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New Old Town serial number charts

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Benson Gray, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Benson, that was a huge piece of work, and a great reference chart!

    I had tried piecing something like this together a while back, just using the serial numbers posted for build sheet requests, but that got bogged down in too many other things. It would have had only a fraction of the data in this, in any case.

    Thank you!
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    You are most welcome. Several charts like this have been made over the years. The most recent previous one is shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/oldtown_chart.html and goes to the end of the scanned records around 1974. These are all based on samples so the accuracy is limited. There had been a number of requests for information about canoes with serial numbers over 210,999 during the past few years so it seemed like an extension of the old chart might be appropriate. The pictures below show the section of the Old Town records room with the newest records. Only the ones on the top shelf have been scanned. My son spent an afternoon scanning two records from each of these previously unscanned boxes to extend the chart to 1995. Dan has just completed another update to the WCHA Knowledgebase so that this information is now shown better there. Thanks,

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    This is an impressive effort!

    It makes me wonder.....
    Is it now possible to summarize the build/ship dates/Serial Numbers for Old Town into a table similar to the one that Kathy shared for the Morris canoes?
    Do we know the first and last serial numbers for 1905, 1925 etc?
    For Old Town, Carleton, Kennebec we have the actual records to drive a less speculative reference tool.
    I have always wondered if a significant number of the dating requests to this forum could become "self-service".
    Obviously a table would not provide the build sheet details such as type, features, options etc.....consequently not eliminating the reference services so generously provided by WCHA members that own the CD's and invest their time in the related detective work.

    A look-up table would help us to ballpark a canoes age more quickly and more independently.
     
  5. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    The graphs give a Ballpark estimate. Are you looking for a smaller Ballpark? The data table that was used to create the charts would do that, but there's a lot of overlap. The factory wasn't first-in-first-out.

    I'm guessing that first (or last) SN shipped for any given year isn't exact, as you can see a few spots on the charts where narow ranges of SNs were shipped over multiple years... look at SN110,000 series, scattered over
    ~1931 to ~1938. Some boats were stored for long times!
     
  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Yes, more granular......since canoes were stored for long periods of time the ship date would be more useful than the build date.
    I do understand your point as I consider this...there is a discrete SN for the first and last in a year but given the storage situation an older SN could come forward outside of the sequential order.

    Matters not for most cases as the table would give a range and the actual order sheet would pin down the exact circumstances for each canoe. It would be a "quick" reference.

    Case in point...I am really curious to know how many canoes were shipped in 1906 before and after mine was shipped....I can't really get that from this chart.......
     
  7. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Wow! For that kind of detail somebody's going to have to go through every record, and enter it all into a database. Let's see, if 200 of us each take 1,000 records, we could do this... :)
     
  8. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    13,000 have already been done (I did a lot of them, many years ago now, on an old hand-me-down SPARC pizza box computer...!)

    Go here: http://wcha.org/legacypages/ot_records/
     
  9. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'm very impressed... only about 187,000 to go? When do we start?
     
  10. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Benson just might have a snow day tomorrow, I bet he can push a few thousand records your way before the WCHA Board meeting starts at 1:00... (via teleconference, thanks to this little disturbance in the weather that is headed our way)
     
  11. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Just make sure they're not the ones that have already been done! I won't promise to get them done quickly, but I can do things in bits & pieces.... And send the DB Format, so I don't screw it up....
     
  12. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Hm....how long did it take Michelangelo to do the Sistine Chapel?
     
  13. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    OR... how many of us are willing to take this on? Even if we don't finish it this time through, if we get another 13,000 records done...
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I have tried two different techniques to come up with annual production numbers from this sample but it didn't work very well. My message and graph at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?8226&p=44033#post44033 from our previous discussion about Morris and Old Town shows that neither correlated well with most of the actual known sales totals.

    It is diffficult to estimate the 1906 records since the dates are light and these scans are not great. The first one in this sample from 1906 could be either 3639 or 3753 and the last one is 3832 as shown below.

    The idea of having a "self-service" serial number area on the WCHA site has been considered several times in the past but never implemented for several reasons. The biggest concern is cost since this information occupies about ten gigabytes of space and we would have to pay our service provider for this every month. Another is ease of use since the raw scans are not very well organized now and it would be a significant effort to rename several hundred thousand files. There is also the issue of compensation. The WCHA and others paid well over $10,000 to build this archive plus thousands of hours of volunteer effort. The current charge is $100 at http://store.wcha.org/Old-Town-Build-Records-on-CD-ROM.html if you want to buy a copy for yourself but this is not likely to ever break even for the organization. The Kennebec records also have some very strict restrictions on their use by the Maine State Museum.

    My message at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?3286&p=16366#post16366 estimates that it could take someone about seven years to make a database out of all this information if they worked on it full time. The basic database format is described at http://wcha.org/legacypages/ot_records/codes.txt although there are a few new codes which need to be added to that list. I would be happy to add anything that Paul or anyone else has already done from the several thousand records that have been posted in the WCHA forums since nearly all of these are not currently in the database. You can also send an electronic mail message to me (benson at maine dot rr dot com) if you are interested and I can send you as many records as you want to transcribe in batches of about a hundred at a time.

    Let me know if you have other questions or want anything else. Thanks,

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  15. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I was not really all that concerned about 06 specifically and referred to it as a an example. Granted I would love to know but that was purely case in point.

    I had not considered the quality of the scans. I should have considering the difficulty we had reading the record from my boat...that makes thingsmore challenging.

    The thought of putting all of the records on line never crossed my mind...although interesting it would (as you note) not be without issues.
    I was purely thinking in terms of the first and last shipments from each year.

    With respect to the Kenebec records, understood....although that seems like something that any reasonable museum would permit.....

    I will send you a mail and sort some records although 100 seems like a low number. I would think 500 to 1,000 would be about right. Maybe I am missing something but the task would be to look at the SN and ship dates and record anything early or late in the year and then compare those to the same from the prior and following years to lock in on the range per year....nit trying to trivialize the effort by any means, naive from not having the the experience that you have. I am willing to give it a try.
     
  16. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    The effort would be immense. Even with the 13,000 already done, the proposed 200 of us (who have not yet emerged) would each have to run over 900 records. Some retirees might be able to do that in a reasonable amount of time, but us working stiffs would take a lot longer.

    On the other hand, the WCHA store would sell close to 200 of the O ld Town Build Record CDs, at $100 each... Worse things have happened!
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I agree, any reasonable museum should permit reproductions of their materials but this is probably not the right place to tell that story. Buy me a beer sometime and I will explain the whole sad story of how it took more than a decade to get permission to reproduce these records electronically here.

    A zipped file of 100 build records is typically about two megabytes which is close to the limit that many mail servers will accept for message attachments. It also frequently requires a few hours of effort to transcribe which is near the maximum of what most people's eyes can easily handle in one sitting.

    I've had very little success with several attempts to use serial numbers and ship dates to estimate production with any accuracy. There is just too much variability for a sample size this small.

    Transcription volunteers are not required to buy the build records. I will send the records as an electronic mail message attachment for free. Let me know if you want some or have any other questions. Thanks,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  18. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Geez, I'm trying to raise funds for the organization! :)
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I appreciate the thought and that is a great goal. However, the database project puts a higher value on people's time so their money is not required in this case.

    Benson
     

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