Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Old Town serial number search

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by Skookum, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. Skookum

    Skookum New Member

    Last summer I picked up a canoe that I am starting to restore and would love a little more info on it. I have been looking around and have run into some conflicting finds.
    Serial number is either 43685 17 or 143685 17. It has 3 thwarts and wood seats (not cane), but these could have been mods. It has a keel. It does have the diamond bolt heads on the thwarts. It was fiberglassed and repainted so there were possibly other mods as well at some point. It looks to possibly have been green originally which I would love it to end up in.
    BB0094CA-B866-44D8-8F52-C760A7DEDC29.jpeg 0326D264-F054-44E5-9E51-3961B2A63D95.jpeg 7B3735E2-E029-4AC5-AEFE-C66ED3750A90.jpeg B2BC1502-39D4-410C-97F6-7683B46CC410.jpeg
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome and congratulations, the Old Town canoe with serial number 43685 is 17 feet long but my guess is that you actually have the one with number 143685 due to the shape of the decks and the wood seats. This is a CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, HW (heavy water) model with open spruce gunwales, ash decks, ash thwarts, ash seats, a keel, and outside stems. It was built between January and March, 1946. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It shipped on April 1st, 1946 to Akron, Ohio. A scan showing this build record and the one for number 43685 can be found by following the links at the attached thumbnail images below.

    143685.jpg 43685.jpg

    These scans 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 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 to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

    It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the restoration.

  3. OP

    Skookum New Member

    I really appreciate the info. I studied the serial number a little more and agree that it is most likely a 1 at the beginning.
    Couple more questions: what is the little notched out area on the front deck? Looks like a screw hole on either side of it. Was this an aftermarket mod or something I should know about to carry on to the restoration?
    Are there options for replacement parts or is island falls the only viable option for what I am needing? I saw the names Jerry S. and Rollin mentioned in regards to some parts, but couldn’t find any more info on them.
    I ran up a $600 bill pretty quickly when looking at the website so looking for options. A lot of that stuff I can do on my own, but I’ve never done any bending. I guess now is a good time to learn.
    I really appreciate the support and info here.
  4. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I've never seen one like that before so I'm not sure. It seems too small for the mast support of a sail rig. My guess is it may have been for a fishing pole or flag pole.

    Most of the restorers listed at will sell replacement parts or you can make them yourself. Jerry's site is at and is Rollin's. Good luck with the restoration,

  5. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Welcome to the hobby.... you'll come up to speed as you work on your boat so to help you get headed in the right direction, here's a bit of information.
    Jerry and Rollin are our communities equivalent of wizened elders. They are both renowned builders, authors, historians and former business partners. They both have wonderful shops in Maine where they restore, build and also sell materials and parts. Most of use have a copy or two of their first book The Wood and Canvas Canoe, It's offered for sale on this website and it is a book we would all recommend to anyone getting started with a restoration. It's sort of like the canoe equivalent of John Muir's classic book for VW's but not dumbed down. There are other helpful books also for sale in the WCHA online store. Jerry and Rollin are both listed in this sites builders guide. Rollin pops up here in the forum as a contributor quite often.
    You are working on a war vintage canoe. It has been built using all steel hardware so your restoration will involve a decision about what to do with the steel tacks. The shortage of brass during the war lead to a period where steel was used. Steel has a tendency to rust and also break when you try to re-tighten (clinch) the tacks. I've owned war vintage OT's that had good hardware that did not require replacement, but I have seen others that required replacement of most of them. You will soon find out if the shroud of glass you are removing helped to rot away the hardware. If it looks good you may end up simply adding some brass tacks to help hold things tight or you may decide you need to re-tack next to all of the steel's a game day call as it were.
    So far so good on removing the glass and actually your hull looks pretty good. After you remove the old resin, strip the inside and sand, replace any damaged wood you will be able to restore it to look really nicely. There is a ton of information on this site and lot's of us have been down the same path you are on and willing to help. We all get excited when someone new gets started on their first boat. One caution, often boats were glassed when they would no longer accept a canvas..too many tack holes in the stem or split out/rotten stems are something you may find. Take a look at the stem outside faces and decide what you are dealing with. And if they look really bad, they are repairable.
    Steaming is easy and will be amazed at how you can shape wood.
    The notch in your deck...that is not original and you may never learn it's purpose. You might want to fit a plug in there to kelp secure the deck from splitting.
    $600.....yeah...maybe more for the first boat. You need tools, a hammer, a clinching iron, a tack puller, clamps, varnish remover, TSP and Teke-nu, wood, tacks, sand paper, screws, Git Rot, G-Flex, Titebond 3, paint, varnish, canvas, filler, bedding compound, stem bands etc. You need to build a steamer box and a steam source. You'll need to make up the bits for stretching the canvas. It can add up...but it's still less costly than paying for a restoration. And, you can savor every bit of work you do and then the final result.
    Don't be shy about asking questions and if Rollin happens to chime in with advice...listen up and listen up good.
  6. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Also note that typical Old Town seats are caned. However, cane being an imported product, was hard to come by during the war years. Thus the slatted seats.....
    Good luck with your restoration. If you are like most of us, it won’t be your last!

Share This Page