Our domain name aomci.org was donated by Alison Kiellar in honor of Kenneth Kiellar.
Dedicated to the Preservation and Restoration of Antique Outboards
Frequently Asked Questions
What's my old outboard motor worth?
This is the number one question we are asked. Here's the short answer: Less than you thought. Probably not much more, anyway.
Now the long answer. We're not trying to be cruel here, just honest. Grandpa's "old fishin' partner" might bring you warm fuzzy memories, but the guy who's thinking of buying it from you might have leads on several motors just like yours from which to choose. Old outboards were "too useful to just throw away" and small enough that they got stashed in all kinds of places. Thus, folks keep finding them and putting them on the market. The ready supply keeps prices reasonable.
When someone presses an old outboard into regular use, sooner or later something's going to need fixing. These days, most repair shops won't even look at anything over 20 years old. They probably already have a few old motors stashed in the back, motors that were left by their owners when it turned out it would take hundreds of dollars in parts to get them running again. These abandoned motors hit the market, too. People who understand this difficulty in getting old motors fixed shy away from purchasing such relics for regular use, especially if prices try to be on par with merchandise that's more recent.
So then who's buying the old outboards? Among others, collectors. Collectors will restore old motors, often to running condition, fashioning some replacement parts by hand. They'll touch up the paint to restore them to showroom condition. It's a process that no sane person would undertake just to have a motor that runs, when modern motors are readily available for that use. It's a labor of love. The painstaking work can take months, which would be quite expensive in today's world of "time is money". Nobody is getting rich restoring old motors.
So again the question, what's it worth? We now direct you to the price guide in the 2nd edition of The Old Outboard Book. When you look through the guide, you might be pleasantly surprised at how certain models (maybe like yours) have held their value. Some rare models go for seemingly next to nothing because nobody's interested in them. Some more plentiful models nevertheless get the better prices because they generate more interest. These are in fact the prices at which folks are able to regularly obtain these motors, as the price guide was assembled by panels of experts. When people hope to get more than these prices, they may hold on to their hope for a very long time indeed. Few individuals can say that they really need any particular motor at any particular time. It's not at all uncommon for good merchandise to sell at prices well below those in the price guide. The guide will nevertheless give you piece of mind that you haven't been ripped off.
It may cross your mind that "at that price, I might as well keep it." This is quite reasonable, but consider the following: if it's just sitting in storage, it's not doing anyone any good. Better it be where it can be appreciated. If you just want a motor for regular use, you may be better off with something newer and more easily servicable. A cost/benefit analysis would point this out right away. If you decide to undertake the refurbishing yourself, that's great! There's a club for folks that like to do just that, you've found it, and you won't be sorry you joined! If on the other hand, you think it's not your cup of tea, you won't be sorry should you pass the motor along to a collector. The collector will give that old motor a good home and put some coin in your pocket for the privledge. That motor will run forever under a collector's care, you can bet on it. Whether or not you are that collector yourself, a return to glory is the best tribute you can give that motor.
So, other than the guide, what's the best way to find out the worth of your old outboard? If you're holding on to the motor, join the Antique Outboard Motor Club and get to know other folks who have your same outboard. Members of AOMCI have a pretty good idea of what sells for how much, and they can point you in the direction of an expert in whatever motors spark your interest. If you're selling the motor, then just put it up for sale and the market will tell you its worth. We have provided classified ads for your benefit.
How do I get more information about my old outboard?
If you're looking for what year the motor was made, by what company, and maybe some more history about the motor, the most current single published source for this information is The Old Outboard Book.
Another good source of information is in the owners, parts, and repair manuals. Such publications are available from sources on the internet which are linked to the AOMCI homepage. We will return to the subject of manuals later in this FAQ.
If you're truly intrigued by that old kicker, why keep your interest to yourself? Join the Antique Outboard Motor Club and get to know other folks who have your same outboard. Members of AOMCI can point you in the direction of experts who can tell you more about your motor, and you'll probably have something to tell them about it yourself.
Where can I get parts for my old outboard?
It depends on which motor, and which part. In the case of Mercury and Johnson/Evinrude, many designs or parts thereof originated in the 1950s were carried through into the '70s, '80s, and even the '90s! Original replacement parts for these designs are in ready supply through your local dealer. That's where your search should always start, regardless of your motor's make and model. They might know somebody who knows somebody...
Do you have a West Bend or an Elgin? You may not have known that most Elgin motors were made by West Bend. The tooling for West Bend's outboard line was sold to Chrysler. Chrysler's marine division ended up in the hands of the original makers of Force Outboards, U.S. Marine, which was subsequently bought by Brunswick Corp., parent company of Mercury Marine. Thus the modern day Force by Mercury Marine has its roots in West Bend and Chrysler technology. It shouldn't be too surprising to find out that many West Bend, Elgin, and Chrysler parts can be obtained at some Mercury/Force dealers. Later in the 1960s, Chrysler also supplied motors for Montgomery Wards, Western Auto/Wizard, and Eaton's.
Many old outboard brands were produced by OMC's onetime 3rd division, Gale. Gale built motors for Montgomery Wards, BF Goodrich, Goodyear, Eaton's - the list goes on. These motors bore both cosmetic and mechanical resemblance to their Johnson/Evinrude contemporaries. If it resembles an old Johnson/Evinrude, it's probably a Gale, and your local OMC dealer might have some parts for it.
Aftermarket replacement parts by manufacturers such as Sierra are also available from marine supply houses. These parts generally include but are not limited to "consumables" like water pump impellers, breaker points, and carburetor overhaul kits. The Sierra outboard parts line is also carried by NAPA auto parts stores.
In searching for parts, it can help a great deal if you have a parts manual for your motor, from which you can obtain the official manufacturers part number. It's a tall order to expect a parts retailers to reliably convert a description like "that thing that connects the underside of the flywheel to the throttle on a 1947 Evinrude" into a number that they can look up in their inventory or on the dealer parts network. When you place your order for parts, you should give as much of the following as possible:
The dealer can check their records to see if your information is self-consistent before you spend your money. Even within a given model year, the same part may have two or more part numbers, depending on the motor's serial number. For example, if you were to order a flywheel key for a "1959 Mercury 15", you'd stand a 50% chance of getting the wrong part, unless you provided the essential information listed above.
Beyond that, you're kind of on your own. Or are you? If you're serious about fixing and enjoying your old outboard, you should seriously consider joining the Antique Outboard Motor Club. Members of AOMCI routinely help each other find parts. However, AOMCI has never been, nor does it try to become a parts supermarket for the rest of the world. AOMCI is a not-for-profit club dedicated to the restoration and preservation of old outboard motors. The club provides the connection that helps folks stay in touch with each other, and it schedules events at which they can convene to swap merchandise. In this way are the club's goals served. Join the club, make a few friends, exchange some information, and good things will come your way.
How do I repair my old outboard?
If you want to do the job right, nothing can substitute for the service manual. By your having the manual, questions can be answered before you even think to ask them It's a simple fact. But of course, the manual doesn't always tell the whole story. Service manuals are often geared to a level above the average do-it-yourself mechanic, and familiarity with outboards in general will help in interpreting details of the manual.
Major outboard models are covered in repair manuals from Clymers, Seloc, Intertec, and others, generally available from your local outboard dealer. The dealer can also sell you or tell you where to get a genuine repair manual from the manufacturer. Such a manual might be slightly more expensive, but it will generally be more complete than the "one size fits all" aftermarket manual, since it is geared towards the dealer's service department and not the do-it-yourselfer. Mercury sells one manual that covers all its motors 1965 and older, and other manuals for newer models. OMC has outsourced printing of all publications covering motors 1979 and older to Ken Cook Co. Since the repair manuals are often general in nature, we also recommend that you get a parts manual for your exact model, so that you can know for sure if you've got everything there. The AOMCI web pages contain links to online sources for Mercury and OMC manuals, with others being added as they become available.
As we said before, the manual doesn't always tell you everything. Some of the tricks of the trade are not written in any official repair manual. Join the Antique Outboard Motor Club, and you will see that some of these tricks are documented in AOMCI's periodicals. Other tricks are strictly word of mouth till someone takes the time to write them down. Chances are good that several folks have performed the same repair you're investigating, and they'll have some words of wisdom to impart. But the key here is that you have to ask around, not just post your question to a faceless bulletin board, but interact with the people who have done it before. When you join AOMCI, that's just what you'll be able to do.
How do I post photos on the Ask-A-Member board?
Plain English Overview
First and Foremost! Any image you wish to display within a message on the board must reside somewhere out on the web; either on your own site, or on someone else's. You cannot point to an image on your hard drive unless you happen to have a web server running on it. (If you do not know if you have a web server on your PC, then you probably do not have one, and I do not recommend that you try changing that.) Chances are your ISP has free web space for you to use, check with your ISP, or some folks use a free photo hosting service such as www.photobucket.com.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator - it's a fancy term for an address on the web.
As you compose your message, all you would do is add a URL between two special Image tags. This tells a readers browser to get the image from wherever it is on the web and display it.
(Don't try clicking on the buttons, it's just an image.)
In the screenshot above, the IMG tags is used, or you can enter your own HTML tags for advanced users. Below is a sample URL you can use to insert into your test messages - it's easiest to copy and paste the URL so you won't have typos.
Copy and paste the entire line below - don't forget to change the highlighted portion for your image.
Here is what you get displayed in your posted message based on the above URL: