Gale Force

Soundings - - Just Yesterday -

■ In 1937, 25 em­ploy­ees of the John­son out-board di­vi­sion of Out­board Mo­tors Corp. moved to Gales­burg, Illi­nois, to as­sem­ble re-frig­er­a­tors and air-con­di­tion­ing units. Two years later, Gale Prod­ucts was formed to manu-fac­ture en­gine com­po­nents and, even­tu­ally, small sin­gle-cylin­der out­boards: at first 1.5- and 3-hp mod­els, then a 2-cylin­der, 5-hp en­gine. By 1946, Gale was a leader in out­board sales, out­pac­ing its bet­ter-known sis­ter brands Ev­in­rude and John­son. For a year, Gale was the largest-sell­ing out­board in the world, with more than 100,000 en­gines sold. Gale was dif­fer­ent from most out­board man-ufac­tur­ers. Its success largely came from sell­ing pri­vate-la­bel out­boards to chain stores such as Mont­gomery Ward and Spiegel. Pri­vate-la­bel brands in­cluded Sea King (Mont­gomery Ward), Brook­lure (Spiegel) and Sea Bee (Goodyear). Gale out­boards shared few of the me­chan­ics of Ev­in­rude and John­son mod­els, but they kept up wit e a est in­nova ions. • y - the higher-end Gale out­boards had fuel pumps rather than re­mote, pres­sur­ized gas tanks, shock-ab­sorb­ing rub­ber en­gine mounts and su­pe­rior sound­proof­ing. For­ward-neu­tral-re­verse shift­ing re­placed 180-de­gree steer­ing sys­tems. Gales were priced lower than Ev­in­rudes and John­sons, and they tended to have fewer horses than the flag­ship en­gines. Gale pro­duced a 12-hp out­board to com­pete with the oth­ers' 15-hp model, for ex­am­ple. OMC even­tu­ally sold en­gines un­der the Gale name­plate, such as the Buc­ca­neer shown here, and the lineup in­creased in size. The last out-boards were built for the 1963 boat­ing sea­son, as OMC turned its fo­cus to John­son and Ev­in­rude. Col­lec­tors and other out­board en­thu­si­asts now seek out Gale en­gines. "These old beau­ties are of­ten over­looked," one fan says. "Those of us in the know can't get enough of them." — Steve Knauth

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