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Gear lever extremely stiff on Enfield leg

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Hi everyone,

Last season I had a few problems with the dogs slipping in Astern on my Enfield. This seemed to be caused by them not fully engaging because it only happened at low throttle and if I gave the Morse lever a good pull and then backed it off it was ok.

While the boat was lifted I decided to check the adjustment so I disconnected the cable at the leg with the intention of selecting Forward and Astern with the leg's lever, whilst rotating the prop by hand, and then seeing how well the cable lined up when I moved the Morse lever. I found the leg lever was very stiff and, having got the dogs engaged in Astern, I had quite a difficult job getting it back to Neutral, by which time it had become almost impossible to move. That was last Thursday. Today (Monday) it appeared to be completely seized. I couldn't move it at all. I considered slipping a piece of tubing over the lever to give a bit more mechanical advantage but decided against because I didn't want to risk breaking anything.

It seems that my gear engagement problems last season were probably due to the stiffness in the mechanism. The question is: is this a known problem with Enfields and is there any way to resolve it without stripping the unit? Also could this problem be aggravated by the descaler that I had used on the drive? It was thoroughly rinsed off afterwards.

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I don't think the descaler would have much effect Mike, unless it removed some grease, I would start with a good grease and lube up job and see if that helps otherwise it may mean a strip down and clean out. You are right not to force it, but a short tube to make it easier to move back and forth whilst you get some lubricant into it would be OK.

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Another issue with Enfields is the gear engagement rod is a bit flimsy and can easily bend and cause engagement problems, there is a much more substantial modified part available but it does require major surgery so I hope that's not the case here.

This link may assist.


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Thanks for your replies. I was aware of the gearchange rod weakness. I'll have a go at working some lubricant into the gearchange shaft, but my concern would be that once immersed the problem might recur and necessitate another (expensive) lift. I think I would feel happier to let the yard's contract engineer deal with it as he has experience with Enfields and if he has to strip it he would also be able to change the propshaft seal and fit the modified seal housing and gearchange rod if needed.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, it turned out that the reason for the stiffness was that the gearlever shaft bearing is apparently water-lubricated and had dried out. However, after it had been freed off by dribbling water over it the cause of the problem of the dogs slipping in astern became obvious. The throw in the end of the cable was considerably less than the range of movement available on the lever so the dogs have not been engaging fully. Also the throw was slightly asymmetric so in astern the dogs were barely engaging at all.

I've now made adjustments at the old Teleflex single-lever control to give the maximum possible cable throw and at the cable end to make it more symmetrical but the total cable movement is still somewhat less than the lever. The boat is now in the water and gear engagement seems to be ok in both forward and astern so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't get any more problems before it's lifted again.

I was wondering if anyone has any knowledge of the type of Teleflex control fitted to my boat, which seems to be a standard original fitting for the Seamaster 23 of that age (1973). The casing is rectangular with a separate button for disabling the gearchange and the knob on the lever is rectangular with a plastic viny-effect inset. I'm afraid I don't know the model number of the control as all information on the label is worn away. If anyone knows where I could get an old datasheet for it that would be great. I've had a look on the Teleflex website but they don't appear to have an archive of old models and Googling for Teleflex didn't turn up anything.

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