Okay, hopefully that headline didn’t cause anyone to blow coffee out through their nose or anything although that was , obviously, the intent. Clearly I’m not referring to Siempre Sabado. No, the boat I sold yesterday is the first motorized one I ever bought. We had a 12′ fiberglass canoe before that and she was actually our very first boat. In 1985 or 86 the Silverton Public Works Department organized an employee fishing trip to Oregon’s Suttle Lake for a weekend. I returned home after the weekend repeating my standard mantra: “I must own a (fill in the blank with whatever the latest toy I played with was)”. A month or so later I bought a 1947 fiberglass Mobilecraft runabout, or whatever you call the regulation open boats that you see all over lakes and bays. She was in rough shape so my next project was to restore her to her original beauty. I installed new oak gunwale clamps, built new pine seats (one with a toolbox under it), added a small oak foredeck so there’d be a dry spot to stash a jacket or something, and then gave her a spiffy new two-toned white over blue paint job. She was a beauty.
And then I used her maybe 3 or 4 times. That’s the story of most of the toys I buy.
But the real story here is about the outboard. It’s an old Evinrude “Fisherman”. I don’t have any idea how old it is but the styling of the cowl says early 60s to me. It’s a 6 horsepower two-cylinder 2-stroke. Looking at the registration on the boat, it’s obvious that neither boat nor motor has been used since 1990 and I’d guess 1988 or 89 is probably even more accurate. The boat was bargain-priced because, over the years she had fallen on hard times and was in deplorable condition. Two of the three seats were gone, the varnish had mostly flaked off, the paint on the inside of the hull was flaking off, and she was generally not a particularly attractive little craft. Once the gas cans and other crap that had been stored in her were removed and she was cleaned up a little she looked a little better. Her original sexy shape was still evident when you looked at her from dead ahead and slightly above or, even more so when you looked at her from astern. Her transom wasn’t wide at the top and then just tapering slowly down to a v-shaped bottom like most of the aluminum runabouts you see. No, hers was a bit narrower at the top. It then widened out to a pair of nicely curved buttocks at the waterline followed by a very flat slope to the keel. It was a shape that said “Go ahead, stand on the gunwale, I won’t tip over.” But I digress…
Back to the Evinrude Fisherman. The guy who was coming up to look at the boat really wanted to see/hear the motor run. Well, that might present a problem since it hadn’t been started in over 20 years. I tried to use the excuse that I didn’t have a barrel or anything to mount it in to cool it while it was running but that was something that could be easily overcome if I really wanted to run the engine. So, I figured that there was no way anyone was going to buy the boat and motor without seeing if the motor ran so I’d better bite the bullet and rig something up and try to get it running.
I found a deep plastic bucket that, when propped up on a couple of concrete blocks and 4 x 4s, was tall enough to keep the cooling water intake nicely submerged. Now it was time to actually start the beast. I got the Evinrude gas can out of the barn where it had been sitting, full, since it was last used back in 1989 or thereabouts. I cleaned the accumulation of oily sawdust and dirt off the top and hose and carted it over to the boat. So now I had a 40+ year old motor that hadn’t been started in over 20 years, hooked up to a can of mixed gas that was last filled over 20 years ago. If you read my entry titled “The Little Engine That Could” probably have an idea about what’s coming. I connected the gas line to the motor and gave the priming bulb a couple of pumps. Oh crap! There are a couple of cracks in the fuel line just past the connector on the engine side. I took the cowl off to see if there was any extra fuel hose so I could cut the cracked section off and, miraculously there was. Not much, mind you, but probably enough. So I cut back to good hose and reinstalled it. Gave the bulb a couple more pumps, saw a few more small leaks but chose to ignore them. Pulled the choke lever out. Hey! It’s not supposed to come all the way out! Like no-longer-attached-to-the-motor out. Off comes the cowl again. Oh, the choke lever just slipped off the piece it’s supposed to control. No problem, just put it back on. Okay, choke out, fuel line primed with 20+ year old gas, give the starter a pull. Nothing. Again. Whoa! It actually sort of coughed that time. One more pull and it starts. THE SONOFAGUN ACTUALLY STARTED!!! Ease the choke back in and it’s idling. IT’S IDLING! As in “not dying”. I cannot believe this. Maybe I’ve paid my karmic dues with of all the fits that the 10 horsepower Saab engine on our first sailboat gave me. I don’t know but I’ve never known outboard motors in general to be particularly cooperative. Now I’ve had two motors that should have probably never run again without major work and they both started up without hardly any fuss at all AND using old gasoline. Old mixed gasoline since they’re both 2-strokes. I don’t know. Maybe I’m living right. Or maybe I’m just incredibly lucky and shouldn’t read too much into it.
Well, suffice it to say that the guy who bought the boat/motor/trailer got himself a hell of a deal. I didn’t even charge him extra for the 6 gallons of vintage pre-ethanol gasoline.