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What is an Outboard Bracket?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

An outboard bracket is a device used for mounting an auxiliary outboard motor on the stern of a boat. Often referred to as a kicker motor, the outboard bracket holds a smaller outboard engine used for trolling. Mechanical linkage is usually mounted between the boat's motor and the outboard bracket, which makes steering the kicker motor as easy as turning the boat's steering wheel. Sailing vessels often use an outboard bracket for mounting a small, gas-powered outboard motor that is used in low wind conditions as well as when maneuvering the boat through a harbor.

There are two basic styles of outboard bracket: folding brackets and single-position brackets. A folding type bracket allows the kicker motor to be raised and lowered. By raising the outboard bracket to its highest point, the kicker engine is held far above the surface of the water. This keeps the motor from causing a drag effect when not in use. When needed, the bracket is lowered to place the kicker motor's propeller into the water so it can power the boat.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The single-position fixed outboard bracket is a simple mounting point for a kicker motor. This style of bracket has no adjustment mechanism, so the kicker motor is raised and locked into position by releasing the motor's tilt-lock and tilting it until it locks in the highest locking position. When needed, the tilt-lock lever is again released, allowing the motor to tilt back into its operating position, with the propeller below the surface of the water.

By utilizing a kicker motor on a fishing boat, the boat is able to be operated at much slower speeds than with its bigger, main motor. The kicker motor, typically a very small outboard motor, is run at a speed that allows the fishing lures to work properly while not causing the boat to move too fast through the water. When attempting to operate a boat's large, main motor at trolling speed, the motor will often load up and foul spark plugs due to the very slow idle speeds.

When used as an auxiliary power unit for sailing vessels, an outboard bracket typically holds a small motor that is used to power the vessel in and out of a harbor where wind power might cause excessive speed. In emergency situations or in a period of prolonged wind loss, the kicker motor can be used to power the vessel until the wind picks up. The auxiliary motor is also used in severe weather to aid the boat's pilot in navigating large waves.

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