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Author Topic:   40 Johnson - Manual Tilt Failure
Jamber posted 12-15-2010 08:39 PM ET (US)   Profile for Jamber   Send Email to Jamber  
This chilly FL evening I went down to my 15 Super Sport (stored on my boat lift) to run the 1993 40 HP Johnson. I like to run it on the ear muffs every few weeks if I do not get a chance to use it. Unfortunately I have not been able to use the Whaler in the last few weeks (due to holidays, family visits, kid's functions, cold fronts, low tides...).

Anyway, my 40 does not have power tilt and trim, so as usual I got a good footing, put all my muscle into it and tilted it up, lock the assist tilt lever in the up position to put the ear muffs on. As I let it down, I eased the tilt lever so I could leave it slightly tilted (leaving it slightly tilted helps save the back as I was going to tilt it up again to remove the ear muffs after I ran it). As it went down something made a click sound that I never noticed before.

When I went to tilt it up, I grabbed the cowling/engine cover handle and put some pull on it and released the tilt lever. The tilt lever did not have any tension on it like normal. I continued to tilt the engine up with a good bit of effort, it started to tilt then POP the cowling came off! I fell back hard on my arse, landing on the helm seat, and trying to hold onto the cowling best I could. Unfortunately I could not and the cowling went overboard. Off course the cowling did not float, but the tide was pretty low and the water clear so I was able to fish it out with my boat hook.

I was shocked the cowling came off like that, ticked it was at the bottom of the canal but, glad l I did not really hurt myself. I flushed the cowling/cover to remove the saltwater and canal muck with a hose and then in a large Rubbermaid bin. I used the rubber maid bin as a make shift cover to keep the morning dew and rain out while the insulation inside the cowling dries out.
The latches for the cowling were all down, the metal catch on the cowling may be slightly bent.

So I went to try to lift the engine again and nothing, only budges slightly. I can not tilt it up at all. Kinda bummed as I have some time off coming up and wanted to use the Whaler. Any suggestions on how to fix this while still on the lift? I will not be able to get the Whaler on the trailer with the engine locked down. I remember on my previous Whaler there was screw to release the pressure to lower it if the the trim pump failed.I looked around the best I could from inside the boat (on the lift) but did not see any on the 40 horse.

RevengeFamily posted 12-15-2010 09:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for RevengeFamily  Send Email to RevengeFamily     
You stated your 40 HP Johnson does not have power trim and tilt, there for it will not have a manual bypass screw to allow you to lower the engine. The cylinder you see is simply a dampner to slow the tilting motion of the engine either up or down.

Being that your engine is a 1993, most likely the pivot joint has rusted do to age and the fact that the engine lives in a salt water environment. Break out your can of WD40, CRC or any other brand of pentrating oil and give the pivot location a spritz... allow the spray to soak in over night and then spray it again the next day. Follow up with 90w gear oil. With time and some assistance by you, it should start to move a bit.

I have a 1984 90hp Johnson without power trim and tilt, the pivot tube gave me trouble 15 years ago. I gave it the lubrication treatment outlined above. Over time it got much easier to tilt, but has never returned to like new. To keep it that way I spray and oil it twice a year. Sorry to say, I don't believe your engine will ever be as easy to tilt as she was in her younger days.

Best of luck,


Jamber posted 12-15-2010 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
Thank you Norm for your insight. I will look into the pivot joint.
I have owned the boat since April and it had a long previous life in fresh water with very little salt water use and is almost rust free, actually a very clean motor for 17 years old. So I doubt it is that, especially since it has been operating smoothly up to this point. The click that I notice has me thinking it is a spring of some sort for the tilt lever position lock. It seems to be have broken in a locked position. I will however hit that pivot join you mentioned with some grease as preventative maintenance. Thanks!

Right now I am trying to wrap my head around this exploded view to figure out where a spring could be for the tilt assist.
The only place I see is #29 listed as "Lever Ay. Tilt Assist." A $42.47 part. Not that bad if that is all it takes. Just not very clear to me and I want to be certain before I order a part.

Source for 40 Johnson ( J40ELET ) Exploded view :

Jamber posted 12-15-2010 10:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
Edit that above - it is #28 (NOT 29) on the exploded view. Sorry.
contender posted 12-16-2010 01:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Jamber, I see you are in Sw Fla. Where, Not to far from my home maybe I can take a look, E mail me, Also if you go to you can in large the view so you can see the area in question better (prices cheaper also, same part $34.40) I think your problem is/are the part #14 (pivot), #21 Tilt/lock area Good luck...
Russ 13 posted 12-16-2010 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Russ 13  Send Email to Russ 13     
Jamber, if you are in the Ft. Myers area...
There is a company called Superior Marine that has many
used outboard parts. You may find a slightly used T&T for your Johnson, or parts for the "ease of use cylinder".
CNC makes a nice T&T system.
The 40HP through 60HP Johnson/Evenrude T&T systems are in high demand, as so many engines were sold without this feature. Including the "special series"
In shallow areas, T&T is SO helpfull, & easy on your back.
Tohsgib posted 12-16-2010 03:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Sorry kids but I got this one being same happened to mine(1994)....twice. This is a unique system on the newer 2cyl loopers. It almost looks like a PTnT system but it is just a sealed hydraulic unit that allows you to set the engine height manually without a pin. These have their problems and unfortunately when they go bad, they won't allow to mine did in a foot of water. If you look at the unit it says "under high pressure, not a servicable unit" or something of the sort on it. You can try and work it or see if the cable(release) broke, etc. You might be able to use the boat if you stay in the channel. Now the bad part...they cost about $400+. What I did with mine was I bought a used CMC PT130 trim unit and converted. What else can you do is remove the unit and hope a pin/bolt will allow for a decent trim position which I doubt and you would have no reverse lock.
Jamber posted 12-16-2010 08:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
Yes I am in Fort Myers area - Bonita Springs to be exact.

Thanks for the offer contender. Should be good, but I will shoot you an email.

I have been meaning to get to Superior to look for a tach anyway Russ.
BTW, I have not seen you out in Estero bay, been looking for that 13 with the poling platform.

I will take a closer look at it this weekend, but I think Nick called. I actually did not mind the manual tilt with the lever design. It is simple and functional... well not now that I broke it. Especially at $400. Not cheap. Would rather of had a PTnT. I recently had to sink $400 into the engine for a lower unit rebuild and a prop reconditioning. Previous owner ran it with a dinged up prop and wore the bearing carrier causing a lower unit leak. So I am resistant to put any more money into the Johnson.

My big issue may be if it is stuck in the down position, how do I get it on the trailer? I do not have enI may have to get in the canal at low tide (I will be able to stand knee deep or less) to try to unlock it/disassemble it.

I have been seriously considering a Bob's Hydraulic Jake Plate due to the area I live in. In the winter months, when it is shallow and a fast moving tide, a jack plate will let me make headway much easier with a level but elevated engine. If my engine is un able to tilt, I think I may go this route until I re power in a year or two. This way I do not have to invest anymore into it. I can live without reverse lock, I have left it off many times and as long as I do not gas it hard in reverse I will be fine.

It may be time to just pull the trigger on a re power with jack plate anyway. But then I have the dilemma of choosing between a 60 E-TEC or F70!

Good news I should be able to use it as is, if I leave/return while the tide is high and I stay in the channel like Nick mentioned. So hopefully it will not ruin my next two weeks of vacation time.

I will report back! Thanks guys!

Russ 13 posted 12-17-2010 07:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Russ 13  Send Email to Russ 13     
Hi James,
I agree with the jack plate idea, money well spent.
It will open up access to many shallow areas for fishing.
And you will be ready for a repower later.
I have been busy @ time for sad!
Hope to get out on Estero bay between the holidays.

Jamber posted 12-20-2010 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
I had a chance to look at my manual tilt today.

I think it is good news...

The tilt lever shown here does not work:

It made a click then stopped working. The click sound appears to have been the connector on the backside of the tilt lever breaking. In this photo you can see the broken connector and the broken piece laying there.

Now did it click because something in the manual hydraulic unit failed and then I pushed it too hard? Or did just the connector fail? The hard part is that the engine is stuck down. Not sure if I can get in there to release it to lift the engine up to replace the connector. That is my next challenge.

The part I need is listed as $7.20 ~ #48 (48 0334153) "SHELL, Tilt assist cable" on the above exploded view.

Hope to fix it in the next few days and see you out on Estero Bay Russ.


Tohsgib posted 12-21-2010 11:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Bad news is you might have to hang the engine to get accesss.
flawton posted 12-22-2010 06:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for flawton  Send Email to flawton     
Please bear with me as I attempt to describe what has happened and a fix for your problem (it been awhile).

I had the same T&T failure several times on our early 90's 40 VRO (79 13 sport). The cable that operates the T&T system is much like a cable on a 10 Spd bicycle. It goes from the back of the "tilt lever" and at the other end it pulls a hydraulic release valve. Our recurring problem was salt water intrusion of the cable, corrosion, resistance, and failure. The plastic piece broke because the inside of the cable is corroded or frozen (you might be lucky and only the plastic piece behind the "tilt lever" is broken but I wouldn't hold my breath).

To release the T&T, follow the cable to T&T end, pop it out of its cradle while leaveing the ball in the valve and pull (might take some grunt). Might be hard to do on a lift.

I remember those cables costing $250+/- 10 years ago, no telling what they cost now.

I know there are some defenders of the faith when it comes to the Johnson vros of the early 90's but this manual T&T deisgn for saltwater was absoultely "craptastic" and cost me many an hour on the water (I had it fail in the up position as well). We cussed ourselves for not getting power T&T. Don't even get me started on the oiling systems.

I hope this helps, give me a shout if the above didn't make sense. My email addy in the profile is current.

flawton posted 12-22-2010 06:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for flawton  Send Email to flawton     
please excuse me, told you its been awile.

Part #48 is broken. work it from that end.

sorry for the mix up

Jamber posted 12-23-2010 06:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
Thanks Flawton. I looked up that cable and list price is about $80, more than I want to spend, but much easier to swallow than $250. The cable may have corrosion, but the rest of the engine is just about free of rust, but I guess it would not take much if salt water was sitting in there.

I picked up the plastic piece (#48) from my OMC dealer for $6.

This afternoon I tried to work it for almost an hour, it was very frustrating.
I just do not have enough room to get in there and I can not get seem to get a good angle from inside the Whaler (I may not be able to get it from outside the Whaler either). I tried to put a heavy string on the end and pull it, but no luck. I think a pair of very long needle nose vice grips would work, mine are too short and the tips too wide. Not even sure if they make longer/thinner vice grips than I have. Even if I can grip the end of the cable, will I be able to pull it hard enough to release the valve?

After giving up, I went for a short ride on the Whaler right before sunset just to remind myself it is worth the effort.

I think I may look at my trailer. I want to see if I can raise the bunks up so I can get it on the trailer (for more ground clearance) and work on it in my garage. When hooked up to my vehicle I think I have about 2 inches clearance under the skeg (when all the engine is the way down). Too close to drive on the road like that, but if I am able to raise the bunks enough, use my neighbors ramp down the block and drive REAL slow with a spotter for the skeg it may work.
If I do end up needing to unbolt/lift the engine I will then install a Bob's Jack Plate!

Jamber posted 12-30-2010 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
I was able to simply move my trailer bunks closer which raised how the Whaler sits on the trailer and gave me plenty of ground clearance with the engine in the down position. Now that it is one the trailer I can see much better from outside the boat.

There is still very little room to access the broken connector part. The engine will tilt up about an inch, that may be just enough to get my hand in the tight space to unscrew the broken plastic connector at the end of the cable and screw the new one on. I just need to secure the engine up really well so it does not crush my hand.

If I still cannot get enough room/access, would I be able to remove the tilt position bolt? If so would it allow me to just lift the engine and the hydraulic assembly? Or is that a bad idea? Would I not be able to get it back if the the tilt unlocked (released the piston)?

Here is a photo with a red circle around the tilt position bolt I am thinking about removing.


contender posted 12-30-2010 12:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Jamber: The bolt you have circled is the bolt that does not allow the engine to tilt toward the transom. It is possible that the lock maybe stuck on this bolt. I'm still a little confused why you can not raise your engine manually if you have open the bleeder screw and release the lock. I could understand if the lock is broken and stuck in the lock position, but you should be able to unlock it manually also.....Good luck
Jamber posted 12-30-2010 01:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
I can not find the bleeder screw/valve, others have implied this model does not have one.
Tohsgib posted 12-30-2010 02:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Read my 2nd post.

No bleeder on this system, it is HIGH preassure.

Jamber posted 12-30-2010 02:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
So Nick, if I attempt to remover the tilt/trim position bolt I won't be able to or I will never get it back in? It looks like with that bolt removed the whole assembly will tilt up. Then I would need to secure it up and have access to the cable with the broken connector.
Tohsgib posted 12-31-2010 12:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Dunno! Good Luck! Keep posted!
seahorse posted 12-31-2010 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     


if I attempt to remover the tilt/trim position bolt I won't be able to or I will never get it back in? It looks like with that bolt removed the whole assembly will tilt up. Then I would need to secure it up and have access to the cable with the broken connector.

Your motor has a latch to keep it tilted all the way up for servicing.

Use caution if you are trying to replace the cable. The trim uses pressurized nitrogen for the tilt assist and correct servicing procedures and care must be followed. Use a service manual and eye protection and understand what you have to do.

Jamber posted 01-01-2011 12:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamber  Send Email to Jamber     
Success! Well almost...

I tried to remove the tilt adjustment pin/bolt, but no luck. After a while of spraying and tapping I gave up. It is frozen and will not budge.

I used my floor jack to jack up the engine as much as it would go (about an inch and a half). Then put an old transom saver I had laying around in place to secure the engine from falling (that inch and half) and prevent my hand from being crushed when I inserted it under the engine. This gave just enough clearance. I used a thin piece of rope tied to the end of the cable that I pulled and worked so I could access the cable end. It took some force(maybe too much), but I got it.

The $6 part next to the broken one at the end of the cable.

Unfortunately I broke another plastic part on the $80 cable when I pulled on it so hard.

I then used two vise grips to pull on the cable and release the hydraulic assist. Now I am able to tilt it up and have full access to underside of the engine! I will pick up a new cable this week and hope to be back out on the water next weekend!

Thanks everyone for the advice!

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