Sunday, 7 August 2016

British Seagull Outboard Motors

Our Seagull is a noisy, incontinent old thing. There is just something about this piece of machinery though that earns it a place in our lives and means that we continue to care for it even though we got a replacement electric engine a few years ago.
They are very loud, really heavy and they can be tricky to start. It takes a certain knack. Once the noise, smoke and general awkwardness got too much for a pleasant trip out for just fun we started looking at electric versions.
In La Rochelle we found what we wanted. The electric motor is brilliant. You can have a conversation for a start, I could use it easily and we loved it. It does however limit our distances. Having had a tough row when the battery was running out of juice on a return from a trip out in the dinghy, we decided to resurrect the seagull. It is far easier to carry extra petrol than extra electricity.
The engine, stored on the back of the boat
We acquired the Seagull many years ago with our first powered vessel. Ours is a ‘British forty’ probably built in August 1979 (EFPC clutch 2-3 horse power longshaft if you’re really interested). These things were built to last. It was a good outboard motor for a 17 foot trailer sailor and did a good few miles in and out of Weymouth harbour. When we got rid of the boat, we kept the engine (long, complicated story about selling boats that I won’t go into now!). We can use the outboard on the rubber Avon and our fibreglass/wooden dinghies so it has seen a lot of use as a motor for the tenders.
The old fuel tank, looking a bit rusty
This British built engine is well known for its reliability. There are many clips on YouTube of people proving the immortality of these motors even having been submerged in sea water.
We have just got a new brass petrol tank (thanks ebay) to replace the old rusty steel one. In fitting the new tank the fuel filter has had a bit of a clean up having collected quite a lot of bits. We have always had a rag to collect the drips as we go along. For many years we used an old babies bib which did the job really well.
Fuel cock with extra dog hair!
Despite these things we still love the Seagull. Even though we replaced it with the electric motor, we still couldn’t get rid of it. We are presumably not alone. There are motors like ours in museums, celebrated on websites and in owner groups. There is even one displayed on the wall in our local pub. There is something a bit special about the British Seagull motor.
The Skipper working on the Seagull

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