Born in America: The History of Evinrude Engines – The First Outboard


Born in America: The History of Evinrude Engines – The First Outboard


Ole Evinrude was born on a farm in Norway on April 19, 1877, one of eleven children born to Andrew and Beatta Evinrude. At the age of five, Ole moved, by ship with his family to America, settling in Cambridge, Wisconsin. He spent most of the ocean voyage in the engine room, and it was on the journey that Ole fell in love with boats and the motors that powered them.

A consummate tinkerer, Ole grew to be very handy and developed a reputation in the town for his abilities. In his first attempts to construct an internal combustion engine, Ole nearly set the basement of his boarding house on fire. The landlady immediately kicked him out, afraid that he would blow up the entire house if he tried again. His new apartment was a small shed adjoining the property of sixteen-year-old Bess Cary. Bess was intrigued by the story of the boarding house explosion and her parent’s new tenant. After some modifications, Ole created the right pattern for his motor and landed a government contract to produce 50 portable motors. Bess, who was attending business school, volunteered to type correspondence for the company in the evenings in exchange for a Sunday picnic with Ole. In early 1906, Ole and Bess became engaged.


It is said that the idea for the first Evinrude outboard motor came about on a hot Sunday afternoon when Ole took his fiancée, for a row on the lake. When they were two miles from shore, Bess said that she wanted a dish of ice cream. Ole turned the boat around and rowed back to shore. Exhausted, he told Bess that someone should invent a motor for boats. That someone would be him and spawn an entire industry.

Ole and Bess were married on November 21, 1906. Their only son, Ralph, was born almost a year later on September 27, 1907. The birth was very hard on Bess. Though she continued to work in her husband’s office, her health quickly declined. It was during this time that Ole built the first prototype for a rowboat motor. Upon seeing it for the first time, Bess commented that it looked like a coffee grinder. The first 1 1/2 horsepower Evinrude motor weighed 62 pounds and sold for $62. In the summer of 1909, Bess Evinrude wrote the advertising slogan – “Don’t Row! Throw The Oars Away! Use An Evinrude Motor!” – And business took off. In just a few days of the ad running in Milwaukee newspapers, there were so many inquiries that they needed to hire six people just to help with the correspondence. In 1911, the Evinrudes formed the Evinrude Detachable Row Boat Motor Company. The newly formed company sold 2,090 motors in 1911 alone. In 1912, the company sold 4,650 motors and moved to a larger facility, which employed 300 workers, and the very next year produced nearly 10,000 motors.

How far we’ve come from the days of the original coffee grinder. Over the last 108 years, Evinrude has lead the way in innovative engine technologies. Today, BRP’s Evinrude engine line up ranges from 3.5 to 300 horsepower. The latest iteration of the Evinrude engine, the Evinrude E-TEC G2, comes as close to perfecting the process of internal combustion as is currently possible. Released in 2014, the Evinrude E-TEC G2 is the cleanest combustion outboard engine in the world today. The direct-inject two-stroke engines deliver up to 20 percent more torque, up to 15 percent better fuel efficiency and up to 75 percent fewer total regulated emissions than leading competitive four-stroke engines on the market. The engine’s CARB Three Star rating is the highest standard attainable for outboard motors, which is even stricter than EPA regulations.

Born in the U.S., Evinrude engines are still a product of the hard-working men and women of the United States. The global headquarters for the Evinrude brand is BRP’s Marine Propulsion Systems Division facility located just outside of Racine, Wisconsin. While the brand shares technology and inspiration with all of the innovative brands in the BRP portfolio, the Evinrude engineering team resides at its Sturtevant, Wisconsin facility. Evinrude sources engine components from across the Unites States and 100% of all Evinrude E-TEC engines are assembled at the state-of-the-art manufacturing site which still employs 300 workers on the plant floor.

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Original Source:  Sportsmans


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