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Tan, MerCruiser Certified Technician
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 11052
Experience:  40 yrs. experience with complete engine repairs both inboard/outboard and MerCruiser Certified Technician.
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I have a 350 block tied into an alpha drive. The motor and

Customer Question

Hi, I have a 350 block tied into an alpha drive. The motor and outdrive perform well in neutral and forward however when I attempt to shift into reverse the motor instantly dies. Any thoughts or questions?
John (###) ###-####***@******.***
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Boat
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Hello John. My name is Tan.

Is this a new or old shift cable going to the drive?

Is the drive new along with engine or of older vintage?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The shift cable is aprox 5yrs old...the drive is older
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

What abot the shift cable going to the drive? Typically with Mercruiser the shift cable going to the drive is adjusted one time on installation. Then when you loose forward or reverse or have stalling issue this is a cable issue. What happens is the shift starts to act up then someone not knowing gets in there and starts playing with the shift cable adjustments. They can get forward fine but no reverse. Then they adjust to get reverse then loose forward.

So is this what has happened?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No. Last friday was the first the boat has been in the water in 2016. In 2015 all was good. When I started the boat a few days ago and shifted into reverse the motor died and only today has my mechanic begun the troubleshoot which has now led him to the lower unit which he is going to "split" to examine the mechanisms.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

No don't go there the lower unit is not the problem. Pull the complete drive off and check the shift cable and shift the lower unit when it is off. Obviously he isn't real familiar with Mercruisers as we never go for disassembly first. That is a last resort and if it has worked in the past and gave no symptoms the drive is not the problem. When they sit corrosion is the most likely cause and the cable.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Your reply was cut are you saying that the cable may be corroded from sitting and needs to be replaced?
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

That ios more likely the problem than in the drive. If you have a drivbe issue it always shows up as a forward gear issue or complete loss of shift. Reverse isn't used as much as forward and never has the load of forward gear.

So chances are shift cable issue.