Out of the Barn and Onto the Lake

by Chuck Petersen

Some of the best stories involving classic boats concern boats that have remained with their original buyers’ families since day one. My dad recently wrote an excellent article about his 1953 Switzer Bullet racer that he ordered from the factory and still uses at his Lauderdale Lakes home in southern Wisconsin.

In the article, he mentioned a 12’ Baby Bullet owned by his best friend Stu Anderson. This boat was restored in the 1980s with a transom replacement the primary structural issue. A small hull by any standards, Stu’s son, Scott and I never really felt comfortable running on the rough waters of our families’ home lake. Another issue concerns the power plant. The original Mercury Mark 20H is intact including factory-original paint. The downside involves the need for a bulky metal fuel tank to accommodate the pressure-feed fuel system. With space and weight a key consideration, I chose to build a more practical “user” motor.

From a cosmetic standpoint, I really like the green “melon on a stick”, late 1940s – early 1950s Mercury KG models. The hottest looking of the bunch was the 1950-1952 “Super 10 Hurricane” model. The problem here, from a mechanical standpoint, was hard-to-service electronics package and the gravity feed fuel tank. The fuel system
is messy and put the weight in the worst possible place from a performance/handling standpoint. The replacement for the gravity KG series and vacuum MK20 series was the MK25 with a crankcase-activated fuel pump. For
racers, this offered the ability to mount a simple light weight fuel tank anywhere it made sense in the boat.
Well I thought, I have a few of each model, why not mix and match! So I kept the 20H on display as an historic piece and built a hybrid user.

I started with a blueprinted MK25 short block with all the tricks. I purchased a nice KG-7H tower with matching bolt pattern. The innovative step involved mounting the old style tank and starter to the MK25 power head. This was accomplished by bolting the older style rear water jacket cover and front mounting package. The real beauty here is that the KG-7 looking motor uses the original fuel tank and starter while adding the flexibility of an outboard fuel tank. The motor tank stays dry and basically acts as a home for the recoil starting mechanism. Spark advance is made using the traditional front lever, while carb butterfly adjustment is linked to a racing “dead man’s” throttle.

We tested the complete package the Fall at my Three Lakes, Wisconsin cottage. While in 6’4”, 240 lb. frame barely fit in, the Switzer planed and performed fairly well with original two blade Mercury prop. My son, Nick, 10, will be ready to try his hand in two years. What a nice starter ride for the young racer. My thanks to Scott Anderson for his support of the project.
I hope my friends at BSLOL had a great off-season.
Please consider a trailer to the Three Lakes chain in 2006. With 20 lakes and 110 miles of water, it is a classic boater’s paradise. Lots of first class accommodations and waterfront dining with minimal traffic to worry about.
I would be glad to join you for a cruise.