How to Install a Jack Plate on an Outboard Motor

Written by will charpentier
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A jack plate gives you more control over your boat by allowing you to not only trim the motor up and down, but to raise and lower it, so you can operate the motor in neutral trim, while using the jack plate to raise the motor higher, in relation to the hull, for shallow water operations. Installing the jack plate on your boat is a straightforward job.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • C-clamps
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hydraulic oil
  • 5/16-inch wrench

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  1. 1

    Unscrew two C-clamps. Center the jack plate on the boat's transom, just as you would your outboard. Clamp the jack plate to the transom in the mounting location, using the C-clamps. Drill through the mounting holes on the jack plate with a drill, using the mounting holes as a guide to drill the holes through the transom. Bolt the jack plate to the transom.

  2. 2

    Mount the jack plate's hydraulic pump in the driest area of your boat. Mount the unit vertically so that the pump reservoir is in contact with the deck, with the motor above it.

  3. 3

    Connect one end of the long hydraulic hose to the bottom of the "up" side of the hydraulic pump. Connect the other end of the hose to bottom of the hydraulic cylinder on the jack plate, holding the fitting on the cylinder so that it doesn't turn as you tighten the hose. Connect one end of the short hose to the top of the cylinder and the other end of the hose to the "down" side of the hydraulic pump.

  4. 4

    Mount the control switch near the throttle control and trim/tilt switch. Push the male butt connector of the switch's red wire into the female butt connector of the pump's red wire, the switch's green wire butt connector into the butt connector of the pump's green wire and the butt connector of the switch's blue wire to the butt connector of the blue wire of the pump.

  5. 5

    Loosen one of the screws on the boat's common power bus with a screwdriver and wrap the pump's red power wire around the screw, clockwise. Tighten the screw. Connect the black wire, the system's ground wire, to the boat's grounding bus.

  6. 6

    Move the jack plate into the "down" position manually. Fill the hydraulic reservoir to the "Max" line on the reservoir. Leave the top of the reservoir open and operate the jack plate, up and down, through at least five full cycles, adding oil after each cycle as needed

Tips and warnings

  • Disconnect the negative cable of your battery before performing any maintenance work on your outboard motor, to prevent electrical shock or accidental starting. Remove the nut from the negative post with a 5/16-inch box-end wrench. Lift the cable from your battery, move it outside of the battery box and close the lid of the battery box.
  • If you work on your outboard motor when your boat is on its trailer, or your motor is on a storage stand, remove the propeller nut with a wrench and slide the thrust hub, propeller and washers from the propeller shaft. Failure to remove a propeller before operating an outboard out of the water during maintenance or long-term storage is an invitation to a propeller-strike injury, which can maim or kill.

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