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Underway on calm waters with sunny skies; The icing on On the cake is the fact that your outboard motor cost you Little cash and a few hours of work

(click thumbnails to enlarge)

1940 Johnson 22 hp model PO-15; Very collectable, but with No neutral, no reverse, no recoil starter, and no new parts Available, it is probably not the best choice for a practical, Reliable power source.

Mid ‘50s Gale (Buccaneer) 3 hp was made by OMC, but Will parts for the Johnson and Evinrude 3’s fit this engine? Here’s a hint: No.. BUT it may still be cheap reliable power.

Very early ‘50s 12 hp Gale; Does it have cheap power potential? And what about parts?

Early ‘50s Evinrude 14 hp; The correct engine to buy, Right?
Hint: Maybe, maybe not.

And what about those Mercurys? Here’s an advertisement
from 1957; Any cheap-power candidates here? Notice that
These Mercurys are not black.

Every farmer is well aware of Oliver tractors, but may not have heard of Oliver outboards.

Small-craft-designer Jim Michalak trying to
Decide if a particular outboard motor is a good
Cheap-power candidate.

Obsolete Outboards
by Max Wawrzyniak

Column # 1

This is intended to be the first of a series of monthly columns on my views on the use of old outboard motors as the primary or secondary means of propulsion for home-built boats.

I expect that this series will continue until either I get bored with the project, or until Chuck is able to obtain a restraining order barring further contact.

Some of you may be aware that there are an awful lot of “old outboard “ web sites out there; I certainly recommend that anyone with an even passing interest in old outboards check out the Antique Outboard Motor Club web site ( and especially their links page and also their schedule of organized outboard motor swap meets held all around the USA and Canada, all year-round.

But while the Antique Outboard Motor Club tends to focus on the collecting of outboard motors, I hope to concentrate more of the practical use of old outboards, along with their selection and repair.

So I do not expect to expend much time or typing on racing equipment, rare “one-of-a-kinds,” or oddities of outboard engineering. I will discuss the engines that you are most likely to find at flea markets or in the neighbor’s cellar, and whether you should buy them or run away from them.

As those who read my 2001 article on Duckworks Magazine entitled “Primer on Old Outboards” (available on CD) might recall, I am of the opinion that an old outboard motor (sometimes very old) can be an inexpensive and reliable power source for a boat. But it has to be the correct brand and model of outboard, in the correct condition, and at the correct price. Buying just any old outboard could leave you with an increased level of scrap aluminum and a decreased level of cash.

And you have to be willing to learn how to work on it yourself. And you can learn.

I expect to cover tune-up procedures, remote controls, and those mysterious “pressure” tanks one hears about when old outboards are discussed.

For this first column I will sumarize that, in my opinion, the correct Brand of outboard to buy is an OMC (Outboard Marine Corporation) outboard. Most people are familiar with OMC’s “flagship” brands, Johnson and Evinrude. And most people are aware that, at least in the recent past, the engines of the two brands were identical, except for name and cosmetic details. But not as many people are aware that, prior to 1963, there was a third brand of OMC outboard being produced: the Gale brand. The Gales (also sometimes labeled Buccaneer) were sold through hardware stores and sporting goods shops, whereas the flagship brands were only sold through boat dealerships.

There were also other ways one could buy a Gale, as these motors were also whole-saled to large chain stores, such as Montgomery Ward, which labeled theirs “Sea Kings; and to Speigel, which named theirs Brooklures.

In the 1950’s, one could walk into a Goodyear tire store and buy a Goodyear Sea Bee, which was made by Gale. But one could also walk into a Goodrich Tire store and buy a Sea Flyer, which was made by the Champion outboard motor company, which went defunct in 1958, and for which few parts are still available.

An added complication is that some Gale outboard motors are unique models with no equivalent Johnson or Evinrude models. And prior to 1955, both Johnson and Evinrude had some unique models that the other brand did not offer. In fact, prior to 1951, the two divisions operated as competitors with no common models between them.

In order to bring this first installment to a close , I will just say that it will be hard to go wrong buying a Johnson or an Evinrude dating from about 1955 to about 1972, or certain Gale-produced engines from 1955 until 1963.

But that isn’t the whole story, a story which will be continued in future columns, where Mercury’s and Scott-Attwaters and Martins and West Bends etc. etc. will be discussed.

Time to wrap this up, but I want to close with a statement to those of you who are sure that you don’t have the abilities to bring an old, neglected outboard motor back to life;
The only Outboard motor that I ever worked on, prior to 1992, never ran again.

And my father never considered me to be too mechanically inclined.