Don’t know why, but I just started to think about outboard motors and my memories of them. My first memory of a water craft was one that didn’t have a motor, it was a canoe. I believe I was in canoes before I could walk. Either my parents or I owned at least one canoe at all times. I am down to only one now, but haven’t used it for quite awhile.
Back to outboard motors; my Dad’s first one was purchased from my Uncle along with a small open boat. The motor was a 5 hp Mercury that had the gas tank built into the motor. Back in those days, the state of Pennsylvania licensed the motor, not the boat. The license plates looked like miniature automobile plates. There were two of them and they were stamped out of metal with raised and painted lettering or numbering. We mounted each one of them on a thin chain with clips on the end. Then, if we were renting or using another boat, we could just hang the plates over the side and clip the chain to something to hold them. I liked that idea and that little engine got lots of fishing hours put on it pushing the little wooden boat or a rented one.
I told you all in an older blog post that both pairs of my Grandparents lived in small towns on the Allegheny River. My Dad’s parents both passed away while I was still a small boy, but my Mothers parents lived until I grew up. I spent a lot of time on the river in front of their house. There were a lot of young people close to my age, mostly relatives and other locals. We spend a lot of time in motor boats fooling around and also water skiing. Even got tossed out of boats running at full speed. Those boats, when I was a young teenager, didn’t have the horse power in the outboards that today’s boats do, except for some inboards that had V-8 engines. We kids didn’t have access to inboards.
The outboard motors of that period were almost all either Evinrude, Johnson, or Mercury. The Evinrudes and Johnsons were a maximum of 35 hp but you could get a Mercury as big as 40 hp. WOW!! When we spotted a 40 hp Mercury we were always impressed. We learned to ski behind small boats with small motors. The smallest that I ever skied behind was a Canadian cargo canoe with a 10 hp motor. It could not pull you up out of the water, so we gave it some slack to get started and then it pulled us off a dock. Once you are up and going, it doesn’t take much power to keep you up.
Then one day, relatives from out of state came in towing a new boat sporting a 50 hp Evinrude. We were all amazed. That thing was huge!! How the heck would that boat float with that big thing hanging on the back. Well it did and boy was it fast. Yea, I know, go ahead and laugh. You probably have two 200 hp motors on the back of your boat. Back a few years ago when I was doing a contract job on the east cost, I saw a boat with two 300 hp outboards on it. But, back in the “good ole days” we probably had a lot more fun than the we would have if we were growing up today.
You all have a good holiday weekend now, you hear?