Old Town 18 Foot restoration candidate

Lew's Canoes

Canoe Builder
Looked at an OT yesterday, as a possible restoration project. It is 18 feet, and the owner thinks it may be a Guide Model. Other than the fiberglass (yuk!), it looks to be very solid and quite restorable. Here's the puzzle - there are different numbers on each stem. One is 4047 - 18, and the other is 0474 - 18. Any thoughts on this? Do either of these match up with an OT Guide? Perhaps there was a little flask in someones back pocket the day the stems were stamped.....Thanks for your help! We looked hard for other numbers, but the light wasn't great, so we may have to go back with better gear if we get no results this time.
Looks like 4047 is the match - an 18' Guides Special built in '05 and shipped in '06 or '07 (hard to read). There is no record for an 0174 -

I guess the builder had more than tee martooni's cause he was thinker than he drunk he was!

Build record attached.


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Mike - Thank you for your research into this small mystery. Looks like we may have a 100 year old canoe to work on!! Just to be sure - you mentioned that there is no record for an OT numbered 0174-18, but my "alternate" number was 0474-18. Could just be a typo in your post. Thanks for double checking! Have you ever seen this situation before - one canoe with two differing serial numbers?
That was just a typo in my post - maybe I was the one with tee many martoonis.

In my very limited experience - I have not seen a boat with different (and presumably accidental) stem numbers, but I'm a rookie! Benson, Dan, Rick etc - jump in on this one.
Mike - Thank you once again for researching this OT for us. The folks who own this boat are absolutely thrilled to think that this is a 100 year old canoe - it has apparently been in their family for several generations, and they are excited about restoring it. Two questions: first, I need some help deciphering the build record, please. Under the heading of Grade, it appears to have GS handwritten, while under Model, there are two letters (which I cannot make out) followed by the word "new". Is this reversed? I expected to see CS under Grade ( the boat is certainly "common sense"), and then GS for Guide Special under Model. Can you straighten me out on this, please?Second question - the boat has very long solid decks with coaming, like on an OTCA. I bet they are all of 24" long, though I have not measured yet. Was this typical of a Guides Special, or perhaps is this an indicator of another model? The boat also has half ribs, and 3 thwarts. From the OT catalog I have, it looks like a Guides Special, but the picture is really a profile view only. Thanks again for your assistance! LEW
Lew, couple of things...

First, to answer your questions, "GS" can appear under grade - Old Town also offered the GS grade that was a step below CS grade. The model is the IF model, or Ideal Fisherman, which was another (earlier) name for the Guide's Special model. It would be unusual to find long decks on an OT Guide canoe. It would be even more unusual that they wouldn't note that, or the half ribs, on the build record.

So, I am thinking this card doesn't match your canoe... One important question - does it have closed gunwales? If not, it is probably not a match, the canoe in the record will almost certainly have closed gunwales.

Are you sure you've read the serial numbers in their entirety? Sometimes digits get lost under years of varnish and grime.

Can you post photos? Let's see if it is even an Old Town. Lots of builders used similar serial number schemes (an article on this in preparation for the Journal).

Dan - Thanks for clearing up the Grade and Model confusion. In answer to your questions, the boat has open gunnels, and it has an OT decal right in the middle of the coaming behind the long deck at the bow. I will try to post some pictures - the canoe is at the owners home and they have started to remove fiberglass, outwales, and the outer stem ( forgot to mention that there is an outer stem. Will also do some careful study of the numbers in the stems and report back here. Thanks, LEW
Dan - Thanks for prompting me to take a closer look at everything. I hope this will pay some dividends in identifying this old canoe. We spent some time this morning getting a better look, with the benefit of sunlight! Hopefully the 5 pictures I took are attached. As you can see, the deconstruction process has begun. Most importantly, we went at the stems with a toothbrush and found some "ghost" numbers. They even match from stem to stem, so I think we are on the right track. Serial number appears to be 18 - 40474, so hopefully we get a hit on that number. More surprises showed up with a little sandpaper - all of the rails, decks, thwarts, and seats are mahogany. Other key details: decks are about 36-37 inches long, rails come together just about where the deck begins, so no rib tips are visible from there forward, depth is approx 12" from top of rib to top of rail, width is approx. 35.75" out to out at outer rails, boat has (had) keel, outer stems, and half ribs. The bottom is quite flat and has little if any rocker. Stem profile should be clear in first pictue - I'm pretty sure this is not a Guide - sort of leaning toward a CR, but I will defer to experts and hopefully a matching Build Record. Thanks for all your help - this really is a marvelous resource! LEW


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The Old Town canoe with serial number 40474 is an 18 foot long, AA grade, Otca model with Western red cedar planking, open mahogany gunwales, birch decks, birch trim, half ribs, a keel, outside stems, and long decks. It was built between November, 1915 and June, 1916. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It shipped on July 6th, 1916 to Toronto(?) Ontario, Canada. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

This scan was created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others as you probably know well. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/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.html 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.



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There you go, Lew - that is certainly a heckuvalot more believable... That is going to be one fantastic canoe when it is restored.

Benson and Dan - Thanks so much for all your help. I feel confident that we now have a positive ID on this baby. I also agree that this will be a super restoration project - if we can just get all of that $&*&$# fibereglass resin off!! I will post some pictures as the work progresses. Best holiday wishes, LEW