Mercury Outboard steering frozen

Delfin

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I have a 40 hp 4 stroke Merc on a Boston Whaler on the foredeck and a couple of times in the past I have had to un-stick the steering after a winter layup. This spring, there was no way it was going to get unstuck. In fact, I ultimately had to take a Sawzall to it after working on it for a couple of hours. What I learned from this debacle was that if you have a Merc, the cable drive arm that slides in and out of the hollow tilt tube is too close in its external diameter to the inside of the tube's inside diameter. The result is that the slightest corrosion inside the tilt tube will weld these pieces together and they will not come undone. I certainly didn't help by storing the engine with the rod retracted into the tilt tube. My suggestion to prevent this is to do the opposite of what the owner's manual tells you and liberally grease the drive arm, as well as lay it up with that rod fully extended, not retracted.
 

FulmarJeddo

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I have a 40hp 2 stroke Mariner (same as Merc) on a rib which suffers the same. I usually free it with a good thump with a hammer on the end of the cable extension where the link arm attaches. That normally gets enough movement to start working it backwards and forwards until it extends far enough to get some grease on it. Strangely it was worse than normal this Spring and I had to disconnect the steering to get a bit of rotation on the cable to free it.
 

Davy_S

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in limbo at the mo.
All of the outboard motor powered hire boats in my location make a small cut of the outer plastic sheath, the cut is made where the cable enters the tube, wd40, eezit or graphite grease (hot) can be forced into this cut when laying up, it is then taped over, ready to re use if needed. It seems to work, the cables are about 80 euro now!
 

Delfin

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I have a 40hp 2 stroke Mariner (same as Merc) on a rib which suffers the same. I usually free it with a good thump with a hammer on the end of the cable extension where the link arm attaches. That normally gets enough movement to start working it backwards and forwards until it extends far enough to get some grease on it. Strangely it was worse than normal this Spring and I had to disconnect the steering to get a bit of rotation on the cable to free it.

Mine was like that until it welded itself into a single piece of metal this winter. And when I say a single piece of metal, that is what I mean. I couldn't believe it, but a 22" pipe wrench wouldn't budge the drive tube inside the tilt tube, and I beat on the end with a hammer until I deformed the metal. I had to cut it off off.

Knowing what I know now, this fall I would un-do the steering link from the port side, then the large aluminum nut from the starboard side and pull the the cable assembly out of the tilt tube. Then, I'd lube the inside of the tilt tube and reassemble. The whole process wouldn't take 15 minutes. I'm not sure greasing the drive tube where it comes out the tilt tube would work since the tolerances are so tight, the grease would just get wiped off. Then I would store it with the drive tube extended, and greased. They need to undersize the drive tube and use a nylon bushing as a riding surface, not the entire interior surface of the tilt tube to avoid this problem.

Installing a Baystar hydraulic steering system today.
 

Delfin

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All of the outboard motor powered hire boats in my location make a small cut of the outer plastic sheath, the cut is made where the cable enters the tube, wd40, eezit or graphite grease (hot) can be forced into this cut when laying up, it is then taped over, ready to re use if needed. It seems to work, the cables are about 80 euro now!

Different problem, but that is a neat solution to the cable hanging up. This one relates to the drive tube at the end of the cable inside the tilt tube that gets locked.
 

WF36

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Had the same problem with my RIB in Portugal, required a new cable.

Now whenever I leave the boat, always wash off the steering link and then coat with WD40 & fresh grease.

After 8 months without use it was fine.
 

Davy_S

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It could be worth replacing the tilt tube with a stainless one,
DSCN0069-Edit.jpg
 

Delfin

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It could be worth replacing the tilt tube with a stainless one,
DSCN0069-Edit.jpg
Yes, it would. The Merc ones are mild steel, poorly painted inside. It looks like a standard bit of pipe. The new one I had to purchase was $85 plus about an hour sawing the end off so I could push it through. Just FYI, the motor has to be supported when you do this, as this tube is the only thing that holds the engine onto the transom brackets.
 

gordmac

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I would suggest the only real solution is to turn the steering wheel back and fore every few weeks or so.
 

Delfin

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I would suggest the only real solution is to turn the steering wheel back and fore every few weeks or so.
You could be right. I switched mine over to a Baystar hydraulic unit, which is a vast improvement to the cable steering it replaced. And it was about the same cost as buying the replacement parts I needed once the old system froze up.
 

Delfin

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Update - I replaced the cable steering with a Baystar Hydraulic unit. The cost of the complete kit was $520, which I thought pretty reasonable. Hack sawing the old steering off the boat took most of the project time, with the installation of the Baystar only a couple of hours. The advantages of the new system are that the Whaler now tracks perfectly straight - with the cable steering you were constantly having to tweak the wheel to keep going in a straight line, which is a hassle when trolling. It is also much smoother in operation and now essentially maintenance free. I don't know what the cost of a replacement cable would have been had I been able to extract the old one, but given that the new tilt tube, which is just a 10" piece of 3/4" pipe was $80 I'm guessing the Baystar wasn't that much more expensive an option.
 
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