A reader came across an article in our September 2019 issue about members of the Antique Outboard Motor Club
Incorporated (AOMCI) and the origins of the outboard engine. Contrary to popular belief, he reckons Ole Evinrude didn’t invent the first outboard.

When Tauranga’s Roger Beauchamp read Lindsay Wright’s piece on ancient outboards it triggered an investigation. He remembered reading an article published in a 1915 issue of the American magazine – The Rudder – by one Jack Crab.

Crab’s piece described the history (!) of the first ‘detachable motors’ (they were yet to be called outboard motors), pinning the pioneer unit to a French company called Moto-Godile. It was followed by the Porto-Motor engine developed in 1903 by Cameron Waterman, a young Yale University engineering student, and then Evinrude’s prototype in 1909.

Beauchamp’s interest in old outboards and the AOMCI relates specifically to his own rare engine – a functioning early model Evinrude – called a Detachable Row-Boat Motor. He acquired the engine in 1976 while working for a marine company in Taupo.

“A guy came into the store with this dismantled engine in a couple of beer crates and asked if he could trade it in on a new Evinrude. He assured me it still had spark. So I approached the boss and asked if he wanted it. He took one look, threw up his hands in horror and said no way would he trade junk.

“So I offered to purchase it myself. I took it home in its beer crates and put it under my work bench, with the idea of restoring it one day. That was more than 44 years ago.


“But reading the piece in your September issue inspired me, so I hauled out the crates and spread the bits over the bench. No corrosion or rust – compression still good as – and yep, she had spark! After a few days of fiddling around (no instructions) I managed to put it back together. But I still need a tiller handle and fuel tank to complete the assembly.”

During the resto project Beauchamp began hand-polishing the brass and bronze components (most of the lower unit, water pump, prop, thumb screws and carby). But then a work colleague suggested using a home-based product – a tablespoon of flour mixed with two tablespoons of salt and three of vinegar.

“I brushed it on and after five minutes or so I lightly agitated it with a little brass-bristled brush – and it worked a treat.”

Today the old Evinrude has pride of place in his garage. He is now trying to source a fuel tank and tiller handle and has elicited the help of AOMCI members in the hunt. He also points out that the beer crates in which the engine arrived are probably a collector’s item.