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The number one reason that drive systems go out of alignment is that the engine mounts are worn or have sagged. The engine sits lower and lower and moves around more so there is increased wear and vibration on the entire drive of the vessel.

Marine engine mounts can make the difference between a low vibration engine, mounted stable in your boat or an iron monster that shakes the hull, produces noise and may lead to damage. Broken, damaged or worn engine mounts are not always obvious when 100’s of pounds of static motor are sitting on the mounts. Excess vibration can be caused by many things, including; mounts that are too soft or hard, worn engine mounts or how the mounts are attached to the bed. Of course, there are other things that can cause vibration, including; misalignment of transmission to shaft, worn components (cutlass bearing, transmission) or damaged components (propeller, shaft, transmission).

The forces of a high revving, high horsepower modern marine engine are passed directly onto the engine mounts. Even small one cylinder diesels really pound the engine mounts. For all their apparent simplicity, engine mounts are subject to a number of forces:

  • Longitudinal – The forward / aft motion of the engine
  • Lateral – The side to side motion of the engine
  • Vertical – the up and down motion of the engine

Most of these forces on a motor mount act in a form of chaotic unison. Not only must the engine hold its own position based on motor and transmission weight, but it also must resist the shearing force of the propeller under thrust. What looks like a simple job for an engine mount gets complex, quickly when throttling up; the engine mounts on one side are ‘stretched’, one the other side they are compressed, they are also subjected to shear by the thrust of the prop. Now add to the equation of a boat throttling up in rolling seas, or depending on the vessel, being subjected to storm conditions or high-speed pounding. The simple combination of metal and rubber that makes up an engine mount sees real abuse in a harsh environment.

Figuring out what engine mount you need:

  • Number of mounts. Most marine engine/transmission units use 4 engine mounts, some smaller/older units use 3
  • Matching up the weight and horsepower to an engine mount
  • Match the Make Model of your engine

Once you know how many mounts you need and a data about the engine/transmission then nearly every modern marine engine can be found with The Engine Mount Cross-Reference Guide. In summary, should you feel that your system has gotten out of alignment, check your engine mounts first. It is the sagging engine that puts pressure on the cutlass and shaft seal and wears them to the point of needing replacement.

Marine controls are an essential part of any boat (including auxiliary powered sailboats). After the wheel or tiller, there is nothing else that you touch as much. Your marine controls connect you to the thrust and direction of movement of the vessel whether docking or out on the open water at full throttle. A control may operate the throttle or shift or both; several choices and options are available. Reliability, smoothness, accuracy and response are all features to look for in a marine control.

Shift / Throttle Functions of Marine controls:

Single Function / Single Lever (Controls Only One; Throttle or Shifter) – This is the simple lever that controls just the throttle or just the shifter. Some typical applications are with a Berkley Jet, this lever is the shifter and a foot pedal is used for throttle.

Dual Function / Dual Lever, Binnacle Mount Control

Dual Function / Dual Lever (Controls Throttle and Shift for Two Engines) – This control sees typical use with a twin-engine vessel and offers the simplest to use setup. Like all dual function controls, the lever controls both the shift and the throttle. As you push forward on the lever, the transmission engages and the engine throttles up.

Dual Function / Single Lever (Controls the Throttle and Shift) – By far the most common controller available for virtually every inboard, sterndrive and outboard application. This control is suitable for only one engine. The mounting options for this style control can range from helm stations to the side box controls on an outboard to sailboat cockpit controls. Like all dual function controls, the lever controls both the shift and the throttle. As you push forward on the lever, the transmission engages and the engine throttles up.

Single Function / Dual Lever (One lever controls throttle, the other lever controls shift) – A more traditional approach to controlling the throttle and shift. Some manufacturers do not recommend this type of control because you could throttle up (first) then slam the transmission into forward while the throttle is high! For twin engines, you simple mount two of these. Not for novices and can be dangerous when operated in a panic situation.

Control Mounting:

Traditional Runabout w/ Side Box Mount Control

Runabout, Outboard or Sterndrive Controls – Smaller boats typically use a side box mount controller, fitted to the right of the helm. With the exception of some jet boats, most of these controls are dual function, single lever. There are specific controllers made for Mercury / Mariner / Force as well as OMC / Johnson / Evinrude. You may be able to use a more generic controller by choosing cables that have end options that work with your system.

Sailboat Controls – Most sailboats use a flush side mount marine control. Older sailboats typically operated with Morse single function / dual lever controls. Most sailboat auxiliaries setup since the 1980’s use the dual function / single lever control to manage the throttle / shift in a smooth fashion.

Inboard and Larger Vessels – These controls are most often binnacle mounted controls that may have two stations (upper helm and lower cabinhouse) and twin-engine setups. The common traditional setup is a single function / dual lever control at the helm station. Owners often want more response and a ‘make sense system’ to help when maneuvering larger vessels with twin engines.

With the right controls, nearly anyone can take the helm* – note that the boat below is not under power!

Upper Control Station - Twin Engine, Single Function / Dual Lever

There are four main manufacturers offering replacement throttle, shift and control cables for the boat owner. The choices between these are often small construction details.

Teleflex TFXTREME Control Cables

Teleflex – Teleflex bought up the original Morse division of control cables. Most boats over 20 years old will have Morse controls and cables. Teleflex has upgraded the original CC series cable to the new design CCX TFXTREME. Teleflex’s unique TFXTREME technology incorporates a patented splined core. Ridges on the core allow a close fit with the cable’s inner liner, but with minimum contact, so the core glides back and forth smoothly like a skater on ice.

The Teleflex TFXTREME control cable was designed because of the original ‘issues’ with traditional marine cables. Traditional cables vary by the stiffness of the core wire and how tightly it fits in the casing. More flexible core/looser fit has an easier feel, but allows more lost motion. This approach leads to an overall sloppy feel, RPM loss or difficult gear engagement. Stiffer core/tighter fit offers less lost motion, but is harder to move. With longer and more complex runs, cable movement becomes progressively more difficult. Thus the classic trade-offs that have existed in control cable design have been resolved with the Teleflex TFXTREME.

Uflex MACH Control Cables

Uflex – Uflex control cables are relatively new on the scene, offering some of the most popular OEM control cables in their own high performance design. To reduce the friction the MACH series control cable, Uflex use’s a multi layered core to shield design that allows for high efficiency and smooth operation. The maintenance free cables are wrapped in a long life, high resistance blue outer jacket to offer protection against abrasion, UV and chemicals.

Glendinning PRO-X Control Cables

Glendinning – Glendinning has also come on strong in the world of replacement control cables. Glendinning Pro-X cables offer a core which is very stiff while very having a great deal of flexibility is the heart of the Pro-X cable, providing minimal lost motion with high-efficiency. Glendinning builds a maintenance free control cable with a high density polyethylene liner around the central armored core. The entire multi-layer cable is in a corrosion resistant case with protective end seals for long life.

Felstead Marine Control Cables

Felstead – Felstead control cables are used in commercial vehicles, agriculture, construction and, of course, marine. Chances are, you handled something using a Felstead cable recently. They are reliable enough for parking brake systems that last the life of an automobile, truck and bus and are rugged enough for use in commercial vessels. Although not tailored for the smaller outboard industry, the 33C, 40 Series and 60 Series mirror the original Morse control cables and are found in vessels everywhere. Long life and smooth operation are assured with such features as rod bearing (the only in the industry) and a sealed, multi-layer cable design.

Ready to buy a throttle, shift, control cable? Check out the Go2marine’s guide to Making Sense of Marine Control Cables.

Lasdrop Dripless Shaft Seals

December 15, 2011

Lasdrop Gen II Dripless Shaft Seal, Premium Shaft Seal

Lasdrop dripless shaft seals are the answer for an easily installed replacement to the original stuffing box on nearly any boat. Once installed, there is virtually no maintenance required. The “Original” Bellows and Generation II models will last as long as eight to ten years before servicing, while the DrySeal model will last three to five years before the inner lip seal must be changed. At the service interval, both the Original and Generation II models would most likely require refurbishing of the seal surfaces. In addition, the bellows on the Original model should also be inspected and replaced, if necessary.

Green Solution – Lasdrop shaft seals are the green solution to preventing contaminated bilge water from entering the ocean you are in. Whether you are running a research vessel in Antarctica, a fishing boat in Norway, a world cruising sailboat or a workboat in Maine, keeping the water you run in clean is a good practice. Remember, keeping water out also means keeping engine and drive train bilge water in.

Lasdrop Shaft Seals are manufactured and engineered entirely in the USA. All Lasdrop products are backed by a three year warranty. Each model is easy to install, requires little or no maintenance, and is sold as a complete kit. Installation is easy and straight forward as long as you can access the area where the seal is installed. It will be necessary to disassemble the shaft from the coupling and the shaft will need to be slid back far enough to remove the original stuffing box.

Lasdrop incorporates injection ports for water lubrication in vessel applications where speeds are over 10 knots. Lasdrop builds single injection port shaft seals from 3/4″ to 1-1/8″ and offers 2 (dual) injection ports installed for shaft sizes from 1-1/8″. Built for any budget and boat, Lasdrop supplies 3 different levels of dripless shaft seals.

Good – the Lasdrop DrySeal is a compact, economical lip seal designed for quick and easy installation. This option offers a lip seal that is in constant low friction contact with the propeller shaft, preventing water from entering your vessel. The simple, affordable solution to a leaking tired stuffing box.

Better – the Lasdrop Original “Bellows” seal is a face seal that features a vibration absorbing bellows, ideal for use on sailboats and workboats. Specially balanced for smooth rotation, this model utilizes a 316 stainless steel and carbon graphite for its sealing surfaces. These modifications and materials result in a dripless shaft seal that lasts twice as long as the Lasdrop DrySeal.

Best – the Lasdrop Gen II is a culmination of more than a quarter century of experience in shaft seal design. An exclusive feature that makes it the premier shaft seal are a unique ball-bearing drive system that allows the seal ring to “float” and remain in constant contact with the carbon graphite seal surface, resulting in a seal that’s impenetrable to water.

Navigating the Sea of Navigation Lights

Why Navigation Lights? If you plan to boat in the dark OR if you end up boating in the dark and it is unplanned OR if you are subject to local, state, federal or international regulations, you need some navigation lights. If you fall into the category of unregulated boats (kayaks, canoes, rowboats, small sailboats) you may still choose to use navigation lights to make it easier for other vessels to see you when you are out there in the dark. There are also navigation lights in LED or incandescent bulbs, that are made for unregulated boats and may be clamped, tied or suction cup mounted.

How big a Navigation Light do you need? Pleasure boats fit into the smaller boat category and typically require lights set up for either <12 metres / 39 feet or < 20 metres / 65 ft. You won’t get in trouble if you use a light that is sized for the next class up. You can get into trouble if your lights are too small, improperly mounted or not putting out as much light as they should.

What Navigation Lights do you need? This varies from vessel to vessel and even from how a vessel is used. Powerboats are pretty straight forward. Sailboats can act like powerboats OR sailboats and they may have different lights depending on their size as well as their use.

To understand the graphic below, Powercraft means the vessel is under ENGINE POWER (and this includes sailboats), while Sailing Vessels means a sailboat that is actually using its sails to move at night. There are also light combinations for anchoring and similar situations. Recognition goes to Aqua Signal for the following graphics – The information shown is based on the International Regulations Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (IMO).

For example – If you own a 34′ sailboat, then it must be equipped with the correct lights for sailing as well as the correct lights for powercraft. What this means in short is that you will have all your sailing lights plus a 225 degree forward facing steaming light. Visit Go2marine for all your navigation light needs.

ENDS NOVEMBER 15TH, 2011 – Free Shipping on Taylor Made Custom Boat Covers – and a Free Pole and Vent!

Buy a quality Taylor Made custom boat cover in Ultima, Hotshot or PolyCotton fabric and receive a free vent and pole! Taylor Made boats covers are sewn with Gore Tenara thread. The stitching is guaranteed for the life of the fabric.

Why a vent and pole? Don’t let your interior suffer while stored for the winter from mold and mildew damage. Proper ventilation can keep these boat destroying fungi from attacking your boat! The patented Boat Vent II installs quickly and easily, with no screws or fasteners. The venting area provides for greater volume of exhaust air while closing the top to bottom gap – increased air movement while keeping water out!

The Perfect Dock, Garden, Yard Cart

There are few items that can travel so effortlessly between use for the boat and use for around the home as the Tipke Aluminum Folding Cart. At a mere 33 pounds, the Foldit cart is capable of handling loads in excess of 300 pounds! Removable front gate (included) allows for larger loads and quick, easy, controlled dumping of soil or mulch. Use it for carrying valuables up and down the dock or for work around the garden and yard; and when you are finished with the cart, it folds to a compact depth of just over 9″ for easy out-of-the-way storage.

Made in the USA and backed with a 2 year warranty!

Other Uses

Tipke has thought of uses beyond the dock, yard and garden with two accessories. This dock cart can be ‘towed’ around by more than just you. There is a bicycle hitch attachment that allows your cart to be towed behind your bike to the local market or on errands. There is also a trailer hitch attachment that allows the cart to be pulled along behind a yard tractor.

Rugged Service

This cart is built for years of rugged service. The all aluminum construction is rust free and corrosion resistant. The 20 inch pneumatic tires along with the position of the axle allows travel with heavy loads over uneven terrain with some ease. When not in use the cart is kept folded by the retracting handle. The cart can be ready for use quickly by unlocking the handle and opening the cart.

Your Own Dock Cart

For boaters, the corrosion resistant construction, weight carrying capacity and compact storage size meet all the criteria of the boater who is cruising around or wanting their own cart. The days of hunting the finger piers for an empty cart are gone. When you travel from marina to marina during the summer cruise, the Tipke dock cart comes in handy for picking up supplies or loading and unloading guests possessions.