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Merc Commander Classic Shift/Throttle on 1986 Century not locking correctly

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  • Merc Commander Classic Shift/Throttle on 1986 Century not locking correctly

    Hi, I hope someone has had this problem before and can tell me what was wrong.
    I recently bought a 1986 Century 3500 sport LX "fixer upper" with a 5.7 260 merc and alpha one outdrive - the shift/throttle is the Commander Classic.

    I haven't decided whether to invest in the much needed interior and flooring repairs or part out the good stufft. Mechanically it's quite solid - engine is strong and quiet, the outdrive is in good shape. I like this boat because it rides so good and has so much power for a stock boat.

    From neutral to either forward or reverse is normal.... pull in the neutral lockout lever and it goes right into gear, then accelerates as it should (well occasionally it grinds for a second going into reverse, even though I always wait long enough for the prop to stop spinning - comments? normal?)

    When shifting from forward into neutral, there is a click ( as if it should have gone into neutral), but it isn't out of gear yet. I have to pull in the neutral lockout and pull back one more click to get neutral. I would assume that the cam is not in the correct hole, except that it does the same thing in reverse - first click isn't really neutral, pull in neutral lockout and go to second click to actually get neutral. Once you are in neutral, it operates normal again - pull in the lever and shift to either forward or reverse.

    I haven't owned a boat with a Commander Classic before - this does not seem that it should be normal? What's the problem?

    thanks ahead of time for your help!

  • #2
    Welcome aboard.

    Some what you are describing, you are pulling out the neutral lock to shift into neutral. right?

    The lock out is pulled to increase idle for warming up the motor by moving the throttle up and it stays in neutral. The disengage the lock, just pull the throttle into neutral and the lock out should pop to the connect the throttle and shift together.

    I think the clicks you hear are the spring-loaded detents as you move into neutral, which occurs after the motor is back to idle.

    The reverse grind could be a cable adjustment at the motor end or you are shifting too slow. Do all shifts smartly and quickly.
    Please, no PM's (Private Messages) regarding boat/engine problems.
    That is what the forums are for.
    Only forum/moderator issues will be answered in PM's.


    • #3
      thanks for the quick response! I wasn't clear about the neutral lock out - the one at the bottom of the shifter that you are describing for revving the engine is working fine. It's the one at the top of the shift handle that I am referring to. On other boats that I have had, there was only one detent - neutral - and I only had to depress the lever when going out of neutral, not into neutral!

      I am having to depress it to get into neutral from forward or reverse ....and there are 3 detents. There is a detent when coming from forward toward neutral that would usually be the neutral position to me. But it isn't. I have to go one more detent with the neutral lever pulled to find neutral, and it's a really narrow detent - easy to over shoot, even when being careful. Same situation for reverse.

      Does that sound right? If it is, it's a really bad system!

      And I like your boat! Really classic


      • #4
        Ayuh,.... Welcome Aboard,.... Sounds like worn cables or worn controller,...

        My ole '74 tinbarge requires me to go just past neutral to get to neutral too,...
        Just no lock button on my ole Morse controller,...


        • #5
          Forward to neutral or reverse to neutral should be seamless when everything is operating properly.


          • #6
            Ga_Boater- thanks! I will pay close attention to how I am shifting when the grinding occurs.

            Fed- thanks for the link!

            I think that we have determined that this is NOT normal operation now.

            Bondo- it seems very likely that I have worn cables or worn controller. Perhaps, I am really in neutral position on the control hand, but the drive is staying in gear when it should have come out of gear already?
            Maybe I am having to pull the neutral lock lever to get it out of gear is because a worn cable or the shift interrupt isn't working properly, so the gear teeth aren't letting go when they really should have already?

            That would also explain why I am perceiving that the neutral detent is so narrow - if I am having to pull in the neutral lockout and actually put it into the opposite gear that I am coming out of to make the teeth let go?

            I have read the Merc remote control manual 90-814705R03, Dec 2006, section 4A Classic Commander,
            and 90-12934--2 1097 service manual 6, section 1C
            and the link that Fed gave me.

            Is there another manual or link that actually has troubleshooting tips for the remote controller?
            The Remote Controller manual explains how to take it apart and put it together and that's it! Nothing about symptoms of worn or broken pieces.

            I am going to take the controller apart and inspect, then check all of the cable adjustments. I am sure I will have questions!

            And here is my first question: I don't understand where to apply the important note at the top of 1C-39 of the 90-12934--2 1097 servman 6. Which step does it apply too? It can't apply to all steps, can it?

            thanks to all!


            • #7
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              Fire it up on the trailer with the muffs & see if it's still hard to get out of forward & reverse, this will take the load off the undercut dog clutches.

              If it is easy then the shift interrupt is not working.
              If it's still hard then the lower shift cable will be seizing up.