need builder's info on 18' old town rescue project


New Member
WCHA..I "rescued an18' sponson canoe and after cleaning something like six layers of old paint and varnish an old town decal came to light. Upon further searching on the stem the following numbers came thrulayers of varnish; 81-09886. this reaLLY STYMIED Myself and a canoe builder friend. However , if the numbers are reversed,98860-18 things seem to point to a more correct number system used by old town, (dec. 07 ,wcha). What can I find out about this canoe? Thanks for any info you can send.
Hans Funccius
Hans: The Old Town canoe with serial number 98860 is a 17' HW, I doubt that's yours. The Old Town canoe with 68890 is an 18 foot long Guides Special model with spruce gunwales, ash decks, thwarts and seats. It has a keel. It was built in January, 1922. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It shipped on April 7, 1922 to Marquette, Michigan. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

These scans and several hundred thousand others 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 if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and 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.

- Al


  • 68890.GIF
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Hello Hans and welcome to the forum. I'm afraid you are going to have to do a bit more research -

It was not common for OT to put a "0" before the numbers, so 98860 (which, by the way is on a 17' HW without sponsons) is not the number.

Try looking on the other stem (number is on both) as well as gently cleaning the area around the number you have exposed looking for evidence of a different number (a dent could look like a 1, a 3 can look like a 5 or 8, an 8 look like a 0 etc.)

If I have more time, I'll try to look up some of the possible combinations.

One thing to help us determine the approximate vintage - what did the decal look like - there were 3 versions over the years.
thanks to mike&al

Mi:) Mike..thanks for the info on the decal..I've only uncovered a small portion of it..toomuch paint over and afraid to peel it off. ALSO BOAT IS COVERED OUTSIDE AND NOW HAS 10'' OF SNOW ON IT. tHINGS WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR SPRING. WHEN I FIND OUT MORE I'LL BE IN TOUCH. HANS