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Green Marine Engines

The value of repurposing marine engines.

September 17, 2013

Green Marine Engines

Destined to become a mailbox, this is one old engine cowling that won’t add to the landfill.

I’m a collector. Of sorts, anyway. I can’t pass up a good buy on marine paraphernalia. In fact, it doesn’t really have to be a good buy. I just like marine stuff.

For example, my most recent acquisition was scored at a yard sale for eight bucks. It’s the engine cowling from a 18-hp 1967 Evinrude Fastwin outboard. I think I’ll make a mailbox out of it.

How someone ends up with a cowling for a non-existent engine is a story in itself. Around where I live, it was once common practice for baymen to remove the cowling from a new engine and replace it with the faded, chipped and dingy-looking cowling from the engine they were replacing. Back in the day, the cowlings fit different models from different years, or at least the same model from different years. Mostly. The practice was a theft prevention technique. After all, a motor appearing old and beat up was less likely to attract the attention of thieves, right?

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One of my best barn finds occurred some 20 years ago, when I spotted a 1958 British Seagull outboard amongst the detritus of an “Everything Must Go” moving sale. I snapped it up for 20 bucks, used it to propel a variety of craft and then stored in my shed’s rafters for more than a decade. I recently brought it out of mothballs (Started on the second pull!) and clamped it to the transom of a 12 foot skiff my kids have been using.

The reception at the marina was cold, to say the least. A two-stroke running on a 10:1 fuel to oil ratio, the engines exhaust is, how shall I put this….different…than that of a modern portable outboard. It also leaves a rainbow in the water, and while it sounds really cool (chuffa-chuffa-chuffa), it’s a bit louder than a new outboard.

My response to this cleaner-than-thou reception has been calm and rational. I maintain that it would be more environmentally costly to manufacture and ship a brand new outboard than to run my Seagull. I say that the old engine would also have to be disposed of, which carries further environmental costs. Maintaining and repurposing and reusing says I, is as valuable as recycling and less costly than replacing.

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I’d like to know what you have to say. Please comment in the space provided below.

Takeaway: A clean-running, efficient, modern engine burning 20 gallons-per-hour of fuel is consuming the equivalent of four longneck beer bottles of gas every 3 minutes.

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