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6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

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  • 6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

    I have a 6HP Johnson Model # 6R-69M. (I'm guessing that makes it a 1969?). I have owned it since the mid 70's. A few years back it started getting hard to move the shift lever between gears. It got progressively worse until the shift lever broke off in my hand.After that I was still able to shift it with pliers on what was left of the shift lever. Even that got really hard to the point that I decided not to even try to shift it anymore and just start it and run in forward gear.(I use it as a mostly as a kicker). 2 questions 1. What is the probable cause of the hard shifting and how do I correct it? 2.How do I remove/replace the shift lever? There is a grease fitting where it mounts but no visible nuts or screws. I don't have a replacement lever yet - I want to make sure I can fix the hard shifting problem before buying a lever. I have a Clymer manual but it doesn't discuss this problem at all or show a breakdown of the parts involved.


  • #2
    Re: 6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

    Hi Mooner This is a fairly comman problem. The reason this happen is do to lack of maintaince. There is corrosion around the shaft inplace of greese. You will have to remove the powerhead to get to the shiftshaft to disassemble. Of course buying a new lever/shaft is the right way to go. How ever since this is a popular little problem, new ones are a little spendy, if you ask me. Finding one used is another option. Most of the time I just remove the shaft, clean it up and weld on a handle. I just use scrap,etc. If you still have the broken piece that could be a plus. I have even put the hole in them for the shift cable. With a little imagination, grinding and filing a fellow can make it look fairly decent also.

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    • #3
      Re: 6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

      Drain the grease from te lower unit. I suspect you will get mud out of it. By mud, I mean old water contaminated grease that has caused your shift dog to be frozen in one spot on the prop shaft. Probably means a L/U rebuild is in order

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      • #4
        Re: 6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

        Thanks for the replies. I suspect that Alcan has me pointed in the right direction. I have changed the lower unit oil pretty regularly so I don't think the problem is in that area. OK, so you do you have any tips on removing the power head? I've never done it. Hopefully I will get to give it a try this weekend.

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        • #5
          Re: 6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

          Hi Mooner Removing the powerhead on your unit is fairly stright forward. I do how ever suggest that you obtain a manual. You might find a copy at your public library. You will also need a new gasket between the powerhead and exhaust housing. I suspect that you will be facing a challenge in removing the shiftshaft. There is an o-ring and a plastic bushing on this shaft. You may need to use heat from a propane tourch and some penetrating oil. Be carefull, wiggle and pull,wiggle and pull, this may take some time. Once removed clean up the shaft. Use a drill bit to clean out the hole (by hand). If the o-ring and bushings get melted replace them.

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          • #6
            Re: 6HP Johnson - hard to shift - broken shift lever

            Hi. I just wanted to close this out. The advise from Alcan was right on the money. After removing the power head I was able to get the old shaft out without too much trouble(no heat ). I replaced the lever and shaft with a used one and the motor shifts fine. You can bet this one will see grease early and often! Thanks!

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