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Thread: Transmission Problems...again. - The Saga Continues

  1. #1
    Principal Partner Bolo's Avatar
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    Transmission Problems...again. - The Saga Continues

    Well, my wife and I had a nice afternoon sail on the Chesapeake Bay on our E32-3 (1987) yesterday and it was particularly nice since we were enjoying the new set of sails that were installed this month. But it was time to sail back to the marina, bring the sails down and motor in....but wait. Why are all the other boats passing us with ease? My wife is at the helm so I nonchalantly slide over to the helm, so as not to make it look like I doubted her seamanship, to see where the throttle is set. That looked good but the boat just didn't sound and even feel right. Something was amiss. So I asked Bev to move over and let me take the wheel. Throttling up all the way the best I could make was 5 to 5.5 knots and there was no appreciable current. So I'm thinking, fouled prop or something like that. When I dock, I back down the fairway and into the slip, standing on the other side of the wheel with my back facing the bow. Works great for me (and I don't go any faster then I'd like to hit something) and when I get into the slip (after a spring line is set) I usually give a little power to forward so as to not strain the spring line too much but when I did I noticed that I had to give a lot more throttle then usual. Hmmmm.

    After tying up, getting the power cord attached and shutting everything down, I went below and removed the engine panel (the one in the port quarter berth) to get a good look at the shaft. Had my "first mate" start the engine and using a few hand signals through the nearby port (reverse, neutral, forward....I said forward! Oh boy.) I noticed that there was no forward or at the very most the shaft was trying to go forward. Obviously it was slipping and it was amazing that we actually made it in without a tow. I also checked the transmission fluid level and it checked out.

    A little history: The Hurth HWB 50 transmission on my boat, which seems to be standard issue for at least E32's and probably 34s, lost forward gear late in the 2016 sailing season. This happened gradually over a few sails. I thought at the time it was a linkage problem until the transmission gave out completely. At the time I was told by the marina shop that the Hurth HWB 50's were not be made any longer but...they could have it rebuilt. Sounded simple enough. A real example of not enough info being dangerous. Yes, I did consult this site but I had real flesh and blood people telling me that everything was going to be alright if you just give us some of your money. The transmission was removed by the shop and not by me for several reasons. First, I live an hour and three quarters away, I'm what could be considered an "old guy", and like Clint Eastwood said in a movie once, "Every man has got to know his limitations". I think it may have been Dirty Harry. Actually I'm capable of fixing/maintaining everything else on the boat, including the engine but transmissions...we'll they seem like back magic to me.

    So I let the marina shop handle the removal and sending it out for the rebuild. After the transmission came back it was installed and the marina rep said, "You'll be all set soon!" Joy prevailed in my house. But a little time later another call from the marina informed me that the rebuild had gone wrong because the output was turning the wrong way. A part was installed incorrectly! (WTF?! Don't you guys do this for a living?). That was corrected and the transmission installed with a one year warranty.

    Made it though 2017 with no problems and its necessary to say here that we don't motor much. Ten to fifteen minutes tops we're out in the bay with the sails up. Longest we motor is when we take the occasional extended trip to another bay town and the wind isn't blowing our way. Needless to say, we didn't have many hours on the rebuilt transmission. So now I'm done with the Hurth (and my marina shop) and am contacting a local yacht services company that has done excellent work for us in the past.

    I want a new transmission to replace the dreaded Hurth HWB 50 and so far I've come up with a few possibilities. They are the ZF 10 M, TECHNODRIVE Twin Disc TMC 40 P, Twin Disc MG 340. I've just started searching for a reasonable replacement that won't require a lot of modifications to the current setup (like shortening the shaft) but I think that may be wishful thinking on my part. I did find a New Twin Disk TMC 40 P on eBay (https://www.ebay.com/itm/TECHNODRIVE...8AAMXQAF5Rh5pR) that states its a "bolt on" replacement for the Hurth HWB 50 but doesn't mention modifications.

    I've read a lot on this forum today about this problem but still I'm putting this out for any opinions as to the best replacement choice or other bits of info that maybe of some help. Thanks for reading this saga and double thanks if you reply.
    Bob Skalkowski
    1987 E32 III (#722) - "Vesper"

  2. #2
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Sorry to hear about your transmission troubles. We also had the Hurth 50 transmission on our 1984 E30+, and it slipped periodically in our initial years with our boat, making a real gear grinding noise. When I put it in neutral, and then gently increased throttle, it would be fine until the next time it slipped, which could be an hour, or a week or a month later. I couldn't live with this uncertainty, so decided to hire a local mechanic with a good reputation to replace it. All the info on this site and others suggested that rebuilds are "iffy" at best.

    Our mechanic recommended the Twin Disc MG340, and it fit as a replacement with no modifications necessary. It worked fine initially, but then also slipped a few times, though always months apart--ie. once or twice per season. I changed which transmission fluid I use, and also increased the frequency of transmission fluid changes, so that I now change it whenever I change engine oil--about every 75 engine hours. It now hasn't slipped in years and seems to be operating fine with no issues at all. We have about 1,500 hours on the new transmission, the Hurth was replaced at about 800 hours, so so far I'm way ahead with this transmission.

    The twin disc has a good reputation. I don't know if there is a better one out there, nor do I know if it will be a direct replacement fit for your boat, though it was for ours.

    Good luck!

    Frank
    Last edited by Frank Langer; 05-13-2018 at 08:37 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Red face Hurth Lamentations

    Frank has some helpful observations, and I can only add that one (of quite a few) reason we decided to replace our '88 Universal M25XP was that for the last two seasons we have had some noise from the transmission. It's the original Hurth 50, with about 2300 hours on it. I have been replacing the ATF in it at least every other year. It always came out clean, as in being indistinguishable from new oil.
    That model transmission has a poor reputation, and all of my research gave me no confidence that a rebuild would be a good solution. And then, while on the subject of "replacement reasons" there was the work involved that needs doing when the transmission is removed.
    Engine has to be at least relocated into the cabin if not completely off the boat and the torque plate has to be replaced.

    Our new Beta 25 has a TCM 40 transmission, and it seems to generally have a very good reputation. My installer tells me that it is a newer and more efficient design, and is physically smaller than the previous one. Going along with that observation the new engine is a few inches smaller overall and a bit lighter.

    I will report on how it runs, once I get done with all the not-so-well-planned-in-advance projects that are part of a drive train changeover.

    We thought we would have it running before now, but it might be another couple of weeks. (Main hold up is the low productivity of the boat's owner -- he is both hesitant and inefficient when it comes to mechanic-ing...)


    Aside: Bob, you'd like the super-clean E-32-3 that a friend of ours sails, also out of our YC. A few years ago the prior owner had a Betamarine 25 installed to replace the original Universal M25. I have done an offshore delivery on that boat and it is a marvelous ocean boat. (Not that I have any bias, of course.)
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 05-14-2018 at 07:47 AM.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Betamarine 25 (new 2018)
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

  4. #4
    Contributing Partner
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Langer View Post
    I now change it whenever I change engine oil--about every 75 engine hours.

    Hey Frank - I'm unsure what differences might be between our model year boats, but how in the heck do you access your transmission to change the oil? I would have to disassemble/remove the 'floor' underneath the cockpit in the locker to gain enough access. I'm tempted to cut a large access panel in there, but how do you get at it? Mine is about ready to change as well. The last time was when the engine was pulled out.
    ~-~-~-~-~-~-~
    1981 Ericson 30+, rocking the Juan de Fuca

  5. #5
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    I do have a floor in the cockpit locker, the floor ends just in front of the fuel tank which is below the floor. I have to squeeze into the locker, put my feet to the stern and lay full length in the locker. Then I can see the transmission and back of the engine. Accessing the drain bolt is tricky, but doable on my transmission. Changing the tranny oil takes about 20 minutes.
    Frank

  6. #6
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    That would do it, my floor extends beyond the fuel tank to just behind the engine where it meets a wall. The entire area is enclosed. Time to break out the jig saw!
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    1981 Ericson 30+, rocking the Juan de Fuca

  7. #7
    Principal Partner Rick R.'s Avatar
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    Bob,

    Ive been down the same road my friend.

    When I purchased our boat all of the fluid leaked out of the crappy old transmission and like you, I was convinced that it could be repaired with new seals. I told the yard if it was going to cost more than $800 don’t do the job. I would just buy a new transmission for $1000. They rebuilt the tranny regardless and overcharged me. Shortly afterwards the fluid leaked out again!

    i called in another mechanic which made the original mechanic realize he was going to ruin his reputation if he didn’t make it right. Luckily, he replaced my rebuilt sinker with a brand new ZF10. No modification necessary!

    It’s been many years now since with NEVER a problem.

    Several years later I spoke with a man selling Beta repowers who used to work at Hurth. He said that employees called the 50 the “Dollar per hour hour transmission” as it was considered disposable and would certainly never last long. .

    There is light at the end of the tunnel.
    RR
    Last edited by Rick R.; 05-14-2018 at 09:38 PM.
    1989 32-200
    S/V "Easy"
    (hull #844)
    Pensacola, Florida

    The difference between a sailboat and a power boat? On a powerboat you rush to get somewhere. On a sailboat, you're already there.

  8. #8
    Principal Partner Bolo's Avatar
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    Twin Disc TMC 40 P

    After some research I ended up talking to "Joe" @ Sound Marine Diesel about the Technodrive Twin Disc 40 P as a replacement to the Hurth HWB 50. Only modification he said would be needed was to raise the nine up vertically .25" which they recommend doing with shims. Difference front to back between the two transmissions is .16". So basically he's saying that it should be an easy replacement, but I'm still having Diversified Marine in Annapolis (down the street from my boat) do the work. They still need to survey what's there and get back to me with an estimate. One other difference with the Twin Disc is the the shift arm is on the port side of the case which shouldn't be a problem especially since the shifter at the helm is on the port side. The new TwinDisc 40 P is $1198 with a one year warranty. Joe said that they've sold many replacements for the old Hurth HWB 50 which, in his opinion (and mine too), is a really bad transmission prone to problems and rebuilds hardly ever work out. Something I wish I knew 2 years ago.

    Stay tuned, I'll post the progress and try and get some images up of the final install.
    Bob Skalkowski
    1987 E32 III (#722) - "Vesper"

  9. #9
    Principal Partner Bolo's Avatar
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    “Dollar per hour hour transmission”

    Rick: Joe from Sound Marine Diesel gave me the exact same quote, “Dollar per hour hour transmission”. He saiid that the Hurth HWB 50 should never be rebuilt. The new Technodrive Twin Disc 40 P is "in the mail" as they say and hopefully will be in stalled sometime during the next two weeks without additional hassle. (Keeping my fingers crossed.)
    Bob Skalkowski
    1987 E32 III (#722) - "Vesper"

  10. #10
    Principal Partner GrandpaSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bolo View Post
    Rick: Joe from Sound Marine Diesel gave me the exact same quote, “Dollar per hour hour transmission”. He saiid that the Hurth HWB 50 should never be rebuilt. The new Technodrive Twin Disc 40 P is "in the mail" as they say and hopefully will be in stalled sometime during the next two weeks without additional hassle. (Keeping my fingers crossed.)
    How far back do you have to slide the shaft for this job? Do you have to drop the rudder if the shaft has to be removed? Curious for future reference on 32-3.
    1987 E32-III "Glory Days"
    Hull #711
    Slip in Rock Hall MD.
    Home in Downingtown PA.

  11. #11
    Principal Partner Bolo's Avatar
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    Not me!

    Quote Originally Posted by GrandpaSteve View Post
    How far back do you have to slide the shaft for this job? Do you have to drop the rudder if the shaft has to be removed? Curious for future reference on 32-3.
    Like I said in my previous posts about this, I'm not doing the work myself for various reasons but rather having my marina (Port Annapolis) do the work so I can't really answer your questions with any authority. But when they rebuilt the Hurth all the work was done while the boat was in the water and the rudder wasn't removed.
    Bob Skalkowski
    1987 E32 III (#722) - "Vesper"

  12. #12
    Principal Partner Bolo's Avatar
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    New transmission installed and new problem.

    My marina (Port Annapolis Marina) finally install a new Twindisc 40P transmission (on my Universal 25XP) after pulling out the old (once rebuilt, big mistake) Hurth HWB 50. Under no circumstances should the Hurth HWB 50 be rebuilt. That is not just my opinion but that of the mechanic that installed my new transmission (who's had years of experience), contributors to this web site and a few transmission suppliers that I talked to during this process. The Hurth HWB 50 is often called the "dollar a day transmission" because that's about what it cost to run it (after a rebuild) before it fails again. In my case it was more of a two dollar a day transmission. The mechanic said that the Hurth is old technology and probably the best for its day but the Twindisc is more up to date and with the cone shaped discs a better and "beefier" design.

    So after some research I found that the Twindisc 40P is almost an exact fit when replacing a Hurth HWB 50. The engine needs to be raised only a 1/4 inch. BTW, the Twindisc 40P is also referred to as the MG 340. Twindisc bought Technodrive a few years ago. Technodrive previously labeled the unit TMC 40P. Twindisc relabled it as MG 340. There is NO DIFFERENCE. In addition to installing the 40P (or MG 340) I also had a "Drivesaver" ( https://www.gcsmarine.com/content/dr...rs/drivesavers) installed between the transmission and the prop shaft as per recommendations made by the marina. I thought this was a very good idea since I was sinking in a considerable amount of $$$$ for a new transmission and install. The Drivesaver's main use is to protect the transmission and engine in the event of a sudden prop stoppage as from hitting a submerged log or wrapping a crab pot line (ubiquitous in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay) around the shaft. It also, "provides an impervious barrier that blocks electrical currents from the water to protect your engine and transmission from damaging electrolytic corrosion", according to the web site. An extra cost to be sure but I think it was a good investment.

    Here is a photo I took after installation. You can see the brown heat exchanger (upper left), the silver colored Twindisc 40P, and the orange Drivesaver. The mechanic told me that the fit of the transmission on the engine was "tight" but certainly doable. The bracket for the shifter cable was custom made by the marina because the supplier neglected to send one that fit the transmission even though I ordered it. I'm going to be getting a $90 refund for that mistake.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now for the problem. When I ordered the 40P from Sound Marine Diesel I asked about the location of the 40P dip stick used to check the transmission fluid because I thought that the heat exchanger might interfere with it. Joe DeMers from Sound Marine Diesel said that he was sure it wouldn't but after installation it did. The dip stick now is positioned directly under the heat exchanger. Only way to check the transmission fluid levels is to unbolt the bracket (attached to the engine) that holds the exchanger and push it out of the way while pulling the dip stick or refilling the transmission. I haven't tried that yet but the mechanic thought is was possible. Well, considering that sort of hassle lends itself to not checking the fluid level as often as I should, I decided that the exchanger needs to move. In the photo you can see the bottom of the exchanger just above the transmission dip stick and the bolt covering the filler hole. there is about a 3/4" space between the two, not enough room to pull the stick out.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So....where to move the exchanger?? After spending a considerable time laying on my right side in the quarter birth and looking the situation over I came up with an idea. The exchanger can't just be moved up because there just isn't enough of head room in the engine compartment. I need to move it off the engine. So I'm planning to relocate it to a flat area, to the starboard side of the engine compartment, which is open and clear. (I marked it with a RED "X" in the photo below). I'll need to get new hoses and run a grounding line to the engine block. If I locate it in that area I'll still be able to reach the zinc in the exchanger. The move will open up access to the top of the transmission making checking and filling up fluid levels much easier. It'll also be a good time to get the exchanger cleaned up, inside and out. In the photo it looks like the exhaust hose gets in the way but I would still be able to reach around it to the zinc although I'd probably disconnect it during the move to gain better access.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So there it is. I haven't run the boat out yet to see how it powers out but the mechanic is sure that it'll be even better then the way it was especially with the Drivesaver that also reduces vibration. (We'll see.) I'll up date this post after the exchanger move. Also, if anyone has a better idea about moving the exchanged I'd love to hear it.
    Bob Skalkowski
    1987 E32 III (#722) - "Vesper"

  13. #13
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    That is a hassle.

    No doubt you have considered modifying the top of the dipstick for clearance.

    Many oil dipsticks bend to make turns, and perhaps one of them could be adapted.

    Or perhaps you could mount a quick-release attachment for the existing heat exchanger.

    But yeah. I might decide to move it, too.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  14. #14
    Principal Partner Bolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Williams View Post
    That is a hassle.

    No doubt you have considered modifying the top of the dipstick for clearance.

    Many oil dipsticks bend to make turns, and perhaps one of them could be adapted.

    Or perhaps you could mount a quick-release attachment for the existing heat exchanger.

    But yeah. I might decide to move it, too.

    Modifying the dip stick is not an option because the clearance is just close for it and the refill. Besides I'd be afraid of getting debris in either the the dip stick or the refill holes from the engine which I think over time can certain happen with such a tight space. Even with unbolting the bracket, before I move the tank to inspect the level, I'll need to be careful. Best solution is just to move the problem.
    Bob Skalkowski
    1987 E32 III (#722) - "Vesper"

  15. #15
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Red face

    I recently removed our (original) M25XP, and I had fought with that crudely engineered heat exchanger mounting for 20 years.

    I used to remove the two hose clamps that held it in its brackets and shift it aside an inch to gain access to the top plug/dipstick on the Hurth.
    I like your idea for moving the HE completely. You will need new hoses and "cushion clamps" for mounting them. Leave enough slack in the hoses for normal engine vibration and movement.

    BTW, the replacement Betamarine25 is better designed for routine servicing.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Betamarine 25 (new 2018)
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

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