How to Disconnect the Shift Linkage in a Johnson Outboard

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The shift linkage is the only complete connection between the upper part of your Johnson outboard motor and the lower part of your motor. While motors with less than 5.5 horsepower do not have shift linkage to disconnect, if you are removing the powerhead from your outboard or removing the lower unit from your outboard, and if your outboard has a powerhead more powerful than 5 horsepower, you can only complete the work if you disconnect the shift linkage.

Items you will need

  • Small adjustable wrench

Press down on the engine cover latch. Lift the engine cover from the motor.

Loosen the shift lever shaft nut with a small adjustable wrench.

Pull the shift rod from the lever.


  • Count the number of counterclockwise turns of the nut that are required to release the shift rod. When you reattach the linkage, you must turn the nut clockwise that same number of turns to ensure the length of the shift linkage throw remains the same.


  • "Johnson Repair Manual -- 2.5 to 250 HP Models, 2002-2007"; Seloc Marine; 2007

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.