Old Town 88807 17ft

Keith Mille

New Member
Hello WCHA. Can you help me locate the build records for serial number 88807?

The canoe is in rough shape, but when it was first given to me I was told it is an Old Town, dating back to around 1916. The bolts have diamond heads, so I am wondering if it may be more recent (presuming the bolts are the original). It's difficult to read the serial number, but it looks like 88807.

Attached is a photo.




  • 2010-08-06_Old_Town_Pics(small).jpg
    72 KB · Views: 465
Hello Keith--

My computer ate my records for this segment of the serial numbers-- the 8XXXX ones. Someone else will jump in and answer you... but I can give you a bit of information.

Your canoe probably dates from the early-to-mid 1920s. The 7XXXs serial numbers are already in the '20s, so your diamond-head bolts are correct. Old Town began using Diamond-head bolts in about 1920.

Your canoe has the traditional Old Town short deck used on all canoe models of that era except the Otca, or any long-decked canoe. I will guess it's a Charles River. This is merely a test--for myself-- based on deck style and length and width, and I could be way off base.

It's a nice day, and it's the weekend, and I didn't want you to get discouraged if nobody jumped in right away to answer your request.... it's a good paddling-day.

Glad you found the WCHA, and you can get that canoe in the water by next year!

Hello Kathy. Thank you for such a quick reply on such a nice day!

As I am gathering up the bits and pieces of this canoe in the basement, I just came across some paperwork: A letter from Old Town from 1984! The serial numbers must have been clearly legible back then. The CORRECT serial number is 38307 (not 88807). And you are correct, it is the Charles River Model!

The letter from Old Town states: "According to our records canoe with serial #38307 is a 17' Charles River Model shipped June 6, 1916 to Bridgeport, Conn.

Do you have a scan of the build record for Serial Number 38307?



P.S. Rolf Warncke is actually on his way to pick it up today - I am passing the 'torch' to him, and I trust he will do a fantastic job with the restoration bringing her back to her full glory! I'm sure Rolf will be sharing photos with all of us once complete!
Hi Keith-- Glad the ol' gal will be restored to her former glory-- well, perhaps even better!

Old Town 38307 is a 17 foot CS (common sense, or middle) grade Charles River model canoe that was completed from May 1915 to March 1916. It has red Western cedar planking, closed spruce gunwales, birch decks, thwarts, and seat frames, and a keel. Originally, it was painted New Haven green. It was shipped to the Horoland D.G. Co. (if I'm reading that right) of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on June 6, 1916. The scan of this record is attached below-- click on it to get a larger image.

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 and anyone else reading this will join or renew membership in 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 renew.

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.

Happy paddling!



  • ot38307.jpg
    347.2 KB · Views: 405
Regarding those diamond head bolts...

A 1916 Old Town wouldn't have had the diamond head bolts... the bolts were counter-sunk and plugged--- at least, on AA grade they were plugged-- not sure about CS. But you can restore your canoe however you want... using whatever color scheme. However, I needed to mention that those diamond head bolts are in demand, and if you don't use them in your restoration, you could offer them for sale in the classifieds.
Thanks Kathy! That's great information. Rolf just picked up the canoe and was telling me about the diamond head bolts being hard to come by these days. I actually bought a complete new set in 1991 directly from Old Town (when they were still making them), so Rolf now has both the old bolts (which are kind of bent), and the new set I bought in 1991. Whether or not he uses them I'll leave it up to him - either way I'm sure he'll make sure they are kept in good hands...

Thanks for all your help.

Enjoy the rest of this beautiful weekend!

Identity Crisis

This wonderful old boat is now here and in line for a new lease on life. The only problem (a small one) is that she is suffering an identity crisis. The build record in this thread lists a 1916 with birch decks and thwarts as well as closed gunwales. While the numbers are very hard to read I can confidently say it has ash decks and thwarts. It also has open gunwales. And it also has original diamond head bolts.

I'd like to request a look into some other possible numbers. Possibly 38807 or 88307. The first number is the toughest to see. So some other possibilities are X8307 or X8807. I'm pretty confident with the second 8 and the 07 at the end. So X8X07 may lead to some other possibilities.

I look forward to help solving this mystery.
Hey Rolf-- Glad to work on this mystery...

38807 is also a 1916 canoe... an Otca (so would have had the 20" decks with coaming), also with Birch trim but with open gunwales... so, not the right record.

I checked 58307: 16' CS Otca
58807: 17' CS Otca
58507: 18' AA HW

We should look at records beginning with "8"... which I don't have because my computer ate them... I do intend to get a new set of the records. Norm or Al or Benson will have to check out the 8XXXXs...

Love the mysteries... we'll find the right record!

I'm headed out on vacation so any additional responses may take a bit of time. I'm looking forward to any input! Thanks to all!

Old Town mystery


Old Town 88307 was an 18-foot Otca AA with mahogany everything.

88807 was a 17-foot Otca with spruce gunwales, birch decks and a reinforced floor from 1926.

Still digging here...

More mystery boat


I'm not getting anywhere.
88507 was an 18-foot HW with open gunwales, spruce and birch.

I checked the 68XXX numbers, just in case:

68307 was 17 feet, with open spruce gunwales and maple thwarts that was shipped to Philadelphia in 1922. I'll attach that build record.
68507 was 20-feet with open spruce and birch from 1922.
68807 was 18-feet with spruce and birch.

What are some other numbers worth checking here? I'm trying to imagine how one number might look like another, but aside from 8,6,3, and 5, I'm drawing a blank. Maybe I'll try the 58XXX series.



  • 68307.jpg
    350.3 KB · Views: 397


Well, that didn't help:

58807 was a 17-foot Otca with open spruce gunwales and a 20" birch decks that was sent to Washington, D.C., in 1920.
58507 was an 18-foot HW with mahogany everything.
58307 was a 16-foot HW with spruce and maple that was sent to Milwaukee in 1920.

88207 is a 17' CS Charles River with open spruce wales, but decks/thwarts/seat frames trimmed in birch.

88407 is a 17' CS HW with open spruce wales and birch D/T/S...

88607 is a 17' CS HW with open spruce wales and birch D/T/S, OSS and sponsons

These three (well, the first two) are close, but we're looking for ash trim... the boats in this group (the 88s) seem to be birch trimmed in the CS grade.

These canoes shipped in 1926-27, so that seems right, for having diamond-head bolts.

Rolf-- can you tell if the canoe is a Charles River versus an HW? The picture didn't show the profile well.

I will pull the boat out and get some more pictures tomorrow. I will also try to get some measurements and a good photo of the stem and numbers. I've played with pics of the stem in photoshop and iphoto without good results. Kathy I must admit that I would not be able to identify the difference between a Charles river and an HW. Are there any particular things I should be looking for? Any help on that would be good. I guess we just keep digging. Thanks Norm and Kathy!
CR vs HW

Looking at the catalogs, I think it would be hard to tell the difference between the CR and HW-- it seems the HW is about an inch deeper and the CR has a tad more tumblehome... but those differences can blur over the years. The other elements-- deck-type, seats, thwarts-- are the same for both models.

I'll attach some images from the 1920 catalog, courtesy "The Complete Old Town Canoe Company Catalog Collection, 1901- 1993", available on CD from http://www.wcha.org/catalog/ and http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/cdrom.htm on the web.



  • ot models 1920.gif
    ot models 1920.gif
    13.4 KB · Views: 422
  • ot hw 1920.jpg
    ot hw 1920.jpg
    235 KB · Views: 422
  • ot cr 1920.jpg
    ot cr 1920.jpg
    261.1 KB · Views: 415
Well, finally got around to taking some pictures. Along with the pics I have a few dimensions. Depth at he center 11.5 Width from outside to outside is around 35, no outwales on the boat. There are currently no thwarts and only the rear seat in the boat so the shape is off a bit. 17 feet long.

So far none of the numbers seem to be coming up with the right canoe. We actually just ended a number debate out in the yard. I've included the best photo I could of the number in the rear of the boat.

Thanks again for all you consideration!!:)
:rolleyes:Opps! Forgot the pics.


  • SG102768.jpg
    221.2 KB · Views: 413
  • SG102771.jpg
    160.3 KB · Views: 409
  • SG102772.jpg
    137.7 KB · Views: 399
  • SG102774.jpg
    135.3 KB · Views: 396
  • SG102776.jpg
    258.1 KB · Views: 405
I vote for 38307. I blew it way up to fill the screen. The "3s" do not have the circular remnants one would expect if they were 8s. The "crackle" is random through all digits. The "for certain" 8 is not sufficiently disfigured to be a 3. The questionable digits appear to fit the 3 form better than an 8 form. Now none of that is scientific but seems logical and reasonable. So what is 38307.
I think a heat gun and scraper would help tremendously, but looking at this, I'd go with 38307 as well.