Thursday, July 21, 2011

Antique Motor Restored

I like to consider myself an optimistic person but I must admit I was having a problem seeing the upside potential in a recent trip to a local auction.  My wife had “encouraged” me to go with her to try to pick up an item that she had some personal interest in.  That piece, being an antique houseware item, captivated me for a grand total of about 10 seconds before I wandered off to an unrelated part of the auction going on in a different corner of the barn! 

That’s when I laid my eyes on the silhouette of a little antique outboard motor sitting by its lonesome on an old stand.  To be precise, it was a 1955 5 ½ hp Johnson – exactly like the first outboard that I ever claimed as my own.  Five minutes later, I’m loading it in the back of my pickup (barely leaving room for Brenda's purchase!)  

At that moment, I was almost as proud as I was when I used to clamp the original one on a 20’ wooden jon boat on the White River nearly 50 years earlier.   After the morning work was done at the dock, my dad would let me putt around the river with that little green 5 ½ horse Johnson and I was on top of the world!  And why shouldn’t I have been?  Besides getting to go to work with my dad, I was hanging out with some pretty serious fishermen – like one of the top guides at the time, a name you’ll likely recognize, Forrest Wood (who later founded our company Ranger Boats).  Or even Jerry McKinnis, who left that little dock to begin a TV career and start the longest running fishing show ever on ESPN.  He’s also now the owner of B.A.S.S!  Another TV pioneer, Harold Ensley and many others could have been seen there as well. 

But I’ve gotten sidetracked…back to the little outboard.  I got it running the next day and spent a couple weeks cleaning, sanding, priming and painting.  It probably won’t make it down to the river again, but every time I look at it on the display stand I’ll be reminded that a bad day on the water still beats a good day almost anywhere else! 

Randy Hopper
Ranger Boats