How to Make Your Own Power Tilt Mechanism for an Outboard

How to Make Your Own Power Tilt Mechanism for an Outboard

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Having a power tilt system on an outboard motor gives the owner great operating flexibility. Being able to adjust the angle at which the propeller bites the water dramatically affects both speed and performance. Many larger outboards are delivered with an attached hydraulic tit and trim system. For those that are not, owners will need to purchase and install a commercial unit or improvise their own solution. The best solution for a boat owner wishing to install his own power tilt system is to install a mechanical linear actuator at the top of the transom.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrenches

  • Metric socket set

  • Tape measure

  • T-square

  • 1/2-by-4-by-10-inch aluminum 90-degree angle channels

  • Power hacksaw

  • Power drill

  • Rented outboard motor hoist

  • Mechanical light-duty DC linear actuator

  • 2 linear actuator light-duty mounting brackets

Set Up the Motor Board

Step 1

Examine the outboard's motor board and its connection to the transom. If the motor board is connected to the transom by means of a jack plate (a two-piece metallic assembly that provides on-the-fly height adjustment of an outboard motor), unscrew or disconnect the upper control linkage or, if it is mechanical, the upper lug bolt. This process allows the outboard to rotate freely toward and away from the transom, thereby effecting a tilt motion. The only additional requirement is a means of powering that motion.

Step 2

Create a manual jack plate assembly, for outboards bolted directly to the transom, for indirect connection of the outboard. Measure and use a power hacksaw to cut two identical pieces of 1/2-by-4-by-10-inch aluminum 90-degree angle channels. Drill 1/2-inch identical pairs of holes through both flanges of both pieces, at the base of the flanges, 2 inches up from one end.

Step 3

Mount these channels to the transom and motor board, respectively, with 3 pairs of vertically aligned holes through which both pieces are bolted. These locations will vary based upon either or both of the transom or motor board's design. Make the connections such that the 2 channels meet facing and overlapping with the transom-side channel inboard of the motor board channel's right flange and outboard of its left flange. Note that installing a jack plate assembly requires disconnecting the outboard from the boat's transom -- a task that must be performed out of the water with a motor hoist.

Install the Linear Actuator

Step 1

Reattach the outboard to the transom, if necessary. Measure, mark and drill the 2 actuator mounting bracket holes through the transom. Do this by holding the actuator mounting bracket against the vertical surface of the transom, with its upper surface 2 inches below the top edge of the transom. Use a nail to mark the center of the drill hole locations on the transom. Drill the 2 mounting holes and mount the bracket with one-half-inch machine bolts. The bolt length will vary based on the thickness of the transom.

Step 2

Repeat this process to attach the second mounting bracket to the motor board of the outboard engine. It will be necessary to determine the exact mounting location. Hold the transom-attached actuator against a T-square and locate the mounting position of the bracket on the motor board.

Step 3

Verify the attachment the linear actuator to both mounting brackets. The arm-end connection should be onto the motor board bracket and the actuator base connection onto the transom bracket.

Step 4

Connect the wiring assembly to the DC circuit board or central electrical system. Test the power tilt motion by using the plus, or "Out," control. The actuator arm will be extended, tilting the outboard away from the transom. The minus, or "In," control retracts the actuator arm, causing the outboard to tilt toward the transom. If the motor is not actuated, check the wiring and reground the assembly. If the arm is only partially extended, replace the DC battery with an increased-wattage unit.


  • Use caution when working with power tools.


  • The model of linear actuator will determine whether the control is wired or wireless.
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