As factory field trips go, a guided tour of Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, Wis., is about as good as it gets. The highlight of the tour is the marine engine and accessories company’s propeller foundry—it’s hard to beat a 3,000-degree light show of molten stainless steel being poured into propeller castings—but there’s a lot more to see than that. Mercury Marine main plant houses a bit of the old in the form of an in-house product museum and a whole lot of the new, most notably the company’s state-of-the-art new V-8 outboard engine production line complete with automatic guided carts moving engines from station to station every five minutes.
Talk about flat-out freaking cool.
This year, Mercury Marine celebrates its 80th anniversary. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
n June 2018, I got to see it all firsthand as I was in nearby Oshkosh to cover the Four Horsemen Poker Run. I’d been to nearby Mercury Racing before, but I’d never stepped foot in Mercury Marine. Tucked in the rolling hills of Wisconsin “cow country,” Mercury Racing has a top-secret “skunk works” atmosphere. Save for the omnipresent, distant whine of propeller technicians grinding away at their black art, it’s a quiet place. Mercury Marine, on the other hand, feels exactly like what it is.