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70's Johnson 10 HP help


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I bought a 10 HP Johnson off of 'the list' a few weeks ago. Guy was in Florida, apparently, and had the motor at his cousin's. So, I went over there, looked at, took their word for it that it ran and everything, gave him the cash and was on my way. The cousin didn't know anything about it, and it's my first motor, ever. I know nothing about these things, but I figured it couldn't be too hard to figure out, especially if it's running well...

Finally took it out on the water this past weekend, and (surprise surprise) it didn't exactly run as I had envisioned. They told me that if it didn't run they'd give me my money back. I was too excited to finally be getting a motor to even think that they might be shady folks and I shouldn't give them the benefit of the doubt. They seemed like nice enough people in the phone conversations I had with them before...

Anyway, after several calls to these fellows over the past few days I've all but accepted the fact that they'll never answer my calls and I'll never see my money back. I messed up big time on this one, but now it's time to learn from my mistakes and try to salvage what I've already got.

So... thing started off idling really poorly. Seemed like a very high idle to me. When I tried cutting the throttle back, the thing would die. I tried leaving it run at the lowest RPMs possible without it dying, and figured that after several minutes it would be enough time to warm up and tried putting it in gear. When I gave it anything more than a smudge of gas it just jumped out of gear and the gear selector level would just crash back and forth from it's position in neutral and forward. Eventually I was so frustrated I just held the stupid thing in gear with my free-hand. After a while it would stay in on it's own, and I thought that maybe this thing was going to be alright after all... Turns out I got too cocky. Soon enough it started dying when I gave it gas. It seemed to me like it was flooding or the mixture wasn't right, but then again I don't know much about these things. All I know is that I've got blisters all over my fingers from trying to pull-start this thing so much, and my shoulder is still sore from starting it and trying to row myself away from crashing into the shore.

I guess what I'm looking for in this post is either some help in figuring out what I could do with the motor to get it running, or if anybody has any good ideas for getting something out from the guys I bought it from... If you can't tell I'm really not too happy about this whole situation. I thought I could trust fellow anglers and get myself a decent first motor to last me until I'm done with school and can afford to get a nice boat. I appreciate any advice you've got to offer me.

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Sorry to hear this, I feel your pain, from what you have said it has more than one problem; I would bring it to a mechanic and get an estimate to repair it.you might have to pay them for there time but it will be money well spent. good luck

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Sorry to hear of your troubles. If it were my situation, I would continue to try and contact the seller to see about a refund.

From your description you have two separate problems. First, it sounds like your motor has been sitting a while, and it is likely the fuel system is all plugged up and causing the running issue. The carb needs a thorough cleaning, and I would check the gas tank and fuel lines as well. That should clear up the starting/running issue.

The gear shifting is a more troublesome matter. Those old OMC’s use a “shift dog” clutch to shift the gears. The shift lever moves a cog with two ears that slides back and forth on the prop shaft and engages recesses in the forward and reverse gears. Neutral is in the middle, not touching either gear. What happens is when an owner “eases” the shift lever into gear, the metal ears on the shift dog and in the gear rub and bounce before solidly engaging, causing the edges on the dog and gears to round over. Once this happens, the problem gets worse until it will not catch and stay in gear. Sound familiar? To fix this you need a new set of gears and a new shift dog, or as stated above a replacement gearcase. Neither option will be cheap even if you can do the work yourself. In either case, before you hand over money be sure to check the gearset to be sure the edges of the shift surfaces are not rounded. If you get it repaired, always shift gears with a quick solid movement of the gearshift lever and never “ease” in into gear.

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Thanks for the info guys... A lot for me to digest.

I'll try to get some pictures for you Boatfixer, but at some point the entire thing had been painted over in some home-done camo pattern. It looks like garbage to me, but what's more frustrating is that I can't exactly read anything that used to be directions or controls on the motor head. I'll look for a tag number for you though. All I know about this thing is what the guy told me, and that was that it's a 70's something 10HP Johnson. I have no doubts that these numbers aren't the most accurate though. However, in my searches for info online I have yet to see a motor that resembles the one I just purchased.


I greatly appreciate the info. Like I said, I don't know a great deal about these things and what you've told me is invaluable. If the gear case is indeed the issue than I probably will just accept my losses and look for something a bit more reliable. Yet to determine my next move. However, your advice on how to put the motor into gear will resonate with me on any motor I ever own now. This experience is definitely a learning lesson for me, and a hard one to learn at that. But, I'm certain I'll remember this whole mess and be sure to be a more responsible buyer next time, along with treating my equipment nicer than what this one apparently had been.

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