Old Town #140044


Canoeist & Collector
I've just been looking over OT Canoe #140044. It seems to have had a lot of work done on it. It looks like the original seats and thwart were quarter sawn oak or ash. There appears to be a new thwart which is more plain sawn. The decks look original, but could they possibly be - the stems have the number 140044 but no length number follows (could this be a Friday afternoon boat?). So might the stems have been replaced? And therefore probably the decks.
The gunwales look like they have been replaced, then later the starboard inwale repaired.
If you would please share the build sheet with me, maybe I could start to figure a little of this out.
Also, it looks like varnish has been applied over old shellac. Did Old Town ever shellac interiors?
Hey Jim

Old Town 140044 is a 16 foot CS grade HW model canoe, finished from May to July of 1944. It has open spruce gunwales and a keel, but the wood species of decks/thwarts/seat frames is not specified on the record. The canoe was painted guide special green and shipped to Flint, MI on August 4,1944.

The scan of this record is attached below. I'll try to recite the statement we usually make in this place... I have Windows Vista now, which apparently doesn't permit "copy and paste"--- at least not the way I am accustomed to using it. Anyway, the WCHA and others went to great trouble and expense to scan thousands of Old Town records... you can see more information about this by clicking on something on the home page here. Money drives projects such as this, so re-up or donate or whatever... pass the word along.

It's very possible the attached scan isn't the correct one, so check that out and we'd be happy to try again. Mysteries and other challenges to the brain keep us from drying up and withering away. Canoeing has that benefit too...



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Thank you again, Kathryn. That sounds like the one.
I swear the gunwales are now pine. And the boat isn't fair. Gunwales have a couple of flat spots in them. I have some spruce on the way so I might just fix it now when I put new canvas on it.
Sorry I don't know about shellac on the interior... someone else will have to chime-in on that one. Glad this record seems like a fit.

Yes, Old Town did use shellac, especially as a sealer during WWII when things got scarce. Search the Forum on "shellac" and you will find quite a bit of information including build records mentioning shellac.

I really like shellac as a sealer too.

Thank you, Fitz. That's really helpful. Now it'll be easier to find the solvent, instead of trying everything.
I will look up 'shellac' in the forum. Hadn't thought about it and would like to know a whole lot more. Wikipedia was helpful and had a great link. But there are some canoe-specific questions that would be better answered here, I'm sure.
I did as you suggested - searched shellac. All the answers were there. I think I'm going to shellac the bottom. Besides I love the two tone look - especially when it's functional too. I just need to decide about the keel.
Thanks again.

Just in case there is any confusion, I was referring to using shellac on the interior of the hull as a sealer for the cedar before varnish. Old Town does refer to this use on build records.

Lots of Mainers used shellac on the exterior of the hull in two tone fashion, but I am not aware of Old Town doing that at the factory. Maybe Benson will comment.

Uh oh, Fitz,
You bring up a good question: Is it heretical to paint a vintage Old Town in a way they have never, ever been painted? Preservationists might burn a cross in my lawn.
Personally, I like the two tone painting, especially when the bottom is shellaced. Beauty and function.
On the other point, the interior of this canoe is sufficiently alligatored it looked like old shellac.
The Gil-Cramer-adage "It's your canoe!" works especially well when it comes to paint color(s)! Bear in mind that when the canoe was new, the buyer got to choose... so, you do too!

Paints these days are better, and it wouldn't make sense to hunt for a paint that is exactly the same quality as that which existed when the canoe was built... in my opinion, the same goes for the color of the paint. Except maybe for some very early rare Gerrish or something, that might look strange painted three colors with gold acanthus leaves, like a courting canoe.