Old Town 12394 18


Rolf Warncke
I'm hoping to get the build record for this canoe. I just brought this ROUGH one home.:( It was rescued from the trash quite a few years ago by a friend. It's had work done to it before but the methods and craftsmanship look questionable. Aluminum seats on a wood canoe??:eek: Any help on it's identity and specs would be great.

A few pictures

Here are a few pictures.


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A couple more

A couple more pictures. The stem photo shows the numbers but not real well. The screw in the stem does not help. The front stem was worked on so there is no number to check.


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This is a very interesting canoe. The Old Town build record for serial number 12394 is a 17 foot long canoe with outside stems which does not match your description or pictures. The Carleton build record for this number is an 18 foot long HW (Heavy Water) model in CS (Common Sense or the middle) grade with red western cedar planking, closed spruce gunwales, birch decks, birch trim, and a keel. It was built between July, 1915 and June, 1916. The exterior paint color was gray. It was originally stamped with the Old Town serial number 39414 but this was changed to the Carleton number 12394 when it was shipped on June 18th, 1916 to New York city as a Carleton Guide model. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

This scan 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 http://www.wcha.org/ot_records/ 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 http://www.wcha.org/wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/join.php to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. More information about the original specifications of the HW model can be found at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/dimens-1.gif and the Old Town Canoe Company Catalog Collection CD-ROM which is available from http://woodencanoe.org/catalog/prod...d=404&osCsid=39f7e6f54228bc26faca437d11ded5cb and http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/orderform.html on the web. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the restoration,



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Thank You

Thank you Benson. It certainly fits the description of the Carlton. The more I look at it the more work it looks like it will be needing. When you say "very interesting canoe" it brings me to a question that I asked a while ago about a 1922 HW that I've started working on. Kathryn Klos so beautifully answered it then and I'm wondering if I should stay with her advise from that post or would this canoe require some different handling. Here is her quote...

"Glad you plan to USE your historic boat! This is part of the magic of owning a wood and canvas canoe: you can return it to its original self... let it start over as a "youngster" and live its life again... without having to find the Fountain of Youth, as we humans would have to do!

Although a 1922 Old Town HW is classified as an historic canoe, it isn't so rare a craft that you shouldn't enjoy it because you might damage something irreplaceable.

The magic of wood/canvas is that you CAN do more than simply make the canoe usable... a plastic canoe can be patched and used and patched again... and eventually will live forever in a landfill.... but a wood/canvas can be restored to its original glory--- or, with modern paints and your careful woodworking, can be better-than-new.

There are some historic canoes that are so rare that they probably shouldn't be restored at all, but left intact as they are found. But my feeling is that all the others--- which would be a majority of what's "out there"--- should be restored for the use and enjoyment of their owner.

This is the magic-- the poetry-- of wood/canvas canoes: they can take generation after generation down rivers and across lakes... they are containers for happy people-- smiling faces-- laughing children-- panting pooches-- those sitting peacefully, contemplating nature-- those excitedly pulling fish from the water.

You owe it to the canoe, not to let it gather dust.

And how you restore it--- the degree of historical accuracy you choose to assume--- is up to you. Some folks will change a CS grade canoe to AA-- after all, the original owner was able to choose. Some will add a longer deck. Some stick firmly to what the build record says... others will follow the build record in all respects, but will choose a different color.

Our 1912 HW with sponsons was originally painted with the "Indian cross" design. We plan to restore the canoe, complete with sponsons, but will use the "Greek ends" design instead, because the Indian cross is a reverse swastika.

I like Gil Cramer's now-famous quote, which begins with "it's your canoe--". Do what you're comfortable doing. If you have a question about something, run it past the folks here if you want... but, in the end, "it's your canoe".

Also, for most old wood/canvas canoes, the original build-information doesn't exist. Those with Old Town, Carleton, Kennebec, and a few others have the luxury of knowing the original colors... but my feeling is that having the original record shouldn't obligate the owner to make the canoe that way again... it says where it has been (appearance-wise)-- but you don't have to go there again unless you want to. Having the original build information should be a luxury... not a firm directive... or nobody would consider buying our "Indian cross" canoe!

Whatever you choose to do, share pictures!"
I agree with Kathy and Mike. It is interesting but not unique or one of the "historic canoes that are so rare that they probably shouldn't be restored at all" in my opinion. See http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=1906 for more information about Old Town and Carleton swaps. An advertisement at http://classifieds.wcha.org/ should be able to find a good home for it if you don't want to take on a project like this.

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Thanks again for the input! It gives me a good direction to go in when I get to this one. I'm actually looking forward to the challenge. It has some issues that will put me to the test. Let me list a few... Four ribs that were "repaired" spliced at the turn of the bilge with mahogany. The planking on those ribs, and just those, is also mahogany. It leaves quite a funky wave in the shape. The front stem will need to be replaced. The seats, while still the original wood, have been reinforced with angle iron from underneath. The planking itself is more of a patchwork quilt, so it will need a good amount of planking replaced. It's a good thing that the community here is so good about providing both support and advice.
I'm located

in Orange County, NY not that far from you so if you want to come north to see some of the wrecks I've got you're more than welcome. Actually I don't see anything on your boat that can't be fixed. I've always had a soft spot for early closed gunnel canoes. PM me if you want to come over.

Jim C.
If anyone is interested I will be placing this boat up for sale in the classifieds. It needs someone that has the time to put into it. I need to create some storage space.