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Back in the 1970s there were only 2 Mercury outboards in the harbor near my home and the nearest dealer was 40 minutes away. At the time, regardless of the advertising to the contrary, they were miserable salt water motors and simply didn't hold up.

As a kid I owned a Mark 5 (see below) and it needed new J-8J spark plugs. One hot July day I took a 7 mile trip on my bike to our local OMC dealer (The closest place to our house to buy outboard parts) When questioned what the J-8J's were for, received a 20 minute diatribe on what (expletive, expletive, expletive) a product Mercury's (and Mr. Kiekhaefer) were. Now almost 30 years later I am friends with this same individual who, due to OMC's demise, is now a Mercury dealer. (And I don't let him forget it!)

My oldest son is a big fan of Mercury outboards; I still am a bit reticent. Currently I only have the KB-4 below and a replacement for the Mark 5 I had as a kid. The 1941 KB-4, I must admit, it is a pretty good machine, and so is the Mark 5 - often called "the Mercury a Johnson owner could like." Okay, there also may be a couple of Wizard outboards (made by Mercury) around here somewhere....

1941 Mercury KB-4 Rocket 5.8 hp


Year & Model:
1941 Mercury KB-4 Rocket
Horsepower: 5.8 @ 4,000 rpm
2-Alternate Firing

Bore: 2"
Stroke: 1.75"
Ignition: Eiseman Magneto
Point Gap: .020
Cooling: Water by rubber impeller

Condition: Unrestored
Retail price when new: $NA
Weight: 48 lbs.
Oil/Gas Mix: 3/4pt TCW-3
Spark Plug: Champion J-8J (Now J-8C but J-6C have been found to be a better heat range with today's fuel.)


Odd cast-in opening in front
The starboard side has a hole cast in so you can "tickle" the carb float. Also a cast iron "dummy" manifold that is short and an aluminum 1/2-round trim where the dummy manifold usually comes up.



1954 Mercury Mark 5 - 5hp

File photo

The Mercury Mark 5 will push my 12' Aluminum boat at 12.3mph.

Year & Model:
1954 Mercury Mark 5
Horsepower: 5 @ 4,200 rpm
2-Alternate Firing

Bore: 1.75"
Stroke: 1.5"
Ignition: R.E. Phaelon Magneto
Point Gap: .018
Cooling: Water by rubber impeller

Condition: Unrestored
Retail price when new: $201.50
Weight: 40 lbs.
Oil/Gas Mix: 3/8pt TCW-3 per gal
Spark Plug: Champion J-7J (Now J-6C.)

Depending on how you look at it, the Mark 5 was the second or third outboard I had as a kid. (It was the second one that actually ran...) I sold it back in 1975 and always regretted it - this is the Mercury a Johnson lover can like!

The Mark 5 is smooth, fairly quiet and very powerful for so small and compact an engine. It is equipped with a neutral clutch actuated by pressing the small button and releasing the center part of the top handle. It starts easily and idles superbly - not something people typically think of in 1950's era Mercurys. It has a 10 quart fuel tank on top of the motor and is very economical - again not something found in many other older Mercs.

The only two negatives about this motor are #1) It is fairly loud at top speed, and #2) The friction disk propeller hub is for the birds!

Compare the 1953 5hp Outboards

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