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starter, plugs, or wiring problem starting Johnson motor???

23 posts in this topic

Had some trouble starting my Johnson tiller from the early 90's this weekend.

It starts 4 or 5 times fine...then wont start. Replaced the battery and it gets plenty of power, the flywheel turns fine. Motor sounds like it wants to go...but it never starts. What are the possible causes? Starter seems to be ok since it turns the flywheel fast...could it be the starter? plugs? wiring?

Any help is appreciated. I had to get towed off the lake twice this weekend. Like I said, it works fine 4 or 5 times...then doesn't start. Thanks.

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My guess would be fuel delivery. I know with my 87 70 horse sometimes the electronic primer won't work and I have to manually prime it. Sounds about the same most of the time it works just fine and others it won't.

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What do you mean by manually prime? I believe I may flood after several times trying to start it by choking it or squeezing the bulb. The last 2 times it wouldnt start...it sat for 30 minutes, then started...of course, thats after I got towed off. Seems like it has the most trouble starting warm...but I couldnt make it out once when it was cold too. Thanks, keep the help coming, who else has suggestions?

[This message has been edited by wizkid (edited 05-14-2003).]

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I had half a tank from last year...and the motor ran great the first 2 times out this year. All I have done to it this year is add another half tank and add some 2 cycle outboard motor oil. I dont have outside tanks.

What exactly is a "float"?

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I am going to say that your problem has nothing to do with fuel delivery.

The motor starts fine and runs fine, correct? Then suddenly on an attempt to restart it just won't start?

Sounds like electrical ignition problems to me.

What horespower is your motor? When you say it "sounds like it wants to go" the first thing that comes to mind is you have a two cylinder motor.

When attempting to start, one of your two coils is intermitantly shorting out. Odds favor that when the motor is COLD it will start again.

Easy to diagnose a bad coil, except when its intermitant like this and the you need the problem to occur to troubleshoot it.

Pull one plug out at a time, short it out on the engine block and have someone turn the motor over. You should have a bright blue spark. You could even pull both plugs out and do them at the same time if you want. Keep in mind that it should be a STRONG BLUE spark, easily jumped up to a quarter of an inch. Sometimes you will have a visual spark when shorting against the engine block, but it won't be enough to spark under compression.

Also, when you pull the plugs out, look to see if they are wet...And they should be a dark brown/creme color. If the plug is wet and black then it hasn't been firing.

If one of the plugs fires, and the other one doesn't then the next step is to disconnect the leads that come from the power pack and plugs into the coils. Reconnect them, except opposite of the way they were, so that lead 1 now goes to coil 2, and lead 2 now goes to coil 1. Re-test the sprak test. If the same coil still doesn't achieve spark, then you have a bad coil. If the opposite coil now has last the spark, the problem is in your power pack. If both suddenly achieve spark, then you have a shorting wire in the ignition leads, the power pack, or coils and its time to take her to the dealer.

If you get a good hot spark on both plugs initially, then reinstall the plugs and see if the motor starts. If it does, then either the "intermitant problem" was inadvertantly "missed", or it IS a fuel problem. However, my feeling here is that you have a bad coil.

If you have a triple and you had a faulty coil then the motor would still start, but run very rough. On a twin cylinder there just isn't enough fire power there to get the motor to go on one cylinder...It sounds like it wants to go, but it can't muster enough to fire up.

If you happen to have a triple, then a bad coil is probably out of the question, and the next trace in line would be to look at the power pack. This is a black box bolted to the side of the motor with tons of wires coming out of it. It is the main brain for the entire motor, ignition, S.L.O.W. system and alarms.

9 times out of 10 when a power pack goes bad it will just not work altogether. That 1 times out of ten it will cause frusteration and hours or weeks of agony before shorting out altogether. Intermittant problems are just a labor bill waiting to stack up.

A new power pack on a twin is about $80-$100 and a triple is about $240.

Whatever the case may be it sounds like you need to get her out and wait for it to not work before you can diagnose this problem.

Running on muffs in the driveway never seems to find any problems. It's when you're stranded and need a tow.

Good luck.

[This message has been edited by united jigsticker (edited 05-14-2003).]

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I agree with ug. It is a 3 cylinder engine, united.
We have a '89 60hp Johnson tiller that had this problem years ago. Honestly, I don't remember what the issue was, but I can tell you that if the symptoms are like this scenario:

It would start, run perfect. When you shut it off, sometimes it would start, other times it wouldn't. The engine would turn over fine, but it would not fire. Very inconsistent starting. It left me completely stranded one day, and that really sucked.

= Bring it to a mechanic. It was electrical, that's all I can recall.

My dad had brought it to the mechanic several times and it was hard to diagnose. I will ask him what happened in the end and see if it can help you.

[This message has been edited by CD (edited 05-14-2003).]

[This message has been edited by CD (edited 05-14-2003).]

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CD, exactly... It is a 3 cyclinder. Usually starts cold...but then after that it hasnt been starting really well when warm. Turnsover well but wont fire. Runs like a champ and idles perfect after it starts.

Ran fine the end of last year and the first time out this year.

Would be great if you could find out what the electrical problem was. Sounds like a similar engine and similar problem.

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I don't know if this will help or not, but I used to have a '78 35 HP that would do the same thing. Occasionally I had to tilt the motor slightly to get it to start. I later found it to be the float was sticking, not allowing the gas to pass through. Something to check out any how. You may also want to check your plugs if you haven't already.

------------------
Tonka Boy

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I don't know about yours, but on mine if you pull the cover on the left hand side there is a solenoid that controls the prime. On mine there is a little red knob that I can turn and it will prime the motor, an lo and behold the darn thing will start. Took me an 1/2 hour at the boat launch to figure that one out. Then I bought a book on the motor and it explained it a little better.

But the post about the float could be right too. Many things can cause those problems. I would also make a thorough check of your hoses and if they look questionable at all I would replace.

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Without knowing how your motor likes to be started, Im guessing. Choked when cold im sure but choked when warm, maybe.
If you think you flooded it open the trottle as far as you can and turn it over. With the "idiot" limiters this sometimes dosent open the trottle far enough for the engine to breath out the raw gas.
The carb floats are adjusted for the motor angle to be level. If its tipped then it could be goofin the fuel level. The needle and seat could be letting gas leak by causing the engine to flood while sitting. If you have an external gas tank sitting in the sun it will build up presure and pump gas into the carb and past a bad seat thus flooding the engine. New spark plugs sure wouldnt hurt either. Hows the gas old from last year? Without sitting in the boat its hard to say whats the problem.

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Check the kill switch that is attached to the tether clip.

When the motor won't start, push it in and pull it out by hand and try starting again. These switches get worn and go bad.

united jigsticker

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jigsticker... how does the kill switch/button come out. I know the switch you're talking about, just try pushing it in and pulling it out huh?

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I am planning on taking it in. Problem is...places around are so backed up I hope they take the time to troubleshoot it correctly. It is an intermittent problem, so I hope it fails for them so they can troubleshoot it. Im afraid to end up paying $100 so they can say "started fine for us, we couldnt find anything". Thanks.

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Yeah, all I am saying is when the motor won't start, jiggle the switch.

I have had problems with th clip on the thether not holding the kill switch out far enough, resulting in the motor not starting.

good luck

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I realize that most of the time it's nice to fix things yourself... but when it comes down to electrical problems (especially intermitent ones) you're better off taking it in... if you trouble shoot it... and trouble shoot it wrong you're out big bucks as electrical parts are not cheap...

just a suggestion...

marine_man

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jigsticker... That could be a remote possibility I guess. Before I started having the intermittent problems...the tether was jerked on once by accident pretty hard, but I didnt think it damaged anything.

Is there a way to check if its damaged at all? Im not seeing how to make the kill switch come out at all...

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I'm sorry, allow me to clarify.

When I say "pull out the switch" I mean simply push it in as if you were to shut the motor off. After it releases, give it a little pull to ensure that it is released all the way.

On one motor we had we had to "shim up" the tether clip in order to get the motor to run.

Worth a shot, and cheap if that's the problem.

Good luck.

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I am curious if you got the boat out this weekend, into the shop...or is there any news on your motor and situation.

good luck,

-----------------
Fish On! Fish Off ::Guzzle:: cool.gif

[This message has been edited by united jigsticker (edited 05-19-2003).]

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I have it into the shop. The should be looking at it sometime between Wed and Friday this week. Hopefully, they come back with a resolution. I will definitely post back with what I hear. Thanks

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Got word back from the shop today...and they couldnt find a thing wrong. They started and stopped it 8-10 times and it worked fine. Says the starter was spinning the flywheel fine, spark plugs looked new. Said it's tough to troubleshoot or fix a motor that starts and runs fine. He also said he looked into the kill switch, and he couldnt get it to fail at all.

Only problem he found was that the middle cylinder (3 cylinder)...was 10 psi's higher than the other 2. 2 cylinders at 125 psi, the middle one at 135. He didnt think that would be much of a problem.

Maybe I got some bad gas...who knows.

Any other ideas?

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Power Pack, kill switch, or magneto.

Doesn't help much I know, but I am 100% certain it's electrical.

I still opt for the kill switch becuase the motor only won't restart until after YOU shut it off.

They'll never act up when you want them to.

[This message has been edited by united jigsticker (edited 05-22-2003).]

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wizkid

I have been looking into a similar problem on my motor and I am looking at the fuel system hoses. I have several that are not tight and one nipple on the pump that is cracked and leaking gas. Just like you most of the time it would start and once in a while it wouldn't.

Might be worth looking at.

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Wizkid-
I (finally) followed up on your question. Like I stated before, my family has a 1989 60 Johnson. We had a very similar issue. It turned out to be the electric choke went bad, or acted up.

Here's a recommendation. Next time your motor won't start, take off the hood and you should find a small plastic red lever on the left side of the motor. This lever is a manual choke. Turn the lever and try to start the motor. If/when the motor fires up, turn the lever back to the original position. Strange, but true.

I wish I would have known that when I was stranded miles from home once!!

Good luck.

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