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

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.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil and paper

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  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

  4. 4

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

  5. 5

    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.

  6. 6

    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

  7. 7

    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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