Fun with Mercury Outboards - Yankee Style!
In 2008 The Yankee Chapter Celebrated 69 Years of Mercury Outboards
In the world of antique and collector outboard motors one of the brands with the strongest following is Mercury. In January of 1939 Carl Kiekhaefer, with financing from his family and friends, purchased a recently defunct factory in Ceaderburg Wisconsin to build magnetic separators. Leftover from the previous company occupying the building were several dozen Thor outboard motors, returns from an order placed by catalog giant Montgomery Ward. To raise much needed capital, Mr. Kiekhaefer decided that rather than scrap the outboards he would try to make them operational and fulfill the Ward’s order. This plan worked and Mr. Kiekhaefer soon found Ward’s placing reorders for the motors – he was in the outboard business! Starting at the New York Boat Show in January 1940 the Thor name was replaced by Mercury, this name being in the public mind due to the recent introduction of the stylish Mercury automobile by Ford.
Rather than reiterate the amazing 69-year history of Mercury on this website; there are some terrific books available that go into it in depth. One of the best books ever written on outboards is Jeffrey Rodengen’s IRON FIST; it fully explores the Mercury’s history and that of its founder Carl Kiekhaefer. A second book by Mr. Rodengen THE LEGEND OF MERCURY is a coffee-table book with excellent illustrations and a great companion to IRON FIST. Also excellent (but covering all makes of outboards) is Peter Hunn’s OLD OUTBOARD BOOK, this book is truly the “bible” of the antique and classic outboard hobby.
If you are looking for parts, model information or just an excellent site on old Mercury outboards, East Coast Marine (Also known as oldmercs.com) is hard to beat. Their website is a terrific resource with model information, parts, literature and more, well worth a look if you are restoring an old Merc.
There are lots of websites devoted to Mercury outboards and the Wizard private brand sold by Western Auto. (And maybe a few pre-war Sea Kings too!) Here are just a few from other members of the AOMCI throughout the country:
Here are some photos of Yankee Chapter members enjoying their classic Mercury outboards at our meets over the past few years. Obviously classics from the 1950’s are very popular but there are a few of the 1940’s motors that turn up too! Our formal meet in September 2008 featured Mercury Outboards and was a lot of fun!
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