After two frustrating years of drive issues I am finally out on the water not tied up to the dock!
Over the past two years I have had several issues that have kept me at the dock rather than out on the water. In 2011 I had issues with both engines overheating multiple times. I replaced both impellers on the drives with Sierra Impeller Kits. That change seemed to resolve the issue for the trip back to my dock however on the very next trip the engines overheated and smoke was billowing out from the engine compartment. After cooling the engines down it was back to the dock to look at the impellers again. Visually they appeared fine. I then thought maybe a faulty water pump could be the issue. I replaced the starboard water pump and a couple of hundred dollars later no change. I then removed the new impellers and re-installed new BRP impellers. Poof the overheating issue was solved. It appears the BRP impellers actually click into place ensuring a proper seating which was not the case with the aftermarket Sierra product.
In the spring of last year (2012) I had a mechanic perform repairs and maintenance on my twin Cobra drives. I had them change the exhaust and drive bellows, gimbal bearings as well as both lower shift cables. In total last year I may have spent 5 hours away from the dock. Every time I would leave the dock, I would either lose shifting capability for of one drive or the other or at one point both drives while coming in to dock. Not a comforting feeling to say the least. Despite repeated calls to the original mechanic and several visits to adjust the cables the problems persisted. I continued to call about the issue and would receive dates and times when he could look at it but the dates and times would pass and no mechanic.
In the fall I was docking for the last time to remove the boat for the winter and as I approached the dock both drives started to grind and then nothing. I made it to the dock luckily in one piece and called the mechanic yet again. His diagnosis this time was possibly faulty lower cables. The very same cables he just installed in the spring.
This spring I had had enough and called in a new mechanic, Stuart from Genuine Marine. What a difference. He showed up at exactly the time and date we had arranged. It took him only a few minutes to determine the lower units were toast due to improperly adjusted cables. During his inspection he also noted that rather than use the inexpensive tool made to install the Gimbal Bearings they were installed with a hammer and punch leaving punch marks where it slipped off the bearing.
Stuart adjusted the cables at the engine as much as possible to give me power on both drives but indicated the lower units would have to be replaced or rebuilt although they might possibly last me the season with a lot of continued grinding.
The drives lasted for two short 15 minute trips before they finally gave up the ghost altogether. I contacted Genuine Marine again to look at replacing the lower units. Stuart came through again finding me two Brand New Lower Units including a difficult to find Counter Rotating unit, for the same price as rebuilt.
Within a week Stuart was back with the shiny new lower units, new lower shift cables and gaskets for the install. While removing the port lower cable we came across more poor workmanship. The brass fitting at the end of the cable where it connects to the shift assembly was bent at least a half an inch and it is a wonder it ever even moved.
Stuart then proceeded to take a tool from his box and bolt it to the drive at the shift lever. Never having seen this tool before with the original mechanic I asked what it was for. "You need it to ensure proper alignment of the cable and the shift lever" was his reply. Well that might also explain why the original mechanic could never adjust the cables properly.
With the old drives off we also noted something else. Remember the overheating issues from 2011. Well look at the water tube in this next photo. You will see the discoloration of the copper tube as well as the remains of the burnt up flapper valves that melted from the overheating. Now I know where the smoke was coming from.
Within five short hours the lower units were on, the boat back in the water and shifting like a dream! Looking back I don't know why I waited so long to change mechanics. I would have saved myself a considerable amount of money and frustration. If you are in the Ontario I would not hesitate to recommend Genuine Marine to anyone.