This bloke's Mercury outboard lasted 40 years he finally decided to buy a new one

This bloke's Mercury outboard lasted 40 years
This bloke's Mercury outboard lasted 40 years

Talk about built-in longevity! Back in 1972, Reg Wilkins from the Inverell district of NSW bought a Caribbean Caper with a Mercury 850 outboard, all for the princely sum of $3800. The bloke who sold it to him was Ken Sparke from Ken Sparke Marine, and as an enticement, Ken threw in a few ski lessons. Both men were a lot younger back then so the deal made plenty of sense to both of them.

Some time later, 40 years actually, Reg felt that the ol’ Merc was "losing a bit of compression" so he took it back to Ken Sparke Marine for assessment. It turns out the 850 was indeed down on power, but rather than take it to bits, in what would amount to a complete restoration rather than a mere rebuild, Reg decided he’d be better off with a new motor.

Mind you, this wasn’t an easy thing to do. That engine had helped Reg teach his children and grandchildren to ski, had never said "No way!" to a day on Lake Pindari or Copeton, and been the object of considerable pride within the Wilkins family. Still, there was nothing for it. Admired as it was, the old Merc had to go.

But there were compensations. Ken Sparkes still works at his dealership in Inverell and it was he who organised to repower the Caribbean, Slik Chick with a new two-stroke 90. Reg is now famous in the district as the man who changes engines every 40 years. And now his great grand-children are having all the fun.

Pic: Slik Chick waiting patiently for another load of grand kids.

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