by Dan Tannehill
Lonely Little Motor - Part II
|It's been a while since the first installment of this restoration story. A lot of
things have happened since then. The lonely little motor is not as lonely as it once was.
I have been able to find a couple of siblings for it, a 1950 Martin 60 and a 1948 Martin
20 now keep the 40 company. I've also met quite a few people who have read the first
installment and then e-mailed me with their own Martin stories. I always enjoy this and I
look forward to receiving more correspondence.
I was also honored to receive a letter from Mr. and Mrs. George Martin. Mr. Martin is the man who came up with the idea of using poppet valves to regulate the flow of air-fuel mixture into the crankcase.
I've also learned a few things in the process. If you remember, I noticed that the forward cowl appeared to have been cut. I found out by looking at other Martins that this is to provide clearence for the tiller handle. Unfortunately, I also found out the forward cowl is for a 60 and won't fit a 40 (more on that later). You'll also remember that the little motor is a bit hard to start when it's cold. When I got my decals from Larson Outboard Service in Mead, Nebraska, I found out why. It turns out that a Martin has three positions for the choke knob. It has the normal "run" and "choke" positions as well as a "prime" position which holds the float down allowing a little extra gas to run into the carb throat.
So why the big delay? Well, painting without benefit of a booth can be a bit tricky. Obviously, the winter months were not suitable due to the cold weather. Spring brought warmer temperatures, but also pollen. Summer was certainly warm enough, but if the humidity is too high, the paint will have a dull finish. Finally, a day came in late August that was perfect. The humidity was low, the temperature was in the low 80s and there was very little wind to kick up dust. It wasn't the first day this happened, but what made it perfect was that my wife also had the day off work. So with paint stripper, wire wheels, wire brushes and elbow grease we set about removing old paint.
Esperanza took control of the tank while I worked on
the lower unit, tiller and a few other small parts that were to be painted hammertone
silver. The stripper we used is very effective at
causing the old paint to bubble. It's also effective at reminding you if
you forgot to put on rubber gloves. Unfortunately, I forgot the gloves until after I'd coated the lower unit
with the stuff. While I was donning the required equipment, I guess the stuff stayed on
the prop and skeg a little too long. For when I rinsed it off, the stripper had eaten
After several hours of drying time, I decided to put the tank decals on. The sides and the spark advance decal went on fairly easy and in the proper positions. These three are on flat surfaces. But the instructions and famous "Martin Man" decals are on compound curves. The instructions didn't seem to want to conform to the curve but after considerable effort on my part, I had about 80% of it where I wanted it. the other 20% was close, but separated by a fine tear in the delicate decal. With a tiny bit of warm water, I was able to move it into position. I should have paid attention to this omen, but instead, I pressed my luck. Surprisingly, the Martin Man went on with hardly a wrinkle. I grabbed the old tank to compare the two. Uh-Oh! I had put the decal about one inch too high. Luckily, I had a spare decal I was saving for the 60. But, when I got the second decal situated, it was askew and off to the left. Two tries and two ruined decals. A quick call to Russ Larson was all it took to replace the decals, but I was afraid to try it again. Also, Esperanza had worked so hard on stripping and painting the tank, she was a little upset that I had almost messed it up with the decal fiasco. So, when the new decals arrived in the mail, we sat down at the kitchen table. She read the directions once, picked up the decal, dunked it in the water and placed it perfectly on the first try. We had successfully transformed a black tank into a silver tank.
One more thing to do with the silver parts-clear coat. I had planned to use a polyurethane clear coat. It went on easy enough without any runs. Luckily, I didn't do the tank. A few days after I sprayed the lower unit and the small parts, I went to see how it was holding up. My heart sank when I saw that ALL of the clear coat had lifted and was now very cloudy. So, back to the stripper and wire brush I went. When I had finished repainting everything, I picked up a can of clear coat specifically designed for outboard use. It even had a sillouette of an outboard on the label. I again clear coated everything but the tank. I also took this time to strip, prime and paint the black pieces-cowls and recoil plate. After I had let the clear coat cure for about a week on the silver parts, I clearcoated the aft cowl and talked Esperanza into working her decal magic on the front cowl. She again got it perfect on the first try! Having seen no apparent lifting of the clear coat, I went ahead and sprayed the tank and forward cowl.
Just last week, since all of the pieces were painted, decaled and clear coated and allowed to cure, I decided to put the whole thing back together again. Remember back in the third paragraph I said, "I also found out the forward cowl is for a 60 and won't fit a 40." Well, that's what happened. I'm sure many antique outboarders wondered why I was so specific in my ads looking for a cast cowl with an elongated slot for the tiller. Now you know. I'm planning on unveiling the finished project at the end of September, and didn't find out about the wrong cowl until two weeks prior to the show. Another lesson learned, test fit all parts before you set your deadline! As I write this with just under one week to go, I have the correct part sitting in the kitchen just waiting for this storm front to clear out.
The Fisherman's Pride and Joy