DETROIT MARINE ENGINE

Old marine engine

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Box 571 Frankfort, Michigan 49635

My little boat was built in the 1940's by a fellow named Jim Congdon who lived on Long Lake here in Benzie County, Michigan. He built the boat from a half model and called it a 'rough water tender'. The hull is made from 3/8' marine plywood cut into planks using batten seam construction with rabbeted chines. Some of the pertinent statistics are: length 10'2', beam 4'5', draft 15', weight 600 pounds. It has lifting eyes fore and aft, a five gallon gas tank fitted in the bow and is steered by a lever on the side of the cockpit. The steering lever is connected to a cable that runs around the perimeter of the cockpit and is fastened to a tiller under the rear seat. All fittings and hardware are either brass, bronze or galvanized. Capacity is rated at '4 or 5' people but because of its small size, I find that 3 adults makes an adequate load and gives the boat a good trim.

The engine is a single cylinder, 3 HP, 2 cycle marine engine built by the Detroit Engine Works. There is no date, serial # or model # on the name-plate so I do not know how old it is but it very likely dates to the early 1900's. The engine is cooled by a piston type water pump that operates off of an eccentric on the output shaft. The pump draws water through a strainer on the bottom of the hull and exhausts the warm water out the side of the boat. The boat was in very rough shape when I acquired it a few years ago, having been unused and stored outside for many years. It took much sanding and caulking and a gallon of primer and a gallon of finish coat to get the hull in shape. Having a driveshaft made (' brass), replacing the steering cable and making a canvas cockpit cover were other major items. The engine was in good shape having been stored under cover. Buying a new sparkplug and a piece of Packard 440 high tension wire and some iron pipe for the exhaust line were the only items needed.

Learning to run the engine has been mostly a matter of 'by guess and by gosh' along with reading some of the literature like 'Gas Engine Troubles and Installation' by J. B. Rathbun and 'Old Marine Engines' by Stan Grayson. I have yet to find anyone in this area who is familiar with this type of engine (or is willing to admit it!).

I enjoy running the boat here on beautiful Crystal Lake and am gradually getting more confident in trouble shooting any problems that develop. I still take along a pair of oars, though, 'just in case'.

The most frequent question I'm asked is 'How do you steer it?' that's because the steering lever is below the cowl and is not visible a short distance from the boat. The next most frequent question is 'How old is the Engine?' Perhaps someone out there in old engine land can help me answer that one.