Old Town serial number


New Member
My uncle passed away and I inherited his old town canoe. Serial number 98237, does anyone have any information on this that they can share. I have not been able to find an exact match to this canoe online. It has some unique hardware on it. It has brass plates/hardware at the tips of the deck. I don't know if this is original or not but its cool and it looks original but like I said I have not found any other canoes that look like mine.
Thanks in advance


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Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
The Old Town canoe with serial number 98237 is a 16 foot long, CS (common sense or middle) grade, Otca model with red western cedar planking, open mahogany gunwales, birch decks, a keel, and a painter ring. It was built between 1928 and March, 1929. The original exterior paint color was brilliant green with a two inch pointed white stripe. This may have been similar to the one shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/designs/design34.gif with green instead of red. It shipped on March 14th, 1929 to Rochester, New York. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

This scan and several hundred thousand more 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 will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/about-the-wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://store.wcha.org/WCHA-New-Membership.html to join.

It is possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description don't match your canoe. The brass plates at the tips are probably a repair since they are not mentioned on the build record. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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New Member
1928-1929 Old Town OTCA 16'

Uncle Ken.jpg
Thank you Benson for your help! I have a couple of questions and would appreciate anyone's feedback on this.

  • Do you have any knowledge about the brass points on the decks?
  • What is the painter ring for? is it just a tie off point?
  • Does anyone know what the original decals would have looked like on this model?
  • The woven seat material is pined with dowels in place. Is this the original method for lacing the seats? I have seen videos online and I haven't seen this before.
  • I will have to re-canvas and varnish this canoe, Does anyone have any advice on what not to use to keep it as original as possible? Or can I just use modern materials and not effect the value?

I cleaned it up last night and the wood looks like it is in amazing shape just the canvas is separating from the canoe at the top. I'm getting pretty excited about this project and I will defiantly be posting pictures of my progress.
Thanks again

Greg Nolan

Before making any decision about how to repair or restore your canoe, you would do well to get, or at least look at -- "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok, and/or "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok.

The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe and its construction,

You might also want to look at "The Old Town Canoe Company" by Susan Audette and David Baker, a great history of the Old Town company and its canoes. These are available from the WCHA store, are often on eBay, or from Amazon.

The brass plates on your canoe are almost certainly there to cover damaged wood at the ends of your decks and/or stems and gunwales. Damage (rot) is common there from storing a canoe upside down on the ground -- a practice that is ok for a few days on a camping trip, but is not a proper way to keep a canoe for any length of time.

A painter is a rope or line used to tie a canoe to a dock. A painter ring is where the line is tied to the canoe.

It is unusual for cane to be pinned in place with dowels or pegs. Sometimes the binding cane (the cane that runs around the edges of the cane) is pegged in place at the four corners of the caned area of the seat -- but I have not seen pegging or use of dowels to hold cane in place. Recaning is not particularly difficult, and cane suppliers also have instructional material available -- two cane suppliers I have used are H.H. Perkins Co., <http://hhperkins.com/faq.php> and Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply <http://www.franksupply.com/caning/hand-caning.html#strandcane>

The black decal, not the red, is the appropriate deck decal for your canoe -- see http://store.wcha.org/Decals/

Re-canvasing and repainting and revarnishing a canoe is considered routine maintenance. Most prefer to use traditional canvas and filler for the outside, and good marine varnish (e.g., Epiphanes, Petit Captain's) for the interior. Most stay away from polyurethanes and epoxy clear finishes for the interior, because they can be difficult to redo and/or to touch up, and eventually (depending on how often and how hard the canoe is used) refinishing will be called for. Good marine varnishes have ultra-violet inhibitors -- ultra-violet rays will destroy ordinary varnish in very quick order.

Very few canoes have great value as antiques -- their value is as something to be used and enjoyed. Almost anything reasonable you might do can be undone -- if you paint your canoe a crazy color, you or someone else can repaint it. The basic approach most here take is to use materials similar to that used originally. No harm is done by using some modern materials -- epoxy is often the glue preferred for most gluing, because for the most part, you want things that are glued together to stay together, but other modern glues, -- Titebond II and III are also commonly used. Except, perhaps, for a museum restoration, nobody uses the glues used in 1928. If you cover a seat with nylon webbing, it can be removed and the seat can be recaned -- or a completely new cane seat can be installed. But weaving cane is not too difficult. If dacron is used instead of canvas, it can be removed in the future if desired and canvas used again.

And specific to your boat -- the brass plates that are probably not original can be left in place -- if you like them -- if they are doing the job of holding the tip of the canoe together. But now would be a good time to repair and restore the canoe ends, while you are removing the old canvas and refinishing the interior, if you wish to bring the canoe back to a more original appearance.

If your concern about the value of the canoe comes from a desire to sell it, many would advise selling it without restoring it. Restoring a canoe rarely improves the sale price beyond the cost of the restoration -- the restoration can even cost more than the increase in value. And if sold unrestored, the buyer gets to restore it the way he wants.