03
Jul
11

It was a very Good Year!: Call in the Sea Bees!!

Okay…I must say it has been a very long time, too long in fact to have posted a new blog.  Many exciting things are going on around me since Christmas time 2010 that have kept me occupied.  One has been that I was invited to move my restoration work into a real live professional setting with Ramsey Brothers Restorations.  These guys have an amazing ability to bring vintage boats back to life, but also thought my interest in restoring vintage outboards would be a good match for their facility.

So…that brings us to our title.  A tune sung with sensitivity by Frank Sinatra, “It Was A Very Good Year”…except in our case we are dealing with a GOODYEAR!  AND…this motor was most certainly not treated with sensitivity!

Not too may folks out side of the outboard motor hobby know the following about the Outboard Motor Corporation and their three divisions that made outboard motors.  Did I say THREE?  I did indeed.

Most folks are familiar with the fabled names of Evinrude and Johnson, but how many know about the Gale Division of Galesburg, Illinois is questionable.  The Gale Division made a third “price point” brand of motors under their own banner of the Gale Buccaneer, but they also made outboards for “house brands” such as Atlas Royal (Atlas Tire stores), Spiegle Department Stores under the Brooklure name, and many other.  In his case another Goodyear Sea-Bee.  Gale-built motors also featured a fuel pump, whereas the “flagship brand” motors still used pressurized fuel tanks.  Otherwise this motor is very much a typical OMC Big Twin outboard and shares many parts with its Evinrude/Johnson sisters.

I have a great fondness for America’s great trademark names such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Firestone, Auto-Lite, and Goodyear.  As the matter of fact I have flown in almost every mode of flight EXCEPT the Goodyear Blimp.  I hope to do so some day.  (Hint hint!)

About three years ago I found this old motor languishing away in retirement at John Fisher Marina in Erie, MI.  I’d been keeping an eye on it for some time as I thought it was a plain, but lovely motor.  It had these lovely, simple lines and silver trim.  Of course there was a Goodyear logo emblazoned on the front of the hood.  But what really caught my eye was the HUGE billboard speed lettering down the sides.  In grand pure white with a yellow 3 dimensional outline was the words “SEA BEE” and “Electro Start 25”.  It screams of a company who was proud of their product.  How often do we see that today.

HELLO MARKETING DEPARTMENTS!  A little pride please…but only if your product deserves it!!

How fantastic is that "speed lettering"!?!?

Notice the “Electro Start 25” is different on each side The 25 stay put leaving a bit of a crisis as to what to market this thing as. Is it an “Electro Start 25” or a “25 Electro Start”?
What she needed most was determination from someone to see her run again.  what she had going for her was a motor block that was not seized up and showed no signs of overheat, her magneto ignition had been updated too.  So other than time and effort, a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration was possible.

Okay! She was hanging on a rack when I bought her. She is a bit tattered, more than I thought actually as you will see!

Her flanks had been though a pretty bad run-in with a dock or another boat.  Those lovely silver trim “swooshes” on he side…one was busted and missing pieces.  The lower unit was shot, and her tiller handle was long gone by scavengers.  One transom clamp handle was missing and her paint was badly faded.  In fact great quantities of labor went into figuring out what she should look like through some amateur forensic work during her restoration.

Here are some photos with descriptions of her during triage.

When I found her, I thought just the starboard "swoosh" was cracked. Not quite! The whole starboard cowling was busted in two pieces.

The cowling was broken right along the line of the "swoosh". In fact the fiberglass "swoosh" is what was holding the entire side in one piece!

The last two inches of her silver "swoosh" was sent to Davy Jones' Locker upon impact I suspect.

Here is the rear starboard cowl bracket...cracked in two. Ugh! What did this motor hit!?

Both starboard brackets that hold the side cowls on were broken. They had to be welded back together since I had none on hand.

This motor must have really struck a dock or been in a pretty serious crash to have cracked the cast aluminum cowls and bracket in such a manner.  All you can do is find replacement parts used or have the old parts fixed.  I am fortunate to have a local welder who is very confident, and patient with my little projects!

Now we’ll continue to take a look at more of the motors surprises as we check her over.

The power-head appears to be in reasonable shape. No signs of overheat which would show in the way of burned paint on the cylinder head.

Things ain't always as they seem though. Both spark plug holes had been stripped out. One had a Heli-coil and the other some kind of Rube Goldberg fix was made. Oy!

After pulling the Cylinder head, I was grateful that I hadn't tried to start her up. I could have ended up with Granny Clampett's Corn Squeezins!

Some good news was that her magneto ignition had been update to modern coils. Usually the 50's vintage OMC coils crack and give sporadic or worse than hoped for performance, necessitating replacement.

And the big news that affects most old outboard that were improperly stored, mice get inside (IE: the corn in the cylinders!) and urinate on stuff. This can cause things to be stuck or even the acid in their urine to eat aluminum parts. The manifold is a mild example.

So what we now know at this point is that she has a pretty good chance of survivability on the mechanical front.  Her power head will get a complete tear down to make sure our furry little friends have not destroyed the bearings, all gaskets will get replaced, new seals on her upper and lower crankshaft bearings, new pistons and rings, and the cylinders will need to be honed before rebuilding and repainting.

So the tear down of the entire motor begins as does a search for parts.

The lower unit had been left submerged for most of her life and water had infiltrated here gear case, thus a new lower unit was the way to go on this.  My buddy Scott Parrish from AOMCI offered up a freshly rebuilt lower unit from his supply, so now after tearing down the power head the short block was sent out for machining.

When you park your boat at the end of a run, if you don't pull it out of the water, you should generally tilt the motor up out of the water to avoid such issues as we see here. This is a fresh-water motor. imagine what salt-water would do to the aluminum housings.

Now since the short block will be at the marina machine shop for a while, the time has come to assess the cosmetic needs of this old Sea-Bee.

Clearly paint and decals will need to be redone, but what color of paint!?!  It’s a metallic blue, but what shade?  The decals are uncertain too!  After searching the web and checking in with members of AOMCI, no one had any really info or photos of this model year.  So…what to do!

Sand the paint and look at the layers, just like peeling an onion or counting rings on a tree limb.  As you sand down, the story unfolds.

Upon pulling the motor apart and giving it a good bath, the original, unfaded color was found on the lower shroud pan. It looked a lot like good old Evinrude polychromatic blue to me. The pan is from the Sea-Bee, while the throttle knob laying in the pan is from and Evinrude of the same vintage. We have a match!

It would appear from this photo that the Sea-Bee logo was blue with a yellow outline. Not so! It was white at one time, but the sun had faded the while lettering back to the blue background. We can tell this because the blue within the yellow outline is much "richer" than the blue elsewhere on the hood, thus it was not exposed to the sun's UV rays for the same length of time as the rest of the hood.

The "Electro Start 25" letters are white with a yellow/gold outline, so it would be safe to assume this is proper for the entire motors lettering. Also note the Evinrude Polychromatic Blue that is preserved where the "swoosh" on the side was.

So after a visit to Clear Image Graphics in downtown Toledo, I met with Erin and Frank who said they could do the work on the graphics for a reasonable price.  They took photos I sent them and did a great job as you will see later!

Now with the motor disassembled, work can begin in earnest.

Here again is the starboard cowling. It is completely cracked in two! I sent this out to Diversified Welding of Toledo to have it welded. The big problem is that when it was broken, it also distorted the cowl. I spent about and hour heating it and pounding it back into shape.

The fellows at Diversified do some pretty odd jobs for me. I was pleased with the end results, but there will still need to be some work done to "fair" the cowling so it looks correct.

Following a good scuffing with a 40 grit sanding disc and an angle grinder, I poured a blob of JB Weld on the cowling in the low areas. Why JB Weld? It tends to be somewhat self-leveling and leaves a smooth surface to work with when dry.

Next my attention turned to the silver “swoosh” that is prominent on each side of the lower cowlings.  Other Gale-built motors had their own styles of trim, but this one speaks of speed!  Unfortunately, during the crash that damaged this motor, the “swoosh”was busted into some number of pieces.  Part of it was missing as we saw earlier, and the corner was cracked and damaged.  Sometimes the best way to fix something is to break it.

At this point the three or so pieces that were holding on by fiberglass strands were pulled loose and again JB Weld was used to put everything back together…and fill in the gaps.

Three pieces were broken aways and hanging by a thread, so using JB Weld they were put back in place.

Grinding away the bulk of the JB Weld with a die grinder, sanding was done to finish up the process. The corner will be filled with JB Weld as well.

Fortunately the port side was largely unscathed. This left the "swoosh" in tact and able to be used as a template. The trim pieces are mirror images of each other, so by making a template of the port side trim and flipping it over 180 degrees it will make a good template for the starboard side trim.

Wax paper was used to hold PC-7 epoxy in place as seen in the photo above. This left us with a block of epoxy to work with and shape as needed for the Starboard "swoosh". The template made from the port side trim was traced on the back of the starboard side and then a sander was used to shape the epoxy as needed.

One of the ways OMC's Gale Division cut costs to keep the "House Brand" motors a bit less expensive than their "marquee brands" was to skimp by not painting parts like the recoil pull starter, hood brackets, and in this case, even using a plastic propeller! This one is nicked and chewed, but salvageable.

By placing a bit of tape under the damaged area, a dab of JB Weld can be used to fill in the void. Please note: This propeller will never see regular service, but will be used only for show owing to the fact it appeared to be original to the motor. Do not ACTIVELY use a prop that has been damaged and repaired in this way.

Now while all that epoxy is drying, the fun begins!  After soda blasting the paint from all of the parts, prepping and DP Epoxy Primer was used to get all the pieces ready for a fresh coat of Polychromatic Blue.  The paint is available through NY Marine of Canada.  Peter McDowell has done extensive research to match this paint to its proper colors for most major manufacturers of outboard motors from the 50’s.

Parts is parts...

Motor pans and shock mounts in the paint booth.

I am fortunate to have a 12 x 12 foot paint booth with a monstrous exhaust system to rid the booth of fumes.  However, it still requires changing filter and cleaning regularly to keep debris from getting in the paint.

A bit of extra attention was given to the Goodyear decal on the front of the hood. It was in very good original shape. It also showed some wonderful patina and a scratch or two. If possible it is nice to leave a reminder of how far the motor has come after being restored, so this would be a way of doing that. The decal was clear coated first, then masked off to preserve it from the new blue paint as seen in this photo.

Again using a sander, the propeller was profiled and readied for painting. Notice the JB Weld filled the chips very nicely

The starboard "swoosh" still had some issues after being sanded, so a skim coat of JB Weld was laid over the PC-7 to smooth things out a bit. After re-sanding, it too will be ready for primer and paint.

So now after a lot of fuss and feather, the final assembly is underway.  The paint is applied, as are some of the decals.  The trim and propeller need a fresh coat of silver paint too.

One other detail that had to be recreated on the new section of the "swoosh" was the area that receives the countersunk pan-head screw. This was done simply by placing a washer into a gob of JB Weld, then sanding to profile.

Following sanding and profiling the plastic propeller, it was primed and painted

The old Sea-Bee's starboard side cowling still did not want to fit, so a bit of blacksmith-ing had to take pace with a torch and so careful bending to make a better fit! Thus it is missing in this photo.

Following masking and painting the hood and side cowls reassembly begins.

This is the same starboard cowling that was cracked in to two pieces. Not really noticeable at all now.

From her port side, she is starting to look like a motor again.I still just really dig those big, huge sweeping letters down the side. The same for the vintage Johnson outboards. The Evinrude outboards had that big "billboard logo" sporadically over the years too, but never struck my fancy so much!

And so now following application of decals, trim and control knobs…this Sea-Bee is ready for action!

Front view. I'm really glad that I was able to save the original Goodyear decal on the front top of the hood.

A view of her starboard flank...where all the damage was from an unfortunate "incident" sometime in her life.

And her port side.

She is a real beauty. I'm lucky to have bought this motor for 50 bucks and got her back to where she should be. I'm looking forward to giving her some action soon along the river.

In closing I need to thank Scott Parrish of the Michiana Chapter of AOMCI for his donation of a good lower unit, a donor cylinder head, and decals for the operating instructions, as well as little odds and ends where needed.  I have not seen many of these old OMC-built Goodyear motors around.  I can only surmise that if you were seriously considering “high horsepower”, a Goodyear dealership would have been low on the list of places to buy.  I’m sure there are more out there, but probably only a handful by OMC standards.

Coming up soon we’ll share a very special project for a customer who lives at a residential development built on an old quarry.  The problem is he has a vintage Thompson lapstrake boat and cannot run gasoline motors.  Tune in to see how Scott Parrish and I tackle his problem.  It’s coming soon!

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16 Responses to “It was a very Good Year!: Call in the Sea Bees!!”


  1. 1 Glenn
    July 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    beautiful

  2. July 6, 2011 at 1:47 am

    WOW I am impressed how you cantake this old piece of J… and make it look so beautiful again. great work. And yes she is very pretty and i like those yeloow – white letters too.

    • 4 conductorjonz
      July 6, 2011 at 7:18 am

      Yup! I love a big “BILLBOARD” type of lettering. Whether it be Johnson, Evinrude, Sea-Bee, or even on my model railroad boxcars. Big font is good!

  3. July 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Looks gorgeous. I have the Sea King version of this motor, waiting for restoration. It’s identical, just sold at a different department store. I like the Sea Bee blue paint and yellow deals better than the Sea King grey paint and red decals. After seeing this, I might just cheat a little bit and convert it. If you get some video of it screaming down the lake, I’d love to see it.

    • 6 conductorjonz
      July 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      I love the Sea King version too. A buddy of mine has one he restored that won a prize at one of our outboard meets. Great 1950’s colors on the Sea King’s…and parts should be readily available.

      Sea trials are this weekend in Constantine, MI. We’ll see how it goes.

      Greg

  4. 7 george
    February 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I also have a 25 hp goodyear see bee motor. I wonder were they got the converstion kit for the ignition. I like the idea. I think mine are cracked. Mine is all old style. I think you did a very good job on it. I am proud of you.

  5. 8 george
    February 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    GOOD JOB Were did you get your motor cart. I like that

  6. 9 Roy Fisher
    April 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I have a 1958 Johnson 18 HP which appears to be the same motor. I need to buy a magneto, only one plug fires. Can you tell me the best place to order that? I would appreciate your reply. Also, I have tried to pull the flywheel but I have been afraid to exert too much force (using a puller). I presume I could crack it. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • 10 conductorjonz
      April 4, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Any OMC/Johnson/Evinrude dealer should be able to fix the lack of spark…IF they will work on a motor of this vintage.

      The problem likely is going to require removal of the flywheel either way, and likely just will require the ignition points to be cleaned and serviced and re-set assuming the ignition coils and plug wires are good. If you clean the points, take them apart one set at a time and clean the contacts with emory cloth. Then reassemble and clean both set since you’re in there!

      Purchasing an entire magneto is not necessary.

      As to pulling the flywheel, using a puller, tighten it up with the nut still on the crank. If it will not budge have a buddy lift up on the underside edge of the flywheel with a pry bar to keep pressure off the crank…then give the puller a whack with a 16oz-ish hammer once or twice. If that doesn’t do it, use a propane torch and heat around the crank on the flywheel and repeat.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes!

      • 11 Roy Fisher
        April 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

        Thanks, I won’t get to the location of the motor for a couple of weeks, so I’ll try your remedy then and reply back. Yo say the new magneto is not necessary. Why do you feel that is so? Do magneto’s not go bad? Also is there a gap setting for the points…thousands of an inch?

      • 12 conductorjonz
        April 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        The Magneto is a combination of 2 each ignition coils, points and condensers…and of course plug wires. One or all of these components can be replaced one at a time without affecting the others as they are divided up one or everything for each cylinder. So they are in fact two separate systems on one magneto plate. The magneto encompasses all of these parts, thus no need to replace everything. The gap setting is usually stated on the flywheel of the magneto plate…but is typically .020″.

        Good luck!

        Greg

      • 13 TruthWFree
        April 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

        I see an ignition coil on MarineEngine.com for $21.63. I think I’ll order for a spare even though I may not need it. I used the wrong term when I said magneto. That make sense?

      • 14 conductorjonz
        April 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        Once you replace them, they newer ones tend to not got bad. Not forever, but not in my lifetime if they function the first 30 days.

        The newer coils are great and will last.

      • 15 TruthWFree
        May 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        Thanks, I’ll let you know if that fixes the spark problem.

      • 16 Roy Fisher
        June 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm

        Greg, I took the flywheel off and replaced the one ignition coil where the plug was not firing and set both points at the .020 gap…stil no spark on the non sparking plug. I’m planning on replacing the points and condenser. Does the condenser boost the spark? Also is there any special spacing (.020??) for the coil contacts with the flywheel magnet? I set the two contacts on each coil flush with the housing base they sit on…no contact with flywheel. There is some play as the screws holding them down is smaller than the holes. There appears to be no way to set that gap with a feeler gauge.


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