Beyond the Sea…horse!: Outboard motor restoration step by step…Day Six!

Ten and one-quarter hours spent working on this little motor so it can run…hopefully…another 50 years.  So far we have torn down the power head, the motor leg, repacked the lower unit, replaced the clutch dog (shift member), stripped all parts and primed and painted them…as well as decaling the hood.  Now the power head is going to be rebuilt and the final assembly of the motor finished.

Let’s get underway!

Power head components....EVERYWHERE!

This piston is pretty scratched from carbon getting stuck in the cylinder between the piston and cylinder wall.

Crankshaft bearings must be looked over with a critical eye. O-rings should always be replaced. These o-rings had given their all a long time ago!

Using a sharpie marker, I like to mark each connecting rod and related cap.

The motor block has been honed and all carbon must be cleaned from the block as well. Leaving excess carbon around cylinders and ports can cause heat issues.

As a matter of routine when a power head is over-hauled, at minimum new (or good) piston rings should be installed, and the cylinders honed to break the "glaze" or smooth surface of the cylinder walls. In this photo you can see the scratches from the honing process.

Used care placing the pistons in the cylinders. You must compress the piston rings so the engage the small dowel in the ring groove into a notch that is cut in the piston ring. Do not force the ring into the cylinder or breakage of the ring may occur.

Using needle bearing grease...or in this case Vaseline...we can now lay the 29 needle bearings into the connecting rods and rod caps. COUNT THEM! These bearings are not caged...there is no cage for the bearings to lay in, so they must be laid in the Vaseline to hold them in place until assembly is complete.

Half of the the needle bearings are in place on the connecting rods.

Once the bearings are install...all 29 of them...you may place the rod caps back on the matched connecting rod. Be sure to torque the connecting rod cap screws to the proper specs.

A low grade lacquer thinner is used to clean grime off all nuts, bolts, and hardware.

All original hardware is cleaned in solvent and readied for installation.

Using a new-old-stock gasket kit the crank case halves are mated beck together using 3M Scotch-grip 847 to seal it. This material is also used on all screw threads.

Final coat of paint has been applied to the lower-unit and transom clamp assembly.

This area was blemished with a drip. It is un-noticable now.

The exhaust leg has been installed prior to installation of the power-head.

Magneto ignitions use magnetic force to derive their power. No batteries needed.

I always clean the magneto plate to make sure it is spotless. This will allow you to quickly see if gasses or oil are coming out of a crankshaft seal later on down the road.

The coils and condensers checked good, so new plug wires were added, and the mag plate cleaned. The magneto is ready for installation.

A front shot showing the shifter and carb. The magneto has been installed.

New ends are attached to the spark plug wires. Neon spark testers are used in-line with the plugs to check for good ignition spark.

The flywheel and recoil have been installed.

The paint on the I.D. tag has faded or flaked off. This needs to be touched up too.

First lightly paint the I.D. tag with paint, then use a razor blade to lightly etch the paint off the raised areas.

With installation of the hood, this old Sea-Horse is ready for action again!

So after an additional two hours we have just under 13 hours of time in to making this old motor ready for action again.  Upon bucket testing and setting the carb jets, she seems ready to run.  Looking forward to spring to let ‘er rip on the river.


Hopefully this six part blog will inspire others to take on a challenge and give life to an old outboard motor.  Thanks for reading!


28 Responses to “Beyond the Sea…horse!: Outboard motor restoration step by step…Day Six!”

  1. 1 Joe
    December 30, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Hey Greg… love to see the updates you’re posting. I’m working on the very same motor and a couple of others that you are. But just not as quickly as you are. Ha! Gotta pay the bills first.

    One suggestion on your emails though. Your images are great but are at a much higher dpi (dots per inch or resolution) than needed. I pulled one from your email to check it and it’s at 300dpi which is what’s needed to print things like brochures. For the web, 72dpi is perfect. The images maintain their quality and move much quicker across the web. If you have the ability to change the dpi in a photo editing program I would go for it.

    Keep up the great work. I wish I had the time to dedicate to doing what you do. My pride and joy is a ’57 Johnson 35hp that I restored last summer. Happy New Year!

    • 2 conductorjonz
      December 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Hi Joe!

      thanks for reading…and the advise. I use the higher DPI owing to the fact I save files for print and don’t like having two copies of everything. Besides…everyone has high-speed now…Right?!?!

      As to the motors, I only work fast because I have the spray booth and facilities to do several jobs at once. Today I painted a Johnson TD-20 and a 1957 Johnson 35hp.

      Stay tuned. Who knows what’s next.


  2. 3 Paul
    January 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Just excellent work. Great pictures and advise. I have been hanging around collecting these things for a while but not really getting into the nuts and bolts of restoration. You make it look easy, and with your step by step process even I might be able to attempt something like this one day soon. Keep up the excellent work. Do you still have the FDR or is that sold now? Best to you….perhaps you will journey to Tomahawk or Constantine and we can connect there.

    • 4 conductorjonz
      January 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Hi Paul!

      Thanks for the kind words. The goal here was to show others that IF I can do it…they can too!!

      The FDR sold and has gone to Florida to begin a new life. I’m working on restoring our Star Tank & Boat Co. vessel constructed of galvanized steel. She is a wonderful little rowboat that my wife and I used this year in absence of our Thompson which is getting a refit as well.

      I hope to be a Constantine again this year…look me up and say hi. You won’t be able to miss the Captain’s Hat!!


  3. 5 Joe
    March 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Hey Greg the motor looks great, I am working on the same motor and would like to know what you did for the silver band around the hood, did you polish it or put a brushed finish on it,it doesnt appear that you painted it and also I see that your exhaust is left gray, any info would be appreciated. Thanks

    • 6 conductorjonz
      March 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Both the exhaust leg and the trim are painted dull aluminum on my motor. They were originally painted on these 10hp. The larger 16hp SD’s I’ve seen paint, not painted, faded…on and on.

      I liked mine painted since it was originally.

      Thanks for checking in!

  4. 7 James
    March 24, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Greg excellent work once again! i am working on restoring an old 1960s gas can, my first painting/ decaling project. figured i would start small before i restore my motor, which is 1967 18hp evinrude that has a plastic cowl and is in need of some fresh paint but im really not sure what type of primer to use, i know to use a self etching on aluminum but not sure if that would be the right choice for this job. Any advice will be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    • 8 conductorjonz
      March 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      I used DP Epoxy primer from PPG on almost everything. It has some self-etching properties, but like epoxy sticks to almost anything.

      I’ve had little trouble with this type primer sticking as long as it is prepped properly.

  5. 11 T Bach
    March 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    WOW, I just ran across your site while looking for paint for a QD-14. Your documenttion is great! I have a few projects under way, a 54 and 55 10hp, 67 3hp folding, a bunch of 56 30hp and a 57 Javelin all johnsons. Your paint info is great as this is my first real attempt at it from scratch. A booth would be nice but Ill get creative. A few questions, do you have any paint codes for the 2 johnson greens the sea mist and the 52-55 green and for the later red in 56 and the gold for the Javelin? I was hoping to mix it locally. or do you just buy it from Nymarine?
    Also, I need some emblems for the Javelin the small javelin emblem on the front and the “35” emblems for the sides? or do you have any thoughts of who may have those?..or someone that may be able to mold/cast them…..?..any help is appreciated….and if you have any Javelins 56/57 for sale or parts let me know…..Thanks Tom……

    also if you happen to need older EV/JO parts let me know I may have it.

    • 12 conductorjonz
      March 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Tom!

      I don’t have the codes. Peter at North York Marine sells a great product and it is worth the money.

      I also do not have any Javelin parts. Keep an eye to the Auction Site for these. They show up from time to time. Keep your checkbook handy though.

      Good luck!


  6. 13 karass4two
    April 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I have to tell you that this site has given me so much confidence in rebuilding my own motor. I am eventually going to restore my ’56 Lone Star, but I want to make sure the motor works first. It is a ’53-’54 15hp Evinrude Super Fastwin. It is my first motor and I think I’m on your site looking for advice and tips twice a day. Awesome work. Love this motor and dream about the Javelin you did.

    • 14 conductorjonz
      May 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks Grant! That is the hope of the blog…to give others confidence to do work on their own equipment. It is important from a safety standpoint. After all, if you understand the machinery and can make “running repairs” in an emergency, you are much more likely to have a better day of safe boating.

      Those Evinrude Super Fastwin’s are really great motors. Use 24 to 1 oil to gas mix. Oil is cheaper than pistons!

      Good luck!


  7. 15 Dirk van Dellen
    August 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Very helpfull this tutorial. Especially with the needle bearings. I had now idea how to do that, till you came allong with this photo’s. I had to do 90 needles on a Johnson Seahorse 4 hp and it went well.

    Greetings from Holland and thx.

  8. 17 Frank Faubert
    November 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Greg,

    Just stumbled across your site today.

    I have a 1956 Evinrude 5.5 Fisherman that seems to have been modified for a modern tank ( although a pressure tank was included in the sale).

    It won’t kick at all. The plugs do get wet and the spark is white-blue. I’ve done a compression test and the top cylinder has about 40 psi while the lower is about 90 psi. I’ve replaced the head gasket, and checked the pistons for scoring as well as replacing the rings. The lower piston has a scrape mark on the skirt about an inch long but it doesn’t seem to bother the compression.

    The only thing I’ve seen is that the upper cylinder head has had a spark plug repair insert put into it. I don’t feel any air coming out from around it when I’m doing a compression test. Any ideas?



    • 18 conductorjonz
      November 28, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Sorry for the long delay in getting back to the blog!

      Frank, check the coils for cracking. Most 50’s OMC’s original coils crack creating a lack of spark. They can be seen through and inspection hole in the flywheel. Replacements are readily available.

      As to the fuel pump modification, it is fairly common on motors that used a pressure tank originally.

      Compression has to be within a few pounds of each other for all cylinders. 40lbs is very low. Could be a stuck ring, blown head gasket, or other issue. I would look for either a new power head or at least a cylinder head and head gasket via Ebay or AOMCI.org free Webvertise section.

      Good luck!

  9. 19 gary williams
    March 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I have a qd 11. I have the “tall boy” fuel tank. Do you think you could restore mine? If so, how much would you charge me?

  10. 22 Roger Davis
    May 27, 2013 at 7:06 am

    I have several old evinrude/johnsons as well as mercs from 50s, 60s and 70s I have somehow accumulated that I have begun to restore. Very nice site you have developed…informative and very useful.

    I see you have a simpson or simpson type of analog meter. You said you “tested the coils” and they were good. If you can elaborate, what was that “testing” process for us neophytes?

    I also believe you had a website, and you mentioned the Buddy Marrow band/orchestra from perhaps late 50s and 60s. My uncle played trumpet in the band for a while…not certain how long since I was young (yob 1956). i grew up in eastern KY and he in WVA. My Unk is in his early 80s now.

    Roger Davis

  11. August 19, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    That’s awesome sounds good I have a td-20 that my uncle gave me but right now it’s in a million pieces your sounds like it working really well

  12. 24 Byron Anderson
    May 22, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Hi, i have a qd-11 sitting in my garage, i was going to get it running but its probably not gonna happen, if you know someone who would appreciate this motor, please let me know, thanks,Byron

    • 25 conductorjonz
      June 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      I’d love to have another. Lol.

      They are nice little motors…but some folks are put off by the carb arrangement. This makes them less desirable.

  13. 26 chad
    July 11, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Hey Greg, I enjoy reading through your restorations just gotta love these old outboards. I have a question about a 1950 johnson qd-11 I am working on. Sofar I have replaced points/condensers, coils/plugs, water pump, cleaned the carb, reeds, fuel filter and lines. (I have not tried running it yet on the pressure tank, but fires right up on a squirt of premixed fuel into carb). My question is about the butterfly valve in the carb, It stays closed even when the throttle is advanced. Shouldnt the valve open as the throttle is opened? Or does the motor have to be running for it to move? It moves freely when i manually pull on the link steering bracket to carburetor. Everything seems like it is hooked up correctly. Any help would be appreciated thank you Chad.

    • 27 conductorjonz
      August 16, 2019 at 8:31 am

      There is an on/off toggle on the handle under the cowl/hood. Make sure it is off. When in the on position if the handle is raised it will close the butterfly.

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