Max Wawrzyniak - St Louis, Missouri - USA
My Aching Back!
A few months ago a reader posted the following question
"...Max, I work on my boat alone, I want
to remove a 35hp Johnson from the boat and I don't
have a lift or hoist. My work area, the garage,
ceiling doesn't have exposed beams, hence no hoist
attachment point. Is there a simple safe way for
me to remove my engine from the transom?..."
My suggestion was to make-up a tripod arangment
from lumber for liiting the engine if he could not
find someone to help him. The 35hp and 40 hp OMC (Johnson,
Evinrude, and Gale) outboards of the late '50s/ early
'60s are the biggest outboards that I usually deal
with, and depending upon exactly which model one has
(long-shaft, short-shaft, electric or manual start,
etc.) these can weigh anywhere between 100 lbs and
The 1949 Evinrude
"Speedtwin" 22 hp wieghs about 125
lbs and is a hand-full to handle due to it's
odd shape not to mention the weight. Although
many of the later "Big Twin" engines
have a lifting ring incorporated into the recoil
starter, for this engine I had to make-up a
simple rope sling.
I often hear people refer to these old outboards
as "heavy old outboards." The truth, however,
is that older outboards are almost always LIGHTER
than new ones. The reason is simply that newer outboards
have more "features" and more soundproofing
and that all adds weight. Older outboards are often
"bulkier" than the new ones, but almost
never are they heavier.
Still, that's a lot of weight for one person to handle:
I have "man-handled" these engines in the
past but it certainly is not a good idea for the average
person (and I am about as "average" as it
gets.) For someone who only has one or two of these
engines, the best route is probably to con a neighbor
or relative to help. For someone like me, however,
with dozens of these things lying around, the answer
was a mobile hydraulic boom.
Resembling the "cherry picker" lifts used
by mechanics for lifiting automotive engines but built
much lighter, these lifts are used in hospitals for
moving patients around. I really don't know the actual
name of these things but if you have ever been to
a hospital you have certainly seen them. I currently
have (2) of the things and could not find a weight
capacity listed on either but they have proven more
than adequate for the task of moving 140 lb outboards
from boat transons to storage stands and so forth.
A hydraulic cylinder raises the boom and a release
valve lowers it, and being mounted on wheels the lift
is easily moved about the shop. The "legs"
upon which the wheels are mounted can be spread wide
or narrow as the situation requires, and the mast
and boom assembly is removable from the base, allowing
the two sections to be stored leaning in a corner
or hung on a wall where they will occupy no floor
make moving big outboards around the shop darn
easy. I even used one to help hold the side
panels of my AF4 when I was building it.
I bought my first one several years ago at a "thrift
store" (Goodwill). The cost was $40.00 which
I felt was much more reasonable than back surgery.
I had not recalled seeing too many more of these lifts
for sale since then, and while contemplating writing
this column was not sure that I might be sending people
off in search of an item that is difficult to locate.
A couple months ago, however, I was driving home from
an antique outboard swap meet in Western Missouri
and happened upon a garage sale in a small town with
one of these lifts sitting out near the curb. The
gentleman wanted $50.00 for it but I was able to talk
him down to $40.00 and bought it. A better negotiator
might have been able to get it cheaper; a fellow outboard
collector has one that he claims he bought for $20.00
but all antique outboard collectors get a big "kick"
out of claiming to have bought something cheaper than
Then over the Thanksgiving weekend I was up in Alton,
Illinois USA running in a race (results posted here,
see # 67 ) and after crossing the finish line I was
walking over to the race headquarters for the free
doughnuts when I took a moment to look in a pawn shop.
Right inside the front door was another one of these
hydraulic lifts. I did not see a price tag on it and
as I was worried about missing out on the free doughnuts
I did not hang around to get a price. The point is
that these things are around if you want one and the
cost is not all that great. You might even find some
"non-boat" uses for the thing and when it
is not in use it breaks-down for storage.
Although I usually don't bother with the lifts for
something like the 15 or 18 hp outboards, when it
comes to the "big Twins" @ 100 lbs or more,
the only thing easier than rigging a rope sling and
pumping the hydraulic cylinder is telling someone
else to do it.
By the way, I really don't need (2) of these things.
If someone in or near the St. Louis MO USA area wants
the better one of the (2) I have, it's available at
my cost of $40.00
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