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O T diamond head bolts

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Paul Fopeano, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. Paul Fopeano

    Paul Fopeano INNKEEPER

    In what year did Old Town start using diamond head bolts? Was there any gap years or particular models that did not use the famous bits of distinctive hardware? Knowing those dates could answer some identification questions. Thanks!
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Old Town Canoe factory inventory from January 1st, 1923 simply lists "Brass seat and Thwart Bolts" and the one from January 1st, 1924 specifies "Brass diamond head bolts" so it appears that these were introduced in 1923. See for more details. The grade AA canoes seem to have started using these later than the CS grade ones. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

  3. OP
    Paul Fopeano

    Paul Fopeano INNKEEPER

    That makes sense. My last acquisition was early early 20's AA (18' HW sailor) with bunged seat and thwart bolts..... Also, the canoe that folks are selling on this site as an unidentified canoe (no visible serial #) has the same bunged gunwales. The decks, hole patterns for the seat caning and elegant thwarts on this canoe for sale are identical to my 18' and a 1910 16' HW that I restored and sold a couple of years ago. The details are fun!
  4. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    I have 2 1922s The earlier one a Charles River CS grade doesn't have them. My later 1922 AA grade OTCA has them. Maybe they were model or grade-specific early on?
  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Our 1922 AA grade Ideal also has diamond head bolts. Maybe OT was trying them out in 1922, or using; them on AA grade canoes, before ordering them for general use inventory?
  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    The diamond head bolts often end up being used on boats that they do not belong on. I've seen them on older Old Towns and I've seen them used on other builders canoes. Once OT started to use them almost anyone that worked on wooden canoes had a stash of diamond head bolts somewhere. If a canoe came in needing bolt for a seat of a thwart they were used. And OT parts were/are easy to come buy. You could get them straight from OT or you could get them from an OT dealer. Someone fixing up an old canoe would naturally come by OT diamond heads. I have a large stash of these that I'm saving for the next Shell Lake Howie works on.;)
  7. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    It would have been pretty obvious that they weren't originally on my later boat. My earlier CS (Railed and fitted in March 22 ) had countersunk heads topped off with plugs. If they had used round head bolts on my later boat (Railed and fitted in June 22) I would imagine that they would have used the same countersunk with plugs method of finishing them off. Especially on a higher grade boat.

    The process of countersinking and plugging may have been phased out because it took more effort to finish out the round bolts and it would be easier to service bolts that weren't countersunk.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Allow me to correct my earlier comments based on some new information. The January 1st, 1922 inventory simply lists "Seat bolts" as shown below. The price indicates that these were not brass when compared to the similar inventory from 1923. Therefore, my guess is that the "Brass seat and Thwart Bolts" shown in the 1923 inventory were diamond headed. This implies that they were introduced in 1922 as shown on some of the canoes described in previous messages here.


    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Sometimes it worked the other way around -- I don't know the history of this 1928 HW 17' canoe, but somewhere along the line the seats were replaced, and the diamond head bolts were not used -- probably too short for the hangers of the new seats.
    ss 100_7617.JPG

    ss 100_7620.JPG

    I also have a small collection of used diamond head bolts. Some, as acquired, are pretty mangled. It would not surprise me if whoever mangled those bolts just replaced them with plain carriage or other bolts -- easier to go to the local hardware store instead of ordering from Old Town, especially when, at one time, OT was charging $8 per bolt.

    Just for fun, I loosened one of the diamond head thwart bolts on our 1922 Ideal (built and shipped mid-1922) and it seems pretty clear that it is not replacing a countersunk round head bolt.

    3 ss.jpg

    And while being a bit nutty on the subject of bolts, does anyone know when (or if) OT changed from square nuts to hexagonal nuts? Some of the diamond head bolts in my bolt stash came with square nuts, some with hex nuts, and some even with wing nuts when I acquired them.
  10. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Wing nuts were common on the middle thwart bolts. The Old Town canoes in my garage from 1927, 1936, and 1959 all have square nuts. The 1981 canoe has hexagonal nuts. The inventory records below mention both types from various dates so there may not be a clear transition.


    IMG_4097.JPG IMG_4098.JPG IMG_4100.JPG IMG_4096.JPG
  11. Stu Cartwright

    Stu Cartwright New Member

    Just joined the forum. Need advice on removing seats from Old Town woodie from late 1980s.
    Trying to remove seats, and the bolts will not move. What am I missing?
    I have the little black rubber caps off. Then the brass nut. The wood spacer turns okay.

    But the bolts won't move. Can I just whack the bolt from below with a hammer? Yank those diamonds somehow?
    The little brass diamonds on the gunwhales don't seem to want to move. Should I just apply more pressure?
    Is there a dried out old rubber washer in there on the bolt, under the nut? (See 2nd pic) That alone can't be holding seat now?

    Goal: Remove seats and take to our guy who will re-canes the seats. Any suggestions welcome on seat removal on the Old Town. IMG_1376.JPG
  12. smallboatshop

    smallboatshop Restorers

    Stu Cartwright likes this.
  13. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Once you remove the nuts then knock the seats out if you can.
    Then if you end up hammering the bolts out you might consider threading on some additional nuts to cover the exposed threads to keep the bolts from bending. These bolts are really easily damaged.
    Stu Cartwright likes this.
  14. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Oh, these can be fun. We have all been there and no comfort intended. You could destroy the spacer and use a vise grip on the bolt shaft to get it going. You could get an open end wrench on the bolt head flat and could dremel a slot in the bolt end with an abrasive disc and use a screw driver or other metal in the slot to get leverage at two points. I have had to put a c-clamp on the wale surface shimmed to rest the crank above the head and crank her down on the bolt end. If the threads are not too imbedded , this will push up the bolt. It may only allow for you to get the head up enough to get good wrenching and you are good. Have fun. Dave
    Stu Cartwright likes this.
  15. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    The diamond head is not supposed to turn. There are a pair of teeth on the underside that dig into the inwale. Put a nut or two on the thread, then tap the thread end firmly many times until the varnish, or whatever is holding the bolt, breaks loose. The diamond head only needs to rise by 1/4 inch until you can grab it and then turn the bolt all the way out.
    Stu Cartwright likes this.
  16. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Tom (McCloud) pointed out an important thing - there are fins on the undersiide of the head that prevent the bolt from turning under low torque. That said, they will move with enough force, so trying to turn them out with the fins embedded will do some unnecessary damage to the inwale.

    I think Dave's method may be the same as what I often do - crank the bolts up with a clamp (see diagram; I don't have good graphics software on this machine, so hopefully this shows the idea... pretend it's a diamond-head bolt). I made a block of hardwood with a slot cut in it, a slot just larger than the bold head. I place this on top of the inwale, put a piece of hardwood underneath on the threaded end of the bolt, and use a C-clamp across the two of them to crank the bolt up enough to clear the head fins of the wood. Alternatively, I just hold a small piece of hardwood up against the underside of the bolt and hammer up against that. But the c-clamp method works very well and doesn't risk impact damage to the canoe (hammering sometimes takes a lot of force).

    Once the head is clear of the inwale you can turn it out, but the edges of the bolt can be sharp to your fingers. Either cut an appropriate-size slot in a piece of hardwood, or use a wrench (maybe 9/16"?) on the head to turn out the bolt.
    Bolt removal.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    Stu Cartwright likes this.
  17. Stu Cartwright

    Stu Cartwright New Member

    Awesome response, folks! Thank you. I understand that this is gunna be a little ol' fist fight with my canoe, not the ten minute task I set out to do on my lunch hour. The descriptions above, most particularly of those nasty little fins under the diamond head, make it a lot clearer. I will likely end up using the C-clamp and block methods. A full eight times (four on each seat, bow and stern).

    Thanks again for all the input. If I live to see this through, I'll post up my success story. Great forum!

    IMG_2779.jpeg Newly launched in the late 1980s.
  18. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    It will go quick, Stu.
  19. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    This is beyond the scope of my experience, but I have a couple of questions...

    Instead of simple pressure (C-Clamp, or whatever), would there be value in applying either heat or furniture stripper to the area around the top of the bolt? It might soften the varnish, thus making the simple pressure methods (again, C-Clamps, whatever) a bit gentler for the inwale?

    Again, I'm way outside my realm of experience, just asking questions...
  20. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Personally I've never had to do anything other than pressure, and never done any damage to the wood. I suppose there could be so much gunk on top of everything that it might be wise to clean it off, but that's not been my experience thus far. It's never been that they were stuck because of "stuff" on the head or the bolt shaft. Rather it seems that the bolts were screwed into a fairly tight hole, then pounded down that last little bit where the fins are, or the wood swelled around the bolt over the years. Either way, the bolt is in too tight to simple press up with fingers, and it won't turn readily (without damaging the inwale) because of the fins.

    By the way, in the industry these types of bolts are generally called "fin-neck bolts"; they come in forms other than the diamond-heads of Old Town.

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