by Bob Wonders
On each and every day of the recent Miami International Boat Show, visitors to the Evinrude Outboard engine booth, hosted by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), were treated to free ice cream.
Ole Evinrude and an early boat and motor combination
Just what does that have to do with outboard engines, I hear you ask?
Ole Evinrude, born Ole Evenrudstuen (April 19, 1877—July 12, 1934) was a Norwegian-American inventor, famous for the invention of the first outboard motor with practical commercial application.
Evinrude was born in Norway and emigrated with his family to Cambridge, Wisconsin, USA at the age of five. At age sixteen he went to Madison working in machinery stores and studying engineering on his own. He became a machinist while working at various machine tool firms in Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. In 1900, Evinrude co-founded the custom engine firm Clemick & Evinrude.
According to respected author Jeffrey L. Rodengen (Evinrude, Johnson and the Legend of OMC), it was in 1909 that Bess and Ole Evinrude went on a picnic with friends that called for a row out to an island three kilometres offshore.
It was a hot day, with the temperature above 30 deg C and Bess Evinrude rightly figured a dish of ice cream would go down very well indeed.
The obliging Ole jumped back into the row boat, made it back to shore, acquired the container of ice cream and
headed back for the island. Sadly, by the time Ole made it back to Bess and company the ice cream was ‘milk.’
'Someone should invent a motor to put on row boats,' Ole figured. 'Maybe some day I will.'
Some day was less than six months later, when Evinrude launched his first outboard motor. In 1912, the firm employed 300 workers.
In 1919, Evinrude invented a more efficient and lighter two-cylinder motor. Having sold his part in Clemick & Evinrude, he founded the Elto Outboard Motor Company (The Elto name was an acronym for 'Evinrude Light Twin Outboard').
Evinrude first motor
Although Elto faced stiff competition from other companies, like Johnson Motor Company of South Bend, Indiana, Evinrude's company survived through acquisitions and formed the Outboard Marine Corporation.
A spokesman for BRP who today make the motors said the 2009 model year would mark the 100th anniversary of Evinrude outboard engines. 'To celebrate the occasion the company is serving ice cream daily as a token of its appreciation for helping Evinrude achieve this milestone,' he explained.
And there you have it; in 1909 Ole Evinrude built his first prototype ‘row boat motor’ and visitors to the 2008 Miami International Boat Show were treated to free ice cream as a result.