Old Town Design #4


Curious about Wooden Canoes
We have OT #166287 built May 20-Sept 9, 1957. CS with color/design #4. Does anyone have a picture or drawing of the color and graphics of this canoe in original form? I have been told that it would have been all white with an indian design and the small amount of remaining canvas along the top would support some design of this nature. Any information would be appreciated. I want to restore as accurately as possible. I have received a 2003 OT catalog with a limited edition new build of design #4 which looks like the design I have been referred to but this edition looks like the indian design is a applied graphic and looks to be narrow. Also the OT logo appears in the center of the graphic and somehow I don't think that fits with 1957. Most of the older examples of this design seem to be 4 or 5 inches while the limited edition of 2003 looks to be only about 2 inches wide. This will be a labor of love to restore and I want it as close to original as I can manage. Thanks for any help.
I suspect there is probably someone here on the forum who can give you exact dimensions for all the various bits. It's a lot of work, but worth it. Here are a couple Old Town catalog shots from around 1970. The sailing canoe is running stern-first, so you can't see the small design in the middle of the bow stem.


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Old Town #4

Thanks for the photos. This is exactly what I was searching for. The special edition that OT put out in 2003 was only mean't to give a updated representation of the original #4 and not as a reproduction. I was inclined to believe that the design was larger and continued to the water's edge as your photos confirm. I am far from this point in my restoration as the canoe framework will require hours, yes days, of sanding and refinishing before canvas and "indian" design work. Thanks again!
Thanks for the photos. These all confirm my belief that the "indian" markings were large and continued to the water's edge. I have just a bit of canvas with the original paint still remaining along the top of the canoe and it very much resembles what I am seeing in these photos. These will help tremendously when I reach the point of re-canvas and painting on the design. I appreciate all the information so many of you have provided to this "newbie" in canoe restoration!
Dan Bowle
Gil Cramer of The Wooden Canoe Shop Inc has this to say:

"Design #4, the red and blue triangle pattern had different sized isosceles triangles for each length and model canoe . The long side of the triangle was determined by measuring the length of the canoe immediately under the outwale and dividing by the number of triangles needed Since the pattern starts and ends with red, there is always an odd number of triangles along the shear. The pattern starts and ends with a full red triangle so the base measurement of the triangle needs to be quite accurate. The height of the triangle can be adjusted to whatever is pleasing to the eye.
If you make a triangle from cardboard with approx. a 5" base and a 3" height you'll get some idea of the approx. size. An 18' guide will probably take 41-45 triangles along the shear. After the size of the triangle is determined, make one or preferrably 2 out of plastic or posterboard. Mark off the entire hull using water soluble markers. It might take 2 or 3 times to get the triangles to come out correct ly on the ends. Any of the triangles except the very end ones can be altered slightly without anyone ever noticing. Mark 5 or 6 triangles around the bow and stern also using the stem as the base. Be careful to have them match on both side of the canoe.
Once you're satisfied with the spacing, tape below the triangles with 1" 3M 218 fineline tape. After taping these triangles, create the smaller blue inverted triangles by running one piece of tape parallel to the outwale about an inch lower than the first larger triangles. The small triangles and diamond on the bow and stern are created similarly.
The eight pointed star also varies in size from canoe to canoe. It is basically a square with 2 triangles on each side. I'm not sure that you can understand my description so feel free to contact me if you still have questions."

Hope this helps.
Outstanding information. You must have understood what my next question was going to be, how do I create the pattern or is there is a stencil? I think I can easily understand your directions and should be able to adjust to my 15', 50 Pound model. This information will be invaluable. Thanks.
One problem with using triangular templates or stencils to lay out a triangular design such as OT's design # 4 arises from inevitable errors in measurement. It is difficult to get a precise measurement of the curved sheer line of a canoe, and any error in the dimension of a triangular template baseline will be multiplied by the number of times the template is used. For example, if painting design #4 on a hypothetical 18' canoe (216"), with a hypothetical sheer line of 202" requires 43 large triangles under the gunwale, each triangle base will be 4.7 inches. If an error as small as 1/32' is made in creating the template, the accumulated 1/32" error of 43 triangles will be 1 and 11/32" -- more or less, depending on whether the error is plus or minus. Starting at one end of the canoe, even with a template error of as little as 1/64", you will be about 11/16" short or over when you get to the other end. As Gil Cramer notes in post # 8 above, it may take a couple of tries to fuss and fudge to get the triangles to come out properly.

I have used an alternate method that does not require using templates, and accommodates and hides small errors as you make the single layout effort. All that is needed is a tape measure, a small square (or square-cut piece of cardboard or wood), masking tape, and pencil or washable marker.

First, determine the size of the triangle you wish to use -- for the hypothetical canoe above, the base of the triangle will be about 4.7" and its height will be 3".

Next, determine the center of the sheer under the gunwale and mark with a pencil. Then, mark the ends of a line 4.7" long centered on the already marked center point of your sheer under the gunwale. This two points will identify the base of your first, central triangle -- leaving you with the bases of 21 triangles to mark out on both sides of the central one.

Next mark the ends of a 4.7" triangle base at the bow and at the stern -- leaving you now with 20 triangles to place between these and the central triangle. Divide this distance in half, giving you a space into which 10 triangles will fit. Mark the center of this, and you have the space for five triangles.

Now measure this distance, divide by 5, and mark the 5 triangle bases -- do this separately for each segment of 5 -- the distance is not likely to be exactly the same, but the difference, divided five times, will be negligible. And when actually marking out the 5 bases with your pencil, minor fudging is easily done by eye if needed so the five triangles fill the segment.

Next, mark a line 3" below the sheer under the gunwale -- I made a series of pencil dots using a short story stick, and connected them with masking tape.

Now go back to each of your 43 triangle bases, and mark the center of each. Using your square. use this center point to mark the point of the height of your triangle along the masking tape. (As seen in the photo, I marked the base of each triangle and its center on the gunwale, which was to be painted over. The point of the triangle was on the long masking tape, covered by the subsequent taping.)

With masking tape, connect the ends of the base of each triangle with the apex point marked on the masking tape 3" below -- then paint.

My paint job is an adaptation of design #4 -- obviously, the colors are not the classic red, white, and blue. Further, my small (green) triangles are not separated from the larger triangles as much as in the classic design, and they are not as small as in the classic design. Had I used wider masking tape (perhaps 2" instead of the 3/4" tape I used), or separately masked for the small triangles, I would have come very close to the proportions of the classic design.

This all seems like a lot of work, but it is not difficult. I suspect using templates is at least as much work. I have never tried using templates, so I cannot say that this method is easier or better -- but it does get the job done.

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