Who Was James Kermath, and the, Kermath Manufacturing Company?


| June/July 1992



Cross-section of the Kermath model 20

Cross-section of the Kermath model 20.

7964 Oakwood Park Court, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663

In the spring of 1990, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland was offered a model 20 Kermath marine engine, serial number 19951. Thirty-three years earlier, it had been removed from a buy-boat when the boat was scrapped. Then it was stored in the woods behind the donor's house. During most of the 33 years it had been covered by a tarp. The manifold and carburetor were missing and the engine was stuck and very rusty.

I do some volunteer work for the Museum. Despite the condition of the engine, we decided to accept it. The photographs show the restored engine.

 My approach was in three directions-to learn the history of the manufacturer, to start restoring the engine, and to find a manifold and carburetor. This article is mainly about researching Kermath Manufacturing Company of Detroit, Michigan.

James Kermath, the founder of the company, was born May 4,1874 in London, Ontario and came to Detroit in 1899. From 1901-1907 he was part owner of Eclipse Manufacturing Company, a machine shop where he built engines on contract for Detroit Auto Marine Company. They built fifteen hundred 11/2 HP engines the first year. That original shop was in the old Boydel building on East Congress. The Dodge Brothers shared the building and built engines for Henry Ford before they went into the automobile business for themselves. The Detroit auto fever must have infected Kermath, for he built an experimental automobile in 1907.

During 1907-1909 Kermath was employed by Gies Gear Company in Detroit as superintendent, and in 1909 or 1910 he formed the Kermath Manufacturing Company, of which he was part owner.