1956 Johnson RJE-18E “Javelin” is finished…

Last summer Ibought a pair of 1956 Johnson 30 HP motors, one that was to be scrapped and is featured in a previous post, and the one featured in this post.  It is a somewhat unusual 1956 Johnson Javelin.

Rare?  Not terribly.  But they were made for one year only and then Johnson saw fit to make this into a “Golden Javelin” which was rated for 35 HP.  When I got these motors, I really had no hope of restoring this beast to original owing to a missing  Javelin logo on the side and the front face plate that covers the carb knobs.  I assumed I would not likely find either of these items.


Within a month I found a fellow selling not one, but a pair of face plates on “that auction site”.  I bought both, sold one… and made most of my money back from the entire purchase.  Then I advertised on the free classified ads of the Antique Outboard Collectors http://www.aomci.org/ website for the missing “Javelin” script for the side.  At best I hoped to find one that was beaten up that would need to be rechromed.

Amazingly these guys from AMOCI are real collectors.  I had 6 calls from collectors offering from their parts bins the “Javelin” script.  Again…a one year only part, as in 1957 the script was changed.  Two of the guys had NEW OLD STOCK scripts in a pair.  I bought both NOS pairs just to have the extras.

All the chrome was sent to Chrome Masters in Nashville, Tennessee http://www.chromemasters.com/.  I spoke to Daryl who promised to do his best with these parts despite them being in rough shape.  Daryl copper dipped and buffed each piece to get rid of scrapes and blemishes, and then put them through the Chrome Master’s 3 step plating process.  I waited eagerly for six weeks, and the results were grand.  Thanks Chrome Masters!!

Here are the photos…

My Johnson Javelin with it's sister as purchased.  Notice the rather stout steel rack that came with the purchase!

My Johnson Javelin with it's sister as purchased. Notice the rather stout steel rack that came with the purchase!

In the close up, you can see the "Javelin" script is missing in the red field below the white trim.  The motor has also been painted a dull red!  Yuck!

In the close up, you can see the "Javelin" script is missing in the red field below the white trim. The motor has also been painted a dull red! Yuck!

Here is the face plate before being sent to Chrome Masters in Nashville, TN. It was beat up and had a rivet holding one of the clips on. This had to be repaired!

Here is the face plate before being sent to Chrome Masters in Nashville, TN. It was beat up and had a rivet holding one of the clips on. This had to be repaired!

The face plate I bought on Ebay had a rivet through the face of it.  This was not attractive at all.  I gave thought to using four brass screws through the front to hold the retaining clips in place.  However, with the face plate being of brass construction, it made sense to silver solder screws to the back and then fill the rivet hole with silver solder and buff and sand it flush.  After all, musical instruments are silver soldered and hold together, why not brass screws for the retaining clips?
It worked very well.
This is the back of the face plate.  You can see the clips that holds the face plate closed.

This is the back of the face plate. You can see the clips that holds the face plate closed.

As with its sister motor, this motor received new paint, the cylinders were bored due to scoring and NOS .020 over-sized pistons were installed.  New bearings, seals, and lower unit seals were installed.  The ignition and carb were also rebuilt.
Here’s the finished project…

 More photos you say?

The side shot...

The side shot...A detail photo of the "Sea Horse" that is stamped into each side plate.

Under chover of chrome, the carburator adjustments lie in balck and white.

Under chover of chrome, the carburator adjustments lie in black and white.

And a final photo of the author and his "new baby".  Pass the cigars!  A Javelin is born!

And a final photo of the author and his "new baby". Pass the cigars! A Javelin is born!


44 Responses to “1956 Johnson RJE-18E “Javelin” is finished…”

  1. 1 Jack Bowman
    May 10, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Awsome looking Johnny,

    • 2 Larry Walters
      November 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      I have a 1956 30 HP Johnson Javelin mounted on my 1953 Orlando Clipper Aluminum Boat.
      It has costed me several hundred dollars to get it running. The folks working on it don’t know much about it, but it seems to be in great shape, with all the chrome and faceplates, as well as serial numbers etc. I am not sure of the fuel oil mixture. I have been told it was like 40:1 but then I know that some older motors are 27:1–any clue? It is already ready for the water. With new cable pully steering and a fresh coat of Rhino Coating the interior hull.

      • 3 conductorjonz
        November 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

        Hi Larry.

        They are great motors! I run ALL my oldies pretty much 24 to 1. Some with bronze or brass bearings get 16 to 1…a rich mix of it too.

        Those old Big Twins require lotsa oil…but it is cheaper than pistons!

        Have fun with it!


      • 4 John
        September 8, 2011 at 8:50 pm

        I have a Johnson 30 javelin in good shape in my garage. I put it in there 15 years ago after taking it off an old boat I bought. It was running when I stored it. It had the tank and electric start and face plate cover, although, the cover is not attached. Can you tell me what this thing is worth because I know nothing about boat motors. I also have a title for it but never put it in my name.

      • 5 conductorjonz
        September 12, 2011 at 7:17 am

        Hi John!

        I have paid as little as 30 bucks for a Javelin such as yours (COMPLETE) and seen them as high as 300 bucks, depending on condition. They are really just a standard Johnson 30 hp with fancy trim, but that make them desirable…especially if the faceplate is present over the carb controls and the recoil/pull start handle. To get the upper end of this $$ the motor must have ALL the chrome and emblems, as well as the faceplate covers mentioned.

        Depending where you are geographically makes a difference too. If it is a salt-water motor, it will not fetch nearly as much as a freshwater motor.

        Good luck!


    • 6 Tom McGowan
      June 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

      I am in the market for a 1956 30HP Javelin RJE 18E. I just bought a 20′ 1955 boat powered by one and I want to power with a dual matching paid. I would really appreciate any leads anyone may have on where to find one. My email address is thmcgowan@yahoo.com

  2. 8 David C.
    June 2, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Very nice job! I have an old wooden 1955 Aristocraft Boat with a 1956 Johnson 30Hp motor. Overall the paint is good but there are several places where the paint is off. I don’t think repainting is the answer but maybe just prime the exposed areas. New paint just wouldn’t match the faded motor color. There are only two or three spots which are down to the metal. Any suggestions? leo1632@yahoo.com

    • 9 conductorjonz
      June 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

      Hi Leo!

      Thanks for the kind words.

      You might check with Peter McDowell at http://www.nymarine.ca/ about paint and primer. He sells colors that are very original and can be ordered in spray cans.

      I would sand the affected area down, prime with self-etching primer, and paint. After the paint has dried thoroughly, buff it with rubbing compound to “feather” it in to the original paint.

      Peter also sells a “faded” Holiday Bronze for an application such as yours. Contact him, and he can be of help I’m sure.

      Take care! Remember 24 to 1 on the oil mix on the 1956 Johnsons


    • 10 conductorjonz
      August 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks Bobby!

      As I write this we just returned from a trip with our Javelin on our Feather Craft. Ran great as always.

      As to your motor, you’re very lucky to have gotten it. Usually the coils, points, condensors, definately the impeller/water pump, and reseal the lower unit. All these parts should be readily available through Sea-Way Marine or Laings Outboard. If not, find another old Evinrude or Johnson 1957 35 horse for parts. They are common motors.

      Howerve you motor is a 1957 Johnson Javelin if it is cream and gold and black trim. If all the chrome is there, it can be rechromed, but will cost some $$. Worth it though.

      The guy who did the block work on my Javelin’s cylinders laughed and said he felt the biggest shame is, if I took care of the motor, ran it 24 to 1 on the oil/fuel mix…the motor would live longer than me. LOL!

      Keep me posted, and contact me if I can help.

      Thanks again!


  3. July 22, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Holly cow!
    Awsome motor! What can I say… Great job skipper!
    Hope this motor will last as long as you can enjoy it. Appropriate boat will make it a nice piece of history.
    All the best

    • 12 conductorjonz
      July 22, 2009 at 9:19 pm

      Thanks Samuel!

      It stays on my ’55 Feather Craft, and seems to just run all day long without issues. I hope to go before it…so the next generation can find it in my garage and keep it running.

  4. 13 bobby
    August 16, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Hey very nice job, I just got back from camping with some friends and noticed an old moter in the next lot. I went over and questioned the old feller about it and he gave it to me on the spot “FREE”. He said it’s a working 1956 javelin 35hp. Not sure what my intentions are but your story and pictures are inspiring me to restore it. Thanks

  5. 14 bobby
    August 17, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    I decided to try and sell or trade it for a 25 hp for my 14 ft duck boat.

  6. 15 bobby
    August 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Im in ontario,Canada but if anybody would like to take a look at it they could drop me a line at bobbycoombs@sympatico.ca and I will send some pic’s out .Tried to put then here but no luck. take care.

  7. 16 r decheno
    October 27, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    where in ontario are you

  8. 17 Yoerg Bahl
    November 5, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I purcahsed a 1957 Larson Falls Flyer 13 years ago at an Auction. It came with the 30hp Johnson Javelin which had been completly rebuilt. I could not believe that I was able to buy it at such a god deal. I have not been able to restore the boat as I became disabled 6 months after buyin it and have been thinking of selling it. Does anyone know what it may be worth? I have had many requests to sell the motor only but then I would have to worry about getting the boat sold without a motor. I would appreciate any information. I am located Right on Lake Erie, in Pennsylvania. Thanks

  9. 18 conductorjonz
    November 5, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for the note. The 1956 Johnson Javelin seems to be more scarce than the 1957 Golden Javelin. I’m sure a bunch of people would like to get their hands on the motor.

    As to price, with both the boat and motor…it depends greatly on the following:

    Mechanical condition, cosmetic condition, are all the parts present, is it restorable, but most important what you and the BUYER decide a fair price is.

    I would recomend you sell the motor with the boat, as the boat will likely sell faster and more readily with the motor.

    Also check out fiberglassics.com for more help. The guys there are very fiberglass savy.

    Good luck!


  10. 19 brian
    January 22, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Hey motor looks Great!!!

    Any chance you know where I could get a steering bracket for a 56 javelin? Someone cut it off of mine to make room for a hydraulic, or twin set up, and I’m looking to put it on my lyman with cable steering.

    Thanks and I can only hope mine will look something close to yours when I have finished it!!!

  11. 21 Mike
    June 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    The 56′ Javelin looks awesome. Very nice work.
    Not trying to be nosy, but…..I was wondering approximately how much did Chromemasters charge you to do the Javelin Chrome? I am about to restore a 1957 Javelin and am searching for a good chrome shop.



    • 22 conductorjonz
      June 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

      I would guestimate it was around 300 dollars for the front and two sides. Everything else was in good shape. However I sent a bunch of things with these 3 parts, and the whole order was a bit more than 600 bucks. Very reasonable and great quality work. I will be sending my chrome for my ’57 to them over the winter most likely.

      Thanks for checking in!

  12. 23 bret
    June 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    i wish my 56 javelin looked as good as that one buddy. very nice. sadly im lookin for a chrome faceplate for my 56. if u know where i can obtain one please please let me know.. im gettin nervous that ill never find one.

    • 24 conductorjonz
      June 13, 2010 at 10:22 pm

      Hi Bret!

      I found a PAIR of face plates for the ’56 on “the auction site” one Sunday night late. I paid 150 bucks for them…and sold the extra for…you guessed it…150 bucks. I was very lucky!

      Watch The auction sites or you may try an ad on AOMCI’s Webvertise. This is where the collectors hang out and usually someone will come up with something.

      Things to be aware of…these faceplates were usually torn off in disgust when the motor failed or broke down…and the faceplate was thrown far over a lake and then sank to the bottom. The 1956 faceplates seemed to be tougher to come by…but keep looking. you could always restore the motor…or at least get it running, then when you find a faceplate…put on the motor. Also these faceplates seemed to always have rivets punched through them to hold the clips on the back. Mine came that way too. I silver soldered 4 new brass screws where the original rivets were and fill the rivet hole with solder…and Chrome Masters in Nashville, TN made it look great!!

      Thanks again for checking in!


  13. 25 bret
    July 23, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    hey greg its Bret i met u at the lakeside wooden boat show and u mentioned a lead on a faceplate please let me know if u find anything out. much appreciated. bret

  14. September 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Greetings Greg,
    Beautiful restoration, to say the least, and a great follow through with the boat, as well.
    You get my pat on the back ,also, for “pushing me off the fence”.
    I started the restoration on my ’56 Javelin.
    New mag parts, water pump, and carb rebuild, along with some other minor items and ,gee, The Beast Lives!
    What a wonderful sound too!
    Have to refinish the motor cover and noticed that you have an extra “Javelin” script. I really need one. (I’m sure you know the feeling!)
    I hope you do and would be willing to sell it.
    Let me know . Thanks!
    I ordered paint from Peter Mc Dowell and it is being shipped.
    What a lucky source/find for most of the parts that most of us need.(I rejoined th AOMC too.)
    Question; Is the Javelin starter rope cover the same for 1956 and 1957?
    I have a 1957 on mine but am not sure if it is correct.
    In any event, I want to thank you multiple times for the inspiration, help, and pics.etc.!
    Good luck and fun with all your future projects!!
    You should how helpful you have been to us out here!!

    Sincerely,Peter Economos

    • 27 conductorjonz
      September 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Peter.

      I’ll have to look and see if I have the spare scripts still. I think I may have sold or given them away.

      Peter’s paint is easy to work with, but when painting the hood…paint the whole thing cream first, then mask for the red. That’s how Johnson did it. It worked better for me too.

      As for the recoil cover, they are the same…just different color as far as I can tell.

      Good luck!


  15. 28 kelly
    September 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I have a thirty hp johnson that looks very similar to yours i think the model is an RU-18 do you have any suggestions on how to tell exactly what it is

    • 29 conductorjonz
      September 19, 2010 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Kelly!

      An RD-18 is a 1956 30hp motor. The transom swivel bracket should have and ID tag with model and serial number.


  16. 30 mnkelsner
    November 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Great job ! I looks great, post some video of it on youtube in action if you get a chance

    I have had several of these motors (not quite as pretty) and they really turn heads !


  17. 32 Steve Rutigliano
    December 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Great job and your 56 Javelin I just found one and will start my project. I’m a member of Antique Outboard Motor and I’m sure that will help for parts. How do I get in touch with Peter McDowell for paint? I hope my will come out as nice as yours, it will look good on my 56 Lyman.

  18. 34 Steve Rutigliano
    January 1, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Thanks Greg, looking forward to my project. Your Javelin is very encouraging.

  19. June 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I have a Johnson Javelin RJE-18C outboard motor in good working order. It Needs a paint job. I man offered me 650 dollars for it but I do not want to sell it. How much do you think it is worth?

    • 36 conductorjonz
      June 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Well…condition is everything.Is it complete with all the chrome parts, especially the front faceplate? Does it run WELL. Freshwater or salt water? And what will someone pay for it? If he’s eriously going to give you 650.00for an un-restored Javelin…and you want to sell it…do so.

      In the area I’m in we see them turn up with some frequency and therefore $$ is much lower than that. I paid 200 bucks for both my Johnson 30hp as a pair, with a shop manual, rolling rack and much, much more.

      Price is what you and a buyer decide it is worth.

      Good luck!


  20. 37 hudson ford
    May 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    i got a free Johnson javelin 30hp 56 on a 68 Glastron we want to restore it to match the boat because the boat is two tone blue with white trim i wanna completely do it with the chrome and everything but we are missing the javelin scroll emblems and cant find the or faceplate decals its my first boat and motor i just need help on what websites or catalogs to use because we are in rural Virginia with no help this is a father son project that we are both enjoying but stuck on

    • 38 conductorjonz
      May 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      I would be cautious about the paint or such a classic and desirable motor in colors other than original.

      However as to the logos and faceplate, I found mine on Ebay.

      Good Luck!


  21. 39 allen bollinger
    September 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    i have a 1956 johnson javilin 30hp and have no need for it where is the best place to sell this unit no tank motor is all complete turns over with rope and starter all is free but no spark if ya can point me in the right place id be very thankfull im Allen allen2265@yahoo.com

    • 40 conductorjonz
      November 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

      I would sell it on any vintage boat or outboard motor website. They are coveted and appreciated by collectors and runners alike!

      Good Luck!

  22. 41 Jerry
    July 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I am currently putting a new paint on my 1956 30hp Johnson. I have a brass prop. Is this a common prop? I’ve never seen any brass props on a small outboard period. I purchased this motor and boat 33 years ago. This motor has never had anything done to it except points and plugs. It pushes my all aluminum wide 1960 16 1/2 foot run-about with 4 round clear port windows in the bow. The boat’s interior has been completely restored better than new. I am trying to find 2 Johnson chrome plated name plates to mount on the sides. I’ve run out of resources to locate these chrome name plates. If anyone has a source for these, please let me know.

    • 42 conductorjonz
      July 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      The prop is actually bronze…and much heavier than the original aluminum prop. The were used and are fairly common for your motor. I have several!

      Beware though! When shifting with a bronze prop…make sure you idle down as low as possible before making a shift. The extra weight is hard on the clutch dog in the lower unit. They can wear very quickly without care.

      Good luck!

    • 43 Tom McGowan
      July 4, 2013 at 9:46 am


      I had a pair of 1956 Johnson Javelins bebuilt last winter and have them mounted on a 1955 Larson Cabin Outbaord and spent quite a bit of time chasing down sources, I will be happy to give you a list of sources that helped me find itemsI for the project but am not comfortable posting names and numbers on a forum site. Thus, if you email me your email address at thmcgowan@yahoo.com I will be happy to respond.

  23. 44 Aв_Guide_Pn
    September 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Howdy! Strong article. Thankee!

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