Restoration project - 1945 16' OT Yankee

Jack McGeehan

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I recently acquired a decent restoration project. The serial # indicates a 16’ OT Yankee that began its construction in 1945 and delivered in early 1946.

I am in the process of studying the canoe and seeing what is salvageable and what is not. I am hoping to get a copy of "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok for starting reference. OTC gave me a contact for supply’s that has the original mold for that Boat (Otca model). The canvas has been stripped and the planking has some damage – although not that bad. My initial thoughts are to replace both badly rotted stems and the stem bands and keel. I definitely have five broken ribs to deal with. The gunwales are not in the best of shape either – probably going to replace them as well.
The very neat thing is that my 19 year old son had two years of boat building while attending a boarding school in NW Connecticut and is equally excited to work on this project. He has steamed bent ribs, planked several boats, canvassed two canoes and caned a couple seats – by far an expert but more experience than me.
Any words of encouragement or suggestions would be appreciated.


  • OT Yankee.jpg
    OT Yankee.jpg
    188.1 KB · Views: 223
Welcome to the WCHA and the forums.

You should end up with quite a nice canoe. Your son has experience with most of what needs to be done, and the two of you should be able to handle the restoration with no real trouble.

The Thurlow/Stelmok book is worth whatever trouble it takes to get it -- it is out of print, but some libraries carry it, and others should be able to get it through interlibrary loan. Jerry Stelmok also has a book "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" which quite good.

Paint it whatever color you like, and use a marine quality varnish (for ultra-violet protection) in the interior.

Don't be intimidated. Each step in the process is manageable.

And feel free to ask questions here -- almost always someone has an answer to whatever problem crops up.

And as you go along -- pictures. We love canoes, and we love pictures of them -- before, after, and in use.