MERCURY MARINE OPENS MUSEUM

MERCURY MARINE OPENS MUSEUM
Grand Opening Kicks Off 75th Anniversary Celebration

By Charles “Pluedy” Plueddeman

Sled-heads will find the #5 1975 PDC Mercury Sno-Twister is the center of attention in the new Mercury Marine Museum, but I reckon that if you are into snowmobiles you will also dig the outboards and the race boat and giant chain saw, too. This year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of Kiekhaefer Mercury, and while the company is not hosting a Harley-esque blow-out, this 5,000-square -foot space, which opened on April 3, offers a great display of artifacts from it’s well-stocked archives.

Photo courtesy Mercury Marine

The Mercury legend goes like this: When he heard in 1938 that the Cedarburg Manufacturing Company plant in his home town of Cedarburg, Wis., was about to close, it seemed like a good oppertunity to E.C. Carl Kiekhaufer. Raised on a local farm and now a young electrical engineer, Kiekhaefer planned to buy the building and start his own business manufacturing magnetic separators for the dairy industry. He later discovered about 300 Thor outboard motors had been left behind in their crates. Introduced in 1935 Cedarburg Manufacturing, the Thor motors were a low cost design and the outboards left in the plant had the Sea King brand, as they were built under a contract with Montgomery Ward. The motors ran poorly, however, and Ward cancelled the contract.

Photo courtesy Charles Plueddeman

 Kiekhaefer planned to sell the motors for scrap, but one day he revised the carburetor on a single Sea King and discovered that thus modified, the motor ran well. Ward was persuaded to take the modified inventory, and Kiekhaefer was happy to pocket some cash for his business start-up. But soon the mail-order retailer was on the phone, requesting more outboards. The first batch sold out quickly. The old Thor tooling was still in the plant, and Kiekhaefer and his crew fired up the assembly line. Kiekhaefer made a few updates to the design, and printed a brochure offering three Thor models from a 6.2-hp triple to a 2.4-hp kicker. Meanwhile Kiekhaefer and his engineers were busy designing an all new outboard, and the first Mercury motors debuted at the 1940 New York Boat Show. Two 3-hp singles and a 6-hp twin were offered. Kiekhaefer left with 16,000 orders.

Photo Courtesy Mercury Marine

The rest is history. I could go on and on, but just go to the museum. Did you know, for example, that Carl Kiekhaefer owned a car racing team that dominated Nascar with its booming Chrysler 300s in the mid-1950s? That Mercury Marine assembled the engines for the Corvette ZR-1? That Carl used to prowl the Mercury campus on a moped?

Of course you do know that if you were not racing a Sno-Twister in D stock in 1974 you should have saved gas and stayed home. There’s a nice video that tells the Sno-Twister story and the Doug Hayes factory sled that was until recently on display at the Snowmobile Hall Of Fame  in St. Germain, Wis. is there too. Mercury fans may be wondering if there will be a 75th anniversary event to attend this summer, maybe with a snowmobile show. Well… Merc tells me there are no plans to host a parade or a big party or public event. However, the idea has been floated thet perhaps a vintage show of some sort could take place on the company property in the fall. So stay tuned.

The Mercury Marine Museum is located in the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum, 75 w. Scott St., Fond du Lac, Wis. Admission is $1, and all proceeds will go to charity. The museum is open Wednesday and Thursday 9-5; Friday 9-7; and Saturday and Sunday 10-4.

To see lots of cool Mercury history, visit the Mercury Marine 75th anniversary site at     http://www.mercurymarine.com/75years/     where the pages are updated regularly.

Charles Plueddeman is a contributor to Boating magazine and Boats.com and adds Vintagesleds.com to his list.

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Valdi pilots 1969 Worlds Fastest Snowmobile.

Submitted by: Valdi Stefanson

President: Antique Snowmobile Club of America
Secretary & Webmaster, Waconia Ride-In Committee
Host, OLD IRON dvd series

First, a big Thank You to The Warning Family for this fun opportunity to pilot the famous winner of the 1969 speed run at West Yellowstone, Montana. Second, to Les Pratt from Saskatchewan for taking this picture as the dual-engined machine headed his way!

You see, the Ski Doo factory-built Double Eagle was brought to the VSCA Vintage Snowmobile Nationals show in West Yellowstone for a reunion with it’s famous driver, Duane Eck. Last Saturday, 78 year old Duane donned his old helmet and took off down the “runway” just west of town. Here, some 45 years later it was a sight to be seen by hundreds of spectators. 

Here is 78 year old Duane Eck — Out for another spin, helmet and all

In the heady days of the late 1960’s, snowmobile manufacturers wanted publicity and wins. Both bragging rights and future sales hinged on winning — in any and all racing formats. Both factories and independents built outrageous multi-powerplant monsters for an end-of-the-season speed run at West Yellowstone. (To learn more, Google Ski Doo Double Eagle, Polaris X-2 and X-3 as well as Arctic Cat’s series of the Boss Cat.)

This 1969 Double Eagle has dual modified 669 Rotax twin cylinder engines. It was crowned Worlds Fastest Snowmobile at 95.33 mph.

Later, the Warnings in typical gracious form, invited me to “take it for a spin”. I jumped at the chance!

This monster rips!

This Double Eagle is in “as raced” condition

 

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In Praise of the Common Machine by EricR

In praise of the common machine.
Starfires! Magnums! Thunderjets! EXT Arctic Cats! Ohhh, look at the magnesium,
the race history! So and so rode this in 1971! The best sled EVER! I’m going to let y’all in on a secret………those machines are neat, and I love to look at ‘em. They are an important piece of history. However, when it comes to actual riding? Give me something you can buy for beer money, and not get upset if it gets a scratch. No disrespect to those ice oval racers which may be reading (proofreading?) this,
but I just don’t want something that has to have little booties over the skis to move it when it’s not on the track! What good is a machine so fragile it has to be ridden on ICE when it is called a SNOWMOBILE? That’s right.


I love ‘em cheap, and I love ‘em common. Bring me a ’72 Ski Doo Olympique, or a square bellypan Panther with a duct taped seat. I think old STP stickers and 30 year old registration decals are cool. Way too much fun is restored out of a sled these days! I like the sleds that you can replace the “traction aids” on with a bead of weld down the old wear bars. And if you ride a bit out of the range of the tank, you aren’t bothered by mixing in the tank at a small town pump. Yes, the bread and butter sleds from the heyday of the market were made by the ton, and parts for the major brands are still pretty plentiful. It all works for this guy. Go on any vintage trail ride, and see what type of machines are there. Green John Deeres with bogie wheels? Check! Wide track OMC’s, Rupp Americans, folks snaking the trail on Boa Skis, ruling with Skiroules, or jetting off with Sno Jets. Stinging ‘em on Scorpions!

Towing un matched cutters with hose clamped on hitches, heading for that mid ride bonfire. Folks clad in the same oil stained garb they had on when they dragged the machine home from a swap meet and got it running, all having a blast and reminiscing. Tales of how their mom used to hide the gas can so they couldn’t ride anymore, and now they have to do the same with their kids. Now that’s my kind of fun!

Eric Rylander
Vintagesleds very own EricR

The preceding article appeared in the December 2013 issue of Vintage Snowmobiler magazine and is used by permission of the author.

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31st Annual Ride with the Champs and Induction Ceremony

Friday morning at the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wisconsin opened up with a beautiful sunny day and snow filled trails. Everyone arrived around 9:00am for a trial/poker run put together by Fuzzy Zeller. After riding approximately 40-50 miles with 5 stops to draw cards, the winner of the poker hand received 50% of the money while the SHOF receives the other 50%. After the ride, everyone returned to the SHOF for an Open House, including a bonfire and cook-out.

Saturday morning began with beautiful crisp blue skies along with a breakfast buffet and followed by the introduction of all the celebrity riders that were in attendance.After breakfast, it was time for the 180 riders to head to the trails for the 31st Annual “Ride with the Champs”. There were six different rides, going in six different directions and all leaving from St. Germain. The rides consisted of 3 modern sled rides and 3 vintage sled rides; including a short vintage ride traveling approximately 30 miles; the “Swamp Challenge” which was about 100 miles; and the “Vintage Challenge”, that went all the way to Lake Gogebic, MI, for a 165 mile loop.

After returning to the hotel for a quick “fluff and buff”, everyone gathered again at the White Tail Inn for the main event, the induction banquet to honor our four inductees for 2014: Ted Nielsen, Tom Rager, Sr., Don Omdahl and Loren Anderson.

The banquet started with an autograph session, a silent auction and then onto the induction of our 2014 honorees.

As I sat there for my 18th induction ceremony and listened to the words from the last inductee to speak, I realized the experience is still the same as it was the first time… very exciting and humbling, all at the same time!

Craig Marchbank SHOF President

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Spy Photos from the Anderson Racing display, RWTC Weekend.

Submitted by Loren Anderson. 
While you are at the Ride With The Champions this weekend, do not miss the OPEN HOUSE in the Anderson Race Shop next door. Here are some shots of our OPEN HOUSE setup in the shop. Remember open house is Fri 3-6, Sat all day. Photos show our rig, E-Z Up tent, one of the first pit-boxes to be found on the circuit, McDonalds/Dennis Kirk twin-track #65 sled, just as they came off the track when Bob retired over 20 yrs ago. Built stairs so the folks can go into trailer and see everything……….untouched in over 20 yrs. Photos include my first red GMC truck and trailer hauling my Rupps, then my yellow Chev. truck and 6 place ski-doo rig as well. These two are from my racing days and together with Brad Bettin #20 display, complete our families 50 yrs in the sport.
Refreshments served.
Loren Anderson
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