OT Find, serial number 54455

TNWilliamson

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just came into what I believe is an Old Town canoe, no identifying marks except the serial number stamped to both stems.
Number is 54455, then a 17.
This canoe is in surprisingly good shape, no soft spots nor rot as far as I can see as of yet. Finish is bad, but everything is there, and I look forward to making it beautiful again.
Any information about this boat would be greatly appreciated.
Tom
 
The Old Town canoe with serial number 54455 is a 17 foot long, CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, Otca model with red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, twenty inch maple decks, maple trim, and a keel. It was built between May and July, 1919. The original exterior paint color was light green and it was shipped on July 4th, 1919 to Portland, Maine. 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 you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Good luck with the restoration and feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.

Benson
 

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Thank you, Benson, for your prompt reply.
Could you enlighten me as to exactly what the open spruce gunwales are? As of now, the gunwales are sheathed in what may be ash, and have no scupper drains designed into them, just sheathed solid. I don't imagine this is original.
Thanks again for your reply.
Tom
 
Could you enlighten me as to exactly what the open spruce gunwales are? As of now, the gunwales are sheathed in what may be ash, and have no scupper drains designed into them, just sheathed solid. I don't imagine this is original.

I agree that it sounds like your gunwales were replaced with a closed ash ones. The images at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=6899&d=1232898827 and http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/specific.gif should give you a better idea of what the original gunwale style looked like. Please reply here if this doesn't answer your qeustion or you want more details.

Benson
 
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Benson:
The gunwales shown in the photo was the type I expected "open gunwales" to be, and indeed, it seems they were replaced at some point with something non-standard.
Thanks for the help.
 
Does your canoe have 20 inch maple decks and maple trim? If not, maybe this isn't the right record for the canoe you have. Check both stems and compare the numbers. Your canoe may originally have had closed gunwales. We can try again, with different numbers, and that might solve the mystery.
 
Kathryn:
Decks are 16", measured from the stem to the inner edge at the center. Trim and decks are definitely not maple, more likely spruce.
The number looks more like 54445, I used different light. Unless the canoe was modified in a major way, I would say it is not the 54455 as I previously thought.
I have included photos of the two serial number stamps, plus the deck:

IMG_0131.jpg

IMG_0130.jpg

IMG_0128.jpg
 
Serial number is different from what was asked for and run

The photo of the S/N appears to be 54445 and not 54455.
 
The Old Town canoe with serial number 54445 is 18 feet long and the one with 54446 is an Otca with long decks and open gunwales. My guess is that you might have the one with serial number 54483. This is a 17 foot long, CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, Charles River model with red Western cedar planking, closed spruce gunwales, birch decks, birch trim, and a keel. It was built between May and Julne 1919. The original exterior paint color was N. H. (New Haven) green. It was shipped on June 27th, 1919 to Waterbury, Conn. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Let us know if you get a better idea of what the number really is.

Benson
 

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Benson:
This could be the one, however the hull is red, and unless it was recovered, and after removing the gunwales I do not think it has been, there is no paint below the existing red coat of paint. Everything else seems to match.
The main point is that the boat was made in 1919, which for its condition is amazing. I have started renovation, and even the canvas is solid, if rather brittle. I am of the mind that I will recover the boat to bring it back to a fine, original looking finish, which could not come about with the existing canvas.
The gunwales will be replaced with sitka spruce, both decks are fine and will be refinished. Seats are fine, will be recaned, and provided the planking is sound, which from outward appearances it seems to be, it should be a pretty straightforward project.
Only thing I would like to know that I am unsure of is the original color, as I stated I think it was originally red, unless of course it had been recovered in the past.
 
Sand Lightly

You might try to sand the number area lightly to remove some of that flaking varnish. The number may show up a bit better.
 
Maybe it's just

me but I would try to save as much of the original gunwale caps and side caps as possible. Making new ones is a serious pain in the neck - I just did it for my Crandell. It's a whole lot easier to scarf in a short piece of wood to fix some rot than replace the whole length. Same holds true with the inwale. You said in your first post that started this thread that the canoe was in great shape. I have always felt that it was important to keep as much of the original canoe as possible. Don't make extra work for yourself. There are numerous threads on here that address scarf joints and you're sure to gets lots of advice from all of us "arm chair canoe fixers." POST PICTURES, we want pictures! Don't forget to post pictures!

Jim C.

PS It's snowing - first of the season - 3 inches expected :(
 
Jim:
The gunwales are very dried out and brittle, not much salvageable. I have saved them, but won't reuse them, they are too cracked.
Everything else, except the canvas, is in good shape and will get reused. Here are a couple of pictures:


IMG_0120.jpg


IMG_0121.jpg
 
I looked through the near-by OT records for a 17 footer with the typical OT deck (not the Otca deck) and closed gunwales, and didn't see anything that fit any better, except for the attached 54450-- which is a 17 foot CS grade HW model with spruce gunwales, maple decks and ash thwarts and seat frames... painted dark red and shipped to Ely, VT on July 19, 1919. Benson's find may be The One, or maybe more cleaning of the s/n will give us a different clue to follow.

Regarding *snow*: We must think positively of this white stuff. It's been on the ground here since 12/01. Goes with the Christmas music, and the dogs love it! And it can be quite magical to paddle a river in not-too-cold weather, with tree branches heavy with the white stuff... and everything very quiet, except for the sound of the paddle in the water...
 

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Kathryn:
That very well could be it, I found this in mid-Vermont, and it is red, after all. The SN is difficult to read and could be this number.
Thanks for the research, and btw, it's snowing hard here in VT right now, first accumulation of the season. Not very good canoeing weather, I'm afraid.
 
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