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Whirlwind (Soviet built)

This is a 1960's outboard built in the former Soviet Union. The name on the motor translates to Whirlwind or Vortex, it is a two cylinder, 2-stroke, water cooled outboard of 20 horsepower. It was made in Kuybyshev Novosibirsk Oblast, Russia at the "Factory of Frunse" (named after a Soviet hero) by a company today known as Motorostroitel. The date of production noted in the "passport" booklet received with the motor is July 29th, 1969.

Year & Model: 1969 Whirlwind
Horsepower: 20@4,500 rpm (hp +/- 1.5 rpm +/-500)
2-Alternate firing
Bore: 67mm
422 cc
Ignition: Magneto
Point Gap:0.3-0.4mm
Cooling: Water by rubber impeller

Condition: Unrestored
Retail price when new: 295 rubles (about $327.00)
Weight: 48 kg (106 lbs.)
Oil/Gas Mix: 16:1 TCW-3
Spark Plug: Ch-12 or "Czechoslovakia" A15C (If you know a modern cross-over plug for these two please eMail me!)


Manual + passport book - thanks to Natasha for translating the specifications and other facts for me!

Engine detail - Click for larger image
Front engine detail - Click for larger image

It Pays To Tell People About Your Interest In Old Outboards (originally published in the Knuckle Knews)

Several years ago while visiting some friends, I discussed my outboard hobby with their teen-age son Clifford. We chatted for some time about our interests in things mechanical. A few months later Cliff was talking to the owner of a service station and inquired (on my behalf) if he had any old outboards. The fellow showed him a sawhorse in the back room with several old motors including a real oddball with “funny writing” on it. Cliff called me and based on his description, I took a chance and purchased the lot.

The outboard seen above was the jewel of the bunch and even came with the book of “Description and Guidance” (aka manual) and its export “passport”, both written in Russian. The other outboards in the lot, (two 3hp Evinrude’s and a Seagull), I gave to Cliff as a well-earned commission. The Russian was covered in dust and grease but everything seemed okay with one exception; one cylinder had no spark. Closer inspection revealed that the high-tension coil for the #2 cylinder would need to be replaced.

My wife Abby and I used an online translator to decipher the motor's name from its Cyrillic writing and were amazed to yield the word “Whirlwind”. Working together we devised a system to match the western keyboard to the totally different Cyrillic keys and were able to translate a paragraph of the manual every 5 minutes. In an effort to learn more about this ugly duckling and get the needed coil, I searched the internet (a relatively new thing in our house at the time) for anything relating to this outboard. After many frustrating hours, I decided to use a search engine closer to its birthplace. My thinking was that a search engine in Sweden would offer the best chance for success and in about 5 minutes I found just what I needed, though still all in Russian. We were able to translate much of the site and gambled on writing to its creator who appeared very knowledgeable about the Whirlwinds.

Less than 24 hours after sending my email off to Russia, I was surprised and pleased to receive a reply (in English!!) from the Whirlwind guru Alexey in Moscow. His web page was called something like Repairs to Whirlwind Motors While at Sea. Here is an edited excerpt of his email with an overview of Whirlwinds and Russian outboards in general:

Motorostroitel has produced outboard motors (Whirlwinds) since 1965, due to the colour your motor is one of the very early ones, probably from 66-x. I have not seen one (that old) in many years.

Only five models have been designed: original Whirlwind-18, 20 hp (my model), Whirlwind-25 hp, Whirlwind-30 hp produced until very recently and now the Whirlwind-32 hp. Every model has received a lot of improvements and restyling during each (ones) production life.

More than half (at that time) of the boaters in Russia use Whirlwind outboards. Another manufacturer - MMPO in Chernyshova, makes the outboard NEPTUN 23 hp. Vikhr (another name for the Whirlwind) and Neptune are the most popular motors in Russia. Other popular models Moskva, Priboy, Privet, Riga now are no longer in production but sometimes, very seldom, I can see them still out on the water. Other models are low power Veterok - 8 or 12 hp, and the Salut - 2 hp that is still available.

Alexey was very helpful and interesting to e-mail. He eventually found me an OEM coil, $7 plus $6 shipping via the postal service. I was amazed that it only took 5 days to arrive, less than is typical for the AOMCIs quarterly magazine the OUTBOARDER to reach me! With the parts and some helpful tips from Alexey, I had the motor running, shifting and pumping water in no time.

More Thoughts

It would be interesting to know the history of the motor and how it ended up here in the USA. We can speculate that it may have been received in trade from a Soviet commercial fisherman for a case of Marlboro’s or a few pairs of Levi’s. My favorite theory is that the US Government got it to be sure the Soviets weren’t ahead of us in “the outboard gap!” All I really know about the history of the motor is that the gas station owner purchased it 20-25 years ago and it sat in his shop until I rescued it.

While not your typical antique outboard, I have had a lot of fun with it; not only getting it to run but also doing the research and making a new friend 1/2 a world away! The cover of the motor is painted silver hammertone and the leg is a (seriously flaking) light blue - all complimented by a giant RED propeller. I have debated doing a cosmetic restoration but there is a certain charm to its original Communist garb; scratches, dents and all. It runs well and I peg it at an honest 20 hp with enough torque to move a barge. At top speed it is noisy, the cover rattles viciously and it sucks up a tremendous quantity of fuel. However, the biggest problem with it is the enormous amount of helm - having no co-pilot adjustment it is a real workout to run and requires two hands to run at speed. Another annoyance is the throttle; it has an odd spring action that makes it challenging to start and to use mid range power.

For those interested, there is tidbit about Russian outboards in the January ’74 OUTBOARDER (available online through the Inner Sanctum Index at AOMCI.org) showing a Whirlwind and other Russian outboards. I would enjoy hearing from any people who have owned or used a Whirlwind.

Further Reading

Over the years I have lost the URL to Alexey's site bu
t if you can read Russian, here is a link to a site discussing this outboard: (If not open Alta Vista online translator and paste the url's below into it)

Info on the history of the Whirlwind:

Running the Whirlwind - September 2003

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