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:
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.
"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
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
KS: Kerosene Rope Start
M: Manual Tilt - Electric Start
MS: Manual Tilt - Electric Start/Special
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.