Picked up a 1968 Old Town!


New Member
Atleast the guy bought it new in 1968, when he was 17 and for $600!!! I paid $900. What can you tell me about it? He says it is all original and was in his brothers garage attic for 40 years.

Serial number 178074 and 15 (which I assume is the length?)

Just ordered some new paddles and would like to recoat the canvas with something to re waterproof it. Also needs new seat wicker, where is the best place to get it and any good write-ups? Appears to be held in by the wood trim, kinda like a screen door.

Goal is to not screw it up, and wait for good info to come. All I have done is clean a bit of black mildew off with simple Green

Thanks for the help! Austin in Buckeystown, MD.

1968 Old Town https://imgur.com/gallery/E5Xpw


  • 20170427_162551.jpg
    79.9 KB · Views: 259
Congratulations. You bought a very nice canoe.
Before you tackle too many repairs you might want to pick up a copy of The Wood and Canvas Canoe, A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration and Maintenance (for sale on this site) http://store.wcha.org/The-Wood-and-Canvas-Canoe.html
There are other books..I recommend this one because I've been using it for a very long time...
Before you paint you need to sort out the tear in the canvas. You can patch it by carefully bonding a small patch between the torn canvas and the hull. If you PM me I can put a small piece of canvas in the mail for you.
Once that is done you need to decide if the canoe is going to accept fresh paint..it looks like it might. The key is to assess the condition of the filler that is under the paint cured into the web of the canvas. If the filler appears to be good then your next step is to prepare the hull for paint by sanding. The Wood & Canvas Canoe will provide some instructions. Once the hull is prepped, apply a few coats of good quality marine paint. I like to use Epifanes Yacht Enamel but I also use Kirby, Pettit, Interlux and others... you can get an idea of what is available here https://www.jamestowndistributors.c...=Topside Paint&category=34&refine=1&page=GRID There are some very good threads on this site about how to get a nice paint finish..I use foam rollers and tip between coats...you'll learn to do the same.
Some folks use porch paint, tractor paint, roof paint... again, I like the Epifane because of the quality of finish I can achieve as well as it's durability. Kirby will custom mix and is also really nice to use...but pay attention to the thickness..

The seats need to be repaired..there are materials available that will include the pre-woven cane and the spline https://hhperkins.com/product-category/seat-weaving/cane-webbing/ Search on canoe seat repair and you should find several sources. Many of the folks that list here as builders will sell you materials and some will even repair them for you. The lazy option is to buy new seats (they are cheap) but then you lose that nice patina your canoe has.
Redoing these is a bit of a PITA....removing the spline can be a bit challenging until you get the knack...it's worth the effort.
You might want to make a decision about whether it needs a few fresh coats of varnish (it looks like it might). Use only good quality spar varnish..again, I prefer Epifanes. I tend to use a high gloss for a few coats and then finish with a coat of satin to dull the shine back. I don't like a 50 / 100 year old canoe to have too much shine.. to my eye it looks a bit off... But that's me..to each their own, no two boats the same..do what you like to make it your own.
Good luck and take your time...

Last edited:
Hey Mike that's a lot of good Info thanks!

I agree about too much shine, that can be a problem. I will order epifanes spar varnish and I'll pick up one of those books. Can I just wipe down the wood with some laquer thinner and paint it on? Probably something I'll do in the fall because I really want to take this thing out.

What would be the best clear coat to use? Really want to keep the original paint visable, since it's so intact. Really appreciate the offer for the canvas patch, I'll send you my address.

Also, found these seat kit, a little easier.

Last edited:
If you would like someone to talk to in person, I live about 10 miles from you. I have several restored w/c canoes you can look at. Tom McCloud
Hey Mike that's a lot of good Info thanks!

I agree about too much shine, that can be a problem. I will order epifanes spar varnish and I'll pick up one of those books. Can I just wipe down the wood with some laquer thinner and paint it on? Probably something I'll do in the fall because I really want to take this thing out.

What would be the best clear coat to use? Really want to keep the original paint visable, since it's so intact. Really appreciate the offer for the canvas patch, I'll send you my address.

Also, found these seat kit, a little easier.


Yup..that's a good source for the weave..buy the tool for the spline removal....
You should get in touch with Tom....

Folks put varnish on the hulls...over the paint....
I've never done that but I suppose that could help you to prolong the life of the canvas.
Again, that really depends upon the condition of the canvas and filler.

I'll put a piece of canvas in the mail....
The Old Town canoe with serial number 178074 is a 15 foot long lightweight model with wide planking and a keel. It was built between April and August, 1967. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It shipped on August 9th, 1967 to Newington, Conn. A scan showing this build record can be found by following the link behind the thumbnail image attached 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/ot_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-the-wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://store.wcha.org/WCHA-New-Membership.html to join.

It is possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match the canoe. This model listed for $275 in the 1967 catalog and $325 in 1968. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the restoration,



  • 178074.gif
    39.8 KB · Views: 276
From the pictures of a bit of the interior wood on your canoe, it looks like simply revarnishing the interior could be fine -- just use a good marine varnish -- that is to say, one with ultraviolet inhibitors. Sunlight is the enemy of varnish, and ordinary varnish will not last a season. Epiphanes is a very good brand, and there are others that are as highly regarded.

Whether to use a satin varnish or not is a matter of personal taste -- I prefer a satin finish because on a sunny day, the glare from a high-gloss varnish job reflecting off the wood of the canoe interior is uncomfortable for my eyes. But if you use satin, use it only for the final coat -- earlier coats should be high gloss -- using satin for all the coats can lead to a somewhat muddy-looking finish.

However, varnishing the interior is one thing -- varnishing the exterior over old paint is quite another.

Varnishing over paint makes no sense to me -- the varnish, even a good marine varnish with UV protection -- will be more subject to UV degradation than a good paint will be. And varnish will change (slightly) the existing color -- most varnishes have at least a slight amber cast to them.

More importantly, varnish will only preserve the existing imperfections in your canoe’s paint -- while not otherwise improving its appearance -- and varnishing is no less work than painting.

Your canoe, while being a very nice canoe, is not a museum piece or a rare antique. There is no value in preserving the original paint. Canoes, like houses, are meant to be repainted, because paint wears out and fails after time. Paint is functional, not just decorative -- it protects and preserves what it is put on, whether a canoe or a house. If you like the existing color, matching it is something any good paint supplier can do.

Painting the exterior will take the same amount of time as varnishing it. Proper preparation for new paint will take only a few additional hours, and will lead to a canoe that looks better, and will look better longer.

So, if were you, I would start by lightly scuff sanding the entire hull -- perhaps a half-hour.

I would then repair the tear in the canvas, no matter what else you do.

You should then do more than simply painting over the cracks shown in your pictures -- they will develop into chipping, even if painted (or varnished) over. New paint is only as good as what is under it, and new paint (or varnish) will not glue old paint down. You should sand those cracks as smooth as possible without going into the canvas if you want to minimize the cracked appearance -- maybe another half-hour or hour of work.

I would then apply spot putty (Bondo spot putty -- not the 2-part Bondo used to fill dents in fenders -- is available in auto parts stores) over the seriously-sanded areas and sand some more to smooth -- and the area of the canvas repair might also benefit from spot putty and sanding. Spot putty can be sanded and painted over in less than an hour after application.

It’s not totally clear from your pictures, but in the last picture of one end of the upside down hull there appear to be a couple of areas of chipped-away paint -- on the bottom next to the keel and on the stem next to the bang plate -- where the paint is completely gone and the filler/canvas is exposed. I would pay particular attention to these areas, removing all loose or chipping paint and then applying spot putty and spot priming with paint. Varnishing over these areas will not improve the appearance of the canoe at all.

(Indeed, this picture makes me think that the existing paint is not in as good shape as you may think it is. Exposed filler/canvas is a pretty good indication that the old paint -- all of the old paint -- is on its very last legs. I, for one, would like to see pictures of these areas taken much closer up.)

I would also paint over the aluminum bang plates that wrap your stems and run along the keel. As the name suggests, bang plates are there to take some punishment -- if painted, touching up chipped paint is easy. Varnishing will do nothing to improve the existing appearance of the bang plates around the stems and will not protect against further chipping -- only paint will make them look better (unless you are going to go to the trouble of removing , stripping, and then reinstalling the bare-metal plates). In any event, there is no point in varnishing them.

The hull is then ready for a coat or two of new paint.

Done this way, you will have a canoe that will look fine for several years, and any dings that appear can be readily (and nearly invisibly) touched up.

If you slap a coat of varnish over the existing paint and canvas, the appearance of your canoe will only deteriorate as it is used, and it will be impossible to touch up the minor blemishes that always develop.

A coat of paint is no more time or work than a coat of varnish. Proper preparation for paint will takes no more than a couple of hours, perhaps spread over a couple of days/evenings. New paint with proper preparation will result in a hull that will look good for several years, and which can be readily touched up. A coat of varnish will not improve the existing appearance of the canoe, will only deteriorate as the canoe is used, and cannot be touched up.

(And if, as I suspect because of what looks like chipped-away paint next to the keel, your existing paint is actually at the end of its useful life, going this route will get you at least a couple of years of use with the canoe looking pretty good as further serious chipping occurs -- until you decide that recanvassing, not just repainting, is called for.)

By the way, was the black mildew on canvas or on wood?

And even if you don’t want to do any prep work, painting makes more sense than varnishing -- it will cover existing problems better than varnish.

For more about dealing with old paint, you might want to look at the following discussions on these forums (most of which deal with old paint seems worse than yours may be):

http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=5790 see pp. 2-3 of this thread





http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?8564-Smoothing-Canvas/page2 starting at post 12, on bondo spot putty



Thanks Greg and thanks Benson for that information! I read it all, but I am just on my cell phone. Amazing to have the build sheet, I never dreamed that was possible.

Sounds like cleaning up and painting is the way to go.

Tom really appreciate you reaching out, I will get in contact with you!