Newbie to Restore Old Town Sailing Canoe

Jeffrey Ward

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I picked up an 18 foot Old Town sailing canoe last night that is in need of restoration. This will be my first restoration job and my first wood/canvas canoe. I have built two stitch and glue sea kayaks, and a skin on frame sea kayak.

The canoe appears to be in good shape for a boat needing total restoration. What is left of the canvas is hanging off the hull, so I got a fairly good look at the hull last night.

With one small exception the hull's shape does not appear to be distorted at all. The exception is that the keel line is ever so slightly out of fair about a third of the way back from the bow. I suspect this might indicate a broken rib there although I cannot detect any brake from looking at the rib itself.

As far as I can tell from my inspection last night, there are no broken ribs.

There is one small hole in the planking that is visible.

The gunwhales have some dents and other wear here and there, especially near the stems, but do not appear to be broken.

The thwarts and seats are in good shape, although they are a bit loose, which I think indicates that the bolts/bolt holes are worn. The seats need recaning.

The sail rig is intact and in good shape. The sail is disintegrating of course, but the mast, spars, leeboards and rudder look great.

I am excited, but also anxious, about undertaking the restoration of the canoe. I look forward to joining WCHA, and making use of the great resources WCHA provides.

I would appreciate any advice that more experienced folks can offer a newbie like me. I have a copy of The Wood and Canvas Canoe by Stelmok and Thurlow, and Canoe Rig by Bradshaw. Are there any other resources that I should consult?



You have the two "Bibles" so to speakthat should provide all the needed information in your restoration. Check back in the archives's loaded with good advice and opinions. Post some pic's along the way with progress or needed advice...


Obviously, I messed up trying to attach the picture to my last post. I'm still learning my way around this board. Hopefully, it will show up in this post.


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More pictures

Here are a few more pictures of the canoe.


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Animal Traps

The first suggesting would be to stop the animals who have been eating the ribs by the front seat.

Damage doesn't look to bad yet, but I wouldn't want them to eat much more.

Good luck,

Ribs chewed by squirrels


You are right about the chewed up ribs. Fortunately, I don't think they will be a problem. The picture I posted shows the worst of the damage caused by critters chewing on the ribs. Its not extensive so I think I can just sand it out. The chewing must have taken place when the boat was sitting in the former owner's back yard covered by a tarp. Now that the boat has a more secure home in my garage, I don't think any more critters will be making a meal of it.


If you didnt get any information with it from the prior owner, look at the inner stem at the will find a serial number stamped there followed by a space and then two numbers indicating the length...There is a site on here where you can inquire and get all the information you need as to date built, where shipped, original color,etc. You will receive a copy of the original form and can down load it and print it out if you want to...
There will be a lot of suggestions as you inquire on different problems and the information is all excellent from a great group of people.
Keep in mind that there are 2 procedures.....Restoration and/or repairing it. I would think with an OT that you might want to try a restoration to original...
Good luck and enjoy.

"It is not how many strokes of the paddle it takes to get there, but rather in the JOY of the journey"....Blue Viking
Serial No. 160757 18

Blue Viking:

Thanks for the suggestion. I sent the serial number in earlier this week, and learned that the boat is a Guide model built in 1953. It was pretty cool to receive a copy of the build record.

A nice find - you'll have a lot of fun bringing her back to life.

I did a restoration of a 1929 Guide OT by using this board (and its experts) as my advisory team. Pretty amazing how much expertise there is here.

Congrats Jeff. I have a friend here drooling over your pics. I am in the process of my first restoration (one month in and I'm already calling it my first,the addiction has set in already) a 1942 OT HW. You've got the two bibles and now this site. Once I found the little dohicky at the bottom of the page that lets you pull up threads back a year or more I spent hours going through them. One of the biggest things I gained from that was seeing the variety of methods, techniques and opinions on these subjects. It gave me the courage to experiment a bit and use techniques I felt comfortable with. I'm not that far from you if you want to share some ideas and suggestions. I'm actually doing the work on this one in the kayak room of the outdoor outfitter in Front Royal.Good luck!