Alpha Gen 1 Repair Costs

Discussion in 'General Maintenance/Repair Questions' started by Heat Wave, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. Heat Wave

    Heat Wave New Member

    3
    Feb 10, 2020
    Diversey Harbor
    1990 Sundancer 280DA
    5.7 Mercruisers Thunderbold IV 260 horse Alpha Gen 1
    Hi,
    I've owned this boat for two years and I knew it needed outdrive repairs. I was recently quoted $9,100 for the following work:

    Found u-joint bad on one drive but both oil seals are bad and need replacement. Pull old u-joint, check rolling torque, replicate torque on new unit, install new. Will also need to remove cap to replace all seals on top.

    Will need to remove gimbal ring, replace all bellows, shift cables and power trim on BOTH sides. To get gimbal ring off with need to drill into ring to loosen bolts, remove bell housing, remove old bellows/water hose on inside of boat, disconnect steering to replace lever. Install and set limit on new power trim.

    I'm curious if any experienced owners suggest I attempt to lower the costs with DIY for some of the repairs, or just have it all done by the mechanic.

    This is a lot of money and I'm trying to determine if this is best done by professionals.
    Thanks.
     
  2. BillK2632

    BillK2632 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 25, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    1999 185 Bowrider,
    Mercruiser 4.3, Alpha I
    I would get a breakdown of the $9100, unless something is missing that sounds very high. A bellows job, including, bellows, trim limit/senders, shift cable and gimbal bearing should run @ $1,500 per drive - maybe a little higher/lower depending on who and where the work is done. So that is $3,000, let's say maybe even $3,500. As for the drives, you can buy a brand new SEI Alpha I for $1,395 - that would be $2,790 for both. So you are at $6,290 with new drives and a high estimate on the bellows. So unless I am missing something they are charging you $5,500 for that drive work when you can buy two new ones for half that.

    As far as DIY, I have done a bellows job myself, I spent @ $400 on parts and a couple of tools I needed - took me two Saturday's and some busted knuckles. The quotes I received were in the $1,200-$1,500 range. It's not a technically hard job, but everything about it is heavy, dirty, and some of the parts are stuck or corroded, it's a bit of a PIA, but very doable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  3. Heat Wave

    Heat Wave New Member

    3
    Feb 10, 2020
    Diversey Harbor
    1990 Sundancer 280DA
    5.7 Mercruisers Thunderbold IV 260 horse Alpha Gen 1
    Here are the details. I forgot to mention in my original post if SEI replacements would make more sense. The mechanic didn't suggest it. A used Gimbal ring on Ebay appears to be the only part price savings.
    upload_2020-2-10_15-49-17.png
    upload_2020-2-10_15-49-31.png
     
  4. DWABoat

    DWABoat Active Member

    289
    Aug 13, 2019
    S Louisiana
    2001 280 Sundancer
    1989 220CC Cuddy Cabin
    Twin 4.3 w/Alpha Ones
    5.7 Mercruiser Alpha One
    I am not sure of the pricing and what is being described.
    You list replacing power trim on both sides. Is that new trim cylinders or just the trim hoses? Those cylinders are pretty expensive. I don’t see them listed.
    I also don’t see where he will remove old steering pins and replace with new steering pins and pin seals. That may require a motor pull, but at the age of your boat, I am sure they are leaking.

    My concern with spending almost $10K on the drives is that you will still have 1990 drives and transom assemblies with some new parts.

    Have you considered buying two new SEI drives and transom assemblies and have your mechanic install them?

    It may cost about the same but you will have two brand new drives and complete transom assemblies (including all bellows, cables, trim cylinders, etc) with warranties when you are done.
     
  5. BillK2632

    BillK2632 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 25, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    1999 185 Bowrider,
    Mercruiser 4.3, Alpha I
    So looks like the drive work is broken out from the transom assembly bellows work - $1,351 will buy you one new drive. Like mentioned above even after $1300 worth of work you still have two 30yr old drives - I would seriously consider buying to new SEI drives - you can always sell these and get some of your $$ back.

    On the transom work - why do the gimbal rings need to be replaced? Reason I ask is if the gimbal rings are in that bad of shape, the bell housings and transom assembly probably aren't in good shape either. And like mentioned above, if your that far into it, you should replace the steering pins also - not usually a problem on Alpha's but at that age I would do it. The prices on all of the parts aren't the best, your paying retail for everything and you probably could get most a little cheaper, but that just becomes part of the deal when a mechanic is doing the work and buying the parts. Labor, again, seems a little high, let's assume his rate is $100hr, that's 39hrs of work, BUT when you get into transom / drive work on an old boat, especially if it has been in the water and worse salt water, things are corroded, rusted and just don't come apart easily. You need time, patience, heat and you still end up breaking things.

    The two parts listed that I don't recognize right off are:
    Shaft Assembly $411
    Lever Assembly $248.
    If these are in the outdrives, then I definitely would buy new ones.

    As far as trim, only thing I see parts for are the trim sender and trim limit switch - $133.
     
    DWABoat likes this.
  6. DWABoat

    DWABoat Active Member

    289
    Aug 13, 2019
    S Louisiana
    2001 280 Sundancer
    1989 220CC Cuddy Cabin
    Twin 4.3 w/Alpha Ones
    5.7 Mercruiser Alpha One
    If you plan to keep the boat a long time, the more I think about it, plus BillK’s thoughts, new SEI drives and complete transom assemblies would do everything your mechanic lists plus a LOT more as brand new. The labor time would be cut to probably 10 hours or less total. (It is pretty quick to take things out when you don’t have to worry about reusing them.) Assuming the transom is not rotted, inserting a new transom assembly takes about 20 minutes. Setting an engine takes about an hour. You should really discuss this option with your mechanic then get a second opinion if he says it is not worth it.
     
    BillK2632 likes this.
  7. Heat Wave

    Heat Wave New Member

    3
    Feb 10, 2020
    Diversey Harbor
    1990 Sundancer 280DA
    5.7 Mercruisers Thunderbold IV 260 horse Alpha Gen 1
    Next week I'm meeting the mechanic to look at the quoted repairs. I can do the outdrive u-joint and seals repairs myself. The transom work is what I'm not going to attempt. They said the gimbal housing is in ok shape, but that the gimbal rings are becoming hollowed out where the swivel shaft is and that there's major steering play. I also are questioning the Shaft Assembly $411 and Lever Assembly $248. I will discuss these repairs vs your suggestions of new SEI drives and transom assembly. Thanks for all the great suggestions. This is exact recommendations that I've been looking for to be able to make the right decision.
     
  8. BillK2632

    BillK2632 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 25, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    1999 185 Bowrider,
    Mercruiser 4.3, Alpha I
    The gimbal ring's becoming hollowed out where the swivel shaft is is a common thing, tends to happen more in BIII drives, but can definitely happen in an Alpha. Symptom is sloppy steering that is not corrected by re-torquing the steering pin clamps.
     
  9. frosh coach

    frosh coach Member

    181
    Apr 20, 2011
    Long Island Sound, New Haven CT
    1994 300 Sundancer
    1989 230 Cuddy (SOLD)
    Twin Mercruiser 350 FWC, Alpha 1 Gen II
    some of those parts seem pricy. For 9100, what would it coast for a new drive and transom assy?
     
  10. DWABoat

    DWABoat Active Member

    289
    Aug 13, 2019
    S Louisiana
    2001 280 Sundancer
    1989 220CC Cuddy Cabin
    Twin 4.3 w/Alpha Ones
    5.7 Mercruiser Alpha One
    This is the inside of a 19 year old Alpha One Gen 2 transom assembly. Almost all of those steering pins will be leaking very slowly at these ages.
     

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