looking to re-power the runabout

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Re: looking to re-power the runabout

Post by darthplywood »

Wright...very interesting post! I am not a mechanic at all but that was interesting. Speaking of McCulloch's. my uncle once salvaged one off that bottom of a lake that had been there for over a year....after it was taken apart and put back together it ran great for another 10 years!
Built the 17' Glen-L "Sea Knight"
yet to come...11' Glen-L "Utility"

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Re: looking to re-power the runabout

Post by wright6627 »

Back in ancient times when I became an outboard mechanic, McCullochs were the most well hated outboard brand. It wasn't because they were bad motors--they weren't. McCulloch's association with Sears is what ultimately did them in. The company was selling a huge amount of their production through Sears under the Elgin, Sears, or Ted Williams label. In the mid 60s, Sears retail prices on the entire line were lower than dealer cost for the genuine McCulloch product. Needless to say, the dealer network was pissed. Their retaliation was to drop the McCulloch line from their inventories. In the meantime, when Sears labeled McCulloch outboards needed service, they were referred to the dealers who refused to repair them. The whole thing came falling down and by 1967, McCulloch dropped completely out of the outboard business.

A little more McCulloch history: Scott Atwater had been around producing outboards since before WWII. Throughout the 50s, they were at the forfront of outboard technology. Their fishin' engines were absolute top drawer in the early 50s. A good example of an old Scott will compare favorably with anything made today (although they are noisy by today's standards). In '56, McCulloch bought out Scott-Atwater and began to design bigger outboards. They revamped the old Scott 40 and put a good conventional lower unit under it in 1958. Also in '58, they introduced their 3 cylinder 60 HP outboard. This was a hot outboard and comparable in performance to the Mark 75. It had some bugs that needed ironing out. This was accomplished by 1960 and the 1960 60HP McCulloch was a sweetheart as were all of the 75s to follow. Both Scott and later McCulloch suffered from time to time with quality control issues which kept the company output in a distant 3ed place. Their designs were, however wonderful and can be considered state of the art for their time period.

Back in the early 70s, I decided to go independant with my own outboard business. I needed a brand with which I could hang my hat. I chose McCulloch and never looked back. Up until the mid 90s, these motors were responsible for the bulk of my income. I became known as the McCulloch man out here in California. I had plenty of business because I was about the only mechanic in the state who actually wanted to work on them. They were unpopular because there were no mechanics with the technical know how to get one dialed in and the set up was complicated enough to require more than the normal level of expertise. I developed the know how and the business just poured in. Although most of them have hit the junkyards and scrap piles today, they still have a poor reputation because of the McCulloch-Sears connection. This reputation is entirely undeserved.

I am an outboard nut and as I said in an earlier post, I love 'em all. I deal with classic Mercurys these days because my e-Bay parts business demands old Merc parts more than any other. I have a collection of old restored (or fine original) outboards that includes all the major brands. It includes the McCulloch 75 that provided the punch for the Tollycraft (wood) runabout pictured in an earlier post. In it's most recent incarnation, the Tolly is powered by a Merc 1250 (1967) only because I wanted the 50 horsepower advantage as well as trim and tilt. The McCulloch had been on the boat for the 15 years I've owned it and was the original motor for the boat. It was perfectly reliable for each and every one of those 15 years--never needing anything but a light tune-up. My wife, the boat, and I have traveled together alot over those 15 years and have demanded alot from the old McCulloch. It always delivered.

I have no bones to pick with any of our outboard manufacturers past or presant. They all had their share of clunkers in the classic years. Scott had the high placed water pump which may never pump water today. McCulloch had the crazy generater/distributer as well as a gas guzzling intake manifold on its early 60 which made it as gas thirsty as the fat 50 from OMC in 58-59. OMC also had the total mismatch of a high torque low revving 4 banger on top of what must be considered a very high speed lower unit with a very small diameter prop throughout the early 60s. Mercury had the auto transmission Mark 28, 200, and 250 of late 50s, early 60s fame which requires special tools and if run in anything but fresh, fresh water, probably won't come apart for impeller replacement. Mercury also had the good ol' direct reverse system because Carl Kiekhaefer decided that no conventional lower unit could handle the massive horsepower of the Mark 75. This is ironic because they already had the lower unit design (Mk 20-Mk 55, etc) that would be scaled up to handle the massive HP loads of today's Mercruiser.

If any of you guys want to work with one of the other than Merc/OMC outboards, I'll be happy to work with you. Of course, I'll be glad to help with OMC and Merc questions also. You'll find very few who've spent more time with 'em than I have.


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Re: looking to re-power the runabout

Post by BoringBros814 »

Hey Randy I know this thread is quite old but I was wondering if you could possibly help me out. I recently picked up a Merc500 Kiekhaefer I believe it is between a 61-63. I am trying to locate a new magneto point breaker for it as the one I took off is so worn it doesnt allow for the break between the points. I guess my question is do you know where I could find the correct one. I have found ones similar but they have the bent spring and mine has just a curved spring. Thank you in advance.

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Bill Edmundson
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Re: looking to re-power the runabout

Post by Bill Edmundson »


You may some info here http://www.glen-l.com/phpBB2/search.php ... +500+parts

Mini -Tug, KH Tahoe 19 & Bartender 24 - There can be no miracle recoveries without first screwing up.
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Re: looking to re-power the runabout

Post by gdcarpenter »

Ferguson-Poole Marine in Atlanta.
This is my first, last and only boat build.


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Re: looking to re-power the runabout

Post by amuller »

Wow, Randy, these are super interesting posts. Thank you.

I've spent more than a few hours bringing up a 1972 OMC 85 V4. It is a complex machine and the OMC manuals could be clearer, but in my limited use of it , it has run perfectly. I also have a 60 hp three cylinder "looper" which installs the same--same electric shift, transom clamps etc, and I'm thinking that 60 hp is enough and it might burn a bit less gas? (For what it's worth, I'd rather have a Fairbanks-Morse magneto that the complexity of the OMC ignition--points, distributor under flywheel, expensive CDI box.....but I'm an old fart and magnetos are a familiar item.

BTW, I wonder why the wiring on OMCs seems to last, whereas on Mercury's it hardens and cracks and whatall. It seems to be run-of-the-mill PVC insulated wire. Did OMC have some special engineering standards for wire suppliers?

I really bought the boat to put a Bearcat 55 hp on, but haven't yet found one--at my bottom feeder price expectations.

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