by Chuck Petersen
My friends at BSLOL often ask, When will you cover outboards other than Mercury? It is true that my racing background led me to concentrate my efforts on restoring and actively using this make, but I enjoy seeing truly interesting and well-thought-out motors of all kinds.
This and my next article will focus on two examples I have run across recently.
In 1947, the National Pressure Cooker Company of Eau Claire, Wisconsin decided to enter the outboard building business with the Martin Brand outboard. Perhaps the aluminum casting methods and WWII restrictions were a factor. As was the case with more upstart firms of this era, Martin experienced moderate growth in the late 40s to mid-50s, but could not compete with Mercury or OMC in the race for horsepower and technology. By 1951, martin offered a line up of 2½, 4½, 7.2, and 10 hp models. These motors sported a very sharp black/silver paint job with neat features like a third clamp screw mounted in the middle of the main bracket assembly that raised or lowered the engine transom height.
Near the end of their brief history, Martin introduced a 20 hp model 200. Produced only in 1953/54, the 200 was the ultimate expression of form over function. I recently found one of these motors at a garage sale. the first thing I noticed right away was the huge tiller arm with bright red grip. Radio dial-like controls up front adjusted fuel mixture and choke. Neat little doors opened to expose the fuel filler cap and remote fuel tank access port. The non-shift gear case was torpedo shaped and looked suited more for race applications than fishing! Martin closed their doors in 1954. It seems the firm simply could not produce the complex poppet-valved Martins at a price competitive with Mercury and OMC.
The R&D costs of shift gear case design, larger horsepower models, and remote controls also loomed ahead. While Mercury would later follow Martins lead by naming their motors via hp and two Os, the more desirable design features were lost forever.
Next, I will visit Hometown builder, Scott Atwater.