When Sunny Get’s Blue: bands, boats, and outboards…

I always try to think of a nice old musical standard to use as a title for each post.  Or at least paraphrase a lyric or title.  In the case of this post…”When Sunny Gets Blue” has multiple thoughts that are conjured up.

Firstly, my wife recently bought me a nice set of Music Minus One Play-a-long music books that includes this old gem.  However, I can’t help but to think of the version the Count Basie Orchestra recorded around 1969 or 1970 with the great trombonist Buddy Morrow filling in on the record date.  Mr. Morrow was called upon to play the ballad.  Indeed he did…with great style…and the Basie Band was oh-so briefly featuring a trombone sound never heard with that band before or since.

The great Buddy Morrow still leads the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 2010 at age 91. Buddy played in the great T.D. band of 1938...the band that produced many hits for Dorsey!

Oddly, that dovetails with the fact that word is the Count Basie Orchestra is under “new management”.  It is a wonderful orchestra that has continued to carry on since its leaders passing in 1984.  Currently under the leadership of William Henry “Bill” Hughes, the band has fortunately made a handful of recordings but traveled very little.  The management has apparently fallen down on the job.  Mr. Hughes has done a good job of leading the orchestra, but bookings are slim in this economy.  With the new management in place perhaps the band will get back to travelling 30 or so weeks a year…like they used to.

Bill Hughes with the Count Basie Orchestra during rehersal in Flint, Michigan.

And that dovetails with boating.  Not only does Sunny Get Blue…but so do I during the winter months.  It too cold for many of the activities I enjoy the most.  Working on the boats and outboards are suspended until warmer weather comes about.  Thus I’m getting a little stir crazy.  Cabin fever…ya’ know!?!

This being the first part of January, it dawned on me that as of this writing I am slightly less than 90 days away from shipping season on the Great Lakes.  Also, weather permitting, launching a vessel of my own.  However, much work must be done to get ready.

Our 1949 Thompson Lake TVT has its interior stripped of her varnish and sits covered in the garage under a blue tarp.  I need to get to work sanding, sealing with CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer) and laying down several coats of varnish, revarnishing and installing the seats and the steering and controls.  This is a good solid month of work.

The Alumacraft “FDR sits on saw horses awaiting much-needed sanding, buffing, and polishing.  Then seats will need fabricating, electrical and steering installed, and a motor placed on her restored transom.

And that brings us to the next dilemma.  Outboard motors.  So many motors and so little time.

1957 35hp Evinrude Big Twin

 The 1957 Evinrude “Big Twin” is a nice 35 horsepower outboard that was given to me for services rendered on another outboard.  This motor has “kicked” throughout the restoration.  Broken bolts, nasty mouse nests, and house paint on the entire motor.  YUCK!

Seems as if every 3rd bolt broke off upon efforts to remove them.  The power head is in the shop to have the cylinders honed…and new rings and one new piston will need to be installed.  The lower unit has some issues that will necessitate replacement as well.  Suffice to say, this was not a motor that had been cared for.  But I do believe it will run again.

Next up is this little gem that was obtained via a trade for a Martin 200 I bought for 25 bucks.  I didn’t realize at the time what I had bought, but the Martin…turns out…is fairly sought after by outboard enthusiasts.  I had no intentions of doing anything with it, and had a nice offer to trade for a 1957 Johnson Golden Javelin 35 hp outboard.

1957 35hp Johnson "Golden Javelin"

Perhaps considered one of the most attractive Johnson’s of the 1950’s, this motor came with much-needed controls and electrical connections that will be used on the 1959 Alumacraft.

This motor is in very good shape and needs really just a basic tune up and some cosmetic work, including re-chroming the shiny parts, some of which need gold plating.

All-in-all, this should be a fairly straight forward restoration.

Unfortunately, the week of New Years brought about a late “Christmas Gift” from the local boat restoration guru’s, Ramsay Brother’s Restorations.  I was summoned to the restoration shop, and shown a 1959 Evinrude Lark 35hp outboard.  It too is basically complete, but dirty as hell, and will need more effort to make it serviceable.

1959 35hp Evinrude Lark.

This motor puts fear into the hearts of many postal employees owing to its mailbox styled cowling.  More than one of these hoods has ended up on of post in front of an outboard enthusiasts home.

Open front and insert mail?!?!?

This motor is the same motor for the most part as a standard 35hp Big Twin, but the lower unit and hood are designed for noise reduction.  This too is a good candidate for restoration with some new paint, and tune up.  It seems to have good compression and likely will see service as primary power on our Alumacraft since they are the same year.  This also has created the need to do a “proper restoration” of the Alumacraft FDR, and to be as faithful to it as possible.  This 1959 boat and motor combo would be a real “period piece” or slice of family outboarding history.

Included with the Evinrude Lark was a real gift.  The “brothers” also threw in a 1950 vintage Goodyear Sea-Bee 5hp outboard I had been desiring for a while. 

1950 Goodyear Sea-Bee 5hp outboard1949 Gambles Hiawatha 5hp outboard.

1949 Gamble's Hiawatha 5hp motor.

You’ll notice a similarity in the two outboards above.  Yes they are the same motor.  The Gale Division of OMC created many department store or “house brand” outboards.  You could walk into a Gambles store, a Goodyear Tire store, or any number of department stores and get one of these little motors.  They share very little with the Johnson and Evinrude OMC brands, but are still fine little motors.  Both of these will get full cosmetic restorations and mechanical tune-up and work as needed.

So once the weather gets a bit nicer, work can resume on these projects…and I won’t be so blue anymore.

 So until warmer weather…stand by.

9 Responses to “When Sunny Get’s Blue: bands, boats, and outboards…”

  1. 1 Scott Meyer - AOMCI member AKA: ~scotty
    February 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Hi – I enjoy your posts on the AOMCI forums. You do nice work on your restorations.

    I believe your Goodyear Sea-bee is 1947 Gale model 2G2. Is there a tag on the swivel bracket between the clamp screws? Later in 1947-48 Gale upgraded to the 180 degree swivel for reverse capability with the model 2G3.

    Your Hiawatha is a 1941-42 or 1945-46 model. I don’t know what the difference is between the pre-war and immediately post war models – they might be the same motor – interupted by the war. I have an original 1947-48 Hiawatha model 25-7971 (Gale 2H3) with the 180 degree reverse.

    Keep up the good work.


    • 2 conductorjonz
      February 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm

      Scott, I think you are probably correct on all counts. I only went by what I’d been told and could find readily on the web. Thanks for narrowing down the motors for me. I love them so much…poor ugly little things that they are…I recently added the Atlas Royal version to the collection. Restoration to begin soon!!

      Thanks again!


  2. 3 Norm Witte
    September 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Hi, Greg. I have been enjoying your stories and the pictures of these wonderful outboards. You do very nice work.

    I just bought a ’71 Sea Ray with a 125 hp Merc and I have a question maybe you could help me with. The boat has a cable-operated remote spotlight made by Sparton (those two words appear in one of your posts and that’s how I found your blog). A die-cast part inside the light is broken, and I am looking for a replacement. I have no interest in spending half of what I paid for the boat on a new Ivalite, but anything that isn’t chrome just looks wrong.

    The remote for the light looks like a little sailing ship’s wheel.

    You can see the remote and the light (sorta) here:

    I don’t expect for you to be able to help, but if you can, that would be appreciated.

    And keep up the great work!

    • 4 conductorjonz
      September 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Norm!

      I would suggest the usual suspect…Ebay and AOMCI Webvertize. A good photo would be necessary for the AOMCI webvertize…or at least a model number.

      I have seen them from time to time on Ebay. Also start checking marine junkyards in your area or on the web.

      Great looking boat by the way! Who woulda’ though a 1971 boat would be a “classic”?


  3. 5 Norm Witte
    September 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks much for the tip and the compliment. I have a feeling I will be scouring eBay for the winter. Oh, well. Other pictures of the SeaRay are here:


    All of the sudden the ’70s are a long time ago….


  4. 6 Jonathan Rogers
    March 9, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I have a old 3hp Manuel wrap and pull Goodyear seebee. It’s is nice besides sitting outside. I had my boat motor guy look at it he changed spark plugs and cleaned some stuff it ran great. But I can find little to no info on it. What is something like this worth. It requires a lot of labor to run so I just look at it but can’t find out any value on it would u have an idea?also I’m in iowa and can pick up old nice motors for cheep just throwing it out there!

    • 7 conductorjonz
      March 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      The motor was made by the 3rd member of the Johnson Evinrude family…the Gale motor division of OMC.

      They were made for department stores…tire store…etc. They are nice little motors…but not terribly valuable depending on condition. Anywhere from free to 200.00 for a mint condition motor. Average 60 bucks and a little more if it’s running.

      They are reliable and should start easily. If it doesn’t…your mechanic may be out of his league of out of practice. Run it rich on oil. 24 to 1. Don’t listen to marina guys.

      Good luck

  5. 8 Sam S.
    April 8, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Greg, I was wondering, I have a 58 evinrude big twin 35 that i would love to have restored, is this something you would be willing to price for me?

    • 9 conductorjonz
      August 16, 2019 at 8:36 am

      I’m out of business these days. Thanks for the offer. I like working on my stuff now. But working on other stuff is a pain sometimes. 🙂

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