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Northern Lights/Lugger Engines History

Northern Lights electrical generators and Lugger Marine diesel engines are distributed through a global sales and service network spanning more than 40 countries and some 300 dealers.

vintage northern lights snowmobile.

The company Northern Lights was founded by Harold Walton Johnson in Cooper Landing, Alaska during the late 1950s. Johnson, originally a boat dealer, added a line of snowmobiles, then ultimately branched off into land-based diesel-powered generators pulling duty in remote locations as well as along the Alaska pipeline. In 1970 Johnson moved his company to Seattle, Washington where the company expanded into marine generator sets and main propulsion engines. Johnson passed away in 1998.

The following year his family sold the company to Valley Power Systems Inc., a privately held company based in City of Industry, California. Recently it purchased a Florida marine refrigeration and air-conditioning company. That acquisition makes eminently good sense, because one of the biggest consumers of electricity on a motor yacht is the AC and refrigeration.

To hear Northern Light's spokesman, Colin Puckett, tell the story, thanks to intimate knowledge of boat's electrical systems, its engineers are very familiar with what makes AC and refrigeration tick. Today three-fourths of Northern Lights business is marine generators. The remainder is divided between marine propulsion for motor yachts and commercial craft as well as land-based electrical generators on remote radio towers and at Alaskan fishing lodges. On the factory floor engines begin life as John Deere tractor long blocks. Once marinized the bobtail motors used for main propulsion wear the Lugger brand name. Add a generator end and it becomes Northern Lights.

Lugger marine diesels, available in ratings from 30- to 900-horsepower, are renowned as anvil-tough, fuel efficient and particularly dependable. Key features include gear-driven fresh and raw water pumps, meaning there is no weak link drive belt just waiting to fail. Similarly, most of the hoses and leak points have been engineered out of the equation. Consider the fact that it is overheating that kills most marine engines. So naturally it follows minimizing the possibility of that malady occurring in the first place significantly extends engine life.

northern lights marine engine marinization

More common sense Northern Lights marinization steps includes the way service points are grouped onto one side of the cylinder block for easy access. Jacket-water cooled turbochargers are mounted low and at the rear of the engine for easy-in installation and lower billable shop hours for service.