1966 Lark 8 Electric Shift Problem

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    Good morning AOMC members.

    I have a slight problem. I bought a 1966 Lark 8 Electric shift model for 25 bucks. Motor is in great shape from the looks of it. It did not come with the controls for it though, so basically I am wondering if it would be easy to build a small switch running 12V power to select F, N, R. The wires don’t look very thick either, so would a boat battery overheat those wires? I doubt I could find a shifter for this close to where I live, and I don’t want to sink hundreds of dollars into something that might not even work.

    Also, there is a tube attached to the exhaust plate, and I figure that as the exhaust gets hot and travels down the tube, it expands the metal coil in the automatic choke to then turn the choke off. Is that how it works? However, there is also another hole in the exhaust below it that is also threaded but has nothing plugging it. I am more than happy to not use the automatic choke and would like to remove that pipe… my question is, should both of those holes be capped if I get rid of the auto choke?

    Thank you for any advice. I know they didn’t make electric shift models for that long, and in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a mechanical shift linkage. No wires, fewer problems!


    US Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 3168
    Topics: 48

    I don’t recommend trying to wire some sort of control box up yourself….The wiring harness has critical wiring for the shift system as well as generator feed for the ammeter. Do you have the main wiring harness? Or, do you need the control box and the wiring harness? A control box is not too tough to find, although the shift switch might not be any good….
    Trying to wire this stuff up yourself could lead to issues that might damage the gearcase…. Accidentally flipping some toggle switch at too high an RPM will probably damage one of the shift coil springs. A poor connection might cause the gearcase to momentarily lose power while running at high RPM. This will probably damage the gearcase as well…
    The generator is a must have for this engine because the gearcase is a constant draw on the battery when in gear. Low voltage could cause the gearcase to jump out of gear also.

    That tube in the exhaust cover does exactly as you say, it heats up the choke coil for the automatic choke… The other hole should be open so the hot air can be drawn through up to the choke coil.. Both holes can remain open if you decided to remove the pipe and use the choke manually. No actual exhaust goes through that pipe so you don’t have to worry about exhaust leaks, why is it that you want to remove the pipe, is it broken?

    The electric shift engines work nicely, but the wiring/generator and switch must be right and in good condition, so it is more complex than the standard clutch dog system… Let me know if you want to find a decent control box, I’m sure we can find something affordable….D


    Replies: 5143
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    I know how to jury-rig the shift to work work without the proper control, but won’t tell you for the reasons just stated, not to mention safety. For $25 investment, you can afford to buy a control—if you can find one. The (new) shift switch in it costs ten times what you paid for the whole motor.


    US Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 925
    Topics: 146

    You likely know this already, but when shopping for control boxes, remember that the Electramatic spring-clutch setup (which you have) uses an entirely different control logic than the Hydro-lectric motors and they don’t interchange.

    Ginning up a homebrew switch for either type is easy enough, the problem is in not having an interlock to prevent shifting at speed.

    You likely also know that the Johnson control boxes are different than the Evinrudes. Either will work on either motor–but in my experience the sliding interlock piece on the Evinrude push-button boxes is very often missing or broken. I like the Johnson design much better but the shift switches can go bad and are scarce/expensive, as people are noting.

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