About Superior Marine Products - lobster blocks
About our founder, Nathan Brackett
As a teenager in the 1950’s Nate worked summers with his dad who owned a small machine shop, Orr & Jennings Machinists, in Portland, Maine. Sometime in the 1930’s Nate’s dad started making a small lobster block (or ‘snatch block’ as they called them in those days) which had a cast steel frame and cast-iron sheave. This block had no means of lubrication and the sheave had no bearings. It simply turned on a 7/16” diameter steel pin which went through the frame and was headed-over front and back with a peen hammer. No bolt! They were assembled with some grease, but that was all they got until they wore out.
There were no hydraulic pot haulers in those days. Lobstermen hauled their traps using a winch head which was driven by a v-belt off the front of the boat engine.
After finishing college and working out-of-state as a Mechanical Engineer, Nate returned to Maine in 1963 and joined his dad in the family business. He particularly enjoyed working with fishermen and solving some of their mechanical problems. He saw the need for a better lobster block that would survive the harsh fishing environment and require little maintenance. With the help of a lobsterman from Cape Elizabeth who tested his designs, he settled on the Orr & Jennings block in 1973. This first lobster block (pictured here) became the Superior Size 4 Hi-Lip.
In 1982, Nate focused his efforts on the block business and gave it an official name, Superior Marine Products.
After the success of the Hi-Lip block, the Low-lip block was born out of necessity when some lobstermen said they didn’t want the higher lip.
Following the well-received Hi-Lip and Lo-Lip Size 4 block, came a larger 5” block design as some lobstermen wanted more room to pass knots. Therefore, in the early 1980’s Nate designed and began producing the Size 5 Lo-Lip and Hi-Lip Superior block. It too was a successful product so he created the size 5L with the longer back casting shortly after.
Over the years, Nate and his wife enjoyed setting up a booth at the fishermen’s forums throughout New England. Using a block with a cut-away sheave, Nate could show lobstermen the construction and explain why the bearing design was indeed superior.
When Nate and his wife decided to retire in early 2000, Nate sold Superior Marine Products to his longtime friend Dean Bridges. Dean had a 30-year background in metal fabrication and it was only fitting that he be the person to take over the helm of Superior Marine Products.
Dean Bridges (left) and Nathan Brackett (right)
passing of the block - January 2000
Being an innovator himself, Dean saw the need for a Nylon sheave and created the UHMW poly sheave version for all block sizes. Dean also designed and manufactured an all stainless version of the Superior Block.
During the summer of 2015, Dean brought in metal fabricator and friend, Dave Lawler, to teach him the lobster block manufacturing business. With Dave at the helm manufacturing, Dean was able to work more closely with his customers where he earned an excellent reputation for making people laugh! Dean was proud to make Superior Blocks for the lobstering industry for almost 20 years from his shop in Raymond, Maine until his early passing in August of 2018.
In January 2019, Kristin & Phil Stanley (PCS Performance, Gray, Maine) purchased Superior Marine from the Bridges family. Phil has been a metal fabricator for over 25 years and has recently expanded the fabrication business to include a full CNC machine shop. Adding Dave Lawler and Superior Blocks to their team was an easy decision.
The Stanley's are very proud to be keeping Superior Marine Products in Maine where it began over 45 years ago! Thanks to Nate and Dean, Superior blocks have a solid reputation in the industry and will be available to lobster fishermen around the world for many years to come.
Superior Block - the Lobsterman’s choice for the “long haul”