Fix or part out? 1956 Johnson 18hp

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seahorse

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This is sort of a carry over from another thread, but after going through a bunch of the motors I have here that came to me through a relatives estate I've been trying to narrow down what to sell as is, whole, and what to part out, and what is just junk.

The motor in question here is an FD11, Johnson 18hp from I believe 1956.
Its got great compression, and spark. (129/131 psi).
It initially didn't have spark but a quick sand and clean of the points got it going.
It will run, but won't idle. I went through the carb, (no parts, just a cleaning), and its no better.
To be fair, it had a tag on it that said 'Needs crank seals" on an ancient manila tag on the tiller.
When cleaning the points I can see one coil is newer than the other, and the older coil is peeling so its not likely going to be around for long.

I pulled the lower and pulled the power head. so that adds a bottom gasket to the list.
Lower unit seal kit

With the lower unit off I pull the prop, which looks new, but I find about 20 yds of fish line wound back into the seal. I check the oil and its low but no water. I drain the lower unit. and figuring that after nearly 70 years its due for a reseal. I open it up and right away notice that the shift lever yoke or fork is twisted, and one pin is missing off one of the arms. The gears are fair but likely okay The pinion gear shows some pitting though. Some gears, new or used would be nice but what's there will likely be fine. If this was a 200hp motor I'd think differently but for a motor that's likely only ever going to putt around on a pond it'll live a long time with the gears its got now. The fork however is toast.

To better describe the motor overall, its a complete, short shaft tiller 1956 short shaft tiller motor.
Somewhere in its past someone decided that it needed to be painted black with a spay bomb.
The good parts about the paint is that it seems to come easy and it likely protected this motor over the years.
There is no salt corrosion and not a single bolt has fought me.
The rubber cover bushings are gone, two have been replaced with pieces of fuel hose an zip ties.
It needs a new set of rubber bushings there too.

So the parts list so far is:
2 coils
2 ign. point sets
2 condensers
( $68 Sierra coils, OEM points/cond. set)
top and bottom crank seals ($26, dealer
bottom power head gasket ($17, dealer)
lower unit shift lever (used only, new NLA, about $40 off fleabay)
lower unit seal kit $31
cowl bushings (make something myself, I don't see new one's listed?)
$182 total plus oil and time.
Add in the time to strip, repaint and re- decal as needed to make it look good again, probably about a day's work and $40 in materials plus decals, which look to be about $80 .

My question is, is it in any way worth fixing this or if not, part it out and sell off the parts? Put the parts on the shelf?

Its not the only motor I've got, I don't need it, and its not really anything that I can use on any of my current boats, all of which are much newer.
To be fair as well I've got a trailer full of motors that mostly all came from the same place, in that lot of motors is also a newer 18hp, with a very similar lower unit on a 1960 Evinrude 18hp. That motor is cleaner in appearance but has only 90/101 psi compression, no spark, and signs of saltwater use.
There's a chance that its lower unit will donate some parts, but the upper parts are mostly different.
I could just reseal that lower and swap it to the '56, but although it'll bolt up it does have some differences and its not as clean having likely seen either outdoor storage or saltwater at some point. The housings on the 56 are cleaner. I would basically be stealing the gears and shift fork from the newer lower.
the question here is that the lower as it sits will no doubt sell for $200 as it sits fairly easily here since it does function has clean oil.
The rest of the motor is probably not worth reviving, although it may run with enough work but I'd call 100 psi well worn compared to the other's I've tested here.

Who would fix the '56 and try to sell it that way?
Or part it out?
Or sell it whole as it sits and let someone who needs worry about fixing it?
 
Last edited:
Evinrude nor Johnson built an 18hp in 1956. That started in 1957. In 1956 there was a 15hp.
Go to AOMCI.org online and to the ask-a-member section in there about spare or replacement parts. There are tons out there.
While off you did not mention crank seals. On that engine they are easy to replace. The bottom in particular. Up to you whether you put it back in to service or not. With a black paint job it will be hard to sell. Most folks who get in to the antique outboard hobby are looking for original looking and performing engines.
 
Okay,, its a 57, then.
I did list crank seals but mistyped FC vs FD
The reason I pulled he power head is to get at the lower seal. WIth the flywheel off I can see the top seal has been leaking for a while, there's oily staining running down from that area.
When I pressure checked the lower unit I got a severe leak at the driveshaft seal, which is all but not touching the shaft. How its not full of water is beyond me because I had it running in a tank where it sat for about four hours as well.

The question is then part it out or stick the 1960 lower on it and make it a more fixable motor? Or just part both out? I'm seeing clean running similar year motors selling for $200-$250 with good paint but there's no way to tell what shape they're really in. But they look good and supposedly do run. This does neither but its also not a saltwater run motor. Like expect most here to be. This one is more just a greasy oily, painted over mess that will likely clean up well.

All the crud on the bracket is painted over grease. A date with the pressure washer will do it wonders. Keep in mind too has likely been sitting in a garage on a stand for 30 or so years, maybe more.

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Totally your decision. Best tip you will get today is that on every single one of the old split line gearcases you need to change out the shift shaft seal. That is always the main source of a leak. With a couple psi pressure in the case you can wiggle the shift shaft and see bubbles if you have sprayed the seal areas with soapy water.
The lower seal is easy but be careful of the carbon seal it sits in....fragile. The upper seal is a bit more difficult. I have the tools to pull it pretty easily but an alternate way is to drill the seal casing and drive a couple screws in to it and slowly work it up and out. Not too difficult.
Purchase only OEM parts as things like aftermarket points rarely ever line up as good as original. The original points are probably good enough to be dressed and re-used which would be my choice. Always change out the condensers when doing the ignition job. I always replace anything and everything that remotely looks like it may need to down the road as I only want to do the job one time. Pull the mag plate and clean and lubricate
the lubrication points below it as well as the tower shaft etc. Look for wear points on all wires and replace and re route as necessary. Very common to see coil primaries touching the flywheel. Pay close attention to proper placement of the coils making sure they do not hit the flywheel. If you see the mag plate move with the flywheel rotation it is not right and an indication something is hitting so check it. Buy an OEM carb kit as it is complete with float etc. Completely pull apart the carb including the welch plug and the old residue from the needle seals. Again do the job once and do it right.
 
The carb actually looked really clean inside, and I suspect its been done before. It was on a stand next to a 14ft glass/wood boat when I found it there, so my take was that someone was using it on that boat on the lake there. The pile of empty shells in the boat tells me it was the duck hunting set up he used.
The lower unit is all apart right now. I was pretty much just going to list it for parts whole since I've got newer motors for my boat but when I saw some new parts, (Prop, water pump, plugs, and recoil rope and handle, I figured someone must have been using it when it was parked last, or were planning to when they died. Its hard to know for sure, because the same relative had over 200 motors, but this an 28 others were all in the main garage on proper stands, not leaning against the wall in the back room or attic.

I could likely just leave the points and carb alone, fix the top and bottom seals, and reseal the lower, but the gear shift lever in the lower unit is the big hit. All else is no big deal. I've got a bag of shift shaft O rings and a set of blind hole bushing pullers and seal pullers, both seals are already out, the prop shaft seal was already partially pushed out, I don't see no carbon ring, its a brass seal set in aluminum. The face of the seal and the brass around it is all torn up from something being caught in there. The seal actually pushed out when I applied pressure to the lower unit. The shift shaft didn't show any leaks, but the driveshaft seal was so bad it likely never built enough pressure. Oddly though no water got in there when I was running it in the tank. With how bad it leaked air I'd have thought it would have filled with water.

My first thought when I saw what it looked like was to just dump it on CL to the first guy with a $100 but seeing the new parts made me dig deeper. In reality it likely don't have many hours on it to still have that kind of compression.
I sorted all these motors out in three groups, junk/parts, which are those that havec something drasitic wrong, they're either stuck blown up, or have chipped skegs or av plates.
the second is anything fixable with common mainenance parts, points, plugs, w/p, prop, seals, etc. And the final group are complete, clean with good paint and decals, and need no hard parts.

The way I look at it is no motor, not even a new on in a box that's sat for 30 years is turn key. They all will need seals, a water pump, and any rubber parts needed to make it right.

Motors that I'm running each season get a new w/p impeller every second season. Its cheap insurance If I know a motor will be sitting a long time, I'll often pull the impeller out and bag it so it don't take a set while it sits too.
 
I don't fix anything if I'm not planning to keep and use it.
They just don't bring enough money these days, you could go through that thing and restore it to showroom condition and still not get any more for it then you would selling it as it sits.
The only way to get full value out of any motor seems to be piece by piece, one part at a time.

I had a 2018 Yamaha F90 that came off a boat someone gave me just to get it out the yard last year. The boat was a home made center console built from an old Sea Ray hull, the motor was still like new, and a new one then cost about $8,900 or so. I tried listing the whole boat but didn't get a single email. then I pulled the motor, parted out the hull and accessories, then listed the motor for $4k looking for a fast sale. It was a running motor being used the year before. I got no replies. I dropped the price to $3k, then $2k, and finally $1k, over the course of a year. I got a few $300 and $500 offers and a bunch of sob stories how they want it but don't have any cash. I got offered all sorts of junk in trade but no cash. Last Nov. tired of moving it around I sold the lower unit on fleabay, then I stripped it down bit by bit. In the end I got close to what it sold for new. Nothing sold local, about have of it went overseas. The lower went to WA, the prop to TX, the heads to the UK, the block to Guam, and the hood went to AZ. It was a shame to part out a nearly new motor but the fact is those who want it can only buy it if they can finance it and their credit cards are probably maxed out.
I find selling anything lately over about $25 nearly impossible lately.

If your up for parting it out, then go that route, since you know its not all seized, breaking it down to every last part won't be hard. Its no doubt the only way to get all our money from it.
If you just want a quick buck, (it won't be that quick), list it for $200 as it sits and wait till it sells. Sooner or later someone will want to tackle it but life is too short to fiddle with something that won't bring you any real cash. Your time is better spent fishing.
 
That would be a tough sale whole here, no one has any cash this year it seems. I'd be forced to break it down and sell it as parts if you want to realize any sort of money for it.
I'd guess close to a grand in parts if it all sells, but maybe $50 if you let it sit for sale whole, and then it may take a few years to sell.
 
The carb has a brown bowl gasket with a brass and cork float.
 
After nearly 70 years it would have to have been apart at least a few times i suppose.
I had it off and open just to make sure I wasn't wasting my time on it. It was clean inside with no sign of corrosion or old fuel. My guess is that the motor was being used by my uncle up until the time he had his stroke. It then just sat. He never left his motors on the boats, he always pulled the motor and hung it in the garage down by the pond, the simple task of carrying the motor by its grab handle or bracket likely drained the carb out everytime. I do the same with my motors. I never leave them with gas in the carb. I find it even more important with four strokes that don't have the oil residue to protect the metal. With my four stroke motors, I keep a 3gallon tank of premix heavy in fuel additive and about 100:1 oil mix which I run the motor on while I flush it out at home after each use, then I run it till it stalls with the fuel line off. Then simply carrying the motor into the garage drains out any left over fuel. I've not messed with the carb in my 9.9hp Mariner in the 25 years I've had it. (Yamaha power head).

I"m still on the fence about spending any money on this thing, I know if I fix it it won't sell for any more than it will as is.
Finding buyers for fixer upper motors is tough these days, it seems no one knows how to hold a wrench any more.
 
what LDUBS said. Zero monies to be made on throwing money at a vintage motor.

But...

The 18 is an awesome motor. (as are all the 22ci versions....as are all the early OMC twins...)
For me, it would not be hard to spend less than $200 for a rock solid design that will be bulletproof for another 60 years.
 
If I enjoy rebuilding old motors then I might go for it -- hobbies cost money. Same if I needed the motor. But if strictly to make money, then the question has already been answered -- there is none to be made.
 
I'd fix it but that's me. even if its only for occasional use, those are cool looking and great running motors, it just that lately we seem to have lost most of the types of boaters who appreciate those motors.
There does however seen to be a bigger market for parts then whole motors. I've found way too many deals lately for things to be anywhere close to normal. There's been a ton of use motors, early and late model for sale cheap all spring with no takers.

I'd set it aside and sit back and wait for a parts motor to turn up, chances are you'll find one soon enough with how many I'm seeing for sale. Buying a whole motor for parts for $50 is almost always the answer.
It may even turn out to be a better motor than the one your working on. Just four years ago I couldn't find a single used moor on CL or FB worth buying now many are all but giving them away.

The main drawback to me about those older models is that they require more oil in the mix and at $60/gal for oil, it can get pricey fast.
 
When I first bought my 16ft boat it had a 1964 Evinrude 18hp on it, the motor ran great but drank fuel like crazy. I was used to my 14ft boat and its 9.5hp that would run all day on 6 gallons of gas and oil. I happened on a 9.9 four stroke and never looked back, the 9.9 four stroke will go all day on less than 3 gallons, maybe even go two days on the river if its not windy.
My 16ft would go through two 6 gallon tanks in a day of fishing the river, about 12 miles or so each way out to the bay through countless no wake zones with no fuel stops along the way. With the old 18hp, it ran 50:1 mix, and I dumped a 16oz bottle into every 6 gallon tank. Back then it cost about $16 a tank for fuel, so figure $32 for the day, and another $10 for bait and $15 in the tow vehicle.
Now, gas is more than double, oil has gone crazy these days and is even hard to find some days.
The dealer no longer has the bulk oil, and the only options are $58 or $65/gal jugs.
Walmart used to have it a few dollars less but they stopped carrying it after 2020.
The whole fishing and boating section is decimated with only a few trailer draw bars, rod holders, and plastic handle drain plugs if you lucky.
A tank of 24:1 premix would cost me just under $40 per tank or about $80 for the day. Its no wonder there's no boats out there anymore. I used to go at least twice a week and after I retired about four times a week skipping Friday through Sunday. That would cost me $320 a month in fuel and oil. Not counting bait or the four gallons of fuel I'll burn in the truck getting the boat to the ramp. When you get only $850/mo in SS and still have to pay $9k a year in property tax, $5k in truck insurance, and $5k in homeowners insurance, Yes, the cost of fuel and oil these days hurts. None of that is taking into account the cost of groceries either these days. If I didn't have savings from not spending anything my whole life I'd be really screwed right now. My house, car, truck, and boats are all paid for. If I ever loose the ability to make a buck on the side I'm sunk. What's worse, nearly everyone I know is in the same situation these days. We do generally split the costs but the way it works out is I pay for fuel in my boat and he pays for his boat. His burns more fuel though since he's running an early 70's Mercury 500 (50hp) on practically the same boat. He hasn't registered his boat yet this year though, many haven't because the DMV now specializes and boats have to be renewed in person if you skip a year, and that means going to a regional office 80 miles or so away. Many though just seem to take their chances because they haven't been hassling anyone lately about registration stickers. Its actually been a while since I saw a current sticker on the water here. They rarely give you a ticket the first time, so every year you get away with it is another $28 in your pocket.
 
When I first bought my 16ft boat it had a 1964 Evinrude 18hp on it, the motor ran great but drank fuel like crazy. I was used to my 14ft boat and its 9.5hp that would run all day on 6 gallons of gas and oil. I happened on a 9.9 four stroke and never looked back, the 9.9 four stroke will go all day on less than 3 gallons, maybe even go two days on the river if its not windy.
My 16ft would go through two 6 gallon tanks in a day of fishing the river, about 12 miles or so each way out to the bay through countless no wake zones with no fuel stops along the way. With the old 18hp, it ran 50:1 mix, and I dumped a 16oz bottle into every 6 gallon tank. Back then it cost about $16 a tank for fuel, so figure $32 for the day, and another $10 for bait and $15 in the tow vehicle.
Now, gas is more than double, oil has gone crazy these days and is even hard to find some days.
The dealer no longer has the bulk oil, and the only options are $58 or $65/gal jugs.
Walmart used to have it a few dollars less but they stopped carrying it after 2020.
The whole fishing and boating section is decimated with only a few trailer draw bars, rod holders, and plastic handle drain plugs if you lucky.
A tank of 24:1 premix would cost me just under $40 per tank or about $80 for the day. It’s no wonder there's no boats out there anymore. I used to go at least twice a week and after I retired about four times a week skipping Friday through Sunday. That would cost me $320 a month in fuel and oil. Not counting bait or the four gallons of fuel I'll burn in the truck getting the boat to the ramp. When you get only $850/mo in SS and still have to pay $9k a year in property tax, $5k in truck insurance, and $5k in homeowners insurance, Yes, the cost of fuel and oil these days hurts. None of that is taking into account the cost of groceries either these days. If I didn't have savings from not spending anything my whole life I'd be really screwed right now. My house, car, truck, and boats are all paid for. If I ever loose the ability to make a buck on the side I'm sunk. What's worse, nearly everyone I know is in the same situation these days. We do generally split the costs but the way it works out is I pay for fuel in my boat and he pays for his boat. His burns more fuel though since he's running an early 70's Mercury 500 (50hp) on practically the same boat. He hasn't registered his boat yet this year though, many haven't because the DMV now specializes and boats have to be renewed in person if you skip a year, and that means going to a regional office 80 miles or so away. Many though just seem to take their chances because they haven't been hassling anyone lately about registration stickers. Its actually been a while since I saw a current sticker on the water here. They rarely give you a ticket the first time, so every year you get away with it is another $28 in your pocket.
I live in Georgia and my cost of living seem much less than yours, where do you live if I may ask.
 
Lets say I use Rec fuel (no alcohol) and the price is 4.25/gallon.
or - regular 89 octane at 3.75/gal
Walmart has not stopped selling 2-stroke oil by the way.
Walmart Super Tech oil (which is manufactured by either Warren oil Co, Exxon Mobil, or Pennzoil) at 18.75/gallon

So.....at a 24:1 ratio we have.
Fixed oil price would be 32 oz or 1/4 gallon so divide the 18.75 by 4 = $4.69

6 gallons of Rec would be 25.50 per 6 gallons
Add the oil : Total would be $30.19

With standard 89 octane your total price would be $26,89 per 6 gallons

I grew up on 18hp engines and still love them and run them. Even back then there was no way I would burn 12 gallons in one per day!
They burn less than 2gal/hr even at WOT !! You would have to be running over 6 hours at WOT plus stopping to fish to burn 12 gallons out of an 18hp in a day.
Back off to a cruise RPM with them and you are probably burning no more than 1.25-1.4 per hour.

Let me further put this in perspective for you.

I run a 1960 V4 75hp on the back of my Glaspar G3. First thing out of anyone's mouth about those engines are that they are "fuel hogs"
My cruise fuel burn with that engine is right around 4.6 gph. and that is a 75hp.

This is the internet after all...................
 
I'm in New Jersey, about an hour out of Philly.

Prices here have skyrocketed lately, most good sources either never reopened after 2020 or they were never the same again. Walmart has been worthless since then. They cut down the size of the boating, fishing, and auto sections and doubled the cell phone and game areas.
A gallon of oil was $19 in 2019, now, if you can find t its over $60 for anything name brand.
Walmart either stopped carrying it or just never has it. I bought four cases of BRP oil about four years ago at an estate sale for cheap but I'm down to the last few jugs. I called the dealer at the shore and they told me I'd be better off buying it on Amazon because they reserved tehir inventory for their regular customers. The Yamaha dealer sells BRP non synthetic TCW3 oil in 2 1/2 gallon jugs for $132. I can buy it online for $120 plus tax with free shipping.
I had some Valvoline and Penzoil but haven't seen either in a while. I really liked the Pennzoil oil but it had gotten up to $27/gal before the local parts store stopped carrying it after 2020.

Gas last weekend was $3.88 at Exxon. DIesel for the truck was $3.85 at the truck stop.

I just talked to someone who thinks he may want the 18hp motor, possibly a trade deal.
Its apparently a match to a boat he's got year wise and it'll give me a motor I can better make use of on the boat I just picked up.

My 14ft boat when I was running a 15hp Yamaha two stroke would burn a full 3 gallon tank heading out, and most of a 6 gallon tank coming back. that boat was a modified V hull Grumman It struggled to get on plane though with two guys.
I had a 70hp Johnson for a while on a 16ft Starcraft SS, it would drink about 4 gallons an hour at about 5500 rpm heading out another 3 or 4 out in the saltwater, depending on how much twe moved around, and then the majority of another 6 gallon tank on the ride home.
It was better with just me but with two big guys onboard it really sucked down the fuel.
The motor was new when I got it in 1985. The boat was about 400lbs, plus I'd carry four 6 gallon tanks of gas plus a few extra gallons of oil, plus a fish cooler and food cooler, both with ice. and the boat had a 9.9hp kicker motor as well on a bracket. At the time I was around 388lbs, my neighbor that fished with me most of the time was over 420, both of us wer 6ft3in tall.
I'm a bi heavier now that I've been retired for a few years, and my current fishing buddy is about 330 lbs or so and my boat now is an open 16ft boat with an 80's 30hp Evinrude. Its nearly as hard on fuel as the 70hp was in the old boat making a similar run. The big change these days is that the newer diesel truck gets closer to 16mpg with the boat in tow, where as my old 454 Chevy dually got about 8 mpg then. I'd use my Towncar to tow the boat but I'm not big on putting it on a slick boat ramp.
 

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