Typical Propeller clutch system

This set displays the most common shift system ever used.

The basic function is the same from one manufacturer to the next... but, significant differences in execution   means that care needs to used any time you service, troubleshoot and repair a lower unit.

The most important  thing they have in common is that the clutch dog teeth will become rounded off and start to jump out of gear if a lot of high idle shifting occurs. This means proper idle adjustments are very important to reduce clutch damage.

Although use of the  proper lube shouldn't be overlooked the next biggest killer of lower units is incorrect shift cable adjustments. Installing shift cables and not following the engine manufacturers recommendations for adjustment is an amateurish mistake. Although the unit may shift properly when new, as it ages, premature failure is very common.

To be continued.



Note: Mercruiser Bravo and most Volvo Penta stern drives do not use a sliding clutch dog as depicted above. They use a cone clutch that engages as a friction fit into a cup affixed to the forward and reverse gears. Improper adjustment of the shift cable can wear the cone clutch and cup.


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