Grumble while turned and wandering at low speeds

Discussion in 'Sport Boats' started by 79TA7.6, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. 79TA7.6

    79TA7.6 New Member

    Jun 27, 2020
    1995 220 Overnighter
    1995 220 Signature Series Overnighter, 5.7 Merc with Alpha outdrive. Not sure how to tell which gen.

    I bought our boat about a month ago. Have only had it out three times, first two were day trips, the last was a 4 night camping trip. Super happy with the boat at this point. I have noticed that when I turn the steering wheel nearly locked in one direction or the other I can hear a grumbling in the rear. I do not hear it while not turned. I do not remember if the noise was there when not in gear. I am reading this could be either the gimbal bearing or the drive shafts/u-joints. I am also reading that water is what takes these out. When I pulled my boat out of the water after being in it for 5 straight days, there was no water when pulling the plug. I am not sure if when people say water takes these out that if there would be water in the boat or not.

    The first time out I noticed that at low speeds the boat wanders back and forth when I hold the steering wheel straight. When reading up on this it sounds like it is normal for the alpha drive. What I am not sure about is the amount of play in the steering wheel. I am able to turn the wheel probably 45 degrees without the drive moving. Looking at the power steering shaft assembly, I can see this moving in and out. I am assuming this is what allows the fluid to shift to the correct port. I am also able to move the drive by hand without the steering wheel moving. I am just wondering if this is adding how much the boat wanders?
  2. Espos4

    Espos4 Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2017
    Long Island NY
    2007 240 Sundeck
    350 MAG Bravo 3 W/DTS
    A noise at full lock is common even if the gimble and ujoint are in good condition.

    A bad gimble bearing will growl ALL the time as the shaft is turning whenever the engine is running.

    The excess play in the drive could be a worn steering pin.
  3. blaster

    blaster Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    May 23, 2011
    potomac river
    2010 sea ray 205 sport
    F-250 CCLB 6.2 4x4 3.73 rear.
    Mercruiser 4.3 mpi alpha 1.62
    Don’t drive over Idle speed with the outdrive trimmed up beyond about 1/2 way or run on earmuffs with the outdrive trailered.

    also you likely have a grease fitting on the outside transom assembly. That is for the gimbal bearing. Keep it greased. If the gimbal bearing has been replaced with the newer sealed bearing the fitting may have been removed. In this case, the gimbal bearing is non serviceable and must be replaced.

    some noise when turning is normal. When you turn if you trim down into the turn and trim up out of the turn you will have enhanced response and less growling.
  4. 79TA7.6

    79TA7.6 New Member

    Jun 27, 2020
    1995 220 Overnighter
    Thank you for the replies. I checked my transom and there are a couple grease zerks. What type of grease do you all recommend? I believe the manual stated the grease to use, but that was 25 years ago. I am sure something newer and hopefully better has been introduced.

    As for inspecting for bad bellows, would I see water in the bilge if I had any bad bellows? Just trying to think of an easy way to determine the condition without tearing everything apart if I do not need to.
  5. paulswagelock

    paulswagelock Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2010
    2018 SDX 270 OB 300 Verado
    Verado 300
    Merc makes a grease specific to gimbal and U joint use and is called just that.
    Play in the outdrive but not moving the steering wheel is almost always a worn steering pin. Most boats need the engine removed to fix that. There is a way to knock a hole in the outdrive and fix from the outside but I would never consider that..
  6. MonacoMike

    MonacoMike Well-Known Member

    Sep 15, 2009
    Indiana lakes and Lake Michigan
    2000 Cruisers 3870
    8.2 Mercs
    85 Sea Ray Monaco 197
    260hp Alpha 1
    My wife always says that I grumble at low speed. LOL

    That sounds just like my gimble bearing I had to replace last week.

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