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ENGINE: 1990 Johnson 60HP VRO (model no: J60ELESM)

ANY suggestions beyond what has already been checked/ruled out as a the problem with this motor would be greatly appreciated.  A preliminary "thank you" to anyone/everyone who takes the time to reply or suggest further troubleshooting:

Its a 1990 Johnson 60 HP VRO model.  The power head was rebuilt two years ago.  Compression is good (110, 115, 110) and has a brand new power pack (spark is good). 

THE PROBLEM:  I had the motor installed on my 1984 17' Grady White at the beginning of last summer.  It ran well the firt 5/6 trips.  It then started to develop the "problem" - after running 3/4 Throttle it woud suddenly bog down and operate only at very low RPMs (just barely pushing the boat).   After sitting for a 1/2 hour or so, it would run fine again at low throttle up to WOT.  The last 6 trips or so of last summer it would 'bog down' more frequently and quicker.  I winterized the engine this past winter.  Gas was treated.  This spring the set up got a new RACOR filter, new plugs, the tattletale hose was relocated to run over the top of the engine block (service bulletin that I found for this make/model with issues of air pockets in the water jacket), new t-stat installed.  The motor ran off the '84 Grady White belly tank last summer and for the first 4 time this summer.  When I changed the RACOR filter, there were reddish/brown flecks throughout the filter.  The motor ran okay the first 2 or 3 times this past summer, but would again bog down at higher RPMs.  I took it to a reputable Johnson/Evinude dealer on the south shore (MA) and they installed a new power pack.  That did NOTHING - same problem with bogging down, same frequency.  (the receipt said "no output from power pack" - this could not have been true as I had run the motor 2 days before [separate issue - but it has a new power pack nonetheless])

Worried about the belly tank being varnished, I put the motor on a deck tank, fresh gas put in 3 new "Q" plugs.  Same bogging down problem, now occurring at low RPMs (the motor will not power up at all).  I changed the in-line fuel filter (the little white plastic one in the cowling) and took it out this past weekend.  The motor NEVER powered up, and was bogged down from the moment it was in the water. 

SYMPTOMS:  The past few times upon starting there is a lot of smoke that comes out of the engine.  The deck tank is brand new along with the fuel line/fuel pump ball.  The fuel line pump ball NEVER GETS HARD while the engine is running.  In fact, pumping the fuel ball does not seem to anything at all - it doesn't affect the motor and it never pumps up hard.  When I changed the plugs 2 weeks ago they looked oily and wet.  The VRO is intact.  When I pump the fuel ball, I have not noticed any leaking, and have not noticed any gas in the water around the motor.  The motor does not stall (at times when going into gear it will), but will generally stays running, but acts as if it is either getting too much fuel and choking down or not enough fuel, starvation. 

I am not sure if the marina that I bought the engine from 2 years ago rebuilt the carbs - I have not pulled them apart.  I have read on this forum that if the powerhead was rebuilt, then it has to have a new fuel/VRO pump (the pump in this engine (VRO) pumps both the fuel and the oil).  There does not appear to be any difference in the performance (or lack of performance) since taking the boat off the belly tank, though I am pretty sure the belly tank is probably varnished.  VRO oil level is well above half full. 

ANYONE out there have any educated thoughts on this?  Its been two summers of disappointment with this motor and trying to troubleshoot.  Thanks in advance!

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Hello sounds like restriction in carbs. try activating choke when bog occurs to see if engine picks up rpm. you can also spray fuel into carb to help isolate 1 bad carb. In most cases the high speed jet located in bottom of carb bowl behind drain screw will restrict fuel flow at high speed.

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hi there
i had a similar problem to yours and i did exactly the same replacing cdi packs,stator assy,coilpacks and ht leads.but to no avail.
i traced the problem to a fusible link in the main engine harness you need to strip the insulation back to find the link.The problem i had was that when the engine reached about 1000 rpm the unit started to misfire and on the water the boat would bogdown.I believe this has something to do with the vro pump assy and when there is either a problem with oil feed or fuel pressure a signal is sent to the cdi unit and the engine enters a limited operation strategy, a get you home mode.The part itself cost me about £10 in the uk and took about 30mins to fit with a soldering iron.
hope this helps

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I too have a 1990 60HP Johnson and it is doing the exact same thing you describe, trouble at WOT, RPMs above 4000. The only thing I can add is that as the problem is getting worse, the engine will not restart and needs to sit for 1-2min. Once it dies from WOT I can tell there is no spark, as if an over-temp condition exists, but It's not even warmed up.

Also, the problem seems to be related to engine temperature, the engine will act up for 10-15min and seems to work/function normally when it's at proper warm-up temp. The problem is getting worse as you say in your post. I've rulled out gas and carbs 99%. The VRO is by-passed and 50:1 mix is good, proper oil. 91octane etc... I think I have an ignition issue.

Did you go for that fusable link as was stated in the last post? I hope you were able to fix it... I know this is 2 years old.

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The first thing I would do is check the overheat warning horn.  If the motor is overheating it is designed to not let the motor go over a certain RPM.  If the horn doesn't work then you hvae no way of knowing if it's overheating other than it won't throttle up. They go bad all the time. You should check the horns operation at least every year.

To check the horn. turn the key to the on position. Unplug the connection at the temp sensor at the head (brown wire)and touch the harness end of the connection the ground. The base of the spark plug will do it.  If you don't hear the horn/buzzer/alarm your horn is not working.  A weak water pump can cause this.  It doesn't matter if you see water coming out of the pee hole or not.  The termostat on these opens at higher rpms by the water pressure from the pump.

Hope this helps.    Mike
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One other thing.  I've been working on these for years and I never heard of a fusable link in the wiring harness. An inline fuse yes but not a fusable link.

One other thing you can do is unplug the temp sensor from the head and see if that doesn't make the problem go away but don't leave it that way. If it makes the symtoms go away you need to correct the problem.   Mike
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As a follow-up, I ended up taking the boat in and the dealer replaced the power pack. Bench test as well as post-opp water test seem to suggest it was indeed a faulty power pack.

So far so good.... but 20yr old 60HP is perhaps in re-power range soon.

As a side note... I tested my horn and the circuit seems good, but the horn itself at the control box is dead, it makes once a very faint noise. When I turn the key I always thought there were a sqweak, but it was the initial horn test. So... I'm just going to assume that opening the control box to replace or repair the horn would be a waste of time.
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I have a garbage can full of bad warning horns.  I have seen them fail in every way possible.  Yes they can chirp when you turn the key on and still not sound when it over heats and visa versa.  The only way to be sure is to test it!
   I'm not saying that's everyones problem but it is the first place to look.

 The thermostat in these models do not work like a car thermo. It's spring loaded and works off the water pressure from the water pump. If you have a weak water pump it's not going to open it enough.  If your warning horn doesn't work or you don't have a gauge you are not going to know it over heated other than it runs ruff when you try to give it throttle.

  Once again I never heard of a fuseable link in the wiring harness.  It may be something unique to European models.  Maybe some one else Knows. 

 Power packs can also make spark fine when cool but fail when they get warm.       Mike
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