The Stork launch is a 1908 Brooks launch completely rebuilt and re-powered with a Stork motor. The Stork’s owner is the grandson of the founder of the Stork Motor Company of Saginaw, MI. Stork motors were manufactured for a few years at the beginning of the 20th century and two of the rare old engines were procured as power for the Stork launch-one for installation and one to keep as a spare in case there was ever a need for parts. The Stork engine was to be showcased in the 16’ launch that had been found in the back of a barn on Higgins Lake.
Work was begun on the Stork in the fall of 2014 to make her ready for the engine installation. The owner had some upgrades he wanted to make to the launch itself. The Stork motor was refurbished, painted and made to run. Somewhere in the process, the Stork project went from a restoration to a work of art.
There was a new teak keel and transom, white oak flooring, custom bench seating, fresh varnish. Then there was the shiny stuff: the hand-made solid brass rudder as big as the transom itself, the custom welded and hammered copper and brass engine cover, the 24K gold-leaf stork plaque (drawn and molded to match the Stork Company’s logo) affixed to the transom.
Originally running the Stork Motor was a two-person undertaking: one to advance the spark and throttle and the other to captain the vessel - shifting and steering. With our modifications, utilizing the period original hardware, we have made operating the vessel a one man operation. The Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show had the added attraction in 2015 of the Stork’s owner starting and running the motor several times for spectators to watch (and listen!) while it ran. The Stork took home a 1st place trophy in her class for 2015, as well as reserve Best in Show.
Whatever the future holds for the Stork launch-whether she’s chugging happily around Hessel Bay or showcased in a collection room, she will stand out as a proud little boat: a shining example of hard work and inventiveness that bridges three generations, two centuries and one spirit of independence.
E. J. Mertaugh Boat Works