View Full Version : Leonard Keller 1937

Steve de Souza
05-29-2007, 06:27 PM
Came across a few old pictures. Leonard Keller - Keller Hardware

Ron Hill
05-31-2007, 07:34 AM
When Keller sent you a speedometer, he always typed a whole letter on a samll (4 X 5) piece of paper. Usually told a story or two about someone. I loved it when my dad bought things, because the stories were so good. He always signed them KELLER.

I only met Leonard Keller once, and that was at Prineville, Oregon 1966.

I sold many speedomter to jet boat racers in the 1960-70. What I didn't know until I took one of his speedometers aprt, that he typed the purchaser's name on a piece of masking tape and taped it inside the speedo...and th date.

I'll bet there are over 100 Keller speedometers with my name in the inside...

Keller would have loved the internet...

No one's speedometers were better, "Kellers" as they were called, were the GPS/computers of the era!!!

Master Oil Racing Team
05-31-2007, 08:10 AM
I loved those little letter Ron. I still have a couple. I will try to find them. They were usually funny. I wish I still had at least one Keller to hang on the wall. When we were running runabouts we had four or five to get within the proper speed range. As you say, in those days when someone talked about their Keller, it meant speedometer. Most mounted a bracket for the head right below the cowling behind the steering wheel although I had seen a couple of mounts on the floor. Then at some point Keller made a steering wheel that you could buy a mount that would screw into the hub of the steering wheel. That was important because on some of our larger rigs we had to mount the head sideways to look at the needle easier when the hydro was aired out.

05-31-2007, 11:32 AM
We always tested with a KELLER. Each driver had his own and it was always kept in a safe secure place. When I completed my Invader Tunnel I asked Jack Leek if he had a KELLER I could borrow. He pulled one out of his desk drawer and said "here, keep it". I still have it and still keep it in a safe secure place. My KELLER is special, to me, as it has "LEEK" stamped into the face. I never opened it up, but would guess inside is a piece of masking tape that says Jack Leek. Thanks Jack.

Ron Hill
05-31-2007, 10:14 PM
Jim, you've got to open it up....It would be interesting...

It is kind fo like when Jimbo and I were at Jack Leek's memorial....I asked Burt Ross's daughters if their dad like to "Fly Fish" and they said, "Yes..."

Do you happen to recall, march 1978. We were at Blue Water marina...(You, me and Freddy Hauenstein).

First run out with the Crazyhorse, we loaded the plugs (I thought we'd blown the motor). I had my brother's 125 MPH Keller.

Next run out (I'd never seen over 108 on that Keller with a V-4 Super Strangler)....I started to "Screw that V-6, CCC Evinrude on, and th the Keller went to 125 MPH)....

I came in and said, "I pegged my brother's Keller, I need the 150 MPH Keller). We out the 150 MPH Keller in the boat and I wemt out an ran a 122 MPH.

Freddy told me everything looked good, and if his ride "Broke Down" he'd drive with me...

I remember driving up to Havasu, with my two kids,wife and Molinari boat...We checked into the hotel, the boiat had muddy feet print on the deck,but there was that 150 MPG Keller duct taped in...

I remember going to sleep that night (Friday) thinking..Hmm Freddy and I had finished third the year before going 108 and I saw 122 on a NEW KELLER....I could win this Parker 9 Hour....if I had Ted may or Freddy Hauenstein as a co driver as I could not drive all day at those speeds...

I told Brad Miller, the next day, we would not embarrass Crazyhorse campgrounds...

06-18-2007, 08:04 PM
We always called them the "lie detectors". When I got my 1st 1 it was like getting a piece of art. Loaned it out and never saw it again.
I had one more that I put in an Allison JP I restored as few years back for a friend, because the boat deserved it. Sent it off to Nordskog for calibration. THey ran a set of numbers but would not adjust it. THey did offer me any new speedo they produced if I wanted to let it go. No deal.
They may not have been as accurate as GPS but were very consistant, which was great for testing.

Ron Hill
06-18-2007, 10:37 PM
Funny you'd calla Keller a "Lie Detector" as there really was a "Lie Detector", invented by George Stiener, I think..(My brother will correct me, if I'm wrong)...A "Lie Detector was really a Check Valve in the line leading to the speedometer (Basically it was a valve stem from an inner tube...This valve held the speedometer to the max speed and you had to bend the speedometer line to let the air out.

My dad hooked a "Lie Detector" up to my brother Finson (Spelled wrong) speedometer because my brother would just look at the speedometer and never look where the hell he was going. My dad finally told him, "Look where you're going GOD D^&* It and we'll read the speedometer when you come in...

Even when my brother wa small and he'd raced my sister, on bicycles, he'd put his head down and go like hell, until he'd hit a parked car...

Kind of like John Drake's Uncle Stan, he was timing his GN in the garage in Havasu, and the boat caught fire, and then the garage caught fire and then the house burned down. Sometime, stuff just happens...

Old John Drake like to watch his water skiis, in smooth water, go pitter, pat, pitter pat, then he hit a dock...After that, he watched where he was going...

Until Chad's wedding when Capnzee drove the damn golf cart into the sprinklers...and John Drake and his wifee, Bea, fell off.....

Anyway, a KELLER was always Keller in our family and a lie detecter alwys worked perfect, except if the OLD MAN DROVE THE BOAT!!!!

Master Oil Racing Team
06-19-2007, 05:54 AM
One reason Kellers worked so good was that they didn't cover the whole range of speed from 0-120.

Back in the days when I ran runabouts we were at Alexandria and a fellow Texan who had a C runabout came up to borrow one of our Kellers. He was a big guy and his runabout wasn't exactly a streak of lightning. My Dad handed him the Keller that went from 50 to 75 and he complained "That won't do me any good, I'm running somewhere in the 80's". So we had another one that I think went from around 75 to 105 and gave him that one.

In a little while he came stomping back to the pits with a big frown and set the Keller down on our trailer and turned to walk away. My Dad asked him if he needed it longer to test more wheels and he just grumbled "It don't work".

Ron Hill
07-20-2007, 06:39 PM
I was up to Apple Valley Marine, yesterday, with Tinker "George" Collinge....No, I didn't blow up no stinking battery...as Capnzee wasn't there to help me do something STUPID.....Anyway, Apple valley Marine is on five acres.....oh, I did steal Mickey Schwarzenbach's breaker bar.... I was actually up to Apple Valley Marine on a "TOP SECRET" Mission to get John Roth's mid section and return it...

Can you BELIEVE, that John Roth LOANED me a $2,000 mid section in OCTOBER of 2006, and he wanted it BACK??? So, I'll fix him, I'm just going to give it back!

Anyway, I had Tinker and Mickey's son taking the mid section off, only about 89 degrees, being the "ADMINISTRATOR" that I am, I started looking arounf this five acres...I see this trash can, real trash can....

Actually, Tinker and I were having a contest, I had had a LARGE DIET COKE and he had had a large Iced Tea, and we were betting how would have to go first....So, when I saw this trash can, behind the house trailer, I considered "CHEATING" in our contest...But, all of a sudden, I see Keller speedometers, Keller throttles, DeSilva throttle and a bunch of props sticking out of this box, hell, I forget I have to "PEE"...

I think I've entered the Twilight Zone....

I load the trash barrel in my truck and tell Mickey, "Hey, remember you said you had some props somewhere??? Well, I found them, and I'm taking them...." Mickey looks at me like, "HUH???"

Anyway, the first Keller, doesn't have a name, only a number. The sending Keller says, "Cut of Curry".....NOt, it just says, 4-27-71...Newer Keller must not have had the buyers name....either that, or someone took their nams out...as neither Keller has a name, like I thought they all did...

Check out these CLASSIC KELLERS...

V12 Guy
12-11-2007, 08:16 PM
Back in 1975, I had a Keller Speedometer damaged while I was testing my new prop I waited 6 months for on my Bmod Hydro. I bent the my new prop and twisted the prop shaft in half like a tootsie roll. The left skeg was no- where to be found. I was in the Seattle area that summer and found Mr. Keller. He was working in the back room. I was in awe. The many cabinets were filled with every range of speeds you can think of. He looked at my pickup and said you did the same thing this guy did. I asked him who owed that one. He said it was Miss Budweiser. He fixed me right up and I was on my way. I still kick myself I didn't get a picture or two. He was such a nice man ready to help the big guy or a little young boat racer.

12-12-2007, 07:44 PM
I remember Leonard Keller (nobody called him Len). I raced against him once in 1948, in A Alkie hydro at Lake Mead. He may have been one of the few guys I ever beat in my racing career.

In 1948, all the guys in the crews at Indy wore white pants. So, guess what I wore. A few years later, I had grown a foot or two and had bought some knee length white pants. I saw Leonard at another race. He must have been impressed with my growth. He told my mother a dozen or more times that he never would have recognized me if I hadn't been wearing those same white pants.

Lil Stinker
02-14-2009, 11:26 PM

02-15-2009, 07:45 AM
Wow! That's the kind of stuff I am always looking for!

Everyone on BRF thanks you! :):):)

02-25-2009, 08:36 AM
My brother and I worked for Leonard in the 60's and 70's - his house and shop are still there - I drive by them once a week or so and it always brings back memories of the place. Great shop - the foundry was one hot room on summer days I can tell you.

He sure had some great stories of racing in the 40's. He actually made a living at it back then - told us many times how if he did not win that week, he and Lois did not eat very well that week.

What a genius he was.


Master Oil Racing Team
02-25-2009, 08:50 AM
Wow! I hope this is the first of many of your posts. Do you have any of his old notes, or anything else from those days?

Ron Hill
02-25-2009, 09:03 AM
Mark if you get a chance, stop and take some pictures. The site where Kellers were made would be cool to see. Is the foundry still working?

02-25-2009, 09:31 AM
I will take some photos and post them. The foundry was just a shed type room in the back corner of the shop - its still there but no one who did not work there in Leonard's day would know what it was as the whole place was just his house in a residential neighborhood and the shop was like a big garage in the back. I suppose if someone took some readings of contaminants in the area, it would still show up some stuff......

I do not know if I have any old price lists or such stuff left - I will look. I still have lots of speedos and hardware from Leonard from my racing days. I raced from the late 60's until about 1980 and mostly ran ASH with boats I built, and Jimmy Hallum and Gerry Walin's Yamaha 125cc Hydro with boats I built.


02-25-2009, 09:36 AM
I also saw someone posted another thread here with Region 10 area shots from movies that Jimmy Hallum took in the 60'2-70's including some of me in the 125 cc Hydro - but that thread is now closed. I would love get in touch with John, the guy who posted those, to see if he has copies of those movies. Does anyone have contact info for him ? Many thanks.


02-25-2009, 10:27 AM
Yeah, he deleted those posts on purpose and it crashed the thread (by accident on his part we assume, it was nothing done by BRF).

03-08-2009, 04:45 PM
This is Leonard's house and shop today. Kind of run down as it was neat as a pin in Leonard and Lois' day, but it does not look too much different. The shop was the garage in the back and it went around behind the house to the left in the photo - the foundry area was in that back left corner, machine shop mostly in the main shop area behind the garage doors.

By the way, my brother says he thinks the other guy standing with Leonard in the first photo posted by Steve is Bill Tenney, one of Leonard's best friends from the old days of racing. He also thinks that 1937 photo was probably taken in front of Leonard's house in Wenatchee, WA where he lived when he worked as a movie projectionist.


Lil Stinker
04-09-2009, 11:43 PM

Ron Hill
10-08-2014, 03:28 PM
H.W. Peters C121, dated Jan 21, 1940. He wanted a speedometer pick up installed in his gearcase.

10-09-2014, 09:05 AM
For whatever it would be worth, some savvy antiquarian here might know how to date (at least as "before" or "after") Keller speedometers by the gauge faces which went from the earlier silver-faced ones to the blue-face style some time in the early to mid-Sixties, I believe.

One of Keller's products that was ubiquitous, at least in Reg. 10, was a cast aluminum kick-out spacer that went with Merc clamp brackets. If you wanted more or less kickout, you loosened the rope you had running across the back of your towerhousing, tilted the motor well forward by hand, and rotated the spacer or moved it on the pin (it had two holes), then tightened everything again. Did these tilt spacers get all over the country?

John Schubert T*A*R*T
10-10-2014, 05:22 AM
Smitty, yes the "kick out" adaptors, one for KG4, KG7 & 20H & a slightly different one with 3 sides for the 30H & 55H reached the East Coast. I believe that I still have an A-B one on one of my display 20H's.

Danny Pigott
10-10-2014, 10:05 AM
I have a Keller kick out adaptor on my 20H, bought it around 1970. I still have a Keller that I used on 20H's to V4's . I have a Keller with a silver face (mid 50's) and a (mid 50's) Finason (sp). glad I saved this stuff. Last year I saw a Keller in Andy Hanson's boat so people are still using them.

10-10-2014, 10:19 AM
I used it last weekend at Devils Lake and at Yelm. Never had a dead battery! And easy to read under way!
Damn near pegged it too!

10-10-2014, 10:15 PM
58643Wayne, I hope I got it right this time! D Lake went alright. I really wanted to get the 1/4 mile strait-a-way record with the Looper, but we (Ashley Rucker and I) stuck it just past scanner one at 95 according to the trusty Keller. I think Rich Fuchslin has sorted out the problem. I stuck it at Yelm too a couple weeks ago. So we got towed in and re-powered with my 700 Konny and we had a 96 and a 94 set of passes for a 95.599 average. We definitely could have gone faster if the water wasn't so glassy. My goal was 100+. So off to Oroville in the Spring!