Poppet-Valved Martin Outboard Motors of Eau Claire

Martin Outboard MotorWARSAW, Virginia – On display in the window of this Northern Neck town at The Daily coffee shop is a snazzy Martin “40” outboard motor. Once, there were many American outboard brands. While Evinrude, Johnson and Mercury survive, Martin did not.

Martin Motors was from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This motor was made when the brand was part of the National Pressure Cooker Company. Apparently Martins were made from 1946 to the early 1950s, and had “poppet” valves.

Can someone please explain poppet valves?

The brand survives today; Larson Outboard apparently owns the blueprints and supplies parts for the old ones.

Over the years there have been dozens of motor brands sold in the U.S., including Chrysler Marine, Perkins, Rootes, Oliver, Flambeau, Champion, Sea Flyer, Elgin, Scott-Atwater, Lauson, Neptune, Reily, West Bend and Hiawatha. My cousin Mark is a big fan of British Seagull engines.

Any memories of vintage outboards? And what brands were noted for styling, technological innovation, durability and economy?



  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.


  1. I have a Martin 40 serial # B 40241 , I would like to know what year it was made , And possibly what it is worth

  2. I have a Martin 75 , with the red handle ,I would love for it to go to a good home. If anyone one is interested, please call or write. 847-384-9384.

  3. Saw one of those ” American Pressure Cooker ” small motors on a ” bath-tub ” boat in San Diego in the mid 80’s. Only one I ever saw. Was involved with bath tub boat racing for a couple years. What a lot of fun ! Never forgot that weird writing on that motor casing and today found out just what that was . Darn shame the fat cats and politicians conspired to move so many industries overseas for the cheap labor…..and thereby reduced our industrial might as well as the tax base of those good jobs.

  4. I just found an old Martin in a building. The SN is A16153. How can I find out what this unit is? Motor is complete all the way to the propeller

  5. Now it is back??????????????????

  6. When I purchased a used boat, it included a Martin “75” outboard, and it was used as a trolling motor because of how smoothly and quietly it ran. It was still running in 2004 when the boat was sold. I kept the Martin motor because I liked it, but have not used it since. It is still in great shape, much like the picture above. If anyone is looking to acquire one of these, I might be persuaded to part with it.

    1. where you at Keith? I’m in dubuque iowa and would like to have one of those.

      1. Hi Brice. It has been a while since I have been on this site. Sorry I am just now answering your inquiry. I am just outside of Buffalo New York, quite far from Dubuque. Not sure how we would get this motor to you.

  7. My father, Sam Welch, was the advertising manager for Martin Motors — start to finish. Dad took me to many outboard racing events back in the early 1950s. I ‘ve got a Martin 75 — near A-one condition — mounted on a stand. Every time I pass by it, I pet the poppet valves. I recently came across a photo on my computer of a boat driven by a Martin 6O outboard. The location ? Just off the salt-water coast of Italy!
    Quite a few Martins made their way to European boat owners…

    1. Tony: Seen this on the computer. I knew your father well & he is the one that contacted you or a brother if you had one for the original Martin movies “Small Fry & Husky The Muskie films shot at the Teal Lake resort site. I at the time put them on VHS tapes & now have just transferred to a more modern Disc. I was born & raised 50 miles S.W. of Eau Claire at Buffalo City, WI & was actually in the Martin factory around 1950 at age 15. I later got to know your father, Tex Sitz, Harold Yarrington & George very well, lots of memories & I still run Martin Motors, mostly 200’s but also 40’s & 60’s & 100’s. Should you have a need to ak a question, please feel free to contact me if you see this.
      Ronald Lietha
      Tomahawk, Wi

    2. Where did my posted reply to Toby Welch go??????????

    3. Hi Tony…I knew your Father well. My name is Ben Sirianni.
      Your sister Martha was in My class at Regis. I remember you
      In My Sister Carole’s class.
      Anyway for some reason I picked up on the Martin outboard
      Photo. We had a 7.5 on our Alumacraft up North on Rice Lake.
      I got into the brokerage business after college with Piper
      Jaffray in Eau Claire. Your Father, Sam (Earl) was eventually
      Assigned to me…such a great person …your Mother too..
      My sister passed several years ago. I am in a Senior complex
      Outside of Plymouth, Mn but get to
      Eau Claire occasionally. Thanks for the memories.. Ben

    4. My father raced for Martin in Washington and British Columbia. Trophies he won went to the company. I have a newspaper advertisement showing him, boat and motor from his 1954 championship. Also have a Martin motor neck tie from that same period. Most of his items are in a museum in Nelson BC. Very cool story

  8. Don’t know much about the 4 h.p. but the 7 h.p. poppet valves were operated by a rocker arm and the crankshaft had a cam that open the valve.

  9. Mike..thanks for the comments. And isn’t it sad that the Preston Tucker’s don’t reap the rewards, even though they are remembered well after their time.

    Jo –thanks for video. Love the idea of racing vintage boats.

  10. Poppet valves are the trumpet-bell-shaped valves used in most 4-cycle engines, usually in or near the cylinder head . What made the Martin engines unique is that they are a 2-cycle engine that uses a single poppet valve in the crankcase at the bottom of the crankshaft stroke. Most 2-cycle engines use reed valves to admit the air/fuel mixture into the crankcase. This design requires a lot of quick fluctuation in crankcase pressure, thus 2-cycle engines run more smoothly at higher RPM’s than do 4-cycle. George Martin’s poppet-valved 2-cycle design would idle more smoothly and at lower engine speeds than his competitor’s engines. Lower engine speeds meant quieter boats, and they were hugely popular with freshwater sport anglers.
    George Martin was very much the Preston Tucker of the outboard boat engine business, and American Business just won’t have any of that.

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