Need tracing of Otca deck for correct geometry

Howie

Wooden Canoe Maniac
I'd like to replace the fore & aft decks on my 16' Otca. I refinished my 25+ years ago & just took a guess as to the shape. So, could someone please send me a paper & pencil tracing off of theirs? If you're so inclined, please include the cutout area and as much of the sides as you can so I can get the correct size & geometry. By 'tracing' I'm thinking of the technique sometimes used to copy images from grave stones. You know - place the paper on the deck & rub the paper with charcoal (or the broad end of a pencil) at the edges of the deck. Thanks in advance...

Howie Jehan
377 Lanning Rd
Honeoye Falls, NY
14472
 
What year or serial number is your Otca? I have them from 1927, 1936, and 1958 but they are all different. It may also be easier to simply send you a photograph with a ruler so you can scale and print it yourself.

Benson
 
My o my... My memory has sure failed. I just took a flashlight & had a peek inside the Otca. I had forgotten how much work I had to do do to the thing! I remember now that one inner stem was cracked & the other missing! I remember now that the cracked stem had a serial # - I wrote to OldTown & they provided me with a date. This was back in 1985 or so... I've long since lost that part - I ended up replacing both stems - and have lost OldTown's reply. But if memory serves (I believe I've already proved how bad that is...) they told me it was from 1923. It is from the era that had the big curved end stems. I remember it had only one deck remaining, which was half rotted away. I think it was carved from a single piece of wood (ash?) and had the typical OldTown hand-hold shape. Sort of like this...

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In any case, what ever you can supply me would be appreciated!
 

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Hi Howie--

It sounds like you're describing the "traditional" Old Town short deck, sometimes called the Ogee because that's the shape of the cut-out part. Over the years, Ogee deck morphed from one with fancier woodworking detail to a fairly plain curve... so, putting a "late" deck on an "early" OT might not be what you'd want. The Otca had a "later" ogee short deck after 1957, but prior to that (and certainly in the 1920s) the Otca model had a longer 20" deck with coaming. It would help to know the serial number of your canoe so we can figure out which deck it would have had. Are you certain it was an Otca? I'll provide a few Old Town decks.

I've posted images of an older Otca deck-- 20" with coaming; an Otca deck post 1957; and an older Old Town short deck (with finer woodworking detail).

The deck on the far right would be on an Old Town of the 1920s, but not the Otca model-- it would be on the HW, Charles River, Ideal, Yankee, 50 pounder etc.

The "era of the big curved end stems" didn't go away until after WWII... and the Molitor is still made so I guess the era is still hangin' in!

Kathy
 

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Kathy... The old deck certainly looked like the ogee shape you show in your 2nd or 3rd pic. Of the 2 I'd have to say the 3rd was likely it. As to dating the thing - I'm out of luck now I guess. But never mind - it works quite nicely despite its age.
 
The third deck would be my guess too, from what you describe. Yes, the canoe is what it is and paddling is the important part-- and showing it off! These canoes only get better with age (with those of us who paddle them, we may get wiser but unfortunately no matter how much restoration we undergo, we eventually end up going back to the ground! :)).

We can probably decide which model your canoe is. While a buyer could request the short deck on an Otca, I'm guessing your canoe is either an HW or CR (heavy water or Charles River) and that would be nice to determine.

I'm wondering if Jerry Stelmok sells reproduction small decks-- does anyone know if he has copies of that nice older ogee deck for sale?

Nice to see your face there, Howie!

Kathy
 
You folks are making me think... I see in Kathy's 2nd & 3rd pics that the deck width appears to be different for the different eras. Have a peek at the attached file from my canoe. It shows the crude deck I made back then. Its width is about 8.5". So we can assume that the original deck was 8.5" or less in width -the ribs would have expanded outward over time if they weren't attached to the original deck. So... which OldTown Otca deck pattern is closest to being 8.5" or less in width?

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Howie,

Attached are deck pics of our 1923 AA 17' OT OTCA. They seem to be original, though the coaming was sanded flush to the decks & inwales. Let me know if you'd like a template sent. I hope these help.
Dave Davidson
 

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Yours is 9.5" wide - wider than mine. Yours is a 17'er, but I don't imagine that's a factor. So I'm thinking the ogee shape is the right one for me. Good - it's easier to make! Thanks for the info!
 
To get that older ogee-shape as nice as it is on the older canoes will take some work-- I'm always amazed at the feel of the decks on older canoes (I'm not just talking about Old Town)-- the way the deck fits the hand-- the way it is undercut and is more like a sculpture. That sort of finesse can be missing on newer canoes (not just talking Old Town). To get the deck right will take more than simply tracing the deck and cutting it out-- I think it would help if you could look at one in-person, or at least some good pictures or video. I'll see what I have.

We have a Morris that needs the heart deck, and we're hoping to find a couple old ones because that old heart deck is simply beautiful and I certainly admire those who have replicated it.
 
Reading your note reminds me - what wood did OldTown use for the decks? I assume ash. I'll likely use Mahogony - easier to carve. Or maybe BassWood...
 
Reading your note reminds me - what wood did OldTown use for the decks? I assume ash. I'll likely use Mahogony - easier to carve. Or maybe BassWood...

AA grade decks were mahogany. CS grade canoes were typically ash, though birch was often used for the 20" Otca decks.
 
Ok... Maybe the last question: Were/are the OldTown decks steamed & bent to get the curved shape of the inwales?, or were they carved from a thick slab? I'm guessing the former. That being the case (ie bending), were they carved before/after to get a hump-back profile?, or is the area by the ogee cutout flat?
 
Ok... Maybe the last question: Were/are the OldTown decks steamed & bent to get the curved shape of the inwales?, or were they carved from a thick slab? I'm guessing the former. That being the case (ie bending), were they carved before/after to get a hump-back profile?, or is the area by the ogee cutout flat?

The information at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?7063 shows the Old Town deck press and several other jigs that people have used. I believe that the cutouts were done flat before being bent. Good luck with yours,

Benson
 
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