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  1. #1

    Default In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Just got a 03 Alpha 1 4.3L. It was not run this year. Found a broken shift cable boot and very small amount of water in the gear lube. Pulled the drive and found water in the u-joint boot. There is rust on the yokes from soaking in an inch of water. Looks like the gimbal bearing is junk. The u-joints are GKN perma-lube and feel good.

    When I push the drive up, I don not see any cracks or other signs of degradation to the U-joint bellows. The failed shift cable bellows is full of small cracks when stretched.

    Should I replace the u-joints and the u-joint bellows?

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Honorary Moderator Emeritus Don S's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    As a rule of thumb, the ujoint bellows should be replaced after 5 years. You're over that. The only other place for water to get into the bellows is from the large quad ring in the bellhousing between the drive and the bellhousing. If it gets reused, cut or damage when the drive is installed, water will get into the bellows. If it looks good, then you can bet money there is a hole in the bellows that you can't see.
    Don S.


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  3. #3
    Fleet Admiral HT32BSX115's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by skyler4321 View Post
    Just got a 03 Alpha 1 4.3L. It was not run this year. Found a broken shift cable boot and very small amount of water in the gear lube. Pulled the drive and found water in the u-joint boot. There is rust on the yokes from soaking in an inch of water. Looks like the gimbal bearing is junk. The u-joints are GKN perma-lube and feel good.

    When I push the drive up, I don not see any cracks or other signs of degradation to the U-joint bellows. The failed shift cable bellows is full of small cracks when stretched.

    Should I replace the u-joints and the u-joint bellows?

    Thanks for the help.


    Howdy,


    If the shift cable boot is rotten and you can not identify when the all bellows were replaced, you probably should do a complete transom service.

    If there's corrosion inside, U-joints, etc, you should probably replace them. Since there was water in there, I would probably do the gimbal bearing too....

    Don't put it back together without checking/adjusting the alignment...


    Regards,


    Rick
    73 de Rick
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I use xxx oil and have never had a problem........
    1987 FourWinns 211 Liberator, 7.4L- Bravo III installed by ME,
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    1947 Stinson 108-2 Station Wagon
    , Franklin 6A-335B. Hartzell CS 2-blade prop
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  4. #4

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    I am about to buy tools for this job.
    Do I need the bellows expander tools for the exhaust and u-joint bellows?
    Thanks

  5. #5
    Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Skyler, in my experience, if you don't replace the u-joints now, you will be replacing them next year. They feel fine when moving them by hand, but they will get rough. Your next post will be titled 'vibration when turning left and right, u-joints?'

  6. #6

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Thanks
    I would rather replace it all now.
    Thinking if going with www.amarket.com parts.
    They have the yoke and joints in a kit for the same cost as just 1 joint!!!
    The same goes for the bellows.
    Is this a case of you get what you pay for?

  7. #7
    Rear Admiral Fishermark's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by skyler4321 View Post
    Thanks
    I would rather replace it all now.
    Thinking if going with www.amarket.com parts.
    They have the yoke and joints in a kit for the same cost as just 1 joint!!!
    The same goes for the bellows.
    Is this a case of you get what you pay for?
    I've ordered from amarket several times - I've had good experience with them - both on their prices and service.

    You can ask what brand the bellows are. Then report back with what you find to get opinions on the brand. Most like the OEM, but several have commented that the Sierra works well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    I bought my bellows and tools from AMarket. They were fine. DO buy the bellows tool. Well worth it, IMO.

    Also, when you pull the shift shaft to use the bellows tool, make sure you don't put it in reversed 180. :-) Fortunately, I found this before I took it to the lake...

    Personally, I'd replace the joints and bellows while I had the drive out. Pretty simple while it's apart. I'd also replace the impeller if it hasn't been done in the last year. I did find that the sierra impeller kit didn't have the key or another part that slips my mind right now and I ended up with the mercruiser kit instead.

    Take a good look at the water hose and oil hose (if it has one). Great time to replace those as well...

  9. #9

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    I am about to do the engine alignment. The engine was replaced in 2005.
    I was looking at the rear mount with a fiber scope and the port side is almost touching the fiber washer and there is a lot of space on the other side. The front port mount is adjusted 5/8 lower than the other front mount. It looks like the front mounts are trying to roll the whole engine to the port side.
    Should both rear mounts have about equal space over the fiber washers?

    Thanks for your help

  10. #10
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Yes the rear (if properly replaced last time) have a "stack" that needs to be in the right order. Both should sit even and the front mounts compensate for any variance in the stringers.

    But I guess if you get the alignment tool to slide in and out easy you are good to go.
    When will people learn that impellers require regular
    replacement and are not drive it till it pukes items?

    1984 Regal Medallion 195
    3.8 V-6 with the dreaded
    OMC Stringer Drive.
    2003 Avalanche w/Hypertech

    If it ain't fixable - don't break it!

  11. #11

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Do I need to find a way to lift the front of the engine or can I bend the tab a little, use a wrench and then stake it back?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    as for the joints, they should be 7260 series. try a local driveshaft shop. i had mine replaced at driveline service of nj inc. on rt. 46 in clifton nj. took them the yokes and the installed the joints on the spot for a fraction of the joints you see from mercruiser. they used neapco high performance joints and put a small button zerk fitting in the cross instead of a plug so i can grease them next season. if your by nj call them 973-433-7900 it saved me time and money!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    also i made a bellows tool for approx $6.00. i bought a piece of 2" flat steel and some solid square stock at home depot. just modeled it after the ones on ebay. worked like a charm and all it took was a little welding and a little time!

  14. #14
    Honorary Moderator Emeritus Don S's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by skyler4321 View Post
    I am about to do the engine alignment. The engine was replaced in 2005.
    I was looking at the rear mount with a fiber scope and the port side is almost touching the fiber washer and there is a lot of space on the other side. The front port mount is adjusted 5/8 lower than the other front mount. It looks like the front mounts are trying to roll the whole engine to the port side.
    Should both rear mounts have about equal space over the fiber washers?

    Thanks for your help
    For one thing, to check the alignment, you need an alignment bar, looking at the mounts with that scope will only tell you something is wrong, not if it's out of alignment or not.
    Yes, there should be equal weight on the rear mounts, and the front mounts.
    If the threads on the front mounts are clean, and educated elbow will tell you if you have equal weight on the front mounts, plus checking the alignment as you go till you get it perfect. Then when you tighten down the front mounts and recheck your alignment and it's off. They were not equal.
    DO NOT go by how many threads are showing. You are assuming the hole was cut perfectly square to the stringers (not going to happen) and that the stringers are exactly the same height. (also not going to happen).
    The alignment bar tells all.
    Here is a thread (with video's) that covers about all of the alignment procedures.

    http://forums.iboats.com/mercruiser-i-o-inboard-engines-outdrives/engine-alignment-how-tos-443992.html
    Don S.


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    That is what the forums are for.
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  15. #15
    Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice


  16. #16

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    I got the alignment tool today. Before starting I was able to get the tool in but it was tight. I evened up the mounts and in an hour and a half it was perfect. Last I rotated the engine.
    270 has some drag , 90 is snug, 180 is tight and 0 stayed perfect.
    What now?
    Thanks for all the help.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Try tweaking it a bit more, youre tight at 180 deg and perfect at 0.Obviously your coupler is a bit wobbly, try and get 180 and 0 the same,will give you best results imo.

  18. #18

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Should I pull the gimbal bearing and use the alignment tool to tweak the coupler?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    There is no such thing as tweaking a coupler as far as I know.What youve got is what youve got. I believe every one of them is out of line a bit, it is how much that matters and I dont have that spec.Maybe someone else has the spec, Id love to know myself.If you can get it so you can pull it out without a "tug" in all four quadrants Id say you are good to go. A piece of precision 1 inch bar stuffed into the splines will also give you a visual guide as to how much it wobbles in the 4 positions.(the 1 inch bar is virtually the same size as inside of splines.) Look to see how close it is to gimbal brg or alternatively apply finger pressure to the bar sideways and up and down till it contacts gimbal brg. The more pressure it takes, the further out of whack it is in that axis. ie more wobble
    Like i said, try and get it so alignment bar doesnt stick in any quadrant Hope this helps.

  20. #20

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    This coupler has probably been run misaligned and with a loose front mount since the engine was changed in 2005. It did not sound happy over 1500 RPM when I ran it.
    Do they get a wobble from running out of alignment or does it just happen?
    Will I save myself a lot of grief if I just change it now?

  21. #21
    Petty Officer 1st Class
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    First ,when I said "tweak" in my first response I meant continue fine tuning alignment, just in case that confused the issue.As to whether you should change coupler now, that kind of depends on your inclination and budget.

    On one hand, you could align best possible and try boat out. Make sure you have other vibration sources such as prop under control so that if there is vibration you know where its likely not coming from.(this could be accomplished in a few hours),

    on other hand you could remove engine, check whats going on with those rear mounts while its out,check coupler up close,buy a new one if it seems worse than a new one(theyre not always true either,be sure and check it before install),and put it all back together.This is a couple of days work for your avg backyard mechanic. Method a would be fastest but may result in method b ,(or not))

    mho

  22. #22

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Well I pulled the engine.
    That was the easiest engine pull ever.
    There are small rubber balls all around the hub on the side that mates to the flywheel.
    Also found the plastic cover for around the starter, pinched between the engine and the rear cover and behind the flywheel. It is pretty chewed up.
    Looks like this will save the first boating weekend.

  23. #23
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    Cool Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    You did the right thing. I have repaired so many "fixes" from the PO of my boat that now I just wished I pulled the damn engine out 2 seasons ago and went through everything. But I have a 100 hour reman engine that has tons of life left in it. So that has kept me from pulling it. When I do (someday) the 5.7 is going in along with a new outdrive. Now you have the chance to make sure all is 100%. One tip. While the engine is out of the bildge. Install a secondary bildge pump up higher than the primary one. Plum it out seperate from the primary's hoses to go overboard. Good insurance in case of a failure of pump 1 in an emergency. A remote oil drain line out of the oil pan is not a bad idea either, Newer Mercs have this right out the drain hole. You can pull a small chain and out comes the hose. Uncapp it, and drain away. No more sucking! Good luck.

    CCJ

    1988 Chris Craft Scorpion
    4.3L V6 Mercruiser
    Alpha 1 Drive

  24. #24

    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    The Clymer manual says to use loctite 271 on the flywheel and coupler bolts. That is the red stuff. I have seen it break grade 8 bolts. Is that a typo?
    I would feel much better using the blue 242.

  25. #25
    Petty Officer 1st Class
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    Default Re: In Need of Alpha 1 U-Joint and Boot Advice

    Im sure blue pink or green would do just fine. There are a more than a few out there working fine with nothing on the bolts.Dont ask how I know this. Some of us dont read all the instructions I guess.

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