A Happy Reunion

by Chuck Petersen

How many club members still own their first boat? First outboard motor? I am lucky enough to have both, a 12′ Larson cedar strip and 5 hp Johnson reviewed in a previous article. Being all of eleven years old, the little Johnson was a good fit for me; easy to start, reliable, and not powerful enough to get into trouble. Two years later, I needed the power! I could only gaze at the beautiful oak dash and white Attwood steering wheel from afar as I operated the little model TD from the back seat. After a long winter of subtle encouragement, my dad came through with the subject of this article, a beautiful, slightly used, 1969 Merc model 200, 20 H.P.

I consider this fine machine my first “real motor.” No, not because it’s a Mercury! This was the real thing – remote controls, shut-off switch and steering wheel! I will never forget the feeling of hitting full plane in a boat that handles like a sports car but had never been above 10 mph.

The Merc model 200 traces its roots back to the first two cylinder models released just after WWII by Carl Kiekhaefer. The 20 CID model kE7 Lightning was released in 1947. Future upgrades would include the KG7 “Super 10” in 1950, Mark 20 in 1953 and Mark 25 in 1956. In 1958 the block displacement was increased from 20 CID to 22 CID Mark 28. The “Mark” model distinction was replaced in 1960 with the Merc 200 (rated 22 hp). Additional milestones included all black paint scheme in 1963 and shock absorbing rubber mounted cowlings in 1965.

When I started competitive racing in 1983 the Larson was still my “pleasure craft” of choice. By 1987, I felt a more period-correct green 1957 Mark 25 looked better and retired the faithful Merc 200. I eventually sold it to a neighbor in a package deal including a Dunphy molded plywood hull. As the years passed, I slowly realized how dumb this move was. We recently restored a 1969 G.W. Invader 10′ for our son, Nicholas. What a perfect match! Oh, well…A close family friend came to the rescue this December when a visit to the local marina revealed a box of parts, resembling a Merc 200, in a shop corner collecting dust. Apparently the motor had not been fired in years and needed new bearings and seals. Since the marina was insolvent, the abandoned box of parts was there for the asking. To my complete surprise, I was reunited with my first “real” motor. I could hardly hide my excitement when loading the bits and pieces into my truck. A complete rebuild is to follow. I have time; Nick is only four years old.

A progress report will follow, including tips on short-block detailing. My best to all at BSLOL. And a special thank you to Big Bob and Todd Warner for their help in my dad’s search for a cruiser.