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Trailcraft dimensions

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Treewater, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Hello everyone. As a new member with a new (used) Trailcraft “kit boat” I just want to share some technical data for posterity.
    The canoe I have was built in the late 60’s I am told by two brothers and their dad somewhere in Michigan. It was sold to me as a 14’ 6” canoe. It is in fact, 13’6” at the point of greatest length. It has 28 stringers (correct word?) 14 on each side and these are 3/8 X 3 /4 mounted on three plywood frames and all joining at the bow and stern. I would call it a flat bottom canoe since it is basically flat for the 12” amidships in the center. Its maximum outside dimension is 33 ½” at 6 ½” below the gunwale. At the gunwale itself it measures 30 7/8”. It has a ¾” X ¾” keel full length, mahogany I guess, and is actually concave ½” at center. Total height (freeboard?) is 13 ¾” and this is not counting the ¾” keel but measured from the bottom. It weighs in at exactly 80 lbs (bathroom scale me holding it). Naturally, it is canvass covered. I am a new comer to canoeing. I have had it out three times and find I learn to paddle easily in a straight line with that basic J stroke. . I guess that keel helps. It was a near disaster to try going up a small meandering stream. Except for the weight, I am very happy with the boat (canoe?).
    Hope this helps someone.
  2. Blair

    Blair Paddle, Row, Sail(7boats)

    TrailCraft carcass on ebay

    Check out this item on ebay and see if it is the same as your TrailCraft canoe.

    My name is Blair Pomeroy and I live in Oregon. About 25 years ago I got ahold of an old beat up canoe that had no pedigree that I understood. I used it as a base to teach myself how to do "Cold Molding" which is taking wood venier and saturating it with West System epoxy. This is a process used to build many sailboats hulls and I wanted something to practice with. I got ahold of some old mahogany door skins (3ply), cut them into strips and glued together a new skin (6 total layers) and then fiberglassed that. Well, I learned, a lot about cutting, stapling, glueing, fairing, etc. but it turned out to weigh 130 lbs for a 15' boat. Pretty as can be, but truely not very functional in some aspects. One key issue was that to make the veniers have a place to glue to at that bow and stern I had to build up veniers to make a bull nose area to glue the strips to. This created a canoe that had negative rocker. In a lake it tracked so well that I could not turn it except to sit in the middle of the boat and paddle alternately on each side to turn it like a battleship.

    What they say is you always learn much more from your failures than your successes. One of the great things about this process was that I did this in the early 80's and my grandfather (born in 1903) and my father (born in 1919) and my boys 27,14, and 11 all have had a hand in touching this work.

    About 3 years ago I ultimately sawed off 3' of the canoe and made it a 12' square stern rowing skiff. Now at 100 lbs it is a pretty functional tender and it is still very pretty.

    Like I said above, I did not know the Pedigree of this type of vessel until today when I saw the attached entry on ebay. When I saw it I immediately knew it was the same as what I had rebuilt. I did a Google search on Trailcraft Canoes and found further info. Evidently these kits were sold in the 60's and many boys scout troops built them. It was the Google search that found your entry on WCHA which I just joined this year. I now have a Chestnut 17' Prospector and an Old Town 15' Square stern canoe that I have restored. These are definitely much better boats, (I currently own 7 boats) than the Trailcraft, but the hands that have touched it in my family make it an heirloom of sorts. If you would like to see some pictures let me know. My email is
  3. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast


    Treewater --

    I am curious to know how the canvas on your Trailcraft is finished, or what other than a heavily filled canvas might be contributing to your canoe's weight. I built one many a year ago, and it did not weigh anything like 80 pounds. As I recollect (though my recollection may be faulty), the kit instructions merely called for painting the canvas, and did not call for using a filler of any sort an the canvas.

    The photos of the Trailcraft that is now on eBay, item 330224223425 (the full link is given above by Blair) show how much of an ordinary w/c canoe is NOT part of a Trailcraft; specifically the planking, for which spaced stringers serve instead, and ribs, for which three sawn plywood frames serve instead.

    Trailcraft did represent that the stringers and other wood except the plywood was mahogany (but did not specify what kind -- African, Philippine, or most unlikely, Honduran).

    Trailcraft canoes as designed and sold in kit form are essentially skin-on-frame craft, lightly built, and it is hard for me to imagine how one would weigh 80 pounds.
  4. Curious about Wooden Canoes


    Well, I'm fessing up that I just sold the Trailcraft canoe frame on e-bay. I was surprised at how much it went for since over the years I've followed the WCHA discussions on these canoes. What impressed me most has been the positive e-mails I've recieved from those who owned/built/paddled one when they were young. I think Trailcrafts were the beginning of a love of canoes and canoing for a lot of people. And that may be its greatest quality. Bob
  5. Blair

    Blair Paddle, Row, Sail(7boats)

    $437.00 buckazoids for a bundle of sticks that sold as a kit in the '60s for $29.95 plus freight? Not a bad day for you in the markets my friend. I suggest you buy gold on margin next.

    I must say that I am not really grounded in the value of things in the wooden canoe collector world. I am really surprised at what bidders offered and I sure hope that they rebuild, and enjoy this craft.

    To put this in perspective for me, I bought a very sound (needed a couple pieces of Vanier, canvas, and gunwales) Chestnut 17' prospector (built in 74) from an older gentleman for $400 two years ago. That got me started on this wood and canvas canoe kick. It was 25 years ago that my dad picked up the Trail Craft for free from a friend that had purchased a building that it was found in. That is the one that I rebuilt using the cold molding process described earler.

    And, last September when I was offered the 1950 OT Square Stern, 1952 Johnson 3HP motor, and trailer for $350 (I have about $1400 in the total cost of that rebuild) I thought I had paid way too little. I have no idea of the value of this canoe, especially here on the west coast where there are probably fewer "Collectors".

    Seeing this TrailCraft go for that kind of money sure seems high. But, that is what the market set, so that is the value. Enjoy your profits, and do something nice for somebody to keep your Karma balanced.

    Karma enhancement idea: use some of the cash to send a deserving Boy Scout to camp this summer. I'm a Scout Leader and we are seeing the affects of the recession on lots of families and summer camp fees are very difficult for some boys.
  6. OP

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    more on trailcraft

    I have spent a fair amount of time on the water with my Trailcraft this last winter. It is the midsize canoe, a single center thwart with seats at both ends. I visited the factory town and spoke to a few people who once made them. I have to say I am pleased with the canoe. I feel it handles well. I found a kayak, also resembles a kit, and from the same era and of bulkhead and stringer construction also. The stringer and canvas construction does present problems with tearing. I tore the Trailcraft on ice last winter but repaired easily. The kayak is fiberglass covered and there is definitely a difference in strength. As to the weight of a mid size Trailcraft; 80 pounds it is. It does appear the canvas has a filler in it. It is very dense and durable, but not enough for 3/4 ice. The mahogany is good quality and heavy. Price of any canoe has a lot to do with location and who's looking at the time. I bought a full size Trailcraft in North Minnesota last winter on E-bay for $101. I have stripped the old canvas but not put on the new yet. I expect to modify it. Yes, I am surprised what that last on brought.
  7. OP

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    trailcraft weight

    I just checked weight and dimension on that full size Trailcraft frame only. I have the same thing on the scale and it weighs 60 lbs w/o external keel or canvas covering. Dimensions are 15'6" overall. Four ribs/bulkheads of 3/4 ply. End pieces of 3/4 ply. The remaining is mahogany. Note the interior keel is full length of 3/4 by 2" mahogany. There are also six spacers for the ribs. Two are 3/4 x 2 x 33 3/4 and four are 30 1/4. These six pieces and the interior keel do not exist in a OT type canoe. The end pieces alone add bulk and weight. The nose on these Trailcraft is 1 1/2' thick after the taper. An OT measures 1/2'. There is a lot of wood to mount a rudder to on the Trailcraft and, not to start a war, I dare say the Trailcraft is tougher in a head on impact. There is more wood and more hardwood than meets the eye. There is absolutely no cedar! For those interested, I have the 1966 factory instructions, 25 pages.

    Attached Files:

  8. OP

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Add Weight

    Forgot the duck boards. 8 more lbs of mahogany in the mid size Trailcraft. Don't have them for the 16 footer but I'd guess add 12 lbs.
  9. Blair

    Blair Paddle, Row, Sail(7boats)

    Well, I am back with some pictures of the Trail Craft rebuild that I did with the West Sys epoxy and mahogany wood veneer. I am not swearing that I did the best job or that it is a marvelous boat. But, it was my first project 25 years ago and I was mostly wanting to build skills. If you look closely at the interior shot, it is clearly a Trail Craft and it was about 15'+ when I started.

    I would agree with Treewater that this thing is built like a tank. Especially since I glassed it too. I have told many people that if this thing ever flew off the top of my vehicle it would bounce for a quarter mile and God help anyone/thing that it bumped into. I doubt it could be crushed by a whale. That was not true of the state of the Trail Craft kit that I started with.

    I have been sharing these stories about the Trail Crafts with my father who is an 88 yr old Eagle Scout. I plan on taking him to the WCHA NW meeting in late April. We both like the connection that we have heard about these being offered in Boys Life magazine. Many a young fellow must have saved his precious pennies to send away for these kits. Did the 16 page instructions include a secret decoder ring?

    Attached Files:

  10. OP

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Altering Canoes

    Those are very nice pictures and a good demonstraton of what alterations can be done. The Trailcraft did not require a form for building and the wood being heavier it lends itself to modification.
  11. TJ Trails

    TJ Trails New Member

    I happened upon your post and wanted to stop in and say hello. My dad was the founder and owner of Trailcraft. It would delight him to know there are still people out there who hold such fond memories of his canoes and canoe kits. Feel free to stop by his website and say hello. He has posted some archived Trailcraft literature and also some photos of the Trailcraft office and warehouse. We have such great memories growing up around these canoes, and dad would love to hear your stories as well. Enjoy!
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008

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