By James Barrick, Wine Country Chapter
The Muncie Indiana Gear Works was established in 1907. Famous for gears and transmissions, they entered the outboard motor business in 1930 via their own Neptune line. Pre-WWII Neptunes also manufactured alternate firing 9-1/2 hp and 6hp twins which you will see in our pictures.
Neptune produced a Junior Single putting out 1.2 hp. This 17 lb eggbeater was the great granddaddy of the famed Neptune Mighty Mite. Neptune production came to a halt in order to help out the Korean War effort.
They went from outboards to jet engines, and then resumed producing outboards again after the war. Shortly thereafter Muncie moved to Cordele, Georgia. The Georgia based company was then sold in 1969 and operations were again moved. This time to Florida. The company later ended up in Connecticut.
In the 1980s a 2hp was developed, in complete or in kit form with rewind starter and 360 degree steering as you will see in the pictures as well. All motors are from the James Barrick collection.
Here on the Maine Coast, the Neptune Mighty Mite (from mid-1960s?) was the first motor on the 10-foot plywood skiff I started my lobstering business with. At 1.2 HP, wasn’t fast but a lot better than rowing. Took me the better part of an hour to travel to the village to sell lobsters and buy bait, but this easy pace was almost peaceful.
Could turn the motor 180 to go in reverse, but there was no neutral gear, so I stopped the motor at every trap. Not a problem, as the motor started easily and if you ever misplaced the starter cord, any kind of string would work ; lacking that, I could spin the magneto fast enough with my bare hands (sometimes took a few tries, though). This was a great little motor, very dependable and when I upgraded to a 3-HP, I sometimes missed the ol’ Mighty-Mite.