Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Eric Zelman for sending us in his “Road Trip” Fun to Propville… A small town on the way to Woodyboaterville… Take it away Eric..
As I continue to slowly progress on the ’62 Lake n’ Sea it was time to address the engine. A 1962 Mercury 500 had been acquired to partner with her and the ’62 Super Gator trailer. The classic cloud white look would be a perfect addition. While all the hardware was there, it was apparent that some of the internal components would need to be rebuilt or replaced. The engine was put to the side while I continued to work on the boat.
(1962 Mercury 500 – Cloud White & Chrome)
A year went by and then some more time….. I started reaching out to some of the vintage outboard enthusiasts and clubs through the A.O.M.C. A few folks were recommended including Tom Thuerwacher who lives in Fond du Lac, WI., birthplace and still current headquarters for Mercury Marine.
I called Tom and we reviewed his credentials. He has been collecting and working on “Old Props” for over 20 years. Tom had met the management team at Mercury back in 2001 and befriended members of the Kiekaefer family and the head secretary, Rose Similjanac. She and the President at the time, Charles Alexander wanted a display compiled for a show in conjunction with the local outboard club. Tom was named the official “Historical Consultant” and worked with Mercury and the local Winnebago Chapter of the A.O.M.C. to pull together the engines, do restoration work and convey his knowledge to the public.
My older son had recently graduated and moved to Madison, WI approx. 45 minutes away from Fond du Lac. This would be a great opportunity to see him and get the engine work started, Road Trip! The engine was loaded up and off I went.
(That was a long drive from VA !)
Tom’s personal collection of outboards range from 1911 to more of the vintage green Mercs made in the early 1950’s. He has a nice “man cave” workshop filled with manuals, parts and pieces. Tom also has local artisans available to make specialty items like leather hand grips for steering arms, stainless polishing and chrome. When he needs an extra hand, his son Gary is close by and a mechanic. One of the more interesting engines in the collection is a 1943 KB-4 6HP engine used by the navy and painted for military use. Tom says his favorite is the 1915 Ferro.
(1943 Navy KB-4)
I left the engine and a few weeks later got the diagnosis; re chrome the handle, polish & lube choke, repaint motor, remove & clean power head, change stator, lower seals, bearing, clean water passages, replace full pump diaphragm, change plugs, remove distributor, checkpoints, check wires, repair electrical wires, lube linkages, check lower unit, replace skeg, replace zinc fin, replace tilt pin, touch up prop, replace water pump & cover, replace gear case nut, replace gear lube, clean carbs, replace decals, replace emblem on front cover, restore front cover, straighten wrap cover & repaint, polish stainless trim rings, check timing belt, replace pull handle, replace shock absorber, replace tilt tube caps, replace transom screw handles, polish shift controls, clean vacuum lines to dist., replace vacuum line to motor, clean inside of distributer…..Geez ! Well, a few more weeks later it was in the tank and running smooth.
Tom communicated with me throughout the process. Not everything may have been needed but why take a chance, do it right the first time, be safe and preserve a bit of history. The cosmetic work was completed, and it was time to road trip again a little over 3 months later. The local “home town” McDonalds is located just a couple of blocks away from the Mercury factory in Fond du Lac. Many of the folks work for Mercury and Tom was commissioned to tie in some local flavor to the décor. He sliced a 1959 Mark 78 in two and mounted it to either side of a partition wall. The same was done with a classic green engine cover and made into wall sconces.
(Eric, Tanner & Mr. Happy Meal in front of the Mark 78 décor. Bags under the eyes from the drive!)
(keep your extra parts & pieces!)
(Mr. “Old Props” with his collection)
(Tom’s classic Johnson…yes, that’s what she said…)
(My dock buster, back in the barn after a Wisconsin tailgate party and 14 hours on the road. I need some sleep!)
Here is the Lake n’ Sea Part 2 video link, topside body work: No snazzy music… That was all copyrighted.
Tom Thuerwatcher is accepting new restoration projects and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org