1973 Johnson 50hp gearcase: detent spring and balls?


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Well-known member
Apr 17, 2018
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Hi all, here’s my engine…
  • 1973 Johnson 50hp, long shaft, electric start
  • Manual shift with hydraulic shift assist pump (as far as I can tell)

As I disassembled the gearcase, I was expecting to find some detent springs and balls, but there’s weren’t any in there. I don’t really trust what was in there when I disassembled everything, based on some other signs of bad service in the past.

Here’s my question: how many detent springs and balls should there be, and where should they be?
  • The marineengine.com diagrams show 1 detent spring and 3 detent balls (items 69 and 70 in the diagram below)… Not sure where they would go.
  • The Seloc manual has a diagram on page 7-86 for this model, and everything looks like it’sa match to what’s in my gearcase - other than the fact that there’s no spring or detent balls. If I’m supposed to have them, where would they go?

Here’s the me.com diagram.
https://www.marineengine.com/parts/johnson-evinrude-parts.php?year=1973&hp=50&model=50ESL73R&manufactu rer=Johnson&section=Gearcase+Electric+Start

Attached is a photo of what parts were in there (mostly disassembled).


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Typically those detent balls go through the prop shaft, underneath the clutch dog. They are what keep it engaged in forward/reverse.

As you're assembling it, most will coat the balls and spring in grease so they are less likely to fall out, and you will need to push the balls down as you slide the clutch dog on.

A factory service manual would probably be a great help to you.

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