Penn Yan Canoe # RNS 6144

steve bennett

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I believe the R = Rainbow, N =16', S = spruce gunwales, 44= year built.

I don't know what the 61 means.

I wonder if there are construction characteristics specific to 1944 or the era.

One such example that my Rainbow exhibits is a plywood filler in place of cane on the seats, which was a wartime practice that I don't understand the whys about.

Related question: Does the WCHA site have a registry of canoes by make, model, serial #, type, etc.?

Thanks for your interest, and help.

According to the working theory of how Penn Yan numbered their canoes, the first two numbers of a five digit number code the year, and that they only coded the year in the second half of a decade. By this, your number does not code the year. It is very unusual to see a PY serial number with 4 digits - almost all are either three or five. I wonder if there might be a "4" before the "6"?

The 1944 catalog indicates that there is no production of boats by Penn Yan for the duration of the war. They issued a 1945-1946 "Reconversion Edition" of their catalog, presumably after the war ended in August, 1945. In this catalog they indicate they have good supplies of spruce, oak and cedar, but that they won't be color matching. Also that in some cases, oak or cedar "finished to look like mahogany may be substituted." Finally, "Satisfactory seat cane is not obtainable, and on all models having this type of seat an insert panel of marine plywood may be substituted for cane."

The 1947 catalog has the same disclaimers, but by 1948, things appear to be back to normal.

Because it has the three character code, it was built 1947 or earlier, based on the use of the codes in catalogs. Catalog specifications for the Rainbow and Owasco canoes did not change through the war, apart from those noted above. The Kingfisher model is noted specifically as having inset plywood seats starting in the 1948 catalog, so for that model, the practice of using plywood for seats was continued.

Related question: Does the WCHA site have a registry of canoes by make, model, serial #, type, etc.?

If by registry you mean a list of who owns what, then no. It was tried many years ago and was not successful. One problem is that canoes change hand with a high degree of regularity, so the list was never accurate. There have also been privacy concerns raised when the subject has been brought up since.
Thank you again, Dan. You are very prescient. The anticipated 4, very faint, but straight lines, seems to appear before the 6. Nice work. Which would make it a '46, which would fit all your descriptors. If it isn't a hassle to send a copy or photo of the Reconversion Catalog or appropriate pages I would appreciate it.

Thanks a bunch,
Here are the relevant pages from the 1945-1946 Penn Yan catalog.



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