Wondering about wild grapes

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wondering about outboard motors.

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?


  1. Nothing beats messing around in boats. I do like the new quiet 4 stroke motors.

  2. wizard, oliver, elgin, bucaneer, gale are some outboards from my past.

  3. Sixbears, yes and they are also easier on the environment. Burning gasoline mixed with oil creates more fumes than gasoline alone.

    Barney, The Gale and Buccaneer were made by the Evinrude people, OMC. The Oliver was made by the Oliver Tractor Co. The Elgin was sold by Sears but I don’t know who made it for them. The Wizard I believe was sold by Western Auto and made by Mercury. I bet if you still had them they would be worth some cash as antiques.

  4. Funny how every generation seems to find the way to get the most fun out of what they have!

    Especially those folks in a rural environment!

  5. My Uncle used to take me fishing on farm ponds with is Wizard. Cool ole motor. My first OB was a Bullock 2 CYCLE 14 HP that I out on first a ole Chris craft 14 foot I had removed every thing out of it, . Rigged a steering wheel and a used engine control on. Was fun. Sold that wood boat and bought a Ouachita 14 W/d wide and deep, Man that thing would fly!!!
    Next was a 18 foot Arrow glass Marlin with 135 HP Evinrude with SS prop. Haul butt boat.

  6. Sorry, first motor was McCullough outboard . Don't know what a Bullock is :-)

  7. Yes Hermit, we all find the best ways for us to enjoy nature in our time.

    Ben, I figured you would have had a lot of them. It is hard to beat fun on the water.