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How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

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  • How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

    I am a bit of a Starcraft Nut, and my idea of the Perfect Ocean and Bay boat is the 26 Islander, a massively deep, wide and sleek beast that is also relatively light and therefore fuel efficient. I am considering a 3.8 GM V6 equipped with the infamous "Stringer" drive, do they deserve the bad rap they seem to have?


  • #2
    Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

    Yes they do!!! Old technology and noooobody will work on them.Charlie

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    • #3
      Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

      I had an electric shift "stringer" for ten years, and it was nothing but trouble. The tilt motor and electric shift gears are trouble prone.

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      • #4
        Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

        I owned one two if you consider it was my first and last. they can be problematic and hard to get parts for. esp the ones that ran the buick V6. manifolds and such are all but impossible. go with a later merc alpha or a 280 and up volvo or an SX. you will find in the salt pond manifold/riser life is about 3 years. after that your on borrowed time. problem is usually when the riser/manifold lets go it takes the engine with it. turning a 800 dollar job into a 5500 dollar job. best way to do it is place 1K a year in the bank for boat maint . them freshwater guys have no idea how lucky they are, even if the are snow bound 1/2 the time.
        no tech questions by PM, they wont get answered.
        you have to be trusted by the people that you lie to .

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        • #5
          Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

          If you can't work on them youself you should stat away from them. I've owned one for 18 years. Not much trouble except for upper case shafts (twice), but I've only have a total of 600 hours on it. All fresh water use.

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          • #6
            Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

            I have twin 3.8L with 800 series....my advice is to stay away from them...if maintained VERY well they are alright...BUT parts are expensive and hard to find, qualified mechanics are hard to come by, and to be honest, I dont trust them (although after total rebuilds two years ago, i have had no problems)...but i have a feeling that trouble is on the horizon........and unless you plan on keeping the boat forever, good luck trying to sell it with those drives.......i knew better when i bought my boat ('85 searay, 255 amberjack), but I love the boat..and my wallets been empty ever since

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            • #7
              Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

              "but I love the boat..and my wallets been empty ever since"Next to the long string about mishaps etc, that is the best quote I've read here! Now we know why they name boats after women........

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              • #8
                Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

                Originally posted by rodbolt: .... them freshwater guys have no idea how lucky they are, even if the are snow bound 1/2 the time.
                Some of us do ! I literally couldn't own a boat right now if I had to use it in salt.

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                • #9
                  Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

                  My plan is to run the stringer for three years then upgrade the whole system to a I/O mercruiser package which I am assuming will run around ten thousand or sostriper fishing gets good here late in the fall, cold water and it tends to be roughthis baby can handle it

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                  • #10
                    Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

                    troublesome? perhaps. Expensive parts? not comared to Volvo's. Hard to get parts? had mine rebuilt top to bottom in less than 24 hours from drop off, took 2 weeks to get and fix the helmet steering head on my Volvo, so you go figure. I find the Stringers much easier to work on too for the backyard mechanic than the Volvo, but then maybe I just need more time with my Volvo. Good luck!!!

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                    • #11
                      Re: How bad is the OMC stringer drive?

                      Salt water is a demanding mistress.Especially for a moored or slipped I/Oyou have to think of maintenance like an airplane, the whole thing has to be checked out each season.So far I have had to replace one bellows, a few seals, and I replace the impeller and thermostats regularly. Manifolds get checked 4 seasons and most likely replaced. Biggest problem you will have is fouling, the antifouling paints for alu do not work as well as the copper based hull paint.Now about the OMC stringers, I have seen only one around here, and I noticed that the lower unit was able to tilt all the way out of the water, something no modern outdrive can do! So if they could have improved the sealing and the ball gear drive system, this abiliy to fully tilt out of the water could have been a really good selling feature for salt water use.
                      1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
                      4.3 OMC Cobra

                      98 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0 Selectrac
                      07 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7 Quadradrive II

                      "While air doesn't freeze....rust never sleeps"

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