Old town


LOVES Wooden Canoes

Is there any info on 47184? I think it is for a 17' Old town. I have not personally seen the number.
Hi Macky,

Old Town 47184 is a 17 foot CS (common sense or middle) grade Charles River model canoe that was completed December of 1916, with red Western cedar planking, closed spruce gunwales , ash decks/thwarts/seat frames, oak finish rails, a keel and a cardinal red paint color. It was shipped to Akron, Ohio, on April 25, 1917. Image of the scan of this record is attached below-- click on it to get a larger image.

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 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.
Is this a new one for your fleet?



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Thanks Kathy,
In the pictures it appears to have rub rails. If it came with them would it be noted on the build record? They seem to be turned up on each end.
Unless "finish rails" (on the build record) are rub rails. I wondered how the canoe could have closed spruce gunwales and oak finish rails, if finish rails were the same as gunwales.
Finish rails refer to the outside gunwale and rail cap of a closed gunwale canoe.

Rub rails, if installed by Old Town, would usually be mentioned on the build card.

"Finish rails" can be confusing because they're not always noted on the build record. As Dan said, they are not a rub rail (a rub rail is some inches below the sheer) but the top and outside caps of the gunwale. On closed gunwale OT canoes, spruce was standard, in which case nothing was noted on the build record. But you could special order other woods, mahogany and oak at least, and these would be noted on the build record under "finish rails".

Red & white old town

Kathy, this is the only picture I have of the canoe. It has a cap closing the gunwales. The canvas and paint appear to be original as does the rub rail.


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The finish rails on my 1916 Old Town Charles River are an extra set running along each side above the water line.

Usually the ones above the water line are called a rub rails and the ones at the top are called the finish rails as others have mentioned. Can you attach some pictures of the serial numbers from each end of this canoe? The standard Old Town rub rails didn't usually follow the curve of the gunwale all the way to the end like this. It is also odd that the build record has no mention of them. Can you tell what type of woods were used for the rub rails and finish rails? Are they identical? Were there any extra tack holes under the canvas to indicate that the canvas had been replaced previously? Thanks,

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Benson, I am not able to get photos today. The serial number is 47184 17. The canvas was original and the out wales, caps, and extra/rub rails appeared to be white oak. I bought this Old
Town from Idaho. They moved there from mid Ohio. Their family had ordered it for Christmas in 1916, but arrived after Christmas. They assured me that the rails were as delivered and that it came red and white. I will try to get photos tomorrow.


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Interesting, it is possible that the dealer put the rub rails on and painted the white before they purchased it or that the factory simply neglected to update the build record in the rush to fill the order. This is a very pretty canoe regardless of when the rub rails were added.

Benson --

What do you make of this build record which describes a canoe with open spruce gunwales, but which was also equipped with "open spruce" finish rails?

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A redundant entry?

What do you make of this build record which describes a canoe with open spruce gunwales, but which was also equipped with "open spruce" finish rails? A redundant entry?

This was a fairly typical notation in that era as shown below. Open gunwales were first introduced in the 1906 catalog and they were still unusual into the early teens. I believe that the "Gunwales" line was used for the inside gunwale and the "Finish Rails" line was used for the outside gunwale so it is a bit redundant to have "Open" in both locations. There are also examples where "Open" was noted on only one of these lines and not on the other but I've never seen a 'half open' gunwale (excluding short rail caps). Let me know if this doesn't answer your question. Thanks,



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