by Dan Tannehill
in the woods of Warwick, Rhode Island, a transformation is about to
take place. Here, at a tiny workshop, sits a small lonely
motor. This motor was once the pride and joy of a noble
He had used it for years to push his boat to the places where big fish waited to ambush prey. As the years passed by, the little Martin 40 was fairly well cared for, but somehow the lower shrouds were lost. Still, the motor faithfully pushed the boat, it's poppet valves allowing for smooth idle speeds and the four and a half horsepower allowing for an occasional dash back to shore ahead of a storm. The fisherman also experienced changes. As time passed, he became weaker, his sight grew dimmer and his joints became stiff with arthritis.
Some years back, nobody knows when for sure, the proud fisherman and the little Martin parted ways. It may be that the weakness, poor eye sight and stiffness made fishing too difficult. Or maybe, the old man passed away and his trusted motor was sold by his heirs. Somehow, the little motor passed into the hands of an old outboard collector. This first collector passed the motor to another who then passed it along and so it continued. Whether by swap or outright purchase, the motor was passed from hand to hand with no one taking more than just a passing interest in the little motor. With the missing shrouds and mangled carb knobs, it was too ugly to be a show motor. Yet it ran too good to become a parts motor.
Then, in October of 1999, something special happened. I was attending the Yankee Chapter AOMC formal meet in Methuen, Massachusetts. I had just sold the first outboard I had ever owned and was dreading the drive home with an empty spot on the rack. In the closing minutes of the meet, most folks had already packed up to head home, I was talking with a friend and bemoaning the fact that my truck looked empty. I mentioned that Martin outboards had intrigued me since I first learned of them. Nonchalantly, Jack pointed to the truck on the boat ramp and said, "I believe he has a Martin 40 for sale." I went around and sure enough, there was the little Martin with missing parts, all loaded up and heading for home. A couple of quick questions revealed that the Martin was in fact for sale - the price had dropped from $35 down to $30 when everyone loaded up to leave - and yes, it did run but the fuel tank had a leak.
That is how a 50 year old Martin and
a 32 year old fisherman came to know each other.
I see in this motor, a history I can only speculate about. I
have a habit of personifying outboards and I see this one as
lonely. It's original owner has abandoned it and for several
years now, it has not known a permanent home. I hoping, that by
showing this little Martin some TLC, I can gain its trust and
loyalty. As it stands now, I'm not sure I fully trust the
motor. I would not care to go more than a few hundred feet
Over the next few months, the Marin, my wife Esperanza, and I will get to know each other. At the little workshop in the woods of Warwick, a transformation will take place. The lonely little motor that was once a fisherman's pride and joy will become a fisherman's pride and joy that was once a lonely little motor.
The first part of the actual restoration process is to gather the parts needed. The little motor was in need of some lower cowls and some paint to hide some of the age. At a meet in Clayton, New York, I was lucky enough to set up next to a gentleman selling Martin cowls. I also met Don Webb, who had just purchased a 40 himself. Folks who know Don know that he is the man to see concerning Scott Atwater and McCulloch motors. A little inquiry revealed that Don was only interested in the coils and was willing to give away the tank and carb knobs. Thank you, Don. I hadn't planned to go to this meet, but I'm glad I did.
The forward cowl has a few dents and apparently had been cut to allow access to the fuel line and the tank is from a pre-1948 model so it will have to be painted and new decals applied. When it's all said and done, these parts will be added to the lonely Martin and it'll wear them with pride.