A coworker of mine clearly recognized that I needed another project to work on, so he asked me if I’d refurbish a 1979 Puch moped that’s been sitting in his garden shed for 20 years. His grandson wanted to ride it when visiting. How could I say no to a 12 year old? I took the motorcycle trailer to work last Friday to pick up the patient. After loading the bike on the trailer, I was given an old outboard motor as payment for my services yet to be rendered. The motor was a 5.5 HP “Ted Williams” brand outboard. Ted Williams – wasn’t he a baseball player?
Thank goodness for the Internet, otherwise these sorts of mysteries would never be solved. A quick check on Wikipedia revealed that Ted Williams was not only a Hall of Fame member of the Boston Red Sox, but was also an inductee of the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame. Who knew? Anyway, Williams cut a lucrative endorsement deal with Sears, which put the “Ted Williams” name on a full line of fishing, hunting, and baseball equipment. The manufacturer of my outboard motor was a company named ESKA, which built outboard motors using Tecumseh engines from 1961 until 1987. Using ESKA’s serial number cross reference, I was able to confirm that my motor is a 1973 model.
I was told that the motor was hard to start. I pulled the spark plug, which appeared almost new, and tugged the starter rope to check for a spark. Nothing. I then proceeded with the autopsy, removing the recoil starter, engine shroud, and flywheel. The fuel lines were rock-hard from age, so I cut them away and replaced them. The carburetor was disassembled and cleaned, washing away 40 years of grime from the parts. I noticed that the ignition points barely moved on their pivot – likely the cause of the spark problem. I lubricated the points and they moved nicely. Electrical connections were cleaned of oxidation, and everything was reassembled. Another tug of the starter rope produced a strong spark, so that issue was fixed.
I added the 24:1 premix that this engine called for, pulled the choke, and tugged the rope. On the second pull, the engine popped to life and settled into a nice idle. This motor is not hard to start! I put it on Grandpa’s old aluminum boat and took Enzo for a ride around Thayer Lake. Ted Williams would be pleased.