Sold by Sears & Roebuck 1955-59+
1955 - 1959+ ELGIN Outboards by West Bend
A Word About West Bend and Sears
Certainly no catalog house and outboard maker had a closer relationship than Sears and West Bend from 1946 to 1959. The 1955-59 Elgin motors represent some of the best and most advanced outboards sold by any catalog house in the 1950s. Starting in 1959 Sears transitioned to Scott Atwater as their major supplier. Most outboard directories only show the little 2hp being supplied to Sears by West Bend after 1959. However, quite a few West Bend-made outboards of 2 through 40hp were sold by Sears well after 1959, especially in Canada. This page is devoted to all the 1955 and later West Bend-made Sears outboards.
We receive a lot of email regarding the 1955-59 West Bend made Elgins. The webmaster has been running the little fiberglass hooded '56 5 1/2 in the attached photo and proclaims it to be a fabulous little outboard!
Parts availability for these motors is tough, though some of the consumable parts may cross over with Chrysler (who purchased West Bend) and even later Force (who bought Chrysler) outboards. However, your best bet if you need something is to get a parts motor or try placing an ad on the AOMCI webvertize.
Magnetos and Spark Plugs
The 1955-1959 Wico magnetos used several types of coils. Most use a black plastic covered coil with 7/16" center laminations. These coils are quite often cracked and may require replacement. If this type coil does need replacement, a 1950s style OMC coil can be substituted. (Here is a link to a website showing how this is done) Coil Replacement
On most models, the Wico points have a bakelite slider that slides in a groove in the magneto plate. This slider should be cleaned and lightly lubricated. Old oil or dirt in the groove can make the points sticky which results in a poorly running motor. After you have the points functioning correctly adjust the gap to .020".
Over the years Sears recommended various Allstate, AC and Champion plugs for their motors. See the attached chart for the modern Champion sparkplug application for each motor. Plug gap should be .032"
Fuel System and Oil Mix
The Tillotson carburetors used in the Elgins are almost identical to those used in Martins, Champions and Scott-Atwaters of the same time period. They very seldom need new parts other than gaskets which can be made from gasket material. The carbs use a metal float and have adjustable high and low speed needles. The entire carburetor usually requires a complete cleaning. It is very important to clean the idle tube thoroughly. This tube can be removed from the top of the carb with a screwdriver. A good soak in lacquer thinner followed by a cleaning with either compressed air or a wire is essential to make sure that the motor will idle well.
If your motor is equipped with a fuel pump you will need to replace the fuel lines and pump diaphragm with modern materials that will hold up to today's fuels. (Modern gasoline in most parts of the USA has a high percentage of alcohol or ethanol that will rapidly deteriorate the original rubber parts) The Elgin fuel pumps are very straightforward and easy to repair, typically only needing the diaphragm replaced. The diaphragm material may be tough to find, I have had luck buying a rebuild kit for automotive diaphragm fuel pumps and cutting the material down. Be sure the kit you buy is compatible with modern fuel and not an NOS antique!
When you are ready to run the motor, both needles should be preset to 1 turn from lightly closed then adjusted as necessary for smooth running. After the motor has warmed up, the high speed needle should be adjusted to its final position. When the motor is running well at high speeds, the low speed can be adjusted. The low speed adjustment is very sensitive and when it is readjusted the motor should be given 5 seconds or more to fully respond to the new setting.
The specified fuel mix is 1/2 pint per gallon in all motors. Today, modern 2-stroke oil with the TCW-3 designation should be used on all water cooled motors. Air cooled outboards should use 2-stroke oils with the TC designation such as used by weed whackers and chain saws. Modern automotive oils should be avoided at all costs. All of the 1955-1959 motors should run fine on 1/2 pint per gallon.
Lower Unit and Water Pump
With the exception of the air-cooled 2hp, all the 1955-1959 motors use a flexible vane impeller. Most of the motors I have worked on have lower units that can be easily removed. The life span of the flexible vane impellers was improved as the motors were modernized in 1955+ but, due to age, many motors found today will need the impeller replaced. Fortunately AOMCI member Bob Long in WA can rebuild your old impeller casting new rubber around your original brass core - Bob can be reached at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is: Bob Long
All Elgin motors from this period use grease in the lower unit. Lubriplate 105 is a good choice, it is available at most quality auto parts stores like NAPA and others. All of the fiberglass hooded motors have fill and vent screws on the right-hand side of the lower unit - look below the gearcase bulge for the drain/fill and above the anti-cavitation plate for the vent. A small amount of air pressure may be used to force out the old grease (Watch out, this can be messy if too much air is used!) To refill, insert the grease nipple in the bottom hole and fill until it comes out the top vent, then replace the top vent plug and then the bottom fill plug.
NOTE: Some of the smaller motors with self-contained gas tanks do not have fill/drain screws - you need to remove the propeller and then the carrier bearing on the gearcase to clean & refill.
BE SURE to always check your lower unit for water intrusion before storing the motor for the winter. Due to the low-tech seals that were used most of them do leak. (If the problem is so bad you feel the need to replace the seals, your best bet is to take the old ones to a bearing house and order ones with the same dimensions. So many different seals were used it is impossible for us to make recommendations.)
Paint for 1955-1957 Elgins
These motors were painted in a light green and dark green color scheme.
For the dark green the best match we have found is Rustoleum Dark Hunter Green (no. 7733).
This color is a dead on match for several motors we have compared it to.
For the light green the best match we have found is Rustoleum "Painters Touch" Seaside Green
(no. 240266). This is a close but not exact match. Comparing it before you paint with it is recommended.
Neither of these colors is advertised as gasoline proof so we recommend a clear overcoat of Duplicolor
500 degree Ceramic Engine Paint.
The colors are available at stores like Wal Mart or Home Depot. The clear is available at most auto stores.
After 1957 there were a variety of colors available, if we find a match for any of them we will post it here.
Please find below a link to the West Bend made Elgin model numbers along with some of their specifications and tune up information. This table was compiled with information from Elgin service manuals, owners manuals and parts lists. Also below is a link to a page outlining where to find and how to read your model #.
A note on the model numbers - There is no definitive listing of Elgin model and serial numbers, the links below represent the best effort to date to catalog them. Some outboards from the 1955-59 period may have a different last two digits from the ones noted. If you can not find your exact number but the first six digits are on the chart below, the closest match is the best number available. Example: 571.58921 is the number found on the webmaster's 12hp Elgin. The table shows a model 571.58902 for 1956, a 571.58941 in 1957 and then 571.58932 for 1958. So it is anyone's guess, late 1956, early 1957 or even '58! Until additional resources turn up it is impossible to determine the exact year of manufacture, for now we are calling it a '57.
LINK: How to find & read Elgin model identification numbers <--Read First!
LINK: Sequential List of Elgin Model Numbers (West Bend motors only)
LINK: Model Numbers by Horsepower (West Bend motors only)
1958 Elgin Skipper 35hp - King of all the West Bend Elgins!
1958 Skipper - From the collection of Elgin enthusiast Jon A.
Art DeKalb's Elgin 7 1/2 "Special"
Below is the 1958 Elgin brochure (click on each to see the full image!)
Inside the 1958 Elgin Brochure!
Unusual 1960s Elgin (West Bend) 18hp from Canada - sent to us by a visitor to this website