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What to do with two vintage Old Town canoes? Value?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Canoeguy, May 22, 2009.

  1. Canoeguy

    Canoeguy Curious about Wooden Canoes

    At an estate sale last weekend, I picked up two vintage Old Town wood and canvas canoes, a 1936 16' "Yankee" model, and a 1963 vintage 15' "50 Pound" model. I also bought two 1970's vintage fiberglass racing canoes, but that's a different story...

    I am a canoe enthusiast, and already own three canoes. Some or all of the boats I got at the estate sale must be sold, I have no room for seven canoes! The majority of canoeing that I do is solo, as most of the time I can't find someone to paddle with me. I do have a tandem when the opportunity arises for someone to go with me.

    The 16' Yankee appears to have been glassed over at some point in it's life, and need just a little glasss work and a stern seat to get it on the water. I have recieved the build sheets from Old Town, the Yankee ws orded in "AA" grade, and deleivered to Miller Marine Sales, Dolson, Il. in June, 1937.

    The "50 Pound" appears complete, yet needs a bottom plank and a full canvas replacement. It was delivered May 2, 1963 to Harry Thompson Boat Center, Washington D.C.

    My questions are:

    What do you think these boats are worth "As Is", with no work performed?

    What would the "Yankee" be worth with a new stern seat and fiberglass repair?

    Would the "50 Pound" be worth more if fiberglassed or left as is for someone else to restore with canvas?

    As an interesting aside, I talked with the paddling partner of the man who owned these boats, his name was Don Mccloughan. His paddling partner was Frank Havens, an Olympic Gold Medalist in canoeing. Frank told me he and Don saw the "50 Pound" boat being unloaded, brand new off the truck when it was delivered to the Washington, D.C. Canoe Club. It was ordered for a guy named Eddie Bear, and Don later bought this boat from Eddie.

    As far as I know, these boats were stored inside. There was much inside storage at the house and garage. The estate sale was filled with all sorts of paddling craft, at least ten canoes, a jon boat, a sea kayak, etc.

    Anyway, figured I would touch base with you wood and canvas enthusiasts before I do something "Unworthy" to these boats....

    Here's a link to some pictures:

    http://www.tjadventures.com/canoes.htm
     
  2. woodcanoenut

    woodcanoenut 1914 Old Town Charles River

    Wish I could

    have been at that Estate Sale! What finds! Enjoy them. Bring them to the Assembly in July
     
  3. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Welcome to the WCHA forums!! You have two very nice boats.

    As to price, value depends on a variety of things -- condition, age, and location, among other things. I recently bought a 15' fifty-pounder built in 1931 that is similar to yours, but its canvas does not need immediate replacement, although both seats needed immediate re-caning. It has two planks in need of replacement, similar to the bad plank on yours; it has three cracked ribs that will be replaced when I fix the planking and recanvas in the future; and one gunwale needs some work in the future. In addition to your planking "soft spot, your fifty-pounder canoe has at least one cracked rib -- right above the "soft spot" you point to in your photos, and it needs immediate canvas replacement. I put a couple of coats of paint on mine, and with re-caned seats, it is useable now, and with care, will be useable for a couple/3 years before I will undertake recanvasing and repairing the planking and ribs. There are a number of professional canoe restorers who can readily replace planking and ribs -- see the directory on another part of this WCHA site; many people do it themselves, as I plan to do.

    The seller of my canoe was an hour's drive from our house in Maine -- making me willing to buy it because getting it was relatively easy. My winning bid was $455.

    Even if similarly located, I would not pay as much for yours, because it needs more work before it is useable. If it had a good new canvas cover, however, it would likely fetch a few/several hundred dollars more than I paid for mine. BUT, I would not likely consider buying one of YOUR canoes in any case, for the simple reason that it would be too hard to get from you and too expensive to ship. So location of potential buyers matters.

    So as you see, there is no easy answer as to price.

    BUT -- NO FIBERGLASS. Use the search function on this forum for the word "fiberglass" and you will see that most people who have considered the matter hold that fiberglass is something to be removed from canoes of the sort you have just bought -- not put on. (I have an 18' Morris canoe from about 1907 that needs some serious restoration work to the wood -- something I will not undertake until I remove the fiberglass covering -- which is watertight but poorly and unattractively applied -- as part of a restoration that will include a new canvas cover.)

    If a canoe is already glassed, and minor repairs would make it useable, then making the minor repairs can make sense. The damage to the fiberglass on your Yankee, however, does not look "minor" to me, and the damage at the bow may indicated that there is damaged wood underneath. Fiberglass, a remarkable material from which fine canoes may be designed and built, is not a magical material that improves wooden canoes. It is an inappropriate replacement material that can lead to the destruction of the flexible wooden fabric of a canoe designed to be covered by a flexible material (which fiberglass-reinforced plastic is not).

    Old Town sells replacement seats, so putting in a new seat is a minor task. If the fiberglass on your Yankee was applied over the original canvas, and/or if polyester resin was used instead of epoxy, removing the fiberglass is relatively easy, if somewhat obnoxious task. From the way the glass has cracked and separated from the bow, there seems a good chance that polyester was used. But if epoxy resin was used directly over the planking, removing the glass can be an unpleasant, tedious task. Recovering with fiberglass is not any easier than recanvasing, and doing a job that is cosmetically pleasing may even be more difficult. Re-covering with new canvas is considered routine (although not usually frequent) maintenance for a wood-canvas canoe -- every 30-70 years or so, if the canoe is well cared for.

    Your Yankee is a beautiful boat, especially with its wooden outside stems (which often get covered over when someone glasses a boat).
    Properly restored, either of your canoes might fetch a very nice price.

    To get a sense of pricing, take a look at the classified ads on another part of the WCHA site; watch Craigs Lists ads for a while; follow eBay auctions for a while. Check the prices of new wood/canvas canoes being built by contemporary builders. Check the prices asked by professional restorers/rebuilders. Take a look at Benson Gray's ideas on price in the FAQ section at the top of these forums.

    From this and your other post, it is clear that you love canoeing. If you usually paddle solo, the 50-pounder could meet some of your needs quite nicely, although not if you are a white-water fanatic. Its 1/8" planking makes it light in weight, easy to carry, and delightful to paddle and handle, but makes it unsuitable for picking your way through long stretches of rock gardens.

    Your Yankee, heavier and more sturdy, is a nice general purpose canoe for two paddlers to cruise in, and with a new canvas will be more durable than many people would think.

    Before you do anything, take some time to do some reading, talk to people, look around, and appreciate these two canoes for what they are supposed to be.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Canoeguy

    Canoeguy Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Think I'll keep one, sell the other..

    Wood Canoe Nut:

    Yes, you would have enjoyed the sale. There was a very nice hand built stripper, about 16' long that sold quickly, but I had my eye on the racing canoes and Old Towns.

    Greg:

    Thank you for the thoughtful input. I think I will repair and keep the Yankee, since I am familiar with fiberglass work. It has already been glassed, so I can't hurt it by repairing what glass is there to my thinking....

    I'll sell the "50 Pounder" to someone who wants a restoration project. I'll probably try Craigs List first, then maybe list it here.

    My indoor canoe rack holds four boats, so why not keep at least one!

    The fiberglass racing boats I got with the intention of fixing them up and selling them, one Jensen tandem and the other a Mad River solo. If any boats wind up having to live on the outside rack, it will be them!
     
  5. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    re Fiberglass and a ribbed canoe

    Just a note to reinforce Greg's suggestion that you read some of the old discussions here regarding Fiberglass and a canoe that has ribs, which once had canvas. Removal of the glass and re-canvassing the canoe may save you a lot of extra maintenance-work, and may save the canoe from rotting and/or drying to a crinkly-crunch.

    A ribbed canoe is different from a modern strip-built canoe, in that with the stripper the glass goes on both sides, and you essentially have a wooden canoe encased in plastic. When Fiberglass is used on the hull of a ribbed canoe as a replacement for canvas, negative situations are set up.

    Canvas permits the wood to breathe-- to expand and contract, and to permit moisture on the inside of the canoe to go somewhere. Fiberglass holds the hull tightly, and holds moisture against wood. If you are very careful to wipe out the interior of your canoe and to store it carefully... away from too much heat or moisture, it may be just fine. Others here may chime in with other suggestions for maintaining a Fiberglassed canoe.

    If the canoe is water-worthy as-is, you might want to use it for the summer and canvas it over the winter. It's a sweet boat, and would look spectacular restored.

    Kathy
     
  6. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Old Town 50

    Hi Canoeguy,

    I wanted to let you know that you are not the only Eastern
    Shore wood canoe enthusiast. I hail from Maryland's Eastern
    shore.

    I also wanted to let you know that I would be interested in your Old
    Town. I'm looking for a restoration project. Please PM me your contact info.

    Thanks,

    Matt
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Canoeguy

    Canoeguy Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Info sent

    Sent you a PM with my contact info, but in case it doesn't go through, my e-mail address is Tracy@TJAdventures.com

    I tried to respond to your welcoming PM yesterday, but it wouldn't go through for some reason....
     
  8. CParker

    CParker Rookie

    Wood Canvas with Fiberglass Instead

    I've often seen posts describing all the bad things that can occur when fiberglass is used instead of canvas on an otherwise wood/canvas boat.

    I have a Langford that I bought new some 10 years ago, and it is covered with fiberglass instead of the canvas. I use it 40-50+ times a year, and twice took it on week long trips through Quetico, just to give it that "patina" of a few bumps, bruises and even one field repair.

    It is stored inverted, inside in an unheated garage, and I try to keep up with renewing the varnish whenever it starts to look weathered.

    I do not have the experience with wood/canvas boats that most others who participate in these forums do, but I can say that my boat is not showing any damage to the ribs or planking from water, and since the exterior is clear with no paint I can see both sides equally well.

    I have no doubt that the kind of damage described can occur, but maybe it isn't inevitable if you take care of it from the get-go?

    I wouldn't think of putting fiberglass on my 1940 OT Yankee that I'm trying to rebuild, but at the same time if I ever acquire another boat that's been 'glassed I've got to say that my first reaction would not be to assume that it has to come off immediately, especially if it appears servicable as-is.

    Just my opinion (so don't hit me!).
     
  9. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    No boxing gloves needed!

    Many here have used a 'glassed boat until its turn came for canvassing. We have a 'glassed RacineWis that we will use with care until its turn for restoration. The main idea is to be aware that there can be problems, and not encourage any of the problems... and replace the Fiberglass with canvas eventually.

    If your Langford was originally 'glassed instead of canvassed, and if the interior was epoxied (and therefore sealed, as with a stripper canoe) you wouldn't face the same situation as those with a 'glassed canoe that originally wore canvas.
     
  10. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Actually a properly glassed boat will last forever and if it's stored properly it should last as well as any other canoe. That's been my experience anyway. Aside from the extra weight and loss of originality there is really nothing truly bad about glass over a W&C canoe. Look at all of the canoes OT built with ribs and glass.....

    If he choses to repair the damaged glass I am sure that canoe will be fine and last pretty much forever.

    Keep in mind that most of the glassed canoes that enthusiasts encounter were not canoes that were glassed when they were in their prime. Most of the time glass was put over a canoe after it reached a point where it was no longer willing to accept a new canvas without major repairs. I have pulled glass off of several IG's, OT's that had splintered stems, rotted tips etc. before they were glassed. I have never seen evidence that glass (as opposed to careless storage) caused any real issues other than annoying and time consuming removal and cleanup.

    Point being, if he wants to keep glass on this canoe, why not? It's an OT and not a priceless or sacred relic. There is no need for him to ever remove the FG. If he wanted a canvassed boat he would be keeping the 50 pounder.

    That said, friends do not allow friends to fiber glass canvas canoes;)
     
  11. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    I think that I shall never see/ a poem as lovely as a wooden canoe...

    It's late, but I have to reply now because tomorrow I'll be in the trenches...

    Denis and I have seen Fiberglass harm canoes that might otherwise have been free of wood-damage, for reasons discussed above and in other threads. But I think my main objection to Fiberglassing a wood-canvas canoe has to do with aesthetics: I simply don't like plastic. Much as I like the idea of some of the little light-weight canoes that I could pop into the water and paddle-around with great ease, I'd rather have wood. Wood is real, and "natural", and it won't live forever in a landfill.

    I believe there's a difference between factory-glassed canoes and those that receive a 'glass-job instead of re-canvassing. Canoes leaving the factory with 'glass instead of canvas may not be as prone to rot because the wood is encased in plastic on both sides, like a stripper.

    Repairs to these factory-'glassed canoes may not be as easily accomplished as are repairs to a canvassed canoe.

    I love the "poetry" of a wooden boat, which includes being able to take it back to its youth, to live another life... taking another generation of folks down the river (of life).

    In regard to "If he wanted a canvassed boat he would be keeping the 50 pounder": aesthetics are involved here as well. I prefer the lines of the Yankee-- be it canvas or Fiberglass-covered, and perhaps he does too.

    But, as is said here over and over again, "it's your canoe... do with it as you please."

    Kathy
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Canoeguy

    Canoeguy Curious about Wooden Canoes

    The "50 Pounder" has gone to an enthusiast....

    I sold the "50 Pound" to Shelldrake, who is excited about restoring the canoe. He already owns another wood and canvas canoe, so it has gone to a good home. I am sure no fiberglass will be involved in the restoration of the "50 Pound".

    I, on the other hand, will start today on fixing the glass that is on the Yankee. I'll use it as is for a while, keeping an eye on the wood to see if any rot starts. I think that once a wood and canvas boat has been fiberglassed, it will probably stay that way unless someone really devoted to restoring a boat owns it. I can't imagine the labor involved in removing fiberglass from a boat! Might be worth it for a rare model or historically important one, but not this boat.
     
  13. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    The "rule of fiberglass removal" is this:

    "The better the 'glassing-job, the greater the pain." (see posts by Howard)

    If the glass went on over canvas, it all might come off in one piece.

    A video starring a certain doggy-daddy known to me demonstrates what is fairly typical:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXILZU6Jm-s

    Glad you found a deserving home for the 50 pounder and will be enjoying the Yankee this summer!

    Kathy
     
  14. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Canoeguy,

    Like Kathy said, the effort to remove glass is dependent on the quality of the glass job, and if it is epoxy or polyesther resin, hope for polyesther if you want to remove it.

    As for the effort, on a canoe I have, where the resin was NOT epoxy, it took about 20 minutes to peal it off in large sheets. It isn't my canoe but I wanted it off just to keep the wood dry.

    Dan
     
  15. tommy

    tommy New Member

    oldtowne serial # lookup 156554-17

    I have a 90 year old uncle asking me to find info on his canoe thats been in his basement almost 60 years.Its in great shape with paddles and back rests.
    Serial # is 156554 and is 17 ft.

    Thanks,
    Tom
     
  16. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    The Old Town canoe with serial number 156554 is shown as 17 feet long, CS (common sense or standard) grade, an HW (heavy water) model with western red cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, and equipped with outside stems and a keel. The canoe was built between October 1951 and February 1952. The original exterior paint was bright red. It was shipped to Baltimore, Maryland on March 14, 1952. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link behind the thumbnail images attached below.

    156554 - 77224.jpg

    This scan and several hundred thousand others 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/ot_records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/about-the-wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://store.wcha.org/WCHA-New-Membership.html 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.

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  17. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Obviously an old thread, but I would caution anyone reading it that it contains a tremendous amount of very inaccurate or just plain wrong information about what fiberglass coverings will or will not do to a wooden rib and plank canoe. Yes, it is generally better to restore a wood/canvas boat with new canvas, and we have gone into the application of fiberglass and the potential concerns it raises at length in other threads, but this one is not a good place to get your information. The best thing that could happen to this thread would be to delete it.
     
  18. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Todd,

    You may choose (have) to editorialize about this old thread but I stand behind my comments from 5 years ago and don't feel that I am ready for you to preempt them and in that spirit, here they are again:

    Actually a properly glassed boat will last forever and if it's stored properly it should last as well as any other canoe. That's been my experience anyway. Aside from the extra weight and loss of originality there is really nothing truly bad about glass over a W&C canoe. Look at all of the canoes OT built with ribs and glass.....

    If he chooses to repair the damaged glass I am sure that canoe will be fine and last pretty much forever.

    Keep in mind that most of the glassed canoes that enthusiasts encounter were not canoes that were glassed when they were in their prime. Most of the time glass was put over a canoe after it reached a point where it was no longer willing to accept a new canvas without major repairs. I have pulled glass off of several IG's, OT's that had splintered stems, rotted tips etc. before they were glassed. I have never seen evidence that glass (as opposed to careless storage) caused any real issues other than annoying and time consuming removal and cleanup.

    Point being, if he wants to keep glass on this canoe, why not? It's an OT and not a priceless or sacred relic. There is no need for him to ever remove the FG. If he wanted a canvassed boat he would be keeping the 50 pounder.

    That said, friends do not allow friends to fiber glass canvas canoes
    ;)
     
  19. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Your comments were not the ones that I take issue with on this thread - aside from the one above about the extra weight. There is no reason that a glassed hull should weigh more than a canvased hull. In fact, it is liable to be a few pounds lighter (the 15' Old Town "Trapper" with their composite skin for example was listed as 3 lbs.lighter than the 15' "Lightweight" model with its canvas skin). My 16' 1972 Guide is likewise a couple pounds lighter with a glass skin than it originally was with canvas.

    I'm not going to rehash all the previous discussions on the subject as it is simply a waste of time to pull out a whole slew of inaccurate lines from this thread and refute or correct them. In the interest of accuracy and the WCHA handing out sound advice though (which it usually does better than most internet forums) I'm just saying that if there is a fiberglassed wooden canoe, or the possibility of working on one in your future, then dig a lot deeper than this thread to get an accurate picture of the issue, because much of what is to be found in this one is not. It's mostly people who have little or no experience working with the stuff regurgitating something they heard.
     
  20. tnyankee

    tnyankee LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi All,

    Im kind of glad this thread got dug up. I purchased the OT Yankee in question several years ago. It was my first canoe. Despite what was a nice (to me) fiberglass job on the canoe, the delamination that was mentioned has plagued in spots. I used the canoe, taking it on many scouting adventures with my son. There were issues with the fiberglass adhesion on this canoe constantly. Most likely, it appears that the moisture from use would get trapped between the glass and the wood and cause bubbling/delamination. Also, the keel was glassed in and this became an issue when paddling in shallow water that chipped the glass and allowed water to penetrate.

    Last summer, I decided this canoe needed a full restoration and it has been on a rack since waiting for a time to get all the glass off. I can tell you that part of the keel has succumbed to some rot due to water entrapment.

    Do all wood canoes that get glassed suffer this fate? I don't know, but this one combined with the method of glassing was not a good match.

    Adam
     

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