The Master of Motors

Bob Peterson shares his passion with Ol’ Tyme Marine Museum.
Keep Your Motor Runnin’ Bob Peterson’s museum is located in the White Bear Plumbing building.

White Bear Lake resident Bob Peterson started collecting outboard motors when he was just a child. “I was 8 years old,” Peterson says. “That was when I got my first one.” The passion continued when he started picking up antique motors. Decades later, with hundreds in his collection, Peterson opened the Ol’ Tyme Marine Museum about two years ago. He recently moved it to First Street for more space, and now houses 50 engines and two boats.

Peterson says there are no set hours because he has nothing but time. “I’m retired, and this is something, if somebody calls and says they want to go through, I’ll meet them down there,” Peterson says. Otherwise, if you’re interested in going through without a guided tour, there is almost always a receptionist available to help.

“There’s a lot of history with these outboard motors,” Peterson says. “They basically started here—in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That’s where the motor took hold—back in 1909.”

While he mostly sees an older crowd, he’s hoping that younger people will come and visit as well. “I totally encourage younger people to come through and learn about the history of this stuff,” Peterson says. “A lot of the time, when we get young people, they get hooked on this stuff. They really enjoy it.”

These outboard motors haven’t just been a passion for Peterson; he’s also made friends. “There are so many people, we have a club called the Antique Outboard Motor Club Incorporated, and I’ve been a member since 1968,” Peterson says. “And the people I have met have been precious—some of my closest friends.”