Ot 170263 18?

Michael Hayes

Usually paddling
Hello All,

Just became the proud owner of the above Old Town - makes me smile every time I look at it. Build record would be greatly appreciated. I figure somewhere around 1960. It appears to have the #4 design on the ragged canvas.

Anyway, looking forward to the restoration project, and any help that might be forthcoming.

Best! (Still smiling!)

The Old Town canoe with serial number 170263 is an 18 foot long Otca model with a keel. It was built between July and August, 1960. The original exterior paint color was white. It was shipped on August 12th, 1960 to Pittsburgh. 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 don't match the canoe. The design number four was probably added after the canoe was shipped from the factory since it is not mentioned on the build record. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the restoration,



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Thanks so much, Benson. It's remarkable how quickly you all seem to respond to these inquiries.

Best regards,

A Book You Might Like...

Happy Old Town owners may experience increased pride in their new possession by reading Sue Audette's book, Old Town, Our First Hundred Years. It's in the WCHA store but can also be found on Amazon or eBay... or in the library. Contains information on other old canoe companies as well... a nice reference book.

Book Recommendation

Thanks for the tip, Kathy. I'm planning on ordering Jerry Stelmok's books as I gear up for the project. Would there be any other recommended, "must-have" resources (besides this website :) ) to help in the restoration?

By the way Benson - the seller claimed to have acquired the canoe from a friend, who told him that his dad had painted the design in order to make the boat look like the designs that a local campground on a private lake used - they apparently weren't supposed to paddle on the lake otherwise, so painted the boat as a sort of camouflage.

I'd wondered about the paint job when I bought it, because the graphic on the bow was different from the design shown elsewhere on this site. I've attached a photo. I think I'll go ahead and recreate the design when I do the paint, if only because so many people who have seen my new acquisition find it so appealing.

It's fascinating how people are attracted to old canoes. We had a little get-together yesterday, and a friend's mom really got a kick out of it. She was telling me about her days leading Girl Scout troops on excursions through the woods of Maine in Old Town canoes back in the late fifties. She said that she'd never paddled a better boat, though she subsequently moved on to modern materials.

I'm anxious to get it done so I can see if she's right. I'm sorry to admit that my paddling to this point has been limited to Royalex hulls.


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For a couple years now, Denis and I have manned a WCHA booth at local Boat and Sport Shows. The wooden canoes at our booth always attract attention, and we've walked Memory Lane with many, who are reminded of summer days spent at Camp Sissyminunu. Beyond the nostalgia-factor, there's something exciting about a wooden boat... something real that's missing in plastic and metal canoes.

Sometimes people talk themselves into "modern materials"... more "practical" (whatever)... but there's this whole big group consisting of hundreds of people who actually advocate wooden boats! So, our "passion" may be giving folks permission to go where their heart's desire leads them.

For me, it's easier to learn by viewing something than by reading. Building the Atkinson Traveler is a video-companion to Jerry's book.


There are also a number of YouTube videos covering aspects of construction and restoration-- some are probably better than others-- I haven't watched too many of them (there's one on fiberglass removal starring a pretty cute guy though).

If there are questions, you know where to ask!

Thanks for the video tip, Kathy. I agree that visuals can help. I taught myself to canoe with Bill Mason's "Path of the Paddle" videos. Although I also bought his book of the same title, there's no doubt that actually watching him dance with that Chestnut Prospector accelerated the learning process.

I'm looking forward to the day that I can relaunch the Otca. Even though I've never paddled a wooden boat, I imagine there's a special aspect to the experience. One thing I will say though, is that the modern materials are easier on the back for portages - that old Otca is HEAVY! Reminds me that I'm not as fit as I like to think I am.

Thanks again - you guys are so cool!
Good Stuff: Assembly and Chapters

Something you'd no-doubt find mind-blowing is the WCHA Assembly... or, on a lesser but also-great-fun-scale, a Chapter get-together.

The Assembly is a yearly-deal... like a convention of wooden-canoe-nuts and their canoes and other wares... and you get to try-out others' boats and absorb great information. This year, the Assembly is in the finger-lakes region of New York State, and the overall topic is canoe sailing... so, imagine what you might be able to try out!

Here's some basic info:


Denis has been a WCHA member since 1979 but only began attending Assemblies two years ago. And we're hooked... it's the people, even more than it is the boats.

The main page of this website has a link to a short video with scenes of an Assembly... look for the WCHA Informational Video.

Also, check the main page of this website to see if there's a Chapter near you. The local chapters can vary as to how often folks get together and what they do.

Denis and I have had great fun dropping in on WCHA members when we travel (most of our traveling involves fetching a canoe we've purchased on eBay or elsewhere)... and our door is likewise always open to WCHA members. We're in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Re weighty wood/canvas canoes: sometimes a wood/canvas is heavier because it has fiberglass added to the original recipe. In looking at the 1960 OT catalog, the 18 foot Otca is listed as weighing 80 pounds.

Design #4 is a favorite Old Town design, and several home-made versions have shown up here.

I noticed on some of your other posts that you're a Yooper. Marquette is a cool town. One of the most memorable meals of my life was fresh Lake Superior Whitefish that I had at a restaurant on the south end of Marquette. I can't recall the name of the place, but seem to think it included the term "Supper Club".

I'm originally from Michigan myself (Jackson County), but am now in New Mexico. I did check to see where the closest chapter was - seems to be California. The Assembly sounds very cool, especially the sailing focus. Getting there this year might require some sort of fortuitous synchronicity to occur, but those seem to be happening lately, so we'll see.

BTW - Eighty pounds sounds about right, and the boat hasn't been glassed. As I said earier, I'm not as fit as I think I am, and it feels pretty heavy compared to my 39-pound Royalite Mohawk Solo. So, basically, I'm a wimp!
The usual solution to a heavy canoe is a good trailer. The comments at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=3485 may help if you want some suggestions. I am currently building a set of bunks and rollers for my trailer so I can carry my 18 foot Otca with sponsons upright and easily launch it alone from a boat ramp. This canoe was originally listed at 110 pounds with canvas and it makes me a portage wimp too. I also have found the small bicycle wheel carriers to be very helpful.

Be sure to save the original canvas so you have a good pattern to work from when repainting the colors. The design number four is much more complex than it looks when you start to work out the geometry. I spent more than a year working on the design shown in the link below since I did not have an original canvas to work from. It still doesn't look exactly like it did as shown at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=6208&d=1222825989 in the 1930s. Good luck with your restoration,



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That's beautiful, Benson. Gives me something to shoot for!

I'd already thought that it might be a good idea to keep the canvas as a reference when I reach the painting stage. I intend to take detailed measurements before I pull the canvas as well, although it isn't an original factory layout. I'm pretty sure that triangles and a sweeping gunwale can lead to some challenges.

Altough I'm nowhere near the application of paint stage, I'd might as well ask and make a note - what paint and colors did you use - the red and blue on the Otca are pretty faded.

In any case, I'll be pretty excited when I'm at the painting stage. Right now I'm at the "reading any and all WCHA threads that might prove helpful" stage. I think I've been online most of the day - there's an amazing amount of information here.

Thanks again for the tips and enouragement.

Best - MH
Michael Hayes said:
what paint and colors did you use

The colors are bright red (104-L) and light blue (152) as shown in the atttached picture of the paint cans but any good marine enamels should work fine. My usual advice is to just pick colors that you like. The black and white picture of this canoe indicates that the original blue appears to have been exceptionally light and the original red was very dark but that did not appeal to me.



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Another thing to consider if you plan to put a fancy design on a canoe is to do the same to the car that carries it. Dan Miller used photo editing software to create the image at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=6538&d=1227489641 which led me to put red and blue triangles on some magnetic sign strips as shown in the first attached image below. My son decided that it would look better below the windows which led to the second picture. Things rapidly went down hill from there when he suggested that the pattern could go all the way around the car, etc.



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I vote for the original placement. As for your son, I suppose it could be worse. He might suggest that you need an auto of the same vintage as the canoe (painted appropriately, of course). I've no doubt people do that too!

As for me, I'm deciding whether I can scarf a two foot section at the center of the starboard gunwale, or whether I should just replace the entire rail. Gonna be a while before I'm painting, I'm afraid.