My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be helping you today. Most questions will involve troubleshooting, and usually take many posts back and forth. Post back with as many questions as needed.
This is pretty common on older boats. What has happened is the steering shaft pin, which is a high grade of steel, has chewed out the gimbal ring, which is softer aluminum.
The gimbal ring itself runs 700 to 800, there are 2 types. One for a square steering shaft pin, and 1 for a splined steering pin. You just take it apart and see which one is in there before you order the new one. While you are in there, you also typically replace all of the bellows, the gimbal bearing, and the shift cable.
The problem with this job is that in most boats there is no access to the bolt that holds the steering lever to the steering pin. So there are 2 options for doing the job.
1. Removing the engine to access it.
2. Drilling holes the gimbal housing to access the bolt. In this case. After the holes are there. The holes get tapped to insert a plug into them, to keep it water tight.
Different shops will do the job different ways. The drill and plug method is approved by Mercury. However, if the gimbal housing cracks while drilling or tapping that adds to the expense greatly. So some shops will not do it. All in all, your looking for the complete job (new gimbal ring, bellows, bearing, shift cable) about 2500 on the low end if they go the drill and tap route, and the gimbal housing does not crack. About 32 to 3300 on the high end if the shop prefers to pull the engine.
It's a pretty common job, I have done it a few times.
Post back with any questions