Mastertech logo  Used parts link

to get great parts for your outboard?

Right Here!


A Fun Old Porcelain Sign and Ancient Tools

Sign Reads "Wanted: Good Woman Must Be Able To Clean, Cook, Sew,  Dig Worms, and Clean Fish.  Must Have Boat and Motor. Please Send Picture of Boat and Motor.


Meet the MasterTech!
(click picture)

Bill the Master Tech


If your Mfgr. says:

That motor's 7 years old!!
Part is no longer available.
We lose $$ on service!
EPA made me do it!
Part's at central warehouse, you'll get it next month.
We don't make parts for those.
We only do warranty work.
Our techs only fix late models.
No clue what's wrong! So we'll work time & material.


the Mastertech!




view shopping cart
In Your Cart:

A guide to troubleshooting the Johnson/Evinrude
60 Degree V6 Optical ignition (OIS 2000) 1991-2003 model years.

The following information is presented for the use of MASTERTECH'S customers as a courtesy by CDI Electronics. This ignition system produces very high voltages and due care and caution must be practiced in working with it.

The timing wheel cover is a machinery guard. Use care and caution when working on a running engine. MASTERTECH MARINE, CDI Electronics and their respective employees cannot be held responsible for any injuries or damage resulting from the use of, or application of the following data. Please read the final paragraph below.

We have chosen to narrow this troubleshooting guide to the Johnson/Evinrude 60° 6-cylinder ignition (OIS 2000) 1991-2003 model years.

Due to the differences in this ignition system, troubleshooting can be somewhat difficult if you are not familiar with the design. The other Johnson/Evinrude QuikStart ignitions use stator charge coils and a power coil to provide high voltage and power for the QuikStart and rev limiter circuits. They require a timer base for triggering and use separate magnets for the high voltage and triggering the timer base.

The OIS 2000 optical system uses the stator charge coils to provide high voltage for the firing of the ignition coils and a power coil to provide power for the electronics both inside the power pack and inside the sensor. The other QuickStart models will run the engine without the power coil being connected (of course this will burn out the control circuits inside the power pack).

The OIS 2000 ignition has to have the power coil supplying power in order to operate the QuickStart, S.L.O.W., rev limiter, and fire the coils beyond cranking speed. The optical sensor located on the top is fed power from the power pack and sends crankshaft position, cylinder location and direction of rotation back to the power pack.

The pack is smart enough to know not to fire if the engine is not turning in the right direction. S.L.O.W. functions to reduce the engine RPM to approximately 2,500 when the engine overheats. QuikStart (a 10° timing advance) activates as long as the engine RPM is below 1,100, the engine temperature is below 105 F and the yellow/red wire from the starter solenoid is not feeding 12 volts DC to the power pack all of the time. QuikStart also will activate for five to 10 seconds each time the engine is started regardless of engine temperature.

At cranking speed the voltage from the stator may not be enough to operate the circuits inside the power pack, therefore there is battery voltage supplied from the starter solenoid via the yellow/red striped wire. The extra voltage is needed in order for the optical sensor to operate correctly as low voltage from the battery and/or stator can cause intermittent or no fire at all.

There are a couple of critical items you need to be aware of on these engines. First, the spark plug wires need to be the gray inductive resistor wires - these are not automotive wires. Secondly, the spark plugs should be the factory recommended QL78YC. Use of other spark plugs or wires can cause problems inside the power pack from RFI and MFI noise. CDI Electronics has the spark plug wires available as a set P/N: 931-4921.

A breakthrough at CDI Electronics has allowed the use of microprocessor digital control circuits to handle the timing, QuikStart, S.L.O.W., rev limiter and data logging inside the power pack. This allows the timing to be set using a timing light, remote starter, spark gap tester, piston stop tool and a jumper wire.

With these new digital power packs, you disconnect the port temperature switch/sensor leads and use a jumper wire to short the tan temperature sensor wire to engine ground. Once you have verified the timing pointer using a piston stop tool (or a dial indicator), connect all spark plug wires to a spark gap tester, and connect a remote starter to the engine and a timing light to the No.1 spark plug wire.

When you crank the engine over with the remote starter and check the timing, you will notice the timing is set to approximately 4°- 6° ATDC (after top dead center). By advancing the throttle all the way and rechecking the timing for WOT (wide open throttle), you should see approximately 19° - 20° BTDC (before top dead center). Without this timing feature built into the power pack, you would not be able to easily set the timing for idle or WOT without the Johnson/Evinrude optical diagnostic tool.

Another nice features allowed by the digital circuitry include the ability to compensate for a bad temperature switch, a smoother rev limit, customized rev limiters and special timing curves.

Additional items to be aware of:
  1. Early 150 and 175 HP engines did not have the tension washer on top of the sensor encoder wheel. This washer is necessary to keep the encoder locked in place. If it is not on the engine, you may experience erratic firing of the cylinders or no fire at all. If it is missing, please install the correct washer.

  2. 1991 and 1992 engines did not have a shift interrupter switch. This resulted in hard shifting and required a conversion to fix.

  3. The shift interrupter switch killed the fire on the starboard bank of cylinders from 1993 through mid 1990s. By 1998, a change was made for the shift interrupter switch to kill the fire on the port bank.

  4. 1991 through late 1990s engines sometimes developed a crack in the water jacket allowing water into the intake at high speed. This typically resulted in #1 cylinder-ingesting water. You can usually see signs of the head looking like it has been steam-cleaned inside the combustion chamber.

  5. 1991 and 1992 engines came out with a black-sleeved power pack (P/N 584122) and stator (P/N 584109) and used a P/N 584265 sensor. In 1993 the power packs were changed to a gray sleeve (production) power pack (P/N 584910). The stator was changed to a gray sleeve (P/N 584981) and the sensor was changed to P/N 584914. Engines with ignition problems had a service replacement power pack with a blue sleeve and a replacement sensor installed as a set. The blue-sleeved power pack was only available as a service replacement. The gray-sleeved stator could be used with all of the power packs, but the black-sleeved stator was to be used only with a black-sleeved power pack. The sensor P/N changed to 586343 in the late 1990s.

  6. Some engines do not have the RFI/MFI noise shield between the ignition coils and the power pack. If it is missing, replace it!

  7. The gray inductive spark plug wires replace the black copper spark plug wires that were used on the early 1990s engines.

Originally the spark plugs were the QL82YC, but that recommendation was changed to the QL78YC for improved performance. Helpful tools used by the author in troubleshooting these engines:

  • DVA Adapter P/N: 640
  • Fluke Multimeter P/N: 530
  • Spark Gap Tester P/N: 511-9766

No fire at all
  1. Check the kill lanyard and key-switch position.

  2. Verify the engine rotation (The engine needs to be turning in a clockwise direction).

  3. Check the power pack and ignition coil ground wires for corrosion and tightness.

  4. Connect a spark gap tester to all cylinders.

  5. Disconnect the boat side harness and connect a remote starter unit. Check for spark. If the engine has spark, check the boat side harness's black/yellow wire for shorts to ground.

  6. Disconnect the 5-pin connector on the port side of the power pack and see if the spark returns. If it does, use the fluke meter set to ohms and see if the black/yellow wires are shorted to engine ground.

  7. Check the battery voltage on the yellow/red striped wire while cranking the engine. If below 11 volts, charge the battery or check all battery cables.

  8. Remove the sensor wheel and check for damage, especially where the top slots are located. Sometimes the wheels will break out where the windows overlap.

  9. Check the sensor eyes for dirt, grease and the like. If you need to clean it, use denatured alcohol and a Q-tip. Do not use any other cleaning agent because damage to the optical lens will occur.

  10. Disconnect the voltage regulator/rectifier and retest. If the engine now has spark, replace the regulator/rectifier.

  11. Using piercing probes and DVA adapter or DVA Multimeter, check the resistance and DVA voltage on the 6-pin stator connector while connected as follows:

Orange Orange/Black 50-60 OHMS 12V or more
Brown Brown/Yellow 450-600 OHMS 150V or more
Brown/White Brown/Black 450-600 OHMS 150V or more

Low readings on all checks indicate a possible problem with the flywheel magnets that needs to be checked.

Service note:
It is recommended that liquid neoprene be applied to the areas where piercing probes were used.
  1. If all the tests so far show good readings, check the DVA output from the power pack on the primary coil wires as follows:

Orange/Blue Engine Ground 130 or more
Orange Engine Ground 130 or more
Orange/Green Engine Ground 130 or more

If the DVA values are below these specifications, the power pack or sensor is likely bad.
  1. Check the DVA voltage on the black/orange and orange/red sensors leads as follows:

Orange/Red Engine Ground 12V or more
Black/Orange Engine Ground 12V or more

  1. If an oscilloscope is available, check the white/blue (crank position signal) and white/green (cylinder position signal) sensor wires while connected to the sensor. With the engine cranking over, you should see a square toothed pattern on both wires. The white/blue wire should show one pulse per revolution and the white/green should show seven pulses per revolution of the engine. See example chart below:

No spark on one bank of cylinders
  1. Using piercing probes and DVA adapter or DVA Multimeter, check the resistance and DVA voltage for the bank without spark on the 6-pin stator connector while connected as follows:

If the power pack has no spark on one bank and the readings are good, replace the power pack.
  1. Disconnect the 5-pin connector on the port side of the power pack and see if the spark returns. If it does, use the fluke meter set to ohms and see if the black/yellow or black/orange wire is shorted to engine ground. Check to see if the shift interrupter switch is located in the circuit where there is no spark.

High-speed miss
  1. If the engine runs fine until you get above 4900 RPM and then starts missing, check the orange to orange/black power coil wires with an oscilloscope (if available) or replace the pack. A breakdown inside the pack could cause RFI noise to activate the rev limiter for no apparent reason.

  2. Using piercing probes and DVA adapter or DVA Multimeter, check the DVA voltage at the RPM where the problem is occurring while connected as follows:

Brown Brown/Yellow 150+V Starboard (1-3-5)
Brown/White Brown/Black 150+V Port (2-4-6)

The readings should rapidly increase as the engine RPM increases and stabilize below 400 volts (voltage exceeding 400 V DVA indicates a bad pack). A sharp drop in voltage right before the miss becomes apparent usually indicates a bad stator charge coil.

  1. Connect an inductive tachometer to the spark plug wires one at a time and compare the readings. If most of the cylinders show the same reading and one or two are different, check the primary wires with the inductive pickup to see if the readings are the same coming out of the power pack. A difference in readings between the primary and secondary coil wires indicates bad ignition wires. No difference indicates a bad power pack.

Will not rev up

Engine will not rev up above idle speed or only has spark as long as the starter solenoid is engaged:

Using piercing probes and DVA adapter or DVA Multimeter, check the DVA voltage while connected as follows:

Orange Orange/Black 11 - 24V

The readings should rapidly increase as the engine RPM increases and stabilize below 24 volts (voltage exceeding 24 volts DVA indicates a bad pack). A sharp drop in voltage right before the miss becomes apparent usually indicates a bad stator winding. A sharp drop in voltage when you let off of the starter solenoid indicates a bad power coil on the stator.

Shakes hard

Engine will not rev up above 2500 RPM and shakes hard (S.L.O.W. activated):

  1. Verify the engine is not actually overheating by using a digital pyrometer.

  2. Check the routing of the tan temperature wires, an example of a bad location is shown below. The tan wires need to be located as far as possible away from the spark plug wires.

  3. Disconnect the temperature sensors and see if the engine performs normally. If it does, check both temperature sensors and replace the defective one.

  4. If there is not any indication of a problem at this point, replace the power pack

Engine stays in QuickStart all of the time

Check the yellow/red wire for 12 volts while the engine is running. You should only see voltage on this wire while the starter solenoid is engaged.

As you can see, there are several critical steps involved with the troubleshooting of outboard ignition systems. The electronic components are not "magic black boxes" mysteriously making spark appear, but rather a complex system giving the engine the correct voltages at the correct time for years of trouble-free boating. Additional information for other engines can be obtained by visiting or I would like to give a special thanks to the technical service personnel at CDI Electronics for their help with this article.

Author Clark Beard is a senior technical service advisor for CDI Electronics and also serves on the advisory board of AMTECH.

IF you wish to service or repair your own ignition system, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you obtain an OEM model-specific service manual to help you. We have most available Right Here at Mastertech.

To Top

Please review our Warranty, Returns & Refunds policies before you place an order.


The information provided on these pages is correct to the best of my knowledge, however the MasterTech makes no warranty, express or implied, regarding the use of, results of, or liability created from, application of this data. This information is disseminated in good faith, however MasterTech assumes NO LIABILITY whatsoever in regard to this service. The information, software, products, and services published on this web site may include inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mastertech may make improvements to this site at any time. Parts ordered from this website may or may not be in dealer stock at the time of order. Thank you for reading.