Born April 19, 1877 – July 12, 1934
Main Propulsion Mechanism
Patent #: 1,001,260
Ole Evinrude conceived, designed, and manufactured the first practical,
commercially successful outboard motor. His first design, a 1-˝ horsepower,
62-pound iron engine, brought the pleasure of boating to everyone.
Born in Christiania, Norway, Evinrude immigrated to Cambridge, Wisconsin at age five. He apprenticed in machine factories in the Midwest, studying engineering on his own time. Addressing the problem of large, bulky boat motors, Evinrude designed a horizontal cylinder, a vertical crankshaft, and a drive shaft with direction-changing gears housed in a submerged lower unit. In 1920, he followed with the improved ELTO (Evinrude Light Twin Outboard), which was quieter and weighed 25 pounds less. Further refinements, such as a lighter engine made of aluminum and the doubling of horsepower, made Evinrude’s outboard motor successful for decades.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society 96551.