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By Rob Rohde-Szudy - Madison, Wisconsin - USA

Fall Colors Run with the Antique Outboard Motor Collectors


It is hard to believe that this article marks five years straight of my monthly offering in these virtual pages. A year ago today I told you all I expected I would need to skip a month here and there in an effort to keep up with the rest of my life. Well, I guess that didn't happen. (The skipping, not the keeping up.) Well, I'll say it again, and we'll see. For now I'd just like to thank you all for taking the time to read all this nonsense I think up!

If you haven't read Max Wawrzyniak's book, Cheap Outboards, you should. If you have, you know what AOMCI is – the Antique Outboard Motor Club, Inc. These are the guys (well, mostly guys) who collect old outboards and keep them running. They are who I turn to when I need parts for my old motors.

Unfortunately, my outboard contact passed away of heart disease last year, and far too young. Dale Olsen was a good guy in every way. He found my 18 horse Johnson for me, and I think of him every time I yank the cord and it roars to life. Dale was forever telling me I should get to the Fall Colors Run held by the AOMCI chapter where he was a member. I'm sorry to say I didn't get there while he lived, but I'm quite sure he was there with us. It's not something he'd miss.

The Event

AOMCI's Winnebagoland chapter can be found at On their website it's not too clear whether the event is open to the public, but I called the club president and it is. It is actually very much like a small boat messabout, but also part boat show, and with no camping on-site. If you do want to camp the night prior, the most convenient option might be Ledge Park ( It is a county park off the beaten path, less than 10 miles from the event. I haven't camped there myself, however, so I guess you're on your own there.

The body of water itself is Lake Sinissippi, an impoundment of the Rock River. A map can be found at:

The event is held at Oxbo Marine, which is at the end of Club Grounds Road on the left side of the map. I would be careful about launching a very heavy boat from this ramp, as the concrete drops off alarmingly shortly after the stern gets in the water. I could still pull the Sandy Shoal 16 (SS16) out, but a heavy boat might be a different matter. Also, those who are allergic to bee sting should also be aware that yellowjackets are plentiful. Bring your epinephrine.

Other than these caveats, however, it is a very pleasant spot for such an event. The launch is free during the event, and the lake was all but deserted except for the AOMCI gang. However this might also be because the event was held during a Packer game, which I think is probably illegal in Wisconsin. My wife spent the entire time with a transistor radio pressed to her head.

Swap Meet & Exhibits

I was looking for a carburetor, so the first order of business was to look at the stuff for sale.

No carb, but I did buy a spare wheel for $10. Now I don't have to pull a tire off the sailboat's trailer to have a spare when I take the SS16 somewhere. Score! I should say no carb for me, this time. For folks looking for rare parts, these events are a goldmine.

My motor is so common nobody would think of bringing parts to a meet. But they have 'em. And I have their numbers now. These guys have things like this rare bird, only made for one year, 1932-33.

In fact, there was a whole flock of less-rare birds right next to it!

And an even bigger flock of relatively common specimens from the late 1940s-early 1950s.

And of course luggage for the true Evinrude aficionado.

Actually I have no idea what those are, and didn't get the chance to ask! Maybe one of the AOMCI guys will weigh in on that if they read these pages.

And then there were the boats.


I apologize for not catching anyone's names, except for Austin, the husband of a co-worker on mine. Oddly, my first job in Madison after moving back from Boston was filling in for her maternity leave. At a different company! Small world, eh? More on their son later.

Since I didn't get names, we'll just have a look at the boats. First a lovely carvel runabout, I'm guessing late 1940s vintage.

And Austin's Dunphy runabout with an Evinrude Speeditwin. 22 horsepower was big news back when that motor came out, but this example was built in the last year of production. I think he said 1949, but don't quote me.

I'm told the motor is every bit as heavy as it looks. Later he took it out and we got to watch the special dance outboarders do with a high-powered direct drive motor – the “yank, turn and SIT, just as fast as you can”! I didn't get a picture because it isn't really possible. If you turn around slow enough for a photo, you're probably swimming.

Then there was this nice wooden boat with an Evinrude on it, I think a 7.5 horse.

And finally this fancy paint job – I caught the photo just as he was packing up to leave and I was getting ready to put in.

I almost forgot – a fellow who from a distance looked a lot like Morgan Freeman was making barbeque that smelled very good.

Unfortunately we had eaten on the way, so I can't report on the barbeque. Next time.

In the water

I had never been to Sinissippi Lake, and I must say it's quite nice. Here's the route I took, outbound in red, return trip in purple.

I wound the motor up as soon as I got clear of the dock, since all old outboarders like to see a '57 can still kick.  I didn't know the bouys marked a submerged wall, but I guess I draw little enough water I could cross it with impunity. I didn't hit any rocks – at least not there.

Islands are always fun, and this lake has plenty, I did a lap.

Heading back toward the main lake there was ample evidence the season is over for many, with the leaves turning and boat lifts pulled out in anticipation of the coming ice.

On the other hand, there was also ample evidence that it is just starting for others. This lake boasts a collection of interesting duck blinds.

I especially like this one, hidden in the bushes on the point of a little island, with a tiny 2x8 boardwalk, which would make me more than a little nervous in icy duck hunting weather! The hunter this belongs to must be a black belt in something. (On the route map, these are in the cluster of islands where the line changes from red to purple.)

And he's hardcore too. The blind has a tiny bunkhouse and a diminutive boat landing.

Directly across the way is this blind.

Do you get the impression there's been something of a duck blind arms race between these two guys?

From there I headed back through the gap between the two islands, thinking how shallow it looked. The Rock River lives up to its name, but I went slow and the old Johnson took it in stride.

Time to head back.

Here's the landing.

It was only about 2.5 miles on the water, but a nice lake. I think it will be worth further exploration.

A Raffle and Young Mr. Lucky

When I got back to the landing, the club was in the process of raffling off a few of the personal effects of Carl Kiekhaefer, the fellow behind Mercury outboards. (You really never know what you'll find raffled at one of these things.) Case in point – one of the members then decided he really didn't want to cart this early 1950s Johnson home. A new raffle began.

I bought two tickets for a motor I didn't really need because...well, OK, I don't really have a good reason for that. But it's OK, I didn't win. Here's the lucky winner – Austin’s son again, who by now was being offered commissions to accompany various members to the horse track.

I fear Austin may have some explaining to do when he gets boy and motor back home to mom. I guess the young fellow might as well start practicing those explanations now.

Rob Rohde-Szudy


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