ASME-Landmark:Evinrude Outboard Motor


The outboard motor designed and built by Ole Evinrude (1877-1934) at the Evinrude Motor Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was quickly accepted by the boating public of the United States. His wife, Bess Evinrude, called the prototype a "coffee grinder," but it moved a boat through water better than the motors available in 1907, including foot-powered paddlewheels, gigantic steam powered motors, electric outboards pattered by storage batteries, heavy four-cycle engines, and other bulky and/or unreliable sources of power.

Bess encouraged Ole to build and sell ten, then twenty, soon resulting in the redirection of their automotive equipment business to outboard motors. Its immediate success stimulated the formation of competing companies and created a new industry.

Evinrude built a 62-pound two-cycle internal combustion motor that ran at 1 1/2 horsepower at 1,000 revolutions per minute. The cylinder was horizontal, the crankshaft vertical, and the direction gears housed in a submerged unit. The design has remained standard for outboard motors, from two-horsepower "kickers" to marine power systems developing 235 horses or more, all of which feature horizontal cylinders, vertical crankshafts, and driveshaft power direction changing gears in the lower unit.

Just three years after the Evinrudes began marketing the new motor, the Evinrude outboard business had grown to more than 300 employees, with sales throughout the U.S. and Europe. Throughout his career, Ole Evinrude continued to perfect his outboard motors, developing a lighter aluminum motor, a waterproof ignition system, a four-cylinder outboard, and more. See ASME website for more information