Johnson Outboard Motors

Production History

   The Johnson outboard history begins with four brothers from Terre Haute, Indiana. Lewis, Harry, Julius and Clarence Johnson. In 1903 as very young men they had built their first Inboard Engine. This 3 horsepower engine was installed in their 18 ft. Rowboat. Wanting more speed they built a 12 horsepower shortly there after.

   About 1905 they were in the inboard marine business with four different model engines. Their father's old barn was the factory. By 1912 they were making engines for Hydroplanes, Air Craft, Flying Boats and more. Their largest engine at this point in time was a V12 180 hp. From day one all of their engines were 2 cycle.

   Around 1916 - 1917 they had been experimenting with powered bikes. In 1918 they started producing the Motor Wheel in South Bend, Indiana. Approximately 17,000 were produced, but sales fell off when Henry Ford came out with his 375.00 Car.

   With poor sales of the Motor Wheel Bike, Lewis Johnson had drawn up plans to convert their small motor to a water-cooled outboard motor. This would be known as the model "A" which saw some production in late 1921. Its official model year entry was 1922.

   For the next 10 years the Johnson Motor Wheel Company would grow to be one of the premier outboard manufactures of the time. The Johnson outboards were becoming well known for their speed and sales were climbing.

   Johnson's primary competition was from Ole Evinrude and his "Elto" outboard line. Ole had been concentrating on light weight and Johnson had been developing and selling speed.

   Sales fell off for everyone during the depression years. Many companies went out of business and others fell on hard times. Johnson was no exception, although it survived the tough years, they were never able to fully recover.

   Part of their problem stemmed from investing so much money in advertising and developing higher horsepower outboards, for speed. These outboards didn't sell well during those tough years. In 1932 Johnson Motor Company went in to receivership. They reorganize, and tried a hand at the refrigeration compressor business.

   In 1935 Ralph Evinrude, (Ole Evinrude's son) and Stephen Briggs purchased the Johnson Motor Wheel Company from a brokerage firm in New York. The Johnson was formally merged with OMC (Outboard Motor Corporation) in 1936. In late 1936 OMC changed their corporate name to OMMC (Outboard Marine and Manufacturing Company). The new company was made up of Elto, Evinrude and Johnson. At this time, these three motors accounted for about 60 per cent of all outboards sold. It was about this time that Gale Products became part of the OMMC mix. They made products such as the "Lawn Boy" lawnmower and "Shop King" combination home workshop. They later manufactured the "Gale" outboard that was sold under many different brand names. Names like Brooklure, Buccaneer, Royal, Saber, Sea Bee, Sea Flyer, Sovereign and others.

   From this point on the Johnson outboard history becomes intermingled with OMC history. See Evinrude for the balance of history.

   Hard core parts for some of these outboards are getting more difficult to find as time goes on. Many older outboards used common Ignition and Carburetor venders for that period. Discount Marine Parts has Ignition and Carburetor repair kits for most all of these older outboards. If we don't have what your looking for, we have many sources to locate your part. Obviously some parts are just not available. We can sometimes find it used and often we have the part made if there is enough demand. Discount Marine Parts has a large inventory of parts for most brands of American made Outboards, Inboards and Sterndrives. We also have most parts and service manuals available.

Thank you for stopping by and please come back!

Johnson Model Number List

A - TS-20       V4-10 - 399              

Johnson   Model Year Guide

1921 - 1930       1931 - 1940       1941 - 1950       1951 - 1960       1961 - 1965       1971 - 1975       1976 - 1980

1981- 1985       1986 - 1990       1991 - 1995

Discount Marine Parts
Phone       4524 D Road  •  PO Box 98       Fax
906-466-2180       Bark River, MI 49807       906-466-0217

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Last Modified: 3/13/05