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Old Town Yankee 16 with Aerothrust Engine- 1944


Old Town has been making canoes and kayaks in Old Town, Maine since 1898. While the first boats were canvas over a wooden frame, the company soon expanded to all wood and, lately, even three-layer polyurethane – whatever the best material is for the end product that results in light weight, durability, and performance. Even though modern materials and methods are used on new designs, hand-crafted wooden canoes and kayaks are still made, one at a time, by special order.
Amazingly, the special order department was able to provide some history on the Yankee 16 seen here – at least as it left the factory on October 2, 1944. This is Old Town canoe number 140488 (see the stamping in the forward keel), and construction was begun in late July, and completed on September 20th. It was shipped to Clarence Steube of Glidden, Wisconsin about two weeks later. The hull color is as original, Dark Green, it has open spruce gunwales, and empty weight was 73 pounds. Yankee 16s were not as stable as the 17’ and 18’ models, so they were made a bit wider for stability, and were often seen at canoe rental concessions, however, “many old experienced canoeists are numbered among its friends” according to period advertisements. It is Old Town’s third most popular model, with almost 14,000 produced over more than 35 years.
The aftermarket (but far earlier production) Aerothrust engine was a popular addition for rowboats and canoes in the years following WWI. Chicago-based Aerothrust proposed that “numerous tests in Europe and America” proved that air props were superior to conventional water propellers, providing “a more effective and efficient way of driving a small water craft than the best of water propellers.” The “Magnalium” multi-fuel alloy twin weighed 50 pounds, and produced 3 horsepower. The small diameter, high-thrust prop was directly coupled to the crankshaft, and could propel a boat, depending on hull design and size, from 6-15 mph. The ingenious mount allowed for variation in height and angle, and could be installed or removed in under a minute. “It burns gasoline or kero-sene, and any man, woman, or child can operate it.”

Manufacturer: Old Town Canoe Inc.
Country of Origin: USA
Years Produced: 1921-1957
Number Produced: 13,909
Cost: $95

Aerothrust engine:
Manufacturer: Aerothrust Engine Co.
Country of Origin: USA
Years Produced: 1915-1922
Number Produced: 13,909
Cost: $50; incl. mount, magneto, fuel tank, prop and shroud