Old Town With Sponsons Serial Number 7180 18

Shari Gnolek

Have dog, will paddle
I am potentially interested purchasing an Old Town Canoe for restoration that I found on Craigslist. It's got a square back, with sponsons, and appears to be covered in blue canvas. As best I could read it, the serial number on the stem is 7180 18, or maybe 1180 18. Is there any information available about this serial number?

Welcome, the Old Town with serial number 7180 is a 17 foot long Charles River model from 1907 with two pointed ends. There is no existing Old Town build record for number 1180. The 18 foot long square-end paddling model from Old Town was introduced in the 1929 catalog so will probably have a six digit serial number. The information at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/791/ should help you find any hidden digits. Several other builders made canoes like this so if there isn't a name plate on the bow deck then please post some pictures to see if it might be from another manufacturer. Good luck,


Thanks so much for the help!
So I know it's an Old Town because it does have the name plate on the bow deck. I was trying to read the number from the inside front stem, but I see in the directions in the link that you provided that the serial number can also be found in the back. I will have to check there when I go back tomorrow and/or try a rubbing. Do these photos provide any clues?
That bow deck decal has a lot of red in it, suggesting a build after 1956. Should have a 6-digit serial number.
Ok, so I went back and looked the boat again. The best picture of the front stem that I could get is shown below . I also tried a crayon rubbing. The back stem was worn and did not have any numbers on it (or maybe it had been replaced?). I can't tell for sure
if there are 6 numbers, but there are definitely at least 5, followed by a 18.

I am pretty sure of the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th position numbers being 7, 1, 8 and 0 respectively.

My best guesses would be:
272180 18
772180 18

Also, does the style of the stem (thin at ends, then wide the length of the boat) suggest anything about the age of the boat or if had been repaired?

Thanks for the help!


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Well, it will probably take some varnish remover to get the correct serial number. This has the deck decal with a red bar which was introduced in the early 1950s along with spruce inside gunwales with mahogany outside gunwales that were introduced in 1957. This model was last listed in the 1971 catalog. The chart at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/oldtown_chart.html indicates that a Old Town built between 1957 and 1971 should have a serial number in the 160,000 to 191,000 range. The third digit in your serial number seems the least clear so I checked all of the numbers in the 17x180, 16180x, 17180x, and 19180x ranges but didn't find any 18 foot long square end models. Let me know if you have any other ideas about what your numbers may be.

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Good thought but I didn't find anything in the 17118x range either. Any other ideas?

I don't think the current owner will be excited if I showed up with varnish remover, so the best way to solve this mystery may be to buy it. :) I've never attempted a project like this before, but I love to paddle and restore/create things, and I have to believe that other people have tackled projects like this for far crazier reasons. Besides, the people in this forum have been so helpful already I feel like there is no way this could be a bad idea! I will hopefully be back with more questions and a better varnish-free picture of the serial number...

172186 18?
The build record for 172186 doesn't match either. I checked the whole 17x18x and 11180x ranges but only found two square end models which were 14 and 15 feet long. The current owner may be happy to have you show up with varnish remover since an Old Town with a matching build record is usually worth more than a UFO (unidentified floating object). However, this may not be in your best interest so have fun. Let us know if you find a different number,

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A simple pencil rub should pull up the numbers for you. Place a thin piece of paper over the numbers and rub over the numbers until they show through. I like to use cash register receipt paper for this..
Yup, buy it so that I don't need to keep looking at the add;)
OK, one last guess before the varnish remover. I've tried a bunch of different papers/methods. It is in my garage so I now own an 18' Old Towne square-back with sponsons. It would be fun to discover more about it.

171160 18
Bingo, the Old Town canoe with serial number 171160 is an 18 foot long special square end model with half ribs, a keel, outside stems, sponsons, a rowing seat and rowlocks. It was built between June and July, 1961. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It shipped on August, 1st, 1961 to Fulton, New York. A scan showing 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/catalogs/old-town/records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will donate, join, or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/about-wcha to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/store/membership to join.

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.

Terrific! Looks like everything is there (in one state or another) except for the rowlocks.
From a quick search, the person it was shipped to advertised boat and trailer sales in the Fulton/Syracuse area during the 1950s and 60s and I purchased it near there. During that period of time were Old Town canoes always shipped to dealers, or were they ever shipped directly to individuals?

...became a member :)
During that period of time were Old Town canoes always shipped to dealers, or were they ever shipped directly to individuals?

Congratulations on your new membership, Old Towns were usually shipped to dealers but would occasionally be shipped to individuals if there wasn't a dealer in their area. Good luck with the restoration,

The 18' Square End Paddling canoe is one of my favorite canoes. Spend more time in it than the rest of the fleet combined. Hope you enjoy it. Replacement oarlocks are available at Shaw & Tenney (Orono, Maine). I have a long paddle and frequently fish standing on the rear seat for visibility. For any distance it is much easier to row than paddle though, at least to me. Someone added sailing equipment to it in the past and handles surprisingly well. I would suggest a trailer for ease of transport. For a few years I moved it with racks on the pickup truck. While that worked well to get into the North Maine Woods, it was a little much as I got older.


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I'm glad to hear that! I currently paddle a 12' Kevlar canoe (am I allowed to say that here?) that weighs only 18 pounds, so this is the exact opposite and that's why I thought it could be a fun project and interesting to paddle/row. It's got to be stable if you can stand on the rear seat. Last time I stood in a canoe it didn't end well. It doesn't seem like boats like this, especially with the sponsons, are all that popular on this forum so I was glad to see your comment. I know that the sponsons will make it more difficult to restore , and I see that some people remove them, but they are part of what attracted me to this boat - for the stability and uniqueness. My husband and I hefted this onto our pickup truck rack to get it home but that doesn't seem like a sustainable approach for a whole lot of reasons (some of which involved swearing!) so you are exactly right about a trailer. I'll definitely check out the source you mentioned for replacement oarlocks. I hope that when I'm done it will look half as good as the photo you shared (and that it floats of course!).
Hi Shari... I just found this Thread from your latest email. Boat looks quite nice!
Seriously: start a new thread here & ask whether there's anybody out there that has one of these without the sponsons, and ask them how stable it is. Also ask how heavy their canoes are. This canoe/boat is going to be heavy and will be much easier to handle sans sponsons. Maybe you could also you weigh the boat now with & without them to get an idea...
But they look so cool with sponsons!


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Dave, that is just gorgeous!
Tell me, is the canvas lapped over the transom, tacked onto the transom, and covered by that decorative 'U' of wood?
Also, tell Sahri how much it weighs.