Stern drive problem? Wierd!

by kenny
(lemoore ca)

Alright, I have a 18' 1986 seaswirl open bow with the 4.3 and omc outdrive. A couple weeks ago I went to the lake for some skiing, after about 3 hours on the lake I smelled a wierd smell, I thought it smelled like propane, but no propane on the boat. It would only smell at speeds higher than idle. So I brought it home and tried to see if I could run it and find the problem. No luck, I took it out again to try and search some more. This time it was worse. I inspected everything in the engine compartment and everything looked fine. The alternator was charging at 16 volts and it seemed like the smell was coming from the alternator, so i replaced it and the battery. Yesterday I took it out again and ran it for about thirty minutes, everything seemed better until the motor bogged down. As soon as it bogged i let off the throttle and shut it down. When I attempted to start the engine again the steering wheel turned. Then I opened the motor cover and when you turn the steering wheel you can watch the pulleys on the front of the engine turn at the same time, and it turns the outdrive also. After a 7 hour day waiting for my brother, thank god he was able to help, to tow us in I looked at it in the driveway. We put the boat in gear and can't move the propeller, second with the stern drive up, when the steering wheel turns you can see that the ball gear on the stern drive is spinning, causing it to spin the ball gear on the back of the engine. So when I turn the steering wheel it turns the ball gear on the outdrive and turns the outdrive as it should. I checked the oil in the outdrive and it looks black and it smells just like the smell I had observed the week before. I don't know if anyone has had this happen before or if anyone has any advice of what might have happened it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for any help

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Jul 25, 2009
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Lower Unit Frozen
by: Anonymous

Sounds like something in the lower unit is frozen. The driven gear on the lower unit is not turning, so that when you turn the steering wheel and rotate the lower unit it causes the drive gear on the intermediate drive to turn, thus moving the engine pulleys. This would also be why your engine bogged down. I had a Mercury outboard once that bogged down like that and then would die whenever it was put in gear. That turned out to be a wad of fishing line causing the prop shaft to seize up. If you're lucky it's something like that. If not, it's a lower unit bearing...$$$$$$$.

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