J2 Restoration by Rich Johanson
My experience with Oliver outboard motors started even before I knew that Oliver was the manufacturer. My father had a 5 ½ hp Wizard that was given to him by my Grandparents who owned a Western Auto store in Benton City, WA in the late 1950s. Western Auto distributed the Wizard brand of Oliver in 1958 (possibly a couple of other years as well). Soon after he received the motor, a part called the pivot tube broke. With very little use, the Wizard was out of commission. My father attempted to get the broken part fixed but before he could, his toolbox, which contained the damaged part, was stolen. That was the end of that.
In the mid-eighties my father gave me the Wizard and I was determined to fix the motor. One day I was in an outboard motor repair shop in Spokane, WA and was talking about the motor to the owner. He recognized that the motor was manufacturer by Oliver. This was the first time I had heard the Oliver name. He told me that he had a beat up 5 ½ hp Oliver that someone had left at his shop. I bought it for $20 dollars, took it home and pulled out the pivot tube, but it was also broken. I immediately went to get it welded, reinstalled it on the Wizard and then started the motor on the third crank. It ran beautifully.
Since then, I have caught some nice fish with the 1958
Wizard on the back of my 1960
Then came the computer age, at least finally for our family, and I discovered the Oliver Outboard Motor Cyberspace Museum. It was here that I found all of the encouragement I needed to get me started on, not only the repair job for the Wizard, but a complete restoration of the 1956 Oliver that I purchased as a parts motor.