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The Evolution & Demise of Chrysler & Force Outboards
Kissel ⇒ West Bend ⇒ Chrysler ⇒ Force (Bayliner ⇒ Brunswick / Mercury)
Two brothers, George and William Kissel founded the Kissel Motor Car company in 1908. The plant was located in Hartford, Wisconsin. Like so many other companies of the period, they fell on hard times in the late 20’s. In 1929 they filed for bankruptcy and lost the company in 1931. In 1934 the brothers regained control of the plant and founded Kissel Industries. They started manufacturing candy vending machines among other ventures.
Sears sold outboard motors manufactured by several different manufacturers under their brand name “Water Witch” (two words) which later became “Waterwitch” (one word). See our Waterwitch page for more details. In late 1936, Kissel Industries won the exclusive contract with Sears and Roebucks Company to build outboard motors. George Kissel and Herman Palmer would design the new outboard. They had been the chief engine designers at the old motor car company. The new outboards would be called Waterwitch (one word). Kissel Industries never marketed outboards under Kissel or any other name. For more information about these engines, go to a really beautiful website dedicated to the Waterwitch Outboards built by the Kissel Motor Company in Hartford, Wisconsin from 1936~1944. Note that during the War Years 1941~1945, the only outboard production was for government agencies.
In 1944 Kissel Industries was purchased by West Bend Aluminum Company along with the Sears and Roebucks contract to make outboards. The relationship continued with Sears and Roebucks through this transition. This brought an end to the Waterwitch brand of outboard motors in 1945. In 1946 West Bend Outboard manufactured their first motor for Sears. It was in this year that Sears and Roebucks changed their outboard motor brand name to “Elgin”. West Bend had a non-compete clause with Sears for the USA that ran through 1955. Starting in 1956 some outboards appeared wearing the West Bend name.
West Bend continued to add to their product line. This caught the eye of the Chrysler Corporation. In 1965, the Chrysler Corporation purchased West Bend’s outboard motor business. Chrysler acquired the 413,000 square foot facility in Hartford, Wisconsin which employed 500 people. The business was added to Chrysler’s Marine and Industrial Engine division which already included a Marysville, Michigan plant for producing inboard marine engines
From Jan. 8, 1965, Wall Street Journal.
In 1965, the Chrysler Corporation also purchased Lone Star Boats of Plano, Texas. Chrysler pioneered the concept of marketing boats and outboard motors together as a turn-key package.
More at our Chrysler Marine webpage.
The 1980’s government bailout forced Chrysler’s parent corporation to sell off their non-core businesses, so in 1983, Chrysler Corporation sold the profitable outboard division to Bayliner’s US Marine who changed the brand name to Force Outboards. Bayliner sold many Force engines mated to their boats as turn-key packages with matching trailers.
In 1986, Bayliner and its US Marine division, which included Force, were acquired by the Brunswick Corporation, owners of Mercury Outboards who were then tasked with supporting the Force product line. Shortly thereafter, the engine color scheme was changed from white to ‘bowling ball’ charcoal black like Mercury Outboards’ white color scheme had changed to Phantom Black years earlier. Brunswick continued to market many of the smaller Bayliner outboard models with Force outboards as turn-key packages.
In 1990, when a long running labor dispute at the Hartford, Wisconsin plant (shown below) was decided in labor’s favor, the Hartford plant was closed as Brunswick had threatened and Force production was relocated to the Mercury Marine outboard assembly line in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
The West Bend/Chrysler/Force engines had developed a strong following because of their lower initial price, inexpensive replacement parts, and simplicity which had made them cheaper to buy and maintain. However, it started to became apparent that the ‘Old-School, Low-Tech cross-scavenged’ design of the West Bend/Chrysler/Force engines, which had been adopted by all the 2-stroke cycle outboard producers prior to the 1950s, could not tolerate modern fuels. More about this later under “How to Keep Your Force Alive”. As word of increasing engine failures spread, new engine sales plummeted.
Mercury made none of the much needed improvements to the Force engine lineup as they already had fully developed modern engines in the Mercury engine lineup. New Force engine sales continued to fall until all new Force engine production ceased in 1999. Surprisingly, many parts are still currently available from parts suppliers, including Mercury Marine and their dealers, and from aftermarket suppliers. However, it is becoming more difficult to find mechanics willing and able to work on them.
How to Keep Your Chrysler/Force Engine Alive
Neither Chrysler nor Force ever developed oil injection for any of their engines, and while other 2-Stroke Cycle engine producers were developing oil injection, flat topped pistons and loop scavenged combustion chambers, Chrysler and later, Force stayed with the ‘cross-scavenged’ combustion chambers with ridged pistons which promote detonation and the resulting detonation piston damage and thermal runaway cylinder damage that became common-place with the advent of low/no lead fuels especially those fuels containing alcohol. See our article “The often overlooked cause of Engine Detonation – Phase-Separation” for more details.
The piston shown on the left in the picture below has suffered fuel detonation damage. An undamaged piston is shown on the right for comparison.
Always use fresh fuel!
The first rule to keeping any Chrysler/Force 2-Stroke Cycle engine healthy is to never run it on “stale” fuel, but always run it on fresh fuel mixed with fresh oil. Modern gasoline is inherently unstable and can degrade and separate in a matter of weeks when stored in a boat’s “openly-vented” fuel tank. Stale gasoline looses the anti-knock quality (measured by its octane rating) to prevent detonation and thermal runaway. After oil is mixed with the gasoline, the fuel will degrade even more quickly. This means that if your fuel-oil mix is more then a couple of weeks old, you should get rid of ALL of it and start fresh.
Larger bore Chrysler and Force engines (50hp and up) are more susceptible to detonation and the damage that it causes, so they are often de-tuned by retarding their spark timing advancement and installing larger (richer) fuel jets. But while this helps prevent detonation, it lowers their power output which requires that these engines be fitted with lower pitch propellers so they can attain their rated RPM and avoid lugging.
The Chrysler & Force engines suffered from several other design flaws and deficiencies as well. The high energy ignition systems (supplied by Motorola or Prestolite) suffered frequent failures until they were upgraded to more robust Mercury Marine components. The earlier two-piece lower unit housings were easily bent during impacts with submerged objects or groundings. And then there was the “Propeller Clutch Hub Fiasco” detailed below.
Propeller Clutch Hub Fiasco
In the 1980’s, a problem developed that plagued the newer and stronger Chrysler/Force one piece lower units used on 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder engines when propeller vendors began installing a shorter propeller clutch hub in new and repaired propellers. Whether this was a mistake on their part or not has been debated, but regardless, they did not announce the change which resulted in catastrophic failure of many lower units. The resulting gap created by the shorter clutch hub allowed the propeller’s front and rear thrust washers to tighten down and grip the propeller’s own hub, effectively disabling the propeller’s rubber clutch.
Since the rubber clutch provided protection against damage to the lower unit shafts, gears and shifting dogs in the event of a prop-strike and also against the torsional shock produced by the solid steel shifting dog when shifting, reports of broken shafts, gears and shifting dogs skyrocketed. Unaware of the shorter propeller clutch hubs, Force developed a reduced diameter driveshaft with more torsional “spring” to absorb the torsional shock when shifting.
Cross-section of Lower Unit w/shafts, gears, etc.
When Force eventually realized the true cause of the lower unit damage, they developed a spacer ring to fill the gap created by the shorter clutch hub (shown below – left). Unfortunately, this spacer tended to break, so Force developed a thrust washer that incorporated an integral spacer (shown below – middle). And finally, they developed a thrust washer that incorporated a larger integral spacer that offered better support of the propeller (shown below – right).
Unfortunately, lack of consumer awareness about this problem and confusion about which thrust washers had to be used with which propellers has resulted in many damaged lower units and propellers. The illustration below shows the possible damage when a spacer or long thrust washer is matched to a propeller with a long clutch hub.
Long thrust washer used with long hub
A short thrust washer is needed when using a propeller with the long propeller hub, so don’t throw it away.
Force engines > Out of Production since 1999 – But some parts are still stocked
and available from Mercury Marine through there outboard motor dealers.
MERCURY MARINE (A division of Brunswick Corporation)
W6250 Pioneer Road
Fond du Lac, WI 54936-1939, USA
Toll Free: 1-8
^ Contact Form:
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Specifications For Chrysler & Force Outboard Motors
2-Stroke Cycle, Spark Ignited, Gasoline (Petrol) Fueled
Features: Vertical Crankshaft and Horizontal Boreable Parent Bore Cylinders
>> Specification Table Under Development <<
Types of Engine Vendors: Engine design owners may produce the engines in-house as manufacturers.
^ Licensees are licensed by engine design owners to produce base engines and/or marine engines.
^ Marinizers buy base engines from the producers at wholesale, marinize them for marine service,
^ ^ and then sell them to boat builders, resellers, etc. at wholesale or to end users at retail.
^ Resellers buy marine engines at wholesale and resell them at a markup including retail.
BASE ENGINE: Manufacturer/Vendor & Model of Base Engine followed by Specifications.
^ CYL: Cylinder Orientation & Configuration - (Dash w/no spaces) Number of Cylinders: (example: "V-8")
^ ^ Cylinder Orientation: v... = Vertical Crankshaft (Pistons are always horizontal).
^ ^ ^ Horizontal Crankshaft: No Code = u… = Upright (Vertical). s… = Slanted (Inclined).
^ ^ ^ h… = Horizontal (Flat, Pancake). i… = Inverted (Crankshaft Up, Head Down, Upside Down).
^ ^ Cylinder Configuration: …S = Single Cylinder. I = In-Line. …V = V Pattern (eg V-8).
^ ^ ^ …W = W Pattern. …Y = Y Pattern. …X… = X Pattern. …+… = + Pattern. …Δ… = Delta.
^ ^ ^ …o = Outward Facing Pistons (eg Boxer). …i = Inward Facing Opposed Pistons (O-P).
^ ^ ^ …R,R2,R3,R4 = Radial (Single,Double,Triple,Quad Banks). …® = Radial Rotary = Rotary Radial.
^ ^ ^ …Θ… = Rotary. …∞ = BiQuad Rotary. …ω = Wankel Rotary.
^ BORE & STROKE: …mm = Millimeters. …in = …" = Inches.
^ DISPLACEMENT = Swept Volume: …cc = Cubic Centimeters (cm³). …L = Liters. …ci = Cubic Inches (in³).
MODEL RATINGS: Base Engine Model, Vendor Rating Code, Duty Ratings, Power Ratings, etc.
^ A-F: Aspiration-Fueling: Intake Air uncharged or charged - Petrol or Diesel Fueling.
^ ^ Aspiration: N = Naturally Aspirated. T = Turbocharged. TT = Twin Turbos. S = Supercharged.
^ ^ ^ …c = Crankcase Scavenged. …h = Crosshead Scavenged. …b = w/Blower.
^ ^ ^ …i = Intercooled. …a = Aftercooled. …A = Air Cooled Intercooler/Aftercooler (Charged Air Cooler).
^ ^ ^ …R = …r = w/RawWater (Seawater) Cooled Intercooler/Aftercooler (Charged Air Cooler).
^ ^ ^ …F = …f = w/FreshWater (Engine Coolant) Cooled Intercooler/Aftercooler (Charged Air Cooler).
^ ^ Petrol Fueling: C = Carbureted. T = Throttle Body Injection. M = Multiport Injection.
^ ^ ^ D = Direct Injection. …a = Compressed Air Assisted Injection.
^ ^ Diesel Fueling: M = Mechanical Injection. …d = Distributor Injection Pump. …I = In-line Injection Pump.
^ ^ ^ …ii = II = Integral Injector. C = Common Rail. E = …e = Electronic Injection.
^ ^ ^ …d = Direct Injection (into combustion chamber). …i = Indirect Injection (pre-combustion chamber).
^ DR = Duty Ratings: See the Engine Duty Ratings Description at the end of the Table.
^ ^ ♦♦ = Highest Power Rating from Data Sources.
^ ^ C = Continuous (eg Workboats). I = Intermittent (eg Pleasure Craft). M = Max = Maximum.
^ ^ BS = B. S. Rating. OL = B. S. Overload.
^ POWER: kW = Kilowatts. HP = Horsepower. BHP = Brake Horsepower. SHP = SAE Horsepower.
^ ^ sHP = Shaft Horsepower. MHP = Metric Horsepower. PS = Pferdestärke (Metric Horsepower).
^ RPM = Power Ratings @ Revolutions Per Minute.
^ YEARS: Beginning∼Ending. Trailing "–" or "∼" without an Ending Date = Still in Production/Available.
^ ^ YYYY usually = Model Year. MM/YY = actual Month/Year.
^ ^ Vendors typically market products after production ceases, often until stockpiles are exhausted.
^ DS = Data Source: Click DS Link to view DS. ♦♦♦ = Summary of Data Compiled from Multiple Sources.
^ ^ DS's 1st Letter = Vendor's 1st Letter (example: F = Ford). Wik = Wikipedia. BD = BoatDiesel.com.
^ ^ DS's 2nd Letter: ...d = Directory. ...w = Webpage. ...c = Catalog. ...b = Brochure. ...s = SpecSheet.
^ ^ ^ ...o = Owner's/Operator's Manual. ...m = Service/Repair/Technical/Workshop/Shop Manual.
^ ^ ^ ...p = Parts Catalog. …# = Serial # List ...h = History. ...y = Years Vended (History). ...f = Forum.
^ ^ DS's Last Digits: ...1,2,3,A,B,C,etc = Source #, Version, Revision (example: Fc1 = Ford Catalog #1).
Data: ⊗ = Data Not Available from Data Source. ¿... = ...? = Data Unconfirmed/in Question.
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HOW TO READ THIS TABLE
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⇒ Specification Table Under Development ⇐
||⊗-⊗||⊗mm / ⊗in||⊗mm / ⊗in||⊗cc / ⊗L / ⊗ci|
| ^ M
| ^ M
| ^ M
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Chrysler & Force
Outboard Engine Duty Ratings
Cm = Commercial (Workboats).
Pc = Pleasure Craft.
CP = Commercial (Workboats) & Pleasure Craft.
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DS = Data Source for Engine Specifications.
⇒ Directory Under Development ⇐
|DOCUMENT TITLE – Products (Notes) — Creator – Source||DS|
|Catalogs and Brochures:||↓c/b↓|
|Ads: (Print Advertisements)||↓a↓|
|AdVids: (Advertisement Videos)||↓av↓|
|SpecSheets: (Specification Sheets‚ Data Sheets‚ FactSheets)||↓s↓|
|Charts and Graphs: (Power & Torque Curves)||↓g↓|
|Press Releases: (by Date: YYMMDD)||↓pr↓|
|Serial Number Guides: (Date of Manufacture‚ Date Codes‚+)||↓#↓|
|Installation Drawings with Dimensions:||↓d↓|
|OpManuals: (Owner's/Operator's Handbooks/Manuals)||↓o↓|
|Parts Catalogs: (with Exploded Views & Parts Lists)||↓p↓|
|Parts Bulletins: (by Date: YYMMDD)||↓pb↓|
|Shop Manuals: (Repair/Service/Technical/Workshop Manuals)||↓m↓|
|TechVids: (Technical Videos: Service Training‚+)||↓v↓|
|Service Bulletins: (by Date: YYMMDD)||↓sb↓|
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