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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My '73 Johnson 20 horse mentioned in another thread seems to be running great now, but for this one thing: she won't stop in response to the tiller (throttle) position, and keeps idling away when the tiller is fully clockwise, which is supposed to stop the motor.

It's not what I'd call a "show stopper," given that I can choke 'er off, and always run the gas out of the carb at the end of an outing anyway; but I'm wondering what's up with this? Is it an idle adjustment issue? Faulty tiller-activated switching mechanism?

I noticed some connectors on the bottom right, so evidently the motor can be electric starting, and may be meant to be shut off with a key. I'm totally unfamiliar with electric start motors. But if so, some other parts are evidently missing. Again, not a show-stopper as it is. But electric starting would be nice to have if I can get it working.

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Time to adjust something. At age 47, it's due. Check the throttle plate when the tiller twist control is fully closed. Check for looseness or broken pieces in the twist control. Then sort it out by adjusting, lubricating and tightening things. Replace any parts that you find need to be replaced. The normal stuff you have been doing every season.
 

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Interesting, my manual start ‘73 25 horse has a button on the pan that grounds out the coil leads, and that would be the proper way to kill the engine. Its also on electric start models.

There should be a (plastic?) screw pointing aft, behind the tiller arm, outside the cowl, which gives you your idle stop speed. I guess you could turn it out until it dies at the lowest setting. It’s great you can idle it that low without dying though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There should be a (plastic?) screw pointing aft, behind the tiller arm, outside the cowl, which gives you your idle stop speed. I guess you could turn it out until it dies at the lowest setting. It’s great you can idle it that low without dying though!
Yes, a friend who is an engineer and antique outboard collector told me the same thing. I actually wondered if that screw (which is evidently metal on this engine) might adjust the throttle setting, but the references I have had nothing about tillers and throttles. Not even a mention of "tiller" or "throttle" in the index of the Clymer manual.

I'll only really know how low it's idling when I'm on the water, but it does seem to be quite slow and smooth, especially for a 20 horse. Really liking this motor so far.

Appreciate the responses, everyone.
 

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@fishinthed Can you post photos? It will help others to offer suggestions. Also it seems the general consensus on this site is that the Clymer manuals are not robust in the quality and quantity of information delivered. Buy or download a proper OEM manual for your motor. Google, our friend, will help with this.

In your searching try using the terms “control” or “hand control”.
 

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It has nothing to do with any throttle setting except for the lowest - it’s a stop, where the armature rests against the business end of the screw. I don’t think my manual mentions that screw, but yeah the clymer is junk.
 

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The electric start harness is covering the former kill switch hole.
I wonder if what got put on was a combo starter and kill switch. One of the posts there is probably the ground. The other two, one probably is juice for the starter, and the other is for the coils.

Remote diagnosing a modified engine with parts missing is difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I just attempted to run 'er again and the gears for the throttle were totally stuck, revving on full throttle, so I had to choke 'er off. I'm at a loss. I will have a go at taking apart the tiller and putting it back together again, since that's the only thing I adjusted since last run. Probably didn't run the gas out of the carb, either, so I hope this is just due to something being jammed in the tiller that can be fixed, or at least worked around for now right quick!

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Seems to be stuck in the engine, not at the tiller. The arm that sticks up from the gears below. What could have happened? Any ideas on how to get it unstuck? I'll do some quick internet searches.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My mechanical engineer and antique outboard friend informed me the problem had to do with some lever activated by the neutral shift that is supposed to prevent the engine from revving up too much in neutral, but in this case did the opposite. No problem in forward, tiller and throttle move freely, so I guess I'll have to run 'er in forward, or at least confirm the throttle moves freely before starting 'er if in neutral.
 

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Sometimes those safety things get bound up when engine is in off, in forward with lots of throttle then put back into neutral without taking the throttle back down. Solution is to put in fwd, bring throttle all the way down, pop into neutral, then bring throttle back up to the neutral stop... then it’ll be ready to start. It makes sense if you watch how all the levers operate with the cowl off.
 

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If you’ve ever watched someone pull start an outboard like this in gear only to end up falling overboard when the engine fires up more forcefully than expected and having the boat circle the person in the water, you’d probably get the neutral issue sorted out before using it. I witnessed an incident like this as a kid while I was sitting on a dock. My dad ran out to help the guy in one of our boats and luckily nobody got hurt. For a while I thought I had a front row seat for watching someone get mangled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Exactly what I intend to do, Mister Tom, and point taken, piketroller. My friend warned me about that, too.

I've rarely used neutral or reverse (don't think ever reverse) on any engine yet in my 12ish years of boating. The auto transmission Merc didn't start well enough to give me the chance. But 20hp has been the maximum, I've usually been running 7.5 horse or less engines, and I never started in forward anywhere near full throttle. I have often noticed the tiller markings to be off, so I couldn't start engines with the tiller appearing to be at "start", but actually being at "slow". But I've learned to feel a sort of "notch" at the true start position, which I confirm by going forward a bit and back.

But that said, evidently the neutral issue was having 'er throttled too high in neutral, "jumping the stop", so to speak. The tiller actually moved very freely, feeling rather loose. So I'll confirm free motion before attempting to start the engine in neutral. Maybe it will need a shift dog and I'll have to take the lower unit apart to fix it (ugh). Hadn't ever experienced anything like this before, so it totally waylaid me. The Merc has automatic transmission, so when that one is fixed the issue won't even be in the mix.

Learning a lot, and there's no real easy way.
 

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If you’ve ever watched someone pull start an outboard like this in gear only to end up falling overboard when the engine fires up more forcefully than expected and having the boat circle the person in the water, you’d probably get the neutral issue sorted out before using it. I witnessed an incident like this as a kid while I was sitting on a dock. My dad ran out to help the guy in one of our boats and luckily nobody got hurt. For a while I thought I had a front row seat for watching someone get mangled.
About 20 yrs ago I was at a remote fly-in lake with 5 or 6 others. No other camps on the whole lake and nobody checking on us fire 3 more days. A storm was coming in and the younger guys were out across the lake. One of the adults decided to go get them without attaching the kill switch.

He fell out in rough water and had to push off the boat several times as it went around and around him. Not sure what we would have done... that wasn't the last trip we made to that lake, but it was the last time we didn't rent a satellite phone.
 

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Exactly what I intend to do, Mister Tom, and point taken, piketroller. My friend warned me about that, too.

I've rarely used neutral or reverse (don't think ever reverse) on any engine yet in my 12ish years of boating. The auto transmission Merc didn't start well enough to give me the chance. But 20hp has been the maximum, I've usually been running 7.5 horse or less engines, and I never started in forward anywhere near full throttle. I have often noticed the tiller markings to be off, so I couldn't start engines with the tiller appearing to be at "start", but actually being at "slow". But I've learned to feel a sort of "notch" at the true start position, which I confirm by going forward a bit and back.

But that said, evidently the neutral issue was having 'er throttled too high in neutral, "jumping the stop", so to speak. The tiller actually moved very freely, feeling rather loose. So I'll confirm free motion before attempting to start the engine in neutral. Maybe it will need a shift dog and I'll have to take the lower unit apart to fix it (ugh). Hadn't ever experienced anything like this before, so it totally waylaid me. The Merc has automatic transmission, so when that one is fixed the issue won't even be in the mix.

Learning a lot, and there's no real easy way.
Problems usually don't occur from people planning on doing something dumb like pull start an outboard in gear with the throttle half open. What happens is someone does a couple pulls without it starting, and they get frustrated. The will start advancing the throttle to see if that works, and when their arm gets tired, they start yanking with both hands, and often standing up in the boat to do so. Then on the fateful yank, someone is standing up, off balance, with the outboard cocked to the side and something they never dreamed of doing falls into their lap.
 

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Problems usually don't occur from people planning on doing something dumb like pull start an outboard in gear with the throttle half open. What happens is someone does a couple pulls without it starting, and they get frustrated. The will start advancing the throttle to see if that works, and when their arm gets tired, they start yanking with both hands, and often standing up in the boat to do so. Then on the fateful yank, someone is standing up, off balance, with the outboard cocked to the side and something they never dreamed of doing falls into their lap.
Back in the 70's a couple of my friends were skiing behind an ancient wood speed boat with an equally ancient outboard. Motor stalled. Friend goes to start the boat without taking it out of gear. Boat starts as you describe. He falls out the back. Other buddy gets up on his ski behind the boat, which is now headed toward shore with no driver. Boat ends up ramming a nice canoe that was beached in front of a neighbors lake front cottage. Old guy cottage owner was sitting in the yard when it all transpired. Buddy skiied right up to shore behind the boat and killed the motor. I think they ended up giving the guy 3 or 400 bucks for the canoe. Good times.
 

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If you’ve ever watched someone pull start an outboard like this in gear only to end up falling overboard when the engine fires up more forcefully than expected and having the boat circle the person in the water, you’d probably get the neutral issue sorted out before using it. I witnessed an incident like this as a kid while I was sitting on a dock. My dad ran out to help the guy in one of our boats and luckily nobody got hurt. For a while I thought I had a front row seat for watching someone get mangled.
Would you even be able to start it if it was in gear. I am not sure but I don't think I can start my 15 hp in gear which is a 1979.
 
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