I’ll be Sea-ing you: Restoration work on old Seahorses…

Since the weather in Northwest Ohio has deteriorated to the point that no work outside on the Alumacraft FDR is possible at this point, other work is able to be completed in the shop.  Work on various old outboard motors that needed complete restoration.    

The first is a wonderful old 1949 Johnson TD-20 that was sent my way by the local marina who was asked to take it on trade in.  They of course laughed at the poor guy…and instead told him to call me.  I went to see the motor and it was not only not running, but was seized up.  The tank on the top of the motor was badly dented, and the lower shroud was torn.  They guy wanted 40.00 for this thing to cover his costs of a new recoil he’d just had replaced.  We “dickered” on price a bit and settled on…uh…40 bucks!     

Okay!  It’s a 30 dollar motor at the average swap meet, but oh well!    

Auto body filler is applied to the tank in several layers.

The tank will need to be sanded, filler applied and sanded several times for a smooth finished tank.

After the auto body filler is applied, sanding until the entire tank is smooth will be required.

After applying self-etching primer and Johnson Sea-Mist Green paint from NY Marine, as well as their decals, the motor looks like new.

This little beauty is ready for service. The motor is a non-shift type. It runs in ONE DIRECTION! To go in reverse, you must turn the motor 180 degrees. She looks great in the sun. The decals set is available at nymarine.ca.

Next up was a 1950 Johnson 10hp QD-11 outboard.  This was one of the first full shift versions that came from the OMC Family.  It has forward-neutral-reverse.    

This old Seahorse was purchased on Craigslist for 15 bucks from a local family here in Toledo that does restorations on boats.  They had bought this old thing hoping to restore it…or at least get it running.  The project ran out of steam though.    

Upon inspection the motor was in sad shape.    

Mice had made a condo out of the underside of the cowling. They spent their time sleeping and peeing all over the motor block and exhaust leg. YUCK!

The mouse urine really does a nice job of eating the aluminum.

Following disassembly of the motor, the power-head was soda blasted to get rid of the mouse urine.  Many other parts from under the hood also had to be soda blasted.     

Soda blasting is a very nice way to get rid of dirt and old paint without damaging the aluminum underneath.  In many cases the primer was unscathed, allowing for feathering in new self-etching primer and painting.    

The motor was reassembled after replacement of the water pump impeller and rebuilding the lower unit with new seals.The cowlings were also riddled with mouse urine. I ended up buying a new set off Ebay. They were sand-blasted and primed and painted Johnson Sea-Mist Green

After sand blasting the cowling was primed and painted.

After reassembly and re-working the ignition...paint and decals were applied and she's ready for action!

I've always thought this was a very sexy looking outboard form the Johnson Family!

Next came another Seahorse in the form of trade for services rendered.    

A friend of mine had his grandfather’s 1954 Johnson CD-11 5.5 hp with the original pressure tank, but it was not running.  He had another Johnson CD he was going to use for parts…but the project hadn’t gotten off the ground yet.    

He asked if I would look over the motor and get it running in trade for the parts I could salvage from the second motor.  SURE!    

As luck would have it, his granddad’s motor was in great shape and just needed a tune-up.  The old OMC coils form the 1950’s always crack and make running an impossibility, rebuilding the ignition, installing the new water pump impeller, and rebuilding the lower unit was all that was needed.  This little motor was humming in no time.    

Now the questions of what to do with the junk-pile that was bestowed upon me for my efforts.     

You guessed it!  When in doubt…RESTORE IT!    

The motor was completely stored away in the clamshell hood.  The motor had thrown the #2 connecting rod, for which the “CD Series” is notorious.  I visited the local scrap yard and found a new power-head for this motor.  Swapped parts from one motor block to the other since they are slightly different from year to year, and then the usual rebuild of the ignition, water pump and lower unit.    

The odd thing about this motor was cosmetic.  It was painted 1954 Seahorse Green!  I started to noticed red showing in areas as I tore the exhaust leg apart.  Then a light came on in my head.  The cowling had the oval Seahorse medallion on it.  That meant this couldn’t be a 1954 or 1955 “CD”.  Turns out is was a 1958 CD-15 according to the tag.  I started to assume it had parts swapped around over the years…but no dice.  As I sanded the parts, this motor had obviously been repainted, beautifully, with Seahorse green!    

In an effort to take the motor back to its roots, it was restored in 1958 colors.    

1958 CD-15 Johnson 5.5.Seahorse in classic Holiday Bronze, Cream, and gold lettering.

The 1959 Seahorse medallion was all there, but cracked! I glued it back together with thin viscocity "CA" glue. then it was sanded with 600 grit wet/dry paper and buffed out with Novus plastic polish. The cracks are hardly noticeable!

The next Seahorse came in a very odd and roundabout way.  Here is the story!    

I watch Craigslist for old outboards on occassion.  I saw an old 5 hp Firestone that looked to be a good prospect for restoration.  After 3 weeks it was still listed, so I called the guy.  He stated he’d just sold that motor that afternoon…but had another if I was interested.  He said it was a Martin.    

I know nothing of Martin motors, but thought I would check it out for some of the Martin Motor fans in AMOCI.    

Upon arriving at the guys house, he greeted me and showed me the Martin hanging on the back of his landscape trailer.  It was missing a lot of parts!  I asked how much.  He said “40 dollars”.    

I said “It’s missing the tiller, lower shrouds, the fuel sight glass was broken, and all the carb controls are gone.  I’ll give you 20 bucks.”  

“No way!  I’ll sell it on-line before I’d sell it that cheap!”  he said angrily.    

“Fine…I understand!” I replied.  And as I got to my truck, the guy shouts…”I will take 25 for it though!”    

So I shelled out 5 EXTRA bucks of “extortion money” for the guy without any ideal what was awaiting me.    

I went home and posted on the AMOCI forum asking for guidance as to what this Martin 200 outboard was.  Again…I have no idea at this point!    

I never got a repsonse to the thread I’d started, but I got inundated with PM’s and e-mails.  Obviously…this motor was of interest!    

While a beautiful motor, with potential...it was too much for me to spend time on.


Too many missing and high valued parts made this restoration a project for someone who loved Martin Motors.

 A friend of mine from Indianapolis sent an e-mail warning me to watch for “vultures” and he’d sold his similar motor for 1600 bucks last year.    


I ended up getting a nice PM from a very nice member of the AMOCI group who was interested, and had a 1957 Johnson Javelin if I was interested.  We spoke on the phone and everything felt right about this deal!    

I also got many offers for cash, but my interest lie in finding the right home for the motor, and maybe something in return to work on restoring for myself.  One guy who kept expressing interest…a little too much maybe…and a little to forceably…was eleminated fairly quickly.    Others were very gracious, but I kept thinking about this guy in Mansfield, Ohio.

After becoming irritated by all the traffic this thing was drawing, I called the fellow with the ’57 Javelin and told him I was on my way to Mansfield to do the deal.    

I arrived and he had a 3-ring binder with the parts manual for the ’57 Javelin (Two copies…one for inside…one for outside.) waiting for me.  He also ran copies of the parts book for the 1957 35hp Evinrude I mentioned in our conversation.  We went to his workshop…where he had two ’57 Javelin’s waiting.  He compression tested the motors for me, let me cherry pick the chrome for the hood from both ’57 Javelins he’d pulled for me.  He also included with the deal the all-elusive cables, solenoid box, throttle, and motor wiring harness…and a 6 gallon pressure tank.    

We talked a while and drank a soda.  I got the Martin out of my truck, and presented it to him.  He seemed happy.  I was happy!  Then I mentioned that the recoil cover for my ’56 Johnson Javelin was broken.  He went over to a series of drawers and pulled one out and threw it in to the deal.    

What a grand experience.  He was just a great host!    A gentleman!  And pretty typical of the guys in AMOCI! 

So the next Seahorse for restoration is a 1957 Johnson Javelin.    

Here she is in all her glory. Actually...in very good shape for a 52 year old motor! I got to pick the best chrome for my cowling, but it will still need to be re-chromed at some point for the restoration process.

This motor is almost ready for action, given her condition!

The faceplate and medallion are in pretty good shape too!

Upon pulling the head on the block, I am almost certain this motor is very low hours, and has seen little use period.  The paint is in good shape with the exception of the lower unit.  I will likely do a complete tune up and cosmetic rebuild, but the rest of the motor appears to be in too good of shape to mess with.    

Aside from these old Seahorses, I also have a Firestone 3.6hp to work on and am in the process of restoring a 1949 5hp Gamble’s Hiawatha that will be featured in a latter blog.    

Thanks for dropping in, and have a great holiday season!


22 Responses to “I’ll be Sea-ing you: Restoration work on old Seahorses…”

  1. 1 Mike
    December 8, 2009 at 10:58 pm


    I am looking for a 57′ Johnson Javelin for my 57′ Shepherd outboard boat and see that you have one including controls, solenoid box and fuel tank. Do you have any interest in selling this in as-is condition?



    • 2 conductorjonz
      December 8, 2009 at 11:17 pm

      Thanks for checking in Mike.

      No sale. I think this 1957 Javelin has seen very little use, so it’s a keeper. I’ll likely fun it on my 1959 Alumacraft.

      I wanted one for a while to go with my 1956 Johnson Javelin. Keep and eye on the Webvertize section of the AMOCI forum…and they pop up on Ebay occassionally too.

      Good luck!


  2. 3 Willyclay
    December 9, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Captain Jones, you do great work! That Golden Javelin is the stuff of dreams. Good luck!

    • 4 conductorjonz
      December 9, 2009 at 10:10 am

      Thanks Willy!

      I’m looking forward to doing the ’57 Javelin. I love my ’56, but the color of the ’57 will match the Alumacraft’s upholstery to a tee!


  3. 5 Dave Eveleth,Member AOMCI
    December 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I enjoyed your story on the Martin 200.I also just recently came across one of those also.Pretty similer shape.Missing lower cowls,tiller arm and recoil.It did however come with the super elusive remote throttle.It did have the front plate and did have a good plastic gas sight on it.I also have been thinking of selling it, to much restoration and part difficulties for me to tackle.I do like your Javlin.I think they are a beautiful motor.I have the 59′ Gale soverign and a 57′ lark.Great job on the Johnson restos.Love those QD’s myself. Dave

    • 6 conductorjonz
      December 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. Those Martin’s look to be a tough bird to get parts for. I had no intrest in the motor…other than grabbing it for a member who might want it. Things worked out better than I could have hoped. Don’t under-sell yours like I almost did!

      Love the OMC’s because they’re easy to work on, get parts for, and can be torn down in an hour or so!


  4. 7 steve s
    December 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Nice work, I have a CD, any insight as to why bthey were notorious for notorious
    for throwing the number 2, as the one I have is void of the no2 pistio and rod.

    Also was the javalin deal done with Stan J. in mansfield , If so I have seen him at meets and even went and swapped a flywheel I needed, a real good guy!


    • 8 conductorjonz
      December 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm

      Yep! Stan wanted and got the Martin. He was fantastic to deal with. Very much on the up and up in my opinion!

      I have checked with one local marina who said they felt the CD’s had a flaw either in the metallurgy of the connecting rod…or were under oiled. Recommendation was run 16 to 1. They told me it was very common until about 1960 when the design was changed slightly. Stan said he thought that was the case as well.

      Funny thing is, when that rod breaks, it doesn’t seem to ruin the cylinder. I ended up pulling the pistons and crank from a newer model and put it in the old powerhead. Hopefully she do okay next summer.

      Thanks for checking in Steve!


  5. 9 Leon
    December 12, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    The old Martins were made by National Pressure Cooker Company. Instead of reed valves, these have poppet valves

  6. 10 Brett Sullivan
    January 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This is my thompson and javelin that I have up for sale if you know anyone interested. I also have the another GJ that im working on for my next project however i having trouble finding a good re chrome specialist that is A. Fair in price. B will do a email quote if i send them the pics of the parts!

    All the best with you javelin.


    • 11 conductorjonz
      January 22, 2010 at 11:15 pm

      Most plating shops will not give estimates without physically seeing the pieces involved. I used Chrome Masters in Nashville, TN. The strip, buff, copper dip (to fill imperfections), and buff again, nickel the part,and buff, then chrome plate, and buff. Very labor intensive…but end results were spectacular.

      The cater to the motorcycle crowd, so perfection is a must. Give them a try! I would guess around 300 buck for everything.

      Good luck on selling your Thompson!


  7. 12 chris pichler
    February 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I am looking for 1 1958 Johnson Super Sea Horse 50 motor cover medallion. That is the chrome plastic medallion on the back of the cover. I need 1 and would like to know if you have one or someone who has.
    Let me know if you can.

  8. 14 gary W
    April 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I just aquired a johnson qd 11 that I am VERY interested in making it run well, as I intend to use it for my little 12′ aluminum La Fitte by Trailorboat. It appears to be in great condition with the origional pressure tank and all seems sound, but I’m affraid to try to start it. The previous owner says they quit using it 3 years ago (my guess is something went wrong with it) and I need to diagnose the problem. What should I do with it before trying to start it, and well ANY other info you could give me would be great, as I have never restored a motor before, and I suspect this might be the only one I attempt. Where to get parts, manuals, etc…..

    • 15 conductorjonz
      April 2, 2010 at 7:41 am

      Gotta have 3 things…compression, spark and fuel. If you have any one of these missing…she won’t run.

      First thing to do though is make sure it spins/turnsover. Should be some resistance as the pistons move through their stroke. Next get a check of compression on each cylinder. Should be 80lbs or higher. Do this with dry cylinders. IE:Don’t fog or spray oil in the cylinders before testing. Watch your compression tester as it may give false readings…but use it as a ball park figure. the cylinders should be within about 5% of each other.

      Next check for spark using a cheapo spark tester from the auto parts store. Should have a nice blue spark. If not…clean the points and check for a gap of .020. Then check for spark again. The coils (under the flywheel) tend to go bad on these. They can be pricey if you find New-old-stock. Less pricey used. The points also should be cleaned.

      Next make sure you’re getting fuel. If you have spark, and compression and she still will not fire…spray some 2-cycle mix into the carb throat with a spray bottle and see if she lights off. If she dire…then dies…you have carb issue.

      Were it mine, once I confirm good compression, I would rebuilt the carb, clean up the points thoroughly, and most definately replace the water pump impeller!

      Contact AOMCI via the web for any help. The guys there are great and very helpful!

      Good luck!


  9. 16 bret
    June 13, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    im having trouble finding a 1956 johnson javelin chrome faceplate for sale. please let me know where i can find one. the pics are great. nice lookin motors. thanks for sharing.

  10. 17 Gregory Baden
    September 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm


    I found your website tonight and have enjoyed the pics and stories. Thanks.

    I took in an old outboard a couple of days ago as part trade on some fencing this gal wanted for her house. It is a 1954 Goodyear 025-3573 (5D10G)Sea-Bee (5D10Gale Products) 5 hp outboard.

    It is complete, all knobs and levers seem to turn and/or move as would expected. The gas tank is somewhat dented, but filler cap is intact. Recoil starter is intact and mechanism works fine. The engine turns over by hand with compression and the motor makes no un-toward noises when spun by hand. Prop spins without excessive slack. Paint job is rough but complete and S/N and M/N numbers are in excellent shape on the motor plate. Motor appears to be completely intact and complete. Have made no attempt to start.

    It also came with an original Gale Products Service Manual (approx. 400pgs.) in near perfect condition and an Operating Instractions Manual (approx. 50pgs.) in about the same shape. How can I best go about selling this unit and how much should it be worth.


    • 18 conductorjonz
      September 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

      I would put the motor and operating manual together and the Gale Service Manual on the AOMCI Webvertize section. It’s free, and someone is likely to make an offer. Otherwise the auction sites and Craigslist are the other best ways to get exposure.

      As to price, that motor would sell for around 25 bucks as a parts motor, and 150 as a running motor in good condition. If it were perfect and mint…it could sell for much more. So without seeing it first hand I couldn’t say what it would be worth,but you have a range of prices to work from now.

      Good luck!


    • 19 Dave Roberts
      October 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      Hi i have just seen your message and allthough it is almost a month old i am hoping you still have the manual as i am interested in buying it, if i have to buy the outboard to get it we can work that out too.

      Let me know thanks.

  11. 20 haji
    March 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    how much isa 1958 super sea horse worth in good shape on 58 boat and trailer call 1 989 600 6736 ask for mike thanks

  12. November 10, 2016 at 7:45 am

    I am glad to be a visitant of this thoroughgoing web blog, thank you for this rare info!

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