Old Town Metal Stem Bands?


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I have just acquired a 1915 Charles River 16' Old Town, S# 33608-16 which I intend to restore. I just finished the restoration of a 1912 18' Old Town Guide Canoe S# 24568-18. WCHA provided the build record for both. I found the 1912 Guide Canoe had half round aluminum stem bands and after some internet surfing I concluded that it very well could have been original equipment and Old Town was experimenting with something new. On this 1915 Charles River model however, I found full round steel stem bands which were flattened at each end where they attach to the deck and bottom keel. In my mind there is no way this can be original equipment. So what was Old Town using for stem bands a hundred years ago? Were they using half round brass which is the most logical or were they using wood? Or by some chance was the full round steel or aluminum half round stems original with Old Town? Does anyone have any experience that would relate to this?



I personally think that it is very unlikely that your 1912 was built with aluminum stem bands. These did not show up on canoes until the 50's. More than likely they were replacements. The steel bands are likely the same.
My 1906 has the original brass stem bands. Every other canoe I have seen from this period is the same although some do use copper.

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
I agree with MGC as I mentioned previously so these are probably both replacements. Old Town’s experiments with unusual materials were usually noted on the build record. I didn’t see any special notations on the build records for 24568 or 33608. The catalogs from 1901 to 1965 specify brass stem bands (or bang plates as they were also know). This is shown on the page at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/specific.gif from a 1920s era catalog. Brass stem bands were last listed on page five of the 1965 catalog and aluminum stem bands were first mentioned on page four of the 1968 catalog. Others here may be able to offer additional information from their experiences,