OUTBOARD RACING

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54

OUTBOARD RACING

BY

J. H. SHILLAN. (Mr. Shillan is already well-known to many of our readers as a successful exponert of the Elto outtoard motor. He is manager of the Elto concern in this country, whose headquarters are el 24, Harrison Street, W.C.I.) TT is a common belief today that the Outboard Engine 1. was an invention of the last five years, but this is

not so. As far as I have been able to discover, the first Outboard Motor ever manufactured and actually run was made by Mr. C. D. Waterman of Detroit, U.S.A., in the summer of 1904. It was a two-stroke motor, single cylinder, the drive being transmitted from the crankshaft to the driveshaft by a vertical sprocket, the driveshaft remaining absolutely unprotected. No silencer was fitted, and the petrol tank was fitted on to the tiller arm and this was placed high up above the cylinder head of the vertical motor.

This first Outboard Motor as you will gather was a rather crude affair, in fact all the underwater gears were exposed.

In 1905 about a dozen Waterman Outboard Motors, were actually manufactured and sold, this” production’ being the means of the formation of the Waterman Marine Motor Co., which was, I believe, the first company ever formed to manufacture outboard motors.

In 1908 Mr. 0. Evinrude manufactured his first outboard motor—a single cylinder unit of rather cumbersome proportions—but it was not until 1910 that he commenced to manufacture these on a commercial basis, his first public demonstration being given on the river in Milwaukee on a sweltering hot afternoon in August. The demonstration consisted of Mr. Evinrude in his shirt sleeves rowing a dinghy in the sweltering heat for about ten minutes, then coming back to the raft, putting on the motor, starting it up, and letting this do the work instead.

It seems that the demonstration was a big success, because Mr. Evinrude announced that he had twelve engines in process of manufacture, and within five minutes after the demonstration had finished he had sold the lot to onlookers, the price being about £20 each. This order for twelve motors was the commencement of the Evinrude Motor Co. of which the Principal was Mr. 0. Evinrude, who is now President of the Outboard Motors Corporation of America, the head of the Elto Outboard Motor Co.

I see upon examining an advertisement published by the manufacturers of the Waterman Outboard Motor in 1910 that the motor developed 2 h.p., weighed 40 lbs. (I think this was a typographical error and should have been 70 lbs.), that the motor was” not a toy but a good, strong, powerful motor.” The advertisement furthermore stated that “the Waterman does not get out of order, and will run on one gallon of petrol for eight hours.” The only conclusion I can come to after reading the latter feature of the advertisement is that in 1910 the Petrol Companies were selling some wonderful spirit.

In 1911 the Swedish Archimedes Outboard Motor wa introduced. This was a single cylinder model, but in 1911 the manufacturers introduced the first twin cylinder motor, the weight of which was about 70 lbs.

It was in 1911 that the first outboard motors were introduced in this country, and in that year Mr. Walter D. Fair of Hampton Wick imported some Waterman outboard motors, and Mr. T. G. F. Winser introduced some Evinrude outboard motors. In 1914 Mr. Fair was unable to get further supplies of Waterman outboard motors, and as these were being supplied to the British Navy, the Government urged Mr. Fair to commence manufacturing the Waterman Outboard Motors in this country under their patents, and although the Waterman Co. in America discontinued manufacturing cutboard motors some years ago, Mr. Fair has continued manufacturing the Watermota in this country.

Caille entered the field in 1912, and by 1914 I find that there were actually eight factories producing outboard motors in America, namely :—Waterman, Evinrude, American, Gray, Caille, Farro, Sweet and Wisconsin.

In 1915 the Lockwood Co. commenced to manufacture the Lockwood Ash Motor, all these motors being of the single cylinder type, but in 1916 the Koban Manufacturing Co. of Milwaukee produced the first American twin cylinder outboard motor.

There was practically no advance made in design from 1904 to 1916, that is until the two-cylinder Koban Motor appeared, and then I find that very little advance in design was made from 1916 to 1921, but in that year Mr. 0. Evinrude who had six years previously sold out his interest in the Evinrude Motor Co.—returned into the outboard motor manufacturing field, and formed the Elto Outboard Motor Co. In the first year he placed on the market the Silvery Eto Lightweight twin cylinder model. This motor made an instant hit with the public, because it was a motor easy to carry, started easily, and was much quieter than other outboard motors being manufactured at that time. In the latter part of 1921 the Johnson Motor Co. introduced the first outboard engine developing relatively high r.p.m., i.e., 2,800 r.p.m.—their first model being a light twin developing 24h.p. Up to the end of 1922 outboard racing had not taken place at any of the National Regattas in America or in any other part of the world, but in the early part of 1923 both the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association and the British Motor Boat Club staged outboard races. Both were tree-for-all races, the former being held at Oshkish, Wisconsin, and was won by an Elto twin at the phenomenal speed of 9 miles an hour, whilst the B.M.B.C. race was held on the River Thames at Chelsea, and was also won by an Elto light twin at

the phenomenal speed of 7 miles per hour, but this speed was only achieved through the pilot having scoured practically the whole of the boatyards on the River Thames in search of a suitable craft, and he happened to be rather lucky in securing the loan of a river skiff of about 16ft. in length and 2ft. Gins. beam. The race was about 4 miles in length, and the winning boat arri-ved at the winning post about 6 minutes ahead of the second boat. All competitors—except the winner— had resorted to the usual type of ordinary sea dinghy, and so the general impression was that the pilot of the winning boat had ” stolen a march” on them. . In 1925 a speed record of 12 miles an hour was established in an outboard race, this speed being beaten in the autumn of 1926 when a speed of 16 miles an hour was registered by an outboard on a single step hydroplane. In 1927 the phenomenal speed of 26 miles an hour was registered as the Outboard Speed Record by Mr. S. V. B. Miller of Seattle, U.S.A., by using one of the experimental Elto Quads and a sea sled type of Hull. In 1928 the fastest speed made was 41.748 miles an hour, this being accomplished by an Americaa, Mr. Eldon Travis, with an Elto Quad outboard motor and a Boyd Martin Bullet Hull,

The latest information I have received is that a speed of over 45 miles per hour was registered at the Mount Dora Regatta in the U.S.A. with one of the 1929 HiSpeed Super Elto Quad models—and so this increase in speed goes on—and it is not unlikely before the close of the present season we may see a speed of over 40 miles an hour achieved in outboard motor competition.

It was only a few years ago that one heard on all sides statements to the effect that outboard Motors were noisy, unreliable and a pest. This bad impression was due to the performance—or rather lack of performance— of the old single cylinder crude outboard motors of the early days, but outboard motors of today are almost universally either a twin or four cylinder unit, all are reasonably silent, reliable—and in the case of racing motors—surprisingly fast when used on the right type of hull. Most of the reading matter in the daily and technical

Press refers to the racing type of outboard motors, but these constitute but a small proportion of the general outboard motor market. For every one racing model sold today there are at least six of the non-racing models, and these non-racing models are used for multifarious purposes, such as propelling barges, wherries, other similar heavy craft, down to the smallest pointed stern canoe, whilst the models of outboard motors range from the large four cylinder racing models developing over 5,000 r.p.m. and capable of speeds of 45 miles per hour and weighing about a hundredweight, down to the little ” Lightweight” ” yachtsmen’s pocket motor” weighing about 26 pounds.

In addition to the outboard motors being made in America, Gt. Britain, and. Sweden, they are also being manufactured in France, Germany and Italy today, but I fail to discover any realy new innovations that have been generally adopted as outboard standard practice and emanating from these countries. Practically all improvements have come from America, although whether this same situation will continue in the future is problematical.

What can be said of the future of the Outboard ? I see no reason why their rapidly growing popularity should not continue at the same phenomenal rate as in the last five years. To the average Britisher there is no more pleasant way of spending one’s moments of recreation than on the water, either visiting tranquil beauty spots, picnicing, etc., or else being a competitor at the various outboard Regattas being held weekly in various parts of the British Isles, in fact, at the present time outboard racing enthusiasts have the opportunity of choosing at least one meeting each week, and it is not unlikely in the near future they will have the choice of attending several meetings each week.

In my humble estimation, the wonderful popularity of outboard motors is due to their small initial cost and low running expense, coupled with the fact that many models are conveniently portable, and for a few pounds a trailer can be purchased which will tow boat and motor behind a motor car almost anywhere at infinitesimal expense in order to engage in this wonderfully fascinating sport.