Travis Tenkley

Travis Tenkley of Mobile Marine Repair in Brownsville makes housecalls to fix boats.

By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

Mobile Marine Repair in Brownsville makes house-calls. That’s right, owner/operator Travis Tenkley will pack up his tools and come to your boat. 

It’s just one of several services the new business at 200 Main Street, Brownsville (near Highway 26) offers. The new operation is licensed, bonded and insured, serving customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

“I was doing the mobile marine repair, so customers would call me and I’d go to their boats and try to fix them,” Tenkley said last week. 

“That’s how it all started, but it kind of got to the point where with a lot of the stuff, I couldn’t fix it while the boats were still in the water, so I started looking for a place...”

With a spacious high awning behind the former A&W, it’s a good place to park boats on trailers while performing maintenance and repairs. Tenkley is specializing in outboard motors, stern-drive (inboard/outboards), boat detailing and storage.

“It’s a perfect location,” he noted. “Before I could open my doors, when I was still putting my signs up  people were stopping...”

He has also gotten calls to work on boats located as far away as Lansing, Iowa.

“It has worked out really well. Someone calls and says, ‘My boat doesn’t run any more. It was running last week, but now it won’t start.’ You’ve got to try and figure it out ... Nine out of 10 times, it’s a common issue, like a bad battery, ignition switch, plugged filter, fuel line, or bad spark plugs, ” he said. “I grew up on a farm, so I’ve always been fixing things. I’ve always loved mechanics and working with my hands ... I always enjoy the challenge. I love troubleshooting things. Figuring things out.”

Another thing Tenkley likes is the variety you see with boats. Owners of older boats will be happy to hear that he’s not afraid to look at vintage motors, which some boat dealers now refuse to do. 

“Why not get it running?” Tenkley said. “A 25-30 year old boat can still look really nice ... If a guy wanted me to look at it, and it was his dad’s boat or motor and he had it stored, I’m willing to work on it. I’m not afraid of anything.”

On the flip side, new boats which need warranty work should probably go back to the dealership which sold them, Tenkley advised.

“We also do detailing...” he added. “Outside and interiors, things like a buff/wax to take scratches out. 

“I’m just kind of offering it as a one-stop shop. Some people say they take their boat to one side of La Crosse for detailing, take it to another location on the other side of town for some mechanical work, then haul it over here to Lawrence Lake for a slip. They want one place where they can get everything done.”

Travis said he plans to purchase some trailers to haul pontoon boats on next year, since not all boat owners have trailers. 

“We’re going to do storage here, and we also have an inside location (unheated) in Caledonia as well, so we’re going to offer storage in both locations ... Boats wrapped and stored.

“We’re going to have a package deal, basically for the Brownsville and Caledonia locations. It includes winterization, where we go through and make sure the engine is ready for cold storage, which includes draining the fluids ... Shrink wrap and storage for six months, basically beginning Oct. 1 (through April 1).

“Part of the storage package is that I will deliver. Pick it up as well as deliver it.”

And don’t forget to check with Mobile Marine Repair during the off-season. That’s when they can work on indoor shop projects such as rebuilding older motors. 

So for those who want a convenient place to get their boat in shape for the season, give Travis a call at 507-205-2424, or email him at travistenkley@gmail.com.

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