Untitled photo
Untitled photo

1929 Old Town Catalog with Design #22

Untitled photo

In 2015 my wife and I attended the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association's annual gathering at Paul Smith College in the Adirondacks.  On the last day of the event, July 18th (my birthday) they held an auction/ raffle for various things that had been collected or donated.


The biggest item up for raffle was a 1940 Old Town Yankee in original and restorable condition.  Somehow as I walked past that canoe I had this feeling that I was going to win it.  I don't win much, but I told my wife that I was going to win this canoe on my birthday.  I put a few tickets in other buckets but most of my $20 in tickets went into the ice cream gallon bucket for the canoe.


And later that day when they called out the winning ticket for the canoe my wife looked down at the tickets, studied the numbers, looked at me, looked down at the tickets again, ...and finally said "you really did win?!"


Strangely, I wasn't really surprised. I had this strong feeling that canoe and I were going to spend a lot of hours together.

Untitled photo

After winning it we took it out for a paddle on Lower St. Regis Lake right in front of the event.

Untitled photo

This is the 1940 factory build sheet for the canoe.  I was told it had been in the family that donated it for many, many years.  I don't know if they were the original owners or not.

Condition of the canoe when I won it.

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

The canoe was in amazing shape.  Unlike the first canoe I had restored that had been neglected and had many broken ribs and planks, this canoe had been well-cared for over the years. The only wood that had to be replaced on it were the outside gunwales.  And, at some point, the family that owned it replaced the entire back seat rather than bothering with attempting to recane the original.


The original floor rack listed on the build sheet was still with the canoe, the original brass painter ring,  and the original Old Town sticker was still on the front deck!


The original canvas was still on the canoe too- although at some point somebody had painted it red over the original factory black.  In the photos below you can see some of the original black where I removed the keel.

Removing the canvas

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Being my second restoration attempt I was confident that I knew what I was doing as I started to take it apart and remove the old canvas.  Somehow I got lucky a second time because, as with my first canoe, nobody had ever fiber glassed this canoe and the original factory canvas was still on it.


Because of that the canvas came off easily with the removal of the tacks and slipped off like a banana peel (just like my first canoe did).  As it slipped off the strong smell of cedar filled the air and I was looking at wood that had been covered for the last 80 years.

Stripping out the old varnish

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

The canoe sat around for several years with the canvas off before I got back to the project.  One of the reasons it likely got put off for a while is that the next step was the unpleasant task of stripping out the old varnish.


Because the original 1940 sticker was in such good shape I didn't want to strip the decks and put on a new sticker later.  So I lightly sanded the decks and left on the old varnish hoping that putting fresh varnish over the top would look alright.

Untitled photo

Interestingly, as I began to strip the varnish off the floor rack I discovered some writing in pencil on the bottom of the rack that I assume is the work of somebody in the 1940 Old Town factory.


Edit- After my wife looked at this page I set up she was observant enough to notice that the numbers on the bottom of the rack are the same as the serial number of the canoe.  So, one can assume that the scribble after it is the cursive version of the floor builder's name.  According to the build sheet it would be "Danlieg"  (maybe?). So that was likely written there on May 1st 1940.   

Steam bending new gunwales

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Once again, Dave Osborn of Little Lakes Canoe was kind enough to let me come to his shop to mill and steam bend new outside gunwales for the canoe!

Photos

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Next it was a lot of sanding (a LOT of sanding) before beginning six coats of quality varnish.  As each coat has to dry overnight this involves at least a week of work to complete.


Leaving the original sticker and varnishing over it turned out fantastic!

Untitled photo

Photos

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

With the varnish done and dry the next step was to sand smooth the outside of the hull, seal it with a thinned varnish, and then stretch a new canvas over the canoe.

Filling the canvas

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Once the new canvas is on it takes about five coats of filler and sealer before even starting to paint.  I let each coat dry overnight so again, about a week for this step.

Old Town Design #22

Untitled photo

With four coats of white

Untitled photo

Having painted Old Town Design #4 on my first canoe restoration I was emboldened to attempt the even more difficult Design #22.  It turns out there would be times in the middle of painting this design that I would regret the decision.  I underestimated the difficulty of the task but, once in the middle of it, you pretty much have to keep going.


Once the five coats of filler and primer were dry I added four coats of white (letting each coat dry for 24 hours) in the area that needed to be white.

Photos

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

I then had to tape off where I wanted the blue to start.  This was a critical step and a lot of measuring and standing back and looking took place.  Getting the proportions correct so I had a design that was true to the vintage Old Town design was important to me.


With the blue and white done it looked so good there was some talk that a person could call it done right then and there without attempting the more complicated design.  But no, I pushed ahead with the original plan.

Design #22

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Completing the design required many templates, math, and tons of patience with taping off areas.  Each step had to be decided as to what sequence would work best to complete the task in the fewest amount of days.  Each yellow triangle has four coats of paint with each layer being allowed to dry for 24 hours.


Needless to say, this step took a VERY long time.  So long, in fact, that cold weather beat me to the finish and I had to convince my wife that moving from the garage into the downstairs family room was a good idea.


Our house smelled like paint for almost a month!

Caning seats

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

By 1940 Old Town was no longer using hand-caned seats (like my first restoration project- the 1934).  So I had to learn how to install new machine cane.  I like the look of hand-caned seats better so I'll be on the look-out for a canoe older than 1940 for my next project!

Last steps

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

The last steps to install the newly caned seats and the brass stem bands.  I had spent a good deal of time polishing all the brass screws, stem bands, and seat hangers so everything looked fresh and shiny!


With all the time for the Old Town Design #22 paint scheme I taped off the paint before installing the stem bands just to be safe!

Finally finished!!

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In