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June 19, 2002
OSWEGO -- For Peter Hunn, an interest in outboard motors has rapidly evolved into a fleet of books. His latest publication is a coffee-table picture book titled "Beautiful Outboards."
Hunn, an adjunct professor in SUNY Oswego's communication studies department, said the idea for this book was launched because of a Christmas present a couple years ago. "My publisher gave me a copy of a book titled 'Beautiful Engines' for Christmas," Hunn recalled. "I told him that outboards are more beautiful. The publisher replied, 'I'm glad you said that. It's due June 1.'"
The project is an outgrowth of Hunn's first two books on the subject, "The Golden Age of the Racing Outboard" (Devereux Books, 2000) and "The Old Outboard Book" (International Marine, 1994).
"The Old Outboard Book" proved surprisingly popular, he said. It recently entered its third edition for McGraw-Hill. The publisher told him that the third edition was required when the book exceeded 20,000 copies in circulation.
Hunn's passion for outboard motors goes back to "ever since I was a little kid," he said. "When I was 5, my parents gave me a little Sears rowboat. It was a hit."
Seeing others tooling around Lake Champlain with outboard motors made Hunn interested in an upgrade. His parents said they could afford to buy him a motor if he found one for $25 or less.
Hunn bought his first outboard for $15 when he was 10, but it never made it into the water. "I took that all apart and lost some of the parts," Hunn admitted. Then a friend of his father's gave him another. Almost overnight, Hunn said, "I had a reputation of having an outboard collection."
The collection would expand greatly in his adult years. "At one point, I had about 150 motors," he said. "I'm down to about 65 now. I used to take any one offered, kind of like a stray cat."
Hunn's knowledge of motors and other collectors was a main reason for the latest writing assignment from Devereux Books. In all, the 128-page hardcover book features color photos of 45 outboard motors, chosen for historic and aesthetic considerations, as well as line drawings. Hunn wrote about 1,000 words for each motor, usually working from slides taken by a photographer.
The earliest motor, a submerged electric model requiring a battery, dates to 1901. "The batteries cost as much and weighed more than the motor," the author observed.
Hunn said his latest book is staying well above water. It can be found in outlets ranging from local bookstores to specialty shops to online retail giant
"This seems to be doing well wherever it's released," he said.
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