Now that the lighting outside is decent I snapped a final photo. This one includes the supposedly marine-grade pinstriping that I added last night.
Now that the lighting outside is decent I snapped a final photo. This one includes the supposedly marine-grade pinstriping that I added last night.
Last night I began to wonder if the alignment tool was going in far enough, since the old drive had to almost be pried out and forced in, so I took a mallet and hit the end of it. It slid in another half a foot or so. The fix for that is to align the engine. Unfortunately, the starboard side alignment nut is rusted so much the entire mount needs to be replaced. I tried WD-40, Liquid Wrench, and a mixture of ATF and Acetone on it, without success, along with wrenches, a sacrificial cut-down deep socket on a breaker bar (none of my short sockets clear the bolt, and none of my deep sockets cleared the exhaust manifold), and even went so far as to using a slide hammer to beat on the end of the breaker bar which did nothing except start ripping the lag bolts that old the mount to the transom in. Against my better judgement, I also tried a torch but didn’t push my luck with it because this is near the fuel lines pump. In the end, I probably spent six hours trying to do this the proper way by breaking that bolt loose. The real solution at this point is to replace the mount altogether, which I wanted to avoid because I don’t have one on hand and don’t want to wait.
After a while I decided to detach the mount from the transom, lift the engine, and shim underneath it. This is not a long-term solution, as next time I pull the drive for maintenance I’m going to replace the mount. The shim is a piece of HDPE, so it should outlast the boat assuming nothing needs to be adjusted. I also replaced the spark plug wires but they aren’t the same length as the originals, and are too thick for the OEM attachment mounts, so I’ll have to get in there with and make some zip tie looms to hold them properly. They’re hanging over the mount in the photo. They are Sierra Marine and a “direct replacement”, but sure don’t fit like they are. Nice wires, though.
When it came to installing the drive, I didn’t use my fancy drive stand.That thing is still extremely useful and I’ll keep it around, but I happened to read in the service manual I downloaded that you can buy a 1/2-13 eye hook and feed it into the dipstick hole. Seems to do the trick and allows me to use my engine hoist:
I accidentally bent the shifter cable by getting it caught between the gimbal housing and the outdrive. I couldn’t get it straight enough to smoothly slide into the sheathing, so I ended up removing a couple inches of sheathing. Another couple hours lost and another part to order next time I do major maintenance. Again, it should work for the time being without any real issues. With the drive finally back on the boat, I drained out the old oil and went to work on the shifter seal. It requires a specialty tool that I don’t have, and I tried to improvise but didn’t feel comfortable with the result. I ended up using the shifter mechanism from the SX-M on the SX-S, with the new O-ring from the seal kit. They’re slightly different but it seems to work just fine. Most of the parts on the drive are interchangeable and this is hopefully one of them. Another specialty tool to buy and another seal, to get the old drive ready to sell.
After getting the drive on, I ran the it in the driveway for about twenty minutes to get the motor up to operating temperature. Everything seemed to be working great, and I could shift into forward and reverse and spin the prop without issue. It’s nice and quiet compared to the old drive, except for the exhaust. Need to make time for a lake test in the near future.
I read lots of forum articles, the service manual, and watched a few Youtube videos before tackling this. Most accounts complained about how difficult it was to get the old bearing out and get the new one in, and used specialty tools that Volvo and third party companies charge big bucks for. Ultimately, I decided it was time to buy a slide hammer. It’s not the specialty tool that Volvo and most parties recommend now, but is what they mentioned in an old 1994 copy of the service manual. It cost around $60 on Amazon, far less than the $150 for the specialty tool, and will do be useful for other things. In fact, after using it and playing with some of the attachments, I don’t know how I’ve gotten by this long without one in the shop.
I configured the 3-jaw puller attachment for internal use, and fed it through to the backside of the bearing. Three or four racks of the hammer and it pulled right out. Extremely quick and easy.
To install the new one, most places sell a $25-$60 piece that you slide on the alignment tool. I would have bought one, but Amazon didn’t have any for delivery over the weekend and I was hoping to get it back together by tomorrow. So off to Home Depot I went:
A 3″ piece of PVC pipe seats perfectly on the outside ring of the bearing cartridge, which is the safest area to beat on. I bought a 2′ section and added an end cap to provide a good hitting surface. About 15 whacks with a 3# sledge, and it was firmly seated. Again, quick and easy. I checked that it was tracking straight every couple hits, but it’s really difficult to mess up with the way the 3″ pipe fits in there.
It is difficult to see but I marked the casing with a thin Sharpie where the grease fill is, and visually lined it up with the grease tube and zerk on the right side of the gimbal housing. I put the alignment tool in and spun it while adding blue marine grease, until grease started coming out all the way around, then wiped away the excess. It took most of the mark with it.
Finally I used the put the alignment tool in and hit it L-R-U-D with a rubber mallet, to square everything to the engine coupler, then used my PVC pipe to hit the bearing another time for good measure, and checked the alignment. All looks good and the action is very smooth. This project went quicker and easier than it was made out to be online, and if you want to do it with $70 worth of multipurpose (instead of specialty/ single purpose) tools I highly recommend the ones I listed in this post.
I pulled the old outdrive last night and found the U-joint bellow full of water. The U-joints have surface rust on them, and the gimbal bearing seems okay, but should be replaced after any exposure to water. I had a mechanic replace the boots for me because I had already pulled the drive twice, and the price was right, but when I inspected the bellow I removed I found damage from a screwdriver being used to pry the edges into place. I am sure that is the cause of the water intrusion, but I went ahead and took sandpaper to all of the mating surfaces, to make sure there are no other areas for entry when I reassemble. U-joints run around $400 a set, I think, and the bearing around $50. You need a specialty tool to remove it that runs $150, but I read about people successfully doing so with a slide hammer, so I grabbed one of those from Amazon for $70 instead. This is another case of if you want something done right, do it yourself.
The U-joints are not the ones that have grease zerks, so they are non-servicable. I have a spare set from the new drive, so I don’t need them, but I was hoping to sell them along with the old drive once I fix it, to get some money back. I’m going to look at cleaning them up, since they still feel okay:
I found bluing from excess heat on the shafts and the input of the upper unit was very difficult to turn. I opted to pull off the bearing carrier and inspect the upper unit, which seems surprisingly easy to turn by hand and in great condition internally. That means the issue is either the bearing carrier or the connection between the two. The bearing carrier spins freely, so this pinpoints the lash that needs to be set on the drive. It’s the shim at part 15 on this diagram that needs to be measured, purchased, and installed:
I found the instructions for measuring it online, but need a special $50 tool to do so (in addition to a micrometer, which I already have).
The drive had a single .003 shim in it, which is what it came to me with. I wonder how long this has been wrong. It says it may need up to five shims, and .003 is the smallest size they come in. This caused excessive heat, noise, and I’m sure wear on the drive. But fortunately it looks like a simple fix compared to what I thought it would be when I pulled the drive and attempted to turn the input shaft by hand. I found a used Volvo P/N 3850600 on Ebay, and placed a bid on it for $20. We’ll see if I get it.
I’m still waiting on components to finish up the outdrive, but am hoping to repaint the upper hull of the boat as well as align, replace seals on, and install the outdrive this weekend. It’s going to be hot, but we should be ready to get back out on the water by next weekend.
The painted 2×4 under the packages of Volvo-Penta parts is my swatch stick. The blue on the left is what is currently on the bottom of the boat, and the blue on the right is what will be going on the boat.
I made a simple outdrive stand that I will sit on top of a cheap motorcycle lift I ordered from Harbor Freight with a 25% off coupon. It has a solid 16ga steel bottom that will act as a support and attachment point, and hold an oil pan. Depending on how it works together, I may end up running some bolts through the platform on the lift. This beats the $400+ ones you can buy commercially, if it works, and should make working on the drive (which should be pulled and inspected annually) much easier. It isn’t pretty but should get the job done. The front of the stand is open so that the drive can slide in or off the stand, as needed. The prop is a spare for test fitting only.
Yesterday I grabbed the trailer I was concerned about, and took it for about a fifteen mile ride @70mph (probably 73mph if my speedometer were calibrated for the new tires) up and down TX130 Toll. After that, I took a somewhat twisty backroad to the house and performed some maintenance.
This was the maiden towing voyage for the Method Racing MR305 NV HD wheels I bought, rated for 4500lbs, and the Cooper Discoverer STT PRO tires I paired them with, which are massive (measuring 35×12-3/8″ with a tape) and rated for 4080lbs. I was worried about the stability and handling when towing this pin-heavy trailer. We usually run with a rear axle weight of around 7500lbs, loaded.
Towing felt a little less stable than the 19.5s, but not as much as I expected, and everything still felt comfortable enough for me to take on the road with confidence. If anything, as we add weight, we may need to slow down to 65mph and relax a bit. This trip was with an empty aux tank (which holds approximately 350lbs of fuel) and no passengers in the cab.
This was with 75PSI rear and 65PSI front, and the rear tires, despite the weight on them, didn’t seem to bulge that much. It does ride a little pin high and the hitch is adjusted as low as it can possibly go, as is the pin box, so it will either have to ride a little nose high or I will need to try lowering the truck a little bit to make it ride level. It is probably fine as-is, but I need to measure the height to the top of the AC unit and see what we’re actually dealing with.
While it was here, I replaced the Anderson 4-way valve cartridge and one of the toilet’s flushing mechanisms, both due to leaks. We had a hard freeze over the winter that damaged both of them, and because we don’t usually have freezes like that here, the RV wasn’t properly winterized. I ordered spares as well. Then I moved on to the underbody storage. I pulled everything out of it and lumped it into a huge pile in the garage. The pass through storage had inflatable kayaks, paddleboards, a telescope, and all sorts of things we thought we would use often but rarely did. I went to Home Depot and bought a few plastic totes to organize the remaining items and then stacked our new fence in there.
Wait, fence? When we were out at Lake Georgetown a couple weeks ago, there was a couple across from us with two dogs that set up all of their seating and pavilions inside a large, portable fence. We’ve seen lots of creative solutions for fencing, but nothing as nice as this looked. We talked to them about it and they were extremely happy with it, showing us how it worked, how it packed down, etc. They found it on Amazon. As this is something I’d been casually looking for, it piqued my interest greatly and we ended up ordering it.
The fence is actually a modular play pen by a company called BestPet. It consists of 8 40″x32″ panels that connect together using thin rods that essentially work as hinge pins between the panels. You can drive them into the ground for support, or depending on the shape of the fence you build, allow the fence to be freestanding. Since they act as hinges, you can set them up at any angle, and due to the hinge design, you can set them up on moderately uneven ground. They said they never had to drive them into the ground, using four sets (85ft of fence line) in a large circular shape. Each set contains one gate panel. We ordered four sets on Ebay (much cheaper than Amazon) and set one up in the back yard to test and now it is still out there because it worked really well to keep the dogs from fence fighting the neighbors. The other three sets are stacked in the storage above. They do take up a fair bit of room, but I think they are practical and we will get a lot of use out of them. They beat tie outs that just get tangled.
UPS delivered the wheels and tires this morning, and I threw them on the truck over my lunch break. 2″ in the front, measured from the ground to the wheel wells. So far I’ve only driven them around the block a couple times, but they handled well. Towing the fifth wheel will be the real test.
The shipment was missing one of the center caps (which I left off the rear driver’s side of the truck, for now) and the lug nuts, but I was able to reuse the lugs from the Vision wheels. They have shipped out replacements.
I ordered a few parts for installing the new outdrive. Mostly documenting them here so I have the part numbers in one place for future ordering. The outdrive is supposed to be removed and inspected annually, and they recommend replacing certain O-rings and seals each time.
Reusable and/or multi-use items:
I doubled up all of those quantities this time around and it cost $20+$13 shipping from Marine Parts Express. It’s better to plan for a couple seasons due to shipping costs.
The outdrive on the boat has been making a loud whine, that sounds like the backlash is set incorrectly. That probably means it needs to be town down and re-shimmed, since the top shim is measuring correctly and that is the only one easily accessible. It also sounds and feels like it may have a bearing going out and I found some foaming in the oil after the last outing, which means one of the seals is bad (I replaced some, but not all). I considered having someone take a look at it, but the local boat mechanics I called are all backed up anywhere from 4-6 weeks, and want to charge north of $100 an hour to investigate. Not really wanting to do that, or have downtime, I found a used one on Craigslist that is in good condition, and gambled on purchasing it. My original plans were to use the new one on the boat while I did a complete tear down and reshim of the existing drive, then swap back over to it and sell the old one or keep it as a spare. But upon inspection, the one I purchased today is in far better condition than the one on the boat.
It’s from a Larson boat with a 5.0FL (Ford 302, 190hp) and those boats are typically runabouts or ski boats. That means a much easier life for the outdrive than a 250hp saltwater boat, as they usually won’t be subject to salt exposure or being left in the water long-term and are under less stress from the motor. I believe that to be the life this one led – it has absolutely no corrosion on it and no real sign of salt water exposure, a few scratches but no dents, chips, or missing chunks of skeg. It spins freely and was full of remarkably clean oil and apparently has good seals because it hissed air when I pulled the dipstick. I paid $800 for it, which is a steal compared to used ones on Ebay, which go for four times that much in this condition. If it is in as good of condition inside as it is on the outside, I will probably just throw this on the boat and sell my old one as-is for someone else to deal with.
This does happen to be a SX-S, not a SX-M like is on the boat now. The SX-S is an older generation (1994-1996, this one manufactured on 6/15/1994) vs the SX-M that started running in 1998. Fortunately, they’re 100% compatible regarding mounting and this presents no issues. The gear ratio is slightly different, with this one being a 1.66 vs 1.60, but close enough that it shouldn’t make much difference.
I didn’t bother sanding or doing much prep on it, but debadged it and threw a coat of fresh OE Volvo paint on to fresh it up a bit. It looks good from a few feet away, which is all I was going for. On inspection, I found that the outer part of the shifter seal is dry rotted, so I ordered a replacement for $20 online. Other than that, the U-joints are a little suspect, but are serviceable, so I repacked them. They feel a lot better, but I may swap the joints from the current drive over when swapping the drives out, depending on how they feel side by side. Those are kind of a maintenance item, anyway.