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Is This a Racine Seneca Model Canoe?

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by HEBlumer, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I believe I'm somehow blessed. I responded to an ad in Craig's List and drove 3 hours to look at three old restorable canoes that were advertised without pictures and without any identification what-so-ever... So far I find I have acquired a 1924 Old Town 16', a Rhinelander 16', and I hope to confirm that this canoe is what I think it is...a Racine Boat Company Seneca Model. It is 17' long with 30 inch decks... no serial number is evident... but it resembles one in a video that was referenced in one of the forum responses that is several years old. Am hoping someone can convincingly confirm it based upon the enclosed pictures.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. David McDaniel

    David McDaniel Canoe Dude

    Nice find! The canoe in the pics is not a Racine. It is a B N Morris with "torpedo style" ends.
     
  3. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    However, the floor rack does not appear to be an original Morris, and the seats may be replacements. Is there a serial number tag, either on one gunwale, or on a stem end? Torpedo style Morrises are not common -- a good find.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I love you guys and what WCHA has done to make this kind of communication possible.. Thank you all...
    David... Yes after spending considerable time this afternoon doing more surfing on the internet I'm quite sure it is a Morris, and not the Racine unit I thought. Greg. I found a picture of a Morris with the exact same floor rack as what mine has. The floor rack in mine is definitely original equipment as well. The decks on this unit were replaced at some time with 1/4 inch plywood and there has been a flat piece of wood applied to the top of the gunnels so as to close them.... I therefore can't see if there might be a serial number in that area... I will watch carefully for that when I remove the plywood decking and the gunnels that must be replaced. I can't see any nail holes on the keel strip or elsewhere where a metal tag might have been secured. The previous restorer used fiber glass on the unit and in the process folded over the glass on top of the gunnels and then nailed the wood strip on top to cover it... very strange some of odd things I find as I go to work on one of these oldsters. I just completed the restoration on a 103 year old Old Town 18' Guide model. Replaced 11 ribs and about 25% of the planking in large part due to dry rot which I had never seen in cedar before...put on new gunnels and new decks as well... In comparison the restoration on this Morris will be easy.

    I picked up this canoe near Brainard MN which is in Northern Minnesota's 10 thousand lake country...

    Thanks for your help.

    Harold
     
  5. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Harold,

    Are you poaching from me? :)

    But, check the wood species of the stem, if it's cedar, then Morris, if not, maybe not Morris. I can't remember the Wis builder that also made the wide stems, but they used a different wood. Maybe check Dan's site.

    Either way a very nice canoe.

    Dan
     
  6. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Some late-period Morris canoes with long decks have the serial number plate attached to the frame of the bow seat. In picture #5, is that a s/n plate on the left side of the seat frame? Otherwise, it would be on the bow stem. If the seats are in fact replacements, then the s/n tag may be lost, but the canoe would likely be circa 1915-20. And if you can make it to the Annual Assembly this year, with the canoe, you'd likely learn more about it. If you can't make it to the Assembly in the Adirondacks, the Upper Great Lakes Regional Assembly will be held in downstate MI this year-- August 15-16. I'll be there, and will still be stoked from having attended the Annual Assembly and would share any newly-gleaned Morris info. I'll also be at the Jag Lake event, near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, September 17-21. Will have a supply of the Morris book at all these events, if you haven't purchased a copy by then (all profits to the WCHA). It's always a thrill to add another Morris to the database!

    The other canoe brands with Morris-type splayed stems are the Rhinelander and some Kennebecs. Rhinelander stems are hardwood-- Kennebec splayed stems are usually cedar. The son of the last owner of Rhinelander Boat and Canoe attended the Jag Lake outing a couple years ago and brought with him the very last canoe that came off a form before the factory closed. It very closely resembled a Morris-- even with the curved short deck of the later Morrises-- only the stem was ash and the seat had sheet cane. I believe the canoe dated to the late 1940s.

    Kathy
     
  7. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    I wonder if you could provide some more information (and perhaps pictures) of your floor rack, and also if you could show the photo of the other Morris with a floor rack similar to yours.

    Having a Morris that needs restoration -- its floor rack is the part of the canoe that needs the least work -- I have been collecting photos of Morrises, and have pictures of 18 with floor racks that are similar -- six narrow slats, with cross bars at the ends curved to fit the hull:

    s 100_2262.jpg s 100_2261.jpg

    For example, Todd Lincoln's Morris:

    Lincoln 1915 Morris Tuscarora 3.jpg sm Lincoln 1915 Morris Tuscarora 2.jpg



    It is for this reason that I question whether your floor rack is original to your canoe (assuming it is a Morris).

    But checking my files, I find I do have pictures of one with a floor rack similar to yours -- four wider slats, with flat cross bars. I have no information about that canoe or its floor rack.

    It would be of great interest if we could document that Morris did equip some canoes with a four-slat rack.

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  8. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Hi Greg--

    What I've deduced regarding Morris floor racks is what you found-- six members. This is also what is shown in Morris catalogs. I'll also attach a picture indicating what might be a serial number plate on the seat frame.

    Kathy
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  9. OP
    OP
    HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    P101013120030101_02.jpg P101013620030101_07.jpg Kathy! What a sharp eye... Yes there is a metal serial number tag on the right side of the front seat frame... It has the serial number 15432 etched on it. I have attached a couple of pictures of the tag but doubt the numbers can be read from the pics... Another pic shows the ribs and how they are mortised into the inner gunnel... Another pic shows a better view of the splayed stem. There is a single nail hole in the center.. The picture shows the grain and color of the wood of the stem and the ribs and planking. My guess is that the stem is made from Red Cedar..... The canoe has a three piece deck with coaming that measures about 30 inches on the outer edge. The metal stem bands are gone... one aluminum band was there but badly damaged and hanging by a thread... The ribs are definitely 3/8 inch thick.. As near as I can tell there are no broken or cracked ribs... can't tell if the rib ends need work as the gunnels are closed.. The canoe has been recovered with fiberglass which may be a major problem for me as I am chemically sensitive and for me to remove that stuff with a blow torch is out of the question. The decks were replaced at some time with plywood. Enough for now... Kathy... does the serial number help to date the canoe? Where are the Morris books available for sale? I may be able to bring the canoe to the Boulder Junction shindig in Sept... Will need to keep in touch.. Harold
     
  10. OP
    OP
    HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    It's Me Again... I first looked at the picture of the serial number tag after I wrote the previous message... What looked like 15432 is quite clear in the picture as being 16433... Sorry for the mistake. and somehow my pic of the splayed stem and contrasting wood that surrounds it didn't take.. Will try again with this post.. P101013420030101_05.jpg IG]31844[/ATTACH]
     
  11. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I also have one of these - a late-model torpedo-end Morris. It's in excellent original condition, including original canvas and varnish. Never been worked on. It has a floor rack with 4 longitudinal members and the typical Morris turnbuttons. Plus, there's a dramatic difference in the varnish under the floor rack where it protected the varnish from sun, etc. There's no ghost at all of the typical Morris 6-member floor rack that I have in other Morris canoes. Everything says that this 4-member floor rack is original. I've also seen several others - one or two here and one at another restoration shop; all seemed to be very late model canoes.
     
  12. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Hello again Harold,

    Your canoe is most certainly a Morris, and it was likely built circa 1918. The original decks would have been mahogany and stem bands were brass. Too bad about the fiberglass... but there is another trick for removal that involves soaking in a pond. It would be wonderful if you could make it to the Jag Lake Adventure, even for part of the time. Great folks and great fun. We usually make the trek to Ferdy Goode's off-the-grid camp, where he builds birch bark canoes in the traditional native manner. And you'd get a lot of tips regarding your Morris.

    The Morris book is available through the WCHA Online Store (or Amazon-- and I just noticed it's on the Barnes and Noble website as well). http://store.wcha.org/The-Morris-Canoe-Legacy-of-an-American-Family.html

    Kathy
     
  13. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Thanks for the information on the 4-member floor rack, H.E. I'll add this information to a future edition of the Morris book.

    Kathy
     
  14. OP
    OP
    HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    HE... Thank you for the response... Is there any way you would share some pictures of your canoe... If I decide to restore this unit I will want to see other ones like it... Close ups of the gunnels, the decks, etc. all will help... I doubt the gunnels are original on my unit, meaning that they probably have been redesigned to support the fiberglassing that was done. The center piece of the decks looks wider than any pictures I've seen so far... It was put together with tacks which seems strange... seeing a close up of what it should be will again help. What kind of realistic value does this thing have if professionally restored? I've got lots of questions and I know there will be more to come. Am about to order the Morris book from the WCHA store.. Am hoping many of my questions will be answered there.. Harold
     
  15. OP
    OP
    HEBlumer

    HEBlumer Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Kathy.. Am not about to soak this thing in a pond... though that would be as easy as sinking it next to my dock on our lake.. My son has already volunteered to do the heat melting thing to get the glass off... with that done the rest will not be difficult.. will need to look at others to determine best how to re-do the decks. Already have some Mahogany left over from the Penn Yan I did a year ago. The birch bark canoe building process would be great... have thought I would like to try to build one in my life time.... at age 79 that will have to be done soon.. Have a woods full of birch trees and some are definitely big enough to provide the bark I would need. Tell me how to learn more about the Jag Lake Adventure... Is this a private club, a WCHA activity, what? What did the serial number tell you... sorry that I goofed up my first look at the tag. Am about to order the Morris book, thanks. Harold
     
  16. Susan Swan

    Susan Swan New Member

    Nothing like posting 3 or 4 years after the last post ;-)
    We found this canoe abandoned up over the garage on a property we bought in Maine. It's a Morris with a rack! In very nice shape for it's age. Somebody painted Native American scenes all over the outside of it. We haven't found a number plate on it yet. I haven't seen it "in person" as we don't move there until April.
     

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  17. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Nice find, this may actually be an early Kennebec. The oval shadow on the stem looks like it might have had one of their tags as shown below. Check the dimensions when you see it in April and let us know.

    Benson



    Kennebec-1910.jpg
     
  18. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I worked on a Kennebec/Morris hybrid a few years ago. It had a splayed oak stem vs. the traditional splayed cedar stem that Bert Morris used. The deck was definitely Kennebec on that canoe.
    I think the story goes like this.... Kennebec Canoe Co hired workers away fro Morris Canoe early on. The Morris recruited builders continued the splayed stems on Kennebec canoes for a short time.
    Someone correct me if I have that wrong..
     
  19. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    That is correct but it doesn't tell the whole story. Walter Grant was the first builder employed by Kennebec and he learned the trade at Morris. Therefore, it is not surprising that the early Kennebec canoes and accessories look a lot like the ones from Morris. Walter's twin brother Wendall also learned the trade at Morris and then worked with E. M. White for many years. Their sister Delia married E. M. White. See http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/3971/ and http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/14800/ for more details.

    Benson
     
  20. Susan Swan

    Susan Swan New Member

    I'll be sure to update the thread with more pictures after we get there in April. Our son is living and working on the property and has sent us a lot of pictures of it. Lately though, he's been moving snow! I've spent hours looking at pictures of canoes on-line and I'm pretty nearly convinced that it's a Morris, and Rollin at Northwoods Canoe (Dover Foxcroft) agrees. They make reproductions of the 15' and 17' Morris. Looking at the 10-slat floor rack, it must be a pretty wide one. I know it's a 16-footer but I forgot to ask our son to measure the width. If that big floor rack doesn't belong with it, what canoe would it belong to?
     

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