just used one of these on the Teton river....the rails were cracked in three places. The hull was perfect...that's been my experience...the rails (and the old seats) will fail, the hull will not.
 
Gunwales are rigid vinyl (both tan and black) not ABS and always have been. Current decks are polyethylene. The original 1970s white seats and decks were ABS.
 
Thanks Todd...I have never seen the black rails crack...and as noted, I've replaced dozens of the tan ones. What was your experience?
 
None of our rental boats ever suffered from cracked rails (they were tan). The only one I ever remember having problems was a 15' Mini-Tripper (maybe 1978-ish) which a friend owned and wanted to outfit as a solo whitewater boat. I took the gunwales off and reinstalled them inside out to yield wide outwales for splash protection, as an inch of outwale is easily worth an inch of hull depth. The boat was later used as a sailboat dinghy, chained to the shore 24/7 when not in use and the entire boat, gunwales and hull , slowly deteriorated from UV with various things seeming to dry out and eventually crack. I don't remember any customer boats (Glass, Royalex or Discovery series) ever needing gunwale replacement. My brother has a fiberglass Old Town square stern in the 14'-15' range which is Tan gelcoat with brown vinyl gunwales. It's a very neat little canoe and also has oarlocks. It will really scoot under oar power and hasn't had any gunwale problems.

A lot of black plastics contain some form of carbon for pigment. In some cases, it can be a pretty decent UV blocker, so I suppose that could always be a factor. Again though, storage out of direct sunlight when possible is always a pretty good idea with plastic items.
 
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