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Old Town canoe serial number 181359

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by JSRIII, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Greetings All, I purchased today an Old Town canoe serial number 181359. Wondering if there is a website where information can be found as to a build date? I have an email into Old Town but won't hear today and I am anxious to learn more. The canoe is in fair condition but the canvas is very dry and chalky so I'm not sure if it should be replaced. The canvas is stapled to the frame and I can see galvanized Phillips head screws holding the top of some of the ribs to the inner rail which I am fairly sure would not be original. The triangular pieces at each end are showing some dry rot at the point and will probably need to be replaced to satisfy my OCD. The bow piece holds the Old Town decal so I am a little concerned about replacing that piece and losing the original decal. Perhaps it can be removed safely and reapplied.

    This will be my first foray into this type of canoe so I am interested in hearing any thoughts, suggestions or tips that this body is willing to share.

    Thanks in advance James......
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome and congratulations, the Old Town with serial number 187359 is a fiberglass Carleton model from 1979 so you may want to take another look at the serial numbers from each end. Please attach some pictures here if you are still not sure. A water test can quickly indicate if the canvas needs to be replaced. I agree that the galvanized Phillips head screws aren't likely to be original. It is always nice to preserve original decals but replacements are available from the WCHA store. Good luck with the restoration,

    Benson
     
  3. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    488 (640x480).jpg Benson, thank you so much for getting back to me. I apparently mis read the serial number and after looking again it is actually 181359. I did not see the bottom of the second 1 and mistook it for a 7. It also has a 17 stamped in the stern.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  4. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well, I heard back from Old Town and my recent purchase is a 17' Octa. Keel was laid 9-18-1968 (9 days after my 18th birthday), half built 8-12-1968, completed 8-14-1968, canvassed 8-16-1968, filled 9-3-1968, rubbed 9-5-1968, railed 9-17-1968 and 2nd varnished 10-2-1968. It was shipped on 3-19-1969 to Macone's S.G. Inc., Concord, MA. The color listed is "DK GREEN" . I have a yellow and a green fiberglass canoe already so dark green is OK with me.

    The canvas is very dry and has what I think is some black mold covering the outside. Wondering a few things:

    Is the canvas OK, I would not like to replace it if not necessary.
    Where can I find the diamond shaped bolts that hold the spreaders and seats to the frame?
    What does filling entail?
    Where can I find the dark green paint to restore the original color? How do I know what "dark green was used"?
    I need to replace the rails, what wood do I use?
    I need to replace the front and rear "decks?", what wood do I use (the two triangular pieces at bow and stern)
    Is spar varnish OK or should I use something else?
    Is there a good book to learn the various terms used for the canoe parts like rails and decks etc?
    Anybody know what an OCTA is?

    Thanks all. This is a great site and I can't get over all of the help that is given in all of the threads that I have been able to read so far. The wealth of information contained herein is without question quite vast.

    James
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  5. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Benson you mention water test, please elaborate.

    Thanks,

    James
     
  6. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

  7. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have edited the original post and thread title to reflect the correct serial number (181359)
     
  8. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    After 40 years, chances are the canvas should be replaced. This is considered normal maintenance, like changing the oil in your truck.

    Diamond head bolts can be purchased from Northwoods Canoe
    https://www.wooden-canoes.com/canoes/materials/hardware/

    If you are asking about 'filling the canvas', filler is essentially an oil-based enamel paint full of fine rock dust. Pre-made filler is also available from Northwoods. Once the new canvas is on the hull, you apply filler, and rub, and rub, and rub to fill all those gaps in the fabric. The go away for 6-8 weeks and let the paint dry before you sand it smooth.

    Depending on how you intend to use the canoe, for utilitarian purposes, some use a good house paint, but for a really nice finish, go with a quality marine paint such as Interlux, or others, sold by West Marine, and others.

    Outwales were most often spruce, but other woods were sometimes used, particularly mahogany if it was a AA grade canoe.

    Many different woods were used for decks. Ash was common, but could be oak or nearly anything you choose. I recently made a deck from cherry.

    From your photo, the inside of the hull looks to be in pretty good shape, and if so, then a light scuffing of the surface of the ribs and planking, perhaps with 180-220 grit sandpaper to get rid of loose varnish, dirt, ets, may be all that is needed before a re-coat with a good quality spar varnish with UV-inhibitor. Check into Epifanes. But if there is damaged planking or cracked ribs, that repair should be done while the canvas is off, and finish the interior later.

    There are several good books available in the WCHA bookstore at this site. The Stelmok & Thurlow book has been considered "The Bible'' of repairs for years, and the book by Mike Elliott is highly regarded.

    No doubt others will be along soon. Take pictures, and keep us informed of your progress.
    Tom McCloud
     
  9. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Hi James,

    Tom covered your questions pretty well. Benson meant simply that you can test your canoe on the water to see if it's watertight, doesn't leak (too badly anyway). Your canvas might clean up nicely if scrubbed with some TSP. If the canvas filler isn't cracked or crazed, and the canvas isn't torn or coming loose at the gunwales or ends of the canoe, you might just give it a careful sanding (don't get into the weave of the canvas) and then a two or three coats of a good marine paint as Tom suggested (other excellent brands include Petit, Epifanes, Kirby's, TotalBoat...).

    I see you'e in Massachusetts; there are lots of friendly WCHA members and active chapters in your area, including the Norumbega Chapter in your state:
    http://wcha.org/local-area-chapters?field_geographic_region1_value=New+England
    These people would surely welcome you and provide valuable insight and even help.

    Also, consider joining the WCHA:
    http://wcha.org/membership
    I'll bet you'll be very glad you did. This is a great organization with like-minded canoeists and canoe builders and restorers. We would be happy to have you as part of the WCHA.

    Michael
     
  10. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I don't think that the canvas is original as one rib was replaced. As I stated earlier, there are galvanized Phillip head screws in some of the rib tops that I can't believe are from 1968. What would or should these be replaced with to retain originality? I am thinking that a prior owner put new canvas on the canoe but then never finished the job. I would love to use the old canvas as long as it is not too dried out or ruined with the mold. I tried a little test spot with some Windex and it seemed to come off however, I am still unsure if the canvas is dried beyond saving. The canvas is also stapled onto the ribs and these "steel" staples are rusting. I do have a supply of SS staples that I purchased for another boat and have considered pulling the rusting staples and replacing them with SS. Not sure if that was the original method used or if they should be replaced with some kind of tacks. I am guessing that the rails will cover them anyway so may not be big concern. I am thinking that I should add a keel as there are screw impressions along the center bottom of the boat. A keel was also listed in the build sheet. If you add a keel, does it taper at the bow and stern? I assume that I need to add brass strips front and rear to cover the canvas lap joint. How long are these brass pieces usually??

    Sorry for all of the questions but I am psyched to get this project going. I will most likely purchase one of the books that has been recommended.

    Thanks again, James
     
  11. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    No way we can determine the strength of the canvas from a photo. Is there a bit if excess you can trim off and stretch until it rips to ascertain if it is weak? If indeed there is fungus on it, fungus eats cotton. Northwoods sells canvas which has been treated with a fungus inhibitor. I would be inclined to take off the old canvas, repair any wood that needs attention, remove all the old rusty steel staples & remove steel screws. Although Old Town used steel nails to secure rib tips, most of us will use bronze ring nails to secure tips. Fair the hull, remove lumps, re-set loose tacks so no heads are proud. When you are ready to stretch new canvas, many of us will use stainless steel staples, two per rib tip, to secure the canvas at the gunwale. I strongly suggest that you complete your restoration, then take the canoe on the water and paddle it before adding a keel. That can be done later if you really, really want to. It's never made sense to me to finish a restoration, then drill 15 holes thru the hull. But I have put a new keel on some canoes which originally had them. Yes, the keel (probably oak) was tapered to both ends so that the keel and bras stem band kind-of merged smoothly into eachother. New brass stembands are also available at Northwoods in a couple lengths. Five footers can be cut if you decide you don't like the way they look. Tom McCloud
     
  12. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Tom
     
  13. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Old Town canoe with serial number 181359 is a 17 foot long Otca model with a keel. It was built between August and October, 1968. The original exterior paint was dark green. It shipped on March 19th, 1969 to Concord, Massachusetts. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

    181359.jpg

    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/catalogs/old-town/records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will contribute, join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/about-wcha to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/store/membership to join.

    It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. The Otca model was introduced in 1908 and is still being sold today. See http://www.wcha.org/content/old-town-canoe-company for more details. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the restoration.

    Benson
     
  14. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks so much for the information. My next question? There are no seats or seat frames with this canoe. I am thinking that I will build the frames and cane the seats. For this time period, would the seats be hand caned with holes drilled in the frame or would it be the pressed kind that is placed in a slot on the top of the frame? I have watched several videos about caning and it looks like a neat project. What about staining or varnishing the frame? Done first or last? Is the caning varnished?

    Thanks for all the assistance. This will be my first restoration project and I can't wait to get going. Now I just need to find a source of mahogany for the outer gunwales and some detailed photos of the exact shape. I've decided to try the plastic bag method of steaming so the rail can be clamped in place while still being steamed.

    If I understand the look, you can see the rib tips and top of the canvas pressed between the inner and outer gunwales.
     
  15. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    The transition from hand caned to machine woven cane was about 1939, so yours was pressed in. Build the frames with a notch, sand, oil & varnish (and / or stain), then press in the cane. A ight varnish afterwards may take care of scratches. THere are opinions on the best way to preserve cane, but don't let it dry out. Some varnish, oil, etc. to keep it somewhat waterproof and flexible. Not sure I understand the last line. The canvas, following filling and painting, is trimmed off essentially even with the top of the planking. When the outwale goes on it is positioned so that the rib tip is seen but the canvas is "trapped" underneath the outwale, and not seen. Tom McCloud
     
  16. ticonderoga

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    Congratulations on yours new/old canoe. I think it is the same one from CL that my son was going to look at! Looking at the canvas and the mold on it, I would replace the canvas before I invested in filler, paint, varnish and your time to do it all, only to have the canvas fail in a few years. I live in western ma and there are places close by to get treated canvas , so you'll only have to recanvas now and enjoy your work for 20 years. Joe
     
  17. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    What I meant was that you have the inside rail, then ribs, then plank, then canvas and then the outer rail. Looking down from above between the rails you would be able to see the rib tops, plank top and the top edge of the canvas.

    The only way that I could fathom not seeing the canvas would be to cut it back 1/4" or 3/8" and then rabbit out the bottom of the outside rail the thickness of the canvas and then the rail would act like a cap over the canvas.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    JSRIII

    JSRIII Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Probably, what were you willing to pay for it out of curiosity? After we had negotiated the price and during the conversation during the pick up, the seller informed me that he had obtained the canoe from someone else and that the last owner was considering putting it in a dumpster. I am real glad that he chose another option. But wonder if I could have gotten it for less.

    I am concerned about the moldy canvas but several folks have suggested that cleaning it with TSP may eliminate the mold and allow for the filler to be applied. I just don't know if the canvas should be dry or supple or how to tell if the canvas is beyond saving. Obviously I would like to eliminate an unnecessary step in the restoration if the canvas is usable.

    My ex wife used to do a lot of painting on canvas and I remember her applying Gesso to the canvas before applying the paint. The prepared canvas felt very dry and stiff and had a similar feeling as the canoe. Major difference being that you never have to worry about being in the middle of a lake and have your painting leak water. :)
     
  19. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    If that is unfilled and moldy canvas, replace it now before putting any more time/money into it.
    New canvas is what $100-150, not much compared to the rest of the finish cost/effort.

    Dan
     
  20. ticonderoga

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    Im glad that it didnt go in the dumpster! Those are fairly common around here ( I see 4-5 a year ) and for me they are in the $150-$250 range in that condition. Replacing the canvas that costs around $120 is a job that most guys can do. I try to put the canvas on and fill the same day or the next day to eliminate any stretch or sag in the canvas due to moisture. Heck I even learned to do it on my own!
     

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