Posted on October 11 2007
The photo in this piece about a club in Florida that collects and restores antique outdoor motors reminded me of the first time I met legendary steelheader Bill Schaadt. It was in Loggerhead Basin — outside of Big Pine Key, of all places, and Bill had putted out to fish for tarpon with what appeared to be a single-cylinder outboard of about 50 years in age. He had carried the motor and a small aluminum skiff all the way from the west coast on the top of his station wagon. (It also brought back something that Tom McGuane once told me about Bill’s techniques, also considered arcane to many: “Bill used to put only an egg sinker on his leader,” Tom said, “and after making a long cast out over the water, he felt every steelhead as the leader bumped along downstream.”)
In any case, in these days of computerized combustion, there is something strange and delightful about old small engines, whose cylinders sound convincingly powerful and in the hands of a careful owner would probably get the job done just as well in today as they did 70 years ago. “The Water Bug, a 1925 Johnson model, restored to its full glory with parts made from aluminum, brass, copper and cast iron, was displayed by Mitche Lewis who collected nearly 300 antique outboard motors, most of which are restored. The Johnson Brothers began their business back in 1922, according to Mr. Lewis” Nena Bolan on Newszap.com.