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Flambeau

Flambeau Outboards were produced by the Metal Products Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two models, a 2.5 hp and 5 hp were produced from 1946 through the mid 1950's (1957 is often quoted).

Flambeaus are very interesting and unlike every other outboard. The time tested way to build an outboard was/is to cast and machine the engine block, fit in the pistons & crank and bolt the powerhead onto the leg. Flambeau tossed convention to the winds - the pistons fit into cast iron barrels and they were placed, with the bearings, crankshaft/drive shaft & etc as an assembly into left and right halves of the motor. The crankcase, exhaust and cooling channels were all formed in the halves of the motor around the cylinder barrels. The left & right halves were cast from top to skeg with the guts of the motor glued in place with Gasolia sealer and all held in place with 1/4-20 screws. Another unique feature is the carburetor mounted on the bottom of the fuel tank - itself part of the top of the motor. Even minor maintenance issues on Flambeau's often require serious disassembly.

Below are some photos of my "late model" Flambeau twin, probably a 1956 or '57. This motor came to me very stuck and needed to be completely gone through. Here it is just about ready for reassembly, now I just need to find the right adhesive! It remains to be seen if modern sealers will do a better job keeping the Flambeau running - more once we have it together.

Flambeau left & right halves
Lower unit
Waterpump and propeller

Detail of Flambeau cylinders and crankshaft

Flambeau was never a major player in the outboard world, their distribution was simply a side-line for garages, hardware stores and sporting goods shops in areas that were not deemed worthy of even a Scott-Atwater dealership! One can speculate that the intricate casting and sealing required (to make the motors run) must have led to a high number of rejects thus making the motors expensive to produce. Based on the number of (now antique) Flambeaus that have turned up with internal sealing problems, there can be no doubt the motors had reliability issues. Traditional lawnmower and outboard repair shops would have been reluctant to work on them due to their odd design. Altogether these issues, combined with a very competitive marketplace, spelled doom for Metal Products outboard line. See how the competition sized up: Compare the 1953 5hp Outboards

Despite the Flambeau's odd appearance and engineering, ( if a well cared for original or lovingly restored), they will run and are quite powerful! One has to give the folks at Metal Products credit for coming up with a unique product and giving it their best shot - much like Bendix outboards a decade earlier. Next to the Clarke troller, Flambeau can be sited as the original "low profile" outboard, a design element that Scott, OMC and Chrysler would all embrace years later in the 1960's.

1953 Flambeau Single 2.5 hp.

 

 

Compare the 1953 5hp Outboards

Year & Model: 1953 Flambeau 125520
Horsepower: 2.5 @ 4,000 rpm
Cylinders:
1

Bore: 1.9375"
Stroke: 1.5625"
Ignition: Eisemann magneto
Cooling: Water by rubber impeller

Condition: Unrestored
Retail price when new: $118.50
Weight: 30 lbs.
Oil/Gas Mix: 2/3pt TCW-3
Point Gap:.020
Spark Plug: Champion J-8J (Now J-8C but J-6C have been found to be the correct heat range with today's fuel)

Comments:
This Flambeau single runs surprisingly well, especially since the former Flambeau Special Interest Group Leader said he'd never seen one run at all!

This model has both the "tickler" and a choke, it can take a few pulls to get going and may need a tweak of the carb controls once it gets warmed up. The low & high needles are linked by a gear so there is only one knob to adjust them.

While rated at 2.5hp, this motor is amazingly powerful, I'd peg it closer to 3.5 or 4hp. It is also reasonably smooth and quiet.

It's a bizarre design and very tough to work on, but it sure runs great!

The Flambeau single in the photo above is responsible for my 15 minutes of fame! See page 156 of the OLD OUTBOARD BOOK 3rd Ed. by Peter Hunn copyright 2002 International Marine.

Flambeau Technical Information:

Click on each for a larger version.

 

5hp Parts Manual Page 1
5hp Parts Manual Page 2
5hp Parts Manual Page 3
5hp Parts Manual Page 4
 

 

 

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