How to Read Johnson Outboard Model Numbers

Written by alan edwards
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How to Read Johnson Outboard Model Numbers
Outboard motor engine identification numbers contain much information. (fishermen image by pearlguy from Fotolia.com)

Boat owners often need more than just their outboard motor's model name. They also need the model number when ordering accessories and parts. The engine number on a Johnson outboard motor is usually between eight and 12 characters, and each one provides specific information about the motor.

Locate the engine number. The model number tag is on the top-outside edge of the clamp bracket. It is also on top of the swivel bracket housing (port or starboard). It is either a sticker or a metal tag. Many times there is a quarter-size silver piece with engraved numbers. The number may be worn or scratched off of older motors. In this case, look for the silver core plug on the powerhead with the model and serial number. If you have the original welsh plug (freeze plug) on the block (powerhead), check it for numbers and letters. A replacement plug is useless, as it will only tell you the part number of the new powerhead, not the original one.

Decode the engine number as follows, using the number "J15EL4ECF" to illustrate.

Any "J" with no letter in front of it means that the engine was made in the United States. Country codes before the J are:

A: Australia

B: Belgium

C: Canada

H: Hong Kong

S: South Africa

T: Tracker Model

V: Boat Builder

Since the number J15EL4ECF has no letter before the J, it was made in the United States.

Read the letter in the second position to learn the engine model.

J: Johnson

E: Evinrude

V: Quietride

"J15EL4ECF" begins with a J, so it is a Johnson motor.

Find the horsepower by looking at the numbers in the next positions, two and three. Using the example J15EL4ECF, the engine is 15 horsepower.

Look at the letters in the fourth position, which indicate features as described below.

AE: Electric Start - Alaska

AR: Rope Start - Alaska

BA: AC Lighting - Rope Start

BE: Belgium Derated - Electric Start

BF: Belgium Derated - Rope Start

BG: Belgium Derated - Rope Start

BI: Belgium Derated - Rope Start

BR: Euro Rope Start

C: Counter-Rotation

CE: Canada Derated - Electric Start

CR: Canada Derated - Rope Start

D: Remote Electric

DE: Derated - Electric Start

DR: Derated - Rope Start

DT: Derated - Electric Start / Trim & Tilt

E: Electric Start

ER: Electric Start - Sport Styling

ES: Electric Start - Special

FA: 4-Stroke, Rope Start - AC Lightning

FE 4-Stroke, Electric Start / Tiller

FP: Commercial with Program Tilt

FR: 4-Stroke, Rope Start

FRE: 4-Stroke, Electric Start / Remote

FS: FICHT, Trim & Tilt

FT: FICHT, Trim & Tilt/Special Styling

G: Special Styling

H: Less Integral Tank/Hydraulic Steering

I: FICHT Fuel Injection

IE: Italy Electric Start

IK: Italy Electric Start

J: Jet Drive

K: 3-Cylinder 25/35

KC: Kerosene Rope Start

KG: Kerosene/Gasoline

KS: Kerosene Rope Start

M: Manual Tilt - Electric Start

MS: Manual Tilt - Electric Start/Special

N: Counter-Rotation

P: Power Steering

Q: 3-Cylinder 25/35 Trim & Tilt

R: Rope Start

RA: Australia Rope Start

RC: Rope Start - Commercial/CD Ignition

RD: Rope Start - Deluxe

RE: Remote Electric

RP: Commercial with Program Tilt

RS: Rope Start - Commercial

RW Commercial with Interlock

S: Sail - Special Styling

SC: Special Styling / Counter-Rotation

SE: Electric Start Non-Tilt Sail

SI: Italy Special Derated

SL: 60°V, Trim & Tilt

SP: Special Styling

SR: Rope Start - Sail - Non-Tilt

ST: Special Styling - Trim & Tilt

T: Trim & Tilt - Electric Start

TE: Tiller Electric

TR: Trim & Tilt - Sport Styling

TT: Tiller - Trim & Tilt (Backtroller)

U: Manual Tilt

V: Special Gearcase

W: 110° Angle Drive - Rope Start

WM: Electric Commercial - Manual Tilt

WMP: Same as "WM" w/Chrome Pump

WT: Electric Commercial - Trim & Tilt

WTP Same as "WT" w/Chrome Pump

J15EL4ECF indicates we have an electric start engine.

Determine the shaft length using the letter in the next position. Our sample has an L, which means the motor has a 20-inch shaft.

No code: 15 inches

L: 20 inches

Y: 22.5 inches

X: 25 inches

Z: 30 inches

Decoding the year is easy. The next-to-last two digits are the indicators.

The letter 4 always precedes the year code. It has no meaning.

Johnson uses the letters in the word "INTRODUCES" to correspond with the numerals in the year it was made. ("I" = 1, "N" = 2 and so on.)

Our year code is EC or 98. Thus, we know the motor was built in 1998.

The very last letter indicates model run. It serves no purpose for the consumer, but should be included when giving information to a parts dealer.

So engine J15EL4ECF is an American-made Johnson model with 15 horsepower, with an electric starter, a 20-inch shaft and was built in 1998.

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