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Thread: Need really good advice on shift cable replacement--several issues

  1. #1
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Need really good advice on shift cable replacement--several issues

    Hi,

    I have done a search and read related threads, but need some more help, please. We recently replaced the transmission on our E30+. The new transmission (a Twin Disc) was slightly larger, about 1" longer and the control lever is on the opposite side from the previous Hurth transmission. So the gear shift cable was routed a bit differently, but seemed to work fine when it was attached, and has been trouble-free for the next two months.

    Today, when leaving the dock, the transmission would not shift out of reverse to neutral or forward. I undid the cable at the transmission, and the transmission itself is shifting smoothly. But the cable is absolutely stuck, though it was free yesterday and shifted smoothly.

    In looking down the pedestal, the shift lever only moves the cable forward in the pedestal, rather than down the pedestal--a yacht specialties pedestal. I don't know if there is supposed to be something holding the cable firmly in place in the pedestal to let the cable insert move down the cable smoothly???

    Also, in looking at the cable routing, both the gear shift and throttle cables come down the pedestal, then beside the hot water tank angling towards the stern and down under the flooring below the steering quadrant, and then out of sight coming forward under the fuel tank to the transmission. This seems to me to be a convoluted routing--is there a simpler way. But I'm also worried that if I change the routing, the cablelength will be off and it won't shift properly.

    Can anyone shed light on how I should proceed with this repair?

    Thanks,
    Frank

  2. #2
    Principal Partner treilley's Avatar
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    Frank, I am not sure what you mean by "moves the cable forward". The cable housing should have a set screw that holds it in place while the inner cable moves.

    In this photo you can see where I lifted the shifter cable assembly out of the binacle.

    It sounds like you may have bent the inner cable which is really not a cable at all but a rod. My boat also had a similar routing with a cable that seemed too long. I replaced it with the exact same Morse cable assembly thinking that the engineers at Ericson were clearly smarter than I am.

    Last edited by treilley; 05-28-2011 at 06:02 AM.
    Tim R.
    Living aboard in Portland, Maine
    TKR on a boat Blog
    Boat Projects and Photos
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  3. #3
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Thanks, Tim. Is yours a Yacht Specialties pedestal? It looks a bit different from mine, though I'm not at the boat at the moment to check. Regarding the cable movement, when I try to shift from reverse to neutral or forward, the rod/cable simply bends toward the bow, rather than going down the cable housing in the pedestal. It's as if the cable doesn't want to move. At the transmission end, I can't pull the connection to the transmission forward at all--it's like the cable is seized, even though it worked fine when I went sailing yesterday.

    I'll have to see if there is a spot for a set screw or other way to hold it in place in the pedestal. I hope I haven't bent the rod too badly trying to get it into neutral as I was backing into the dock/sailboat behind me.:eek: Fortunately, I was going slow and could stop myself before doing any damage, but it is unnerving when you can't get the boat out of gear!!

    Regarding the cable length, I am really puzzled by the strange routing of the existing cable. As well, I know that the original was replaced by the previous owner, but he may not have replaced it as it was originally. Also, the new transmission has the lever on the opposite side and is an inch longer, so I'm not sure how that might affect cable length--any thoughts? I'm thinking I'll get the same length, look for any opportunity to route it more directly, and then try to see if it will shift properly.

    Thanks for your reply, and still looking for any other advice.

    Frank
    Last edited by Frank Langer; 09-20-2009 at 05:46 PM.

  4. #4
    Principal Partner treilley's Avatar
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    Mine is also YS. I would just go buy the cable and replace it. It is not all that difficult or expensive. It should have a part number on the red housing and you can buy them at www.hamiltonmarine.com.
    Tim R.
    Living aboard in Portland, Maine
    TKR on a boat Blog
    Boat Projects and Photos
    -----------------------------------------------------

  5. #5
    Principal Partner u079721's Avatar
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    When I went through the hassle of having a gear shift cable break, and then replacing both cables, I found that the cables used on my 38 were longer than they needed to be, by at least a couple of feet. The factory of course knows (or can figure out) what the perfect length is - so all I can figure is that they must have lots of different length cables around (for different models?) and they sometimes make do with what they have.

    My point is that I would NOT assume that the length of cable - or the cable run - are ideal, just because the factory did it that way. Mine was really messed up, and much better when I was done. As for the length, just use an existing cable as a guide and route it the way that seems best, and see how long that would be.

    I would assume your existing cables are damaged and get new ones. Cables are not cheap, but the cost of colliding with the dock or going on the rocks when you can't get the engine running would be much greater!
    Steve Christensen
    Twin Cities, MN
    Former Owner of Rag Doll
    1989 Ericson 38-200
    Hull Number: ERY38318C989
    Universal M40

  6. #6
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Update on gear shift cable problem

    Thanks for the replies so far. I was able to take the top off the pedestal today to get a better look, so here's an update. The gear shift cable had a significant kink in it just below the shift lever--my guess is that it had encountered resistance and then bent, even though it worked fine previously; or it's possible that it had not been shifting/moving straight up and down the housing, bending a bit each time and finally kinked--I think that's the more likely reason because it kinked so suddenly.

    In looking at the cable routing, both cables go down the pedestal, then down between the hot water heater and the bulkhead, then angle down through a hole to go below the floor under the steering quadrant just in front of the rudder post. From there the throttle cable curves fairly sharply going forward to emerge near the top of the engine where it attaches. The gear shift cable also curves under/forward and enters a tube to run under the fuel tank and emerge near the transmission where it attaches. Although I don't like the curves, I think the gear shift cable needs to take the route it does to get low enough to connect in a straight line with the transmission. But the throttle cable can be higher, so I'm considering routing it forward after it emerges from the bottom of the pedestal then between the hot water heater and the bulkhead and then forward at the right height to connect to the engine. This would shorten the cable significantly and avoid one of the tight bends in it. But I don't know if I can get a cable of the right length to do this.

    I can move the gear shift cable quite easily, so I think it will come out ok. But the throttle cable is stuck quite firmly below the fuel tank and may be quite difficult to remove.

    So tomorrow will be interesting. Hopefully it will work.

    Any more advice is welcome, and thanks for the replies to date.

    Frank

  7. #7
    Contributing Partner Rhynie's Avatar
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    Frank,
    I had similar problem, stiff shifting that eventually stopped shifting, PO indicated that it had been that way ever since repowering. What I found was a bend in the upper end of the shift cable (mine is brass and was a gentle bend, so straightened easily). Anyway the cause was an apparent change in the travel of the end of the shift control arm. The end of the arm was taking the cable aft and it was hanging on the chain hub on the steering shaft. this is what cuased the bend.

    The fix was;
    Straighten cable
    Adjust the control arm to minimize the aft moveen of the end as it arcs downward
    I was getting more travel/throw than I needed so I also drilled another hole closer in on the shaft to reduce travel

    It has worked perfectly ever since. If you need more specific details, get back to me: you have to fix what caused the bend to start with.
    Ericson 34T #124
    Brian

  8. #8
    Principal Partner treilley's Avatar
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    Anyone who has difficulty with their shifters should check the throw at the tranny linkage. If the cable is preventing the tranny from fully engaging you will soon have no forward gear. The problem here is that it will seem to work fine right up until it quits.
    Tim R.
    Living aboard in Portland, Maine
    TKR on a boat Blog
    Boat Projects and Photos
    -----------------------------------------------------

  9. #9
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Final update on replacing engine control cables

    Thanks for all your replies. I have finished replacing both the gear shift and the throttle/fuel cable successfully, so some thoughts for anyone trying this in the future, especially on an E30+ with a Yacht Specialties pedestal, though others may benefit as well.

    My previous gear shift cable had broken/kinked because there was too much "throw" in the shift lever, which bent the rod at the top/pedestal end.

    I decided to replace both cables once I was inside the pedestal, and would recommend that to others. I'm not very mechanical, but this is not a complex job, though it takes careful thinking and planning.

    Both my cables were routed down the pedestal, then aft towards the rudder post down below the flooring there, and the throttle went directly forward, the gear shift entered a 2 - 3" diameter pipe taking it forward under the fuel tank towards the transmission. I decided that the routing for the gear shift cable was ok, but the throttle could come down the pedestal, then forward between the water heater and the bulkhead, along the flooring and straight to the engine throttle connection. This shortened the throttle cable to 8' instead of 10' and reduced one significant bend. The gear shift cable was 10' and I replaced it with the same length, which worked well.

    Although I used the old throttle cable as a messenger for the new one, I didn't do this for the gear shift cable, choosing instead to simply push it through the areas it needed to go. I started at the rudder end and inserted it into the pipe and pushed it forward to the transmission without a problem. Then I routed it up through the pedestal and pushed it into place without a problem.

    It's important to keep the brass ends that insert into the transmission linkage, throttle linkage and both shift levers at the pedestal. The set screws at the pedestal end need to fit in the groove on the new cable and be tightened to hold it snug.

    The hardest part of the job was fine-tuning the length of both cables at the threaded ends. You can place the brass connecting piece at the end or anywhere on the threaded ends of the cable, with the position affecting the movement of the shift lever. If the placement is incorrect on the throttle lever, it either won't let you go to full throttle, or won't let you "kill" the engine by pulling it back far enough. On the gear shift, the lever should be vertical in neutral and have the same angle forward or backward for forward and reverse gears. The only way to check this is to start the engine and test the throttle and try both forward and reverse gears. I spent about an hour just fine-tuning the adjustments.

    Finally, it's important to tighten all the nuts, insert the cotter pins, pull the rubber boots over the joints to protect against water intrusion and put it all back together correctly.

    Now that I have done it once, I think this job could be done in about 3 hours, maybe less by someone more skilled. I didn't have any problem with accessing the pedestal parts and the chain wasn't in the way at all. The whole shift mechanism pulls up out of the pedestal once the cable is disconnected at the lower end--transmission and engine throttle connection and the cables freed a bit to allow movement. It wasn't as bad as I had been led to believe.

    I hope that this is helpful. If I have omitted something important please reply with additional comments or advice.

    Frank

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