Old Town SN#99325 16' OCTA

Los Humungos Paddleos

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I need some help identifying the canoe in the title. I think the canoe is a 16' OTCA, but I am not 100% sure though. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
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The Old Town with serial number 99325 is a 16 foot long Yankee model in CS (Common Sense or the middle) grade with red western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, ash decks, and a keel. It was built between September, 1928 and March, 1929. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It was shipped on March 19th, 1929 to Chicago, Illinois. 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 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 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.php to join.

It is also possible that they could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. It probably looks like an Otca because the current 16 foot long Otca model is built on the Yankee form. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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Thank you so much! That information is great. You are the best! As you suggested in your post, I went ahead and joined the WCHA yesterday. Now I need to find someone who can help me restore this lovely lady. Any ideas? I live in Illinois in the Chicago suburbs. Also, any other resources that you can guide me to would be great. Again, thank you in advance for any assistance.

The canoe is rough, but to the untrained eye, I would say it can be restored. Problem is, I have limited skills, and I have never undertaken a project like this before. There is a first for everything, though :) Thanks again.
Get your hands on a copy of what is often referred to as the bible of canoe restoration -- "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to Its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow -- available from the WCHA, Amazon, and often on eBay. There are also other books on building and restoration of canoes -- go the to home page of this site and check the WCHA store, which has quite a few books available.

Even if you don't plan to do something yourself, it is good to know what needs to be done when talking with a professional.
Yorkville is way south & west from me...

We're in the Great Rivers Chapter area, and they've had a builder's/restorers workshop the last couple of years, in March, in Elburn, IL, just up the road from you. I've not yet made it there (kids' activities), but hopefully it'll happen again this winter. Look for it to get posted in the "Chapter Happenings" forum here.

Meanwhile, post pictures & ask questions... there are a lot of top-notch folks here who are very willing to help.
I got the canoe this weekend. Woo Hoo! I have attached a pic. Seems like I have a lot of work ahead of me. Any advice on what to do from here (I have already signed up to be a member of the WCHA and ordered the wood and canvas canoe "bible." Any thoughts on where I can buy the materials I need for restoration? Oh and one other question (for now) WS on the build sheet is Western Cedar and not White Cedar?

Thanks in advance for the advice and help.



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Any thoughts on where I can buy the materials I need for restoration? Oh and one other question (for now) WS on the build sheet is Western Cedar and not White Cedar?

Materials are available from the factory and most restorers are willing to sell supplies. The "WC" on an Old Town build record is nearly always a reference to red Western cedar. The "MC" notation was usually used for white Maine cedar. The messages at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=809 give some links to examples of this. Good luck with the rest of your restoration,

Spliced outwales

Hi Everyone,

Wally stopped by with his canoe and it is in very good condition. It appears this canoe have very little use. No cracked ribs, no wear on the ribs in front of either seat. It has about 10' of plank that needs to be replaced and that includes the stern at the stem that needs some planking. It appears to have been canvased only once.

What is currious are the outwales that appear to be original but are spliced in the middle as shown in the attached picture.

I have seen hundreds of Old Town canoes of all ages and have never seen spliced outwales. This canoe was dipped in a tank to strip the varnish and the seats have come unglued and I don't doubt that is when the outwales became unglued.

Does anyone out there have any record that OT spliced outwales?




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That's a splice?

I'm having trouble visualizing it, how does it go together?
(Assuming that these 2 pieces do fit together.)

That's a splice?

I'm having trouble visualizing it, how does it go together?
(Assuming that these 2 pieces do fit together.)


Yes, that is the way it is spliced. Pretty complex, huh? To help visualize it better, the wood is cut in a jagged pattern (what you see). The jagged portions of each side then fit together flush like a puzzle piece, or like when you interlock your fingers together.

The canoe is a CS grade canoe.

Interestingly, on the two outwales, the splice is not on the same spot on the outwale. The splice on one of the two outwales the cut is about 2/3s down the outwale and the other is about 1/2 way down the outwale.

BTW, it was great meeting Paul last night. He is a great ambassador for the WCHA and the hobby.

Finger joint

The outwales on my 1940 CS Guide are finger jointed in the center and it is likely original.
I've seen a number of CS-grade Old Towns from the late '20s through the 1940s using the same finger joint in the middle of the outwales. Not sure what kind of glue was used, but even on original ones in good condition (original canvas, still in varnish) the joints are sometimes coming apart.

Wally- your canoe looks far nicer than many you'll find. This would be a comparatively easy restoration with respect many with far more serious and widespread problems.

My 1935

Otca had finger joints in the center+/- of both outwales. The glue failed also.

Wally - I'm rather impressed with your garage - I counted eight boats and at least five bikes not including the "junior" rec equipment scattered around. My prediction is that in a few years most of those plastic boats will be replaced by wood ones.

Jim C.
Thoughts on what color to paint the canoe

I have begun to restore this canoe with Paul Miller. Pretty cool, and a great learning experience too. I am particularly glad for Paul's patience. :) Since I have started the project, I have spoken with Paul a couple of times about what color I should paint the canoe. The build sheet says that the canoe came from the factory painted dark green. So my knee jerk reaction on what color to paint the canoe was dark green. The reason my knee jerk reaction was such was drawing on my experience with other collectables. Generally, that experience says that when you are restoring something, you are getting the greatest value in the restoration when you restore it to as close to original factory specifications as possible. Now I know that is not always the case, ie. a tricked out car can sometimes fetch much more then a factory original car. And I also understand that value is also in the eye of the beholder, ie. some people appreciate and would rather have a tricked out street rod and other people appreciate and would like a factory original car (staying with the car example).

In the case with my canoe here, I am not familiar enough with the hobby to formulate a good idea on the best way to go in terms of paint. Here is what I was thinking about doing in terms of paint. 1. dark green just as the factory build sheet says; 2. dark green with pin striping; 3. dark green with a stripe or border of a contrasting color (white/cream or another color); 4. another color (red or blue most likely); 5. another color (red or blue) with pinstriping in a contrasting color; 6. another color with a border or stripe.

It would be most appreciated if you folks here with much more experince ini the hobby can provide me with some advice. Accodringly, what are your thoughts? Thanks in advance for your help.