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How to Read Johnson Outboard Model Numbers

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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

  3. 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:

  4. A: Australia

  5. B: Belgium

  6. C: Canada

  7. H: Hong Kong

  8. S: South Africa

  9. T: Tracker Model

  10. V: Boat Builder

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

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

  13. J: Johnson

  14. E: Evinrude

  15. V: Quietride

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

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

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

  19. AE: Electric Start - Alaska

  20. AR: Rope Start - Alaska

  21. BA: AC Lighting - Rope Start

  22. BE: Belgium Derated - Electric Start

  23. BF: Belgium Derated - Rope Start

  24. BG: Belgium Derated - Rope Start

  25. BI: Belgium Derated - Rope Start

  26. BR: Euro Rope Start

  27. C: Counter-Rotation

  28. CE: Canada Derated - Electric Start

  29. CR: Canada Derated - Rope Start

  30. D: Remote Electric

  31. DE: Derated - Electric Start

  32. DR: Derated - Rope Start

  33. DT: Derated - Electric Start / Trim & Tilt

  34. E: Electric Start

  35. ER: Electric Start - Sport Styling

  36. ES: Electric Start - Special

  37. FA: 4-Stroke, Rope Start - AC Lightning

  38. FE 4-Stroke, Electric Start / Tiller

  39. FP: Commercial with Program Tilt

  40. FR: 4-Stroke, Rope Start

  41. FRE: 4-Stroke, Electric Start / Remote

  42. FS: FICHT, Trim & Tilt

  43. FT: FICHT, Trim & Tilt/Special Styling

  44. G: Special Styling

  45. H: Less Integral Tank/Hydraulic Steering

  46. I: FICHT Fuel Injection

  47. IE: Italy Electric Start

  48. IK: Italy Electric Start

  49. J: Jet Drive

  50. K: 3-Cylinder 25/35

  51. KC: Kerosene Rope Start

  52. KG: Kerosene/Gasoline

  53. KS: Kerosene Rope Start

  54. M: Manual Tilt - Electric Start

  55. MS: Manual Tilt - Electric Start/Special

  56. N: Counter-Rotation

  57. P: Power Steering

  58. Q: 3-Cylinder 25/35 Trim & Tilt

  59. R: Rope Start

  60. RA: Australia Rope Start

  61. RC: Rope Start - Commercial/CD Ignition

  62. RD: Rope Start - Deluxe

  63. RE: Remote Electric

  64. RP: Commercial with Program Tilt

  65. RS: Rope Start - Commercial

  66. RW Commercial with Interlock

  67. S: Sail - Special Styling

  68. SC: Special Styling / Counter-Rotation

  69. SE: Electric Start Non-Tilt Sail

  70. SI: Italy Special Derated

  71. SL: 60°V, Trim & Tilt

  72. SP: Special Styling

  73. SR: Rope Start - Sail - Non-Tilt

  74. ST: Special Styling - Trim & Tilt

  75. T: Trim & Tilt - Electric Start

  76. TE: Tiller Electric

  77. TR: Trim & Tilt - Sport Styling

  78. TT: Tiller - Trim & Tilt (Backtroller)

  79. U: Manual Tilt

  80. V: Special Gearcase

  81. W: 110° Angle Drive - Rope Start

  82. WM: Electric Commercial - Manual Tilt

  83. WMP: Same as "WM" w/Chrome Pump

  84. WT: Electric Commercial - Trim & Tilt

  85. WTP Same as "WT" w/Chrome Pump

  86. J15EL4ECF indicates we have an electric start engine.

  87. 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.

  88. No code: 15 inches

  89. L: 20 inches

  90. Y: 22.5 inches

  91. X: 25 inches

  92. Z: 30 inches

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

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

  95. 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.)

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

  97. 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.

  98. 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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Things You'll Need

  • Pencil and paper

About the Author

Alan Edwards

Alan Edwards began writing in 2005. He is a retired pharmaceutical industry analyst, a career that allowed him to hone his research and writing skills. Edwards holds a Master of Business Administration in health care from Xavier University in Cincinnati and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Pittsburgh. Now, he writes full-time.

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