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Old 09-07-2019, 07:32 PM   #1
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Lost forward gear just now

Hey folks. Just motored about 6 hours bringing my new CHB that I just bought home. Cruise was fine but got to halfway point for the night, pulled into the marina and lost forward gear. Still have reverse. When the engine cools off I can go below and look around, but I need some wisdom for what to look for? Can the control cable come loose? Some other issue? It's got a Lehman 120, and dual Morse Controls.

Thankfully a couple of residents came to our aid and pulled us into an open slip. Also thankfully the harbormaster can let me stay the night here.

Oh and I'm at Martinez Marina in CA in case any of you are already in the marina 😁

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:44 PM   #2
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Look to see if the cable came loose on the transmission. If good, have someone move the gear lever while you watch and see if lever on tranny moves. If cable doesn't go in and out at tranny, look at the cable connection on Morse control. Or less likely, a broken cable.

And last, if none of the above finds the issue, disconnect cable at transmission and while engine is running push the shift lever in and out to see if tranny engages forward.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:04 PM   #3
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Good luck, when that happened to me the whole gear needed to be rebuilt...

But also check the fluid level in the gear. Sometimes people check them wrong, and so they're not properly filled. The fluid can flow back from the heat exchanger and make it look higher than it really is. You may need to check it immediately after shutting down.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:20 PM   #4
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Any idea what transmission you've got?
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:50 PM   #5
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I will check what trans it is after dinner (we headed into town) I'll check the level too. What fluid does it want? Just ATF? Thanks again for all the help! I'll report back after dinner.

BTW, I'm now thinking fluid. At one point on the cruise it felt like it went into neutral and then back into gear. My girlfriend was at the helm and I asked what was that? She said she didn't do anything. I was busy so didn't really think about it after. So yea, a clue!
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:58 PM   #6
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Different transmissions take different fluid. Mine takes 30 weight oil. One on a previous boat took ATF. Find out the brand and model and look online for an owners manual to find out for sure. Good luck.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:59 PM   #7
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Out of curiosity, do you still have neutral?

It is more likely to be a cable problem if you've got no control than be able to switch among two of the three...but likelihood doesn't matter, really, I guess. You've got what you've got.

Check fluid level and the bilge for spilled fluid.

If you have dual station controls, do you have the same problem on top as on the bottom? Usually one set pulls the other set. If not, there is often a lever to switch.

If those are borg warner transmissions, with everything off, follow the cable back to the transmission. Make sure it is there and attached to the control lever. Sometimes there is a E-clip holding the cable on that can fall off, letting the cable off. Shift forward, neutral, and reverse. Check the lever after each move. Does it move all the way forward, neutral, and reverse? If you need to, temporarily disconnect the cable from the transmission so you can move the lever by hand and get a feel for how much it should move and where the neutral position is.

If the cable doesn't fully move the lever, disconnect it. Does the lever move well by hand? Or is the cable or control binding somewhere? If the cable is binding somewhere and you have a dual station set-up, you might try disconnecting the distant station from the middle station to see which set is binding and then go from there. If there is only one, or once you have found the one, figure out if it is the cable or the controls.

If that is all good, and the boat is tied up really well, make sure everything is in neutral and someone is where they can kill the engines fast. Make sure the throttle is idle. Start the boat and listen. Any noise? "Bump" it in and out of reverse. Any unusual noise or vibration? Do the same with forward.

Be prepared to kill things fast if there is a problem, both from the helm and also from the shutoff on the engine. Make sure you are tied up good in advance so you can't move or pull the cleats off the dock.

At least this is where my own debugging would start.
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:05 PM   #8
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Still have neutral, and reverse kept working after I lost forward, which is what made me think cable.
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:14 PM   #9
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If you can still shift between netural and reverse, the cable would seem to still be attached. But, that doesn't mean that it isn't binding somewhere, somehow.
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:09 PM   #10
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Check with Eagle Marine and see if they have needed expertise. About a five-minute walk from the Martinez marina.
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Old 09-07-2019, 11:34 PM   #11
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Update - got back from dinner, went downstairs to check transmission. It's a Paragon. Checked beneath, no fluid leaking. Checked the dipstick. Dry as a bone. Found the PO's crate of fluids, which included the recommended ATF and a little bitty funnel. Added it a bit at a time and at the end of the quart might have had it touching the dipstick. It's hot down there and I'm exhausted so I shall go below in the morning to continue. So this explains the not engaging gear. Hopefully didn't do it any damage. And of course got another good lesson in "check it yourself no matter what the last guy tells you"
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Old 09-07-2019, 11:46 PM   #12
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I am just speculating. You might have a bad oil cooler. You might have pumped all your atf over board. After refilling look to see if you have a steam of oil coming out the exhaust. I’m also fearing that you burned up your forward clutches. It’s a boat, it’s all repairable. Just be patient.
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Old 09-07-2019, 11:57 PM   #13
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I will look for that oil in the morning when we test it out.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:17 AM   #14
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Externally, the shifter works about the same on those as the borg warners except, I think, it is more on the top than the side.

The boat I bought had a transmission leak in the starboard transmission. I'm not sure if it was originally there or was the result of the last owner taking it apart to inspect it and replace the seals (the boat took on some water 2 owners ago, which is why it was disassembled for inspection by the next owner).

In any case, it was low the first time I saw the boat in an August. It was low again sometime later that fall (I forget when). It had allegedly be resealed sometime after that and was full at the sea trial for which I wasn't there. Neither the mechanic nor the surveyor reported any loss of fluid.

I noticed it a little low when I later took possession of the boat. After refilling it and about 3 hours of operation I noticed it low again. Low again after 3 more hours of operations. I was hopeful it was the o-ring on the shifter, which I could see was leaking a little bit. Then I finished fixing some minor fuel leaks and saw that the rest of the volume of the fluid was all from the transmission.

I chatted with the prior owner who suggested that the front and rear seals were suspects and I could replace them in-boat. I pulled the salon floor to give me better access to the engines and ran it from the lower helm for the next sea trial. I could feel it vibrate when shifting and hear excessive noise at cruise.

So I wouldn't lose boating time I had the mechanic pull it between monthly visits. He is skilled and reliable and seems to be very efficient. But, ouch, that was expensive.

His labor was about $1400. It was about 6 hours to take it out and 7.5 hours to put it in. Most of that time was just getting to it and getting it back in. The boat has a lot of constraints and I think he even ended up needing to jack (and relower) the engine. I was totally unsurprised by that chunk of the bill.

I was quite surprised that the rebuild, itself was $2564.43. I'm used to seeing rebuilds in the $800-$1200 ball park and rebuilt units selling for $1500 or so. So, it was double what I expected. But, I have a slightly weird model of the BW, a 72C-CR2. It does the counter-rotating instead of the engine. The upshot is that there were no rebuilds already rebuilt available for sale that I could find quickly. As for why the rebuild was double what I expected, I'm not sure if there is more to rebuild in that unit, or the mechanic added some margin, or he just took it to an expensive shop. But, two owners ago did warn me that the original owner had warned the owner before him that it was a weird model of transmission and to count on service being 2x as expensive. So, that part of the decades long whisper game seems to have turned out true.

The rebuilder noted that the front and rear seals on the unit were both leaking badly and that the clutches and bearings were very worn leading to the vibration and noise.

When I chatted with the mechanic about it midway through the process, he told me that the culprit was chronically running it low or without fluid, which is what I expected. I asked about the potential of an alignment problem, and he told me that that there wasn't one, but that they'd, of course, check it and adjust as necessary when installing.

So, my best estimation is that the old owner somehow got a seal messed up changing them, got it reinstalled, and didn't want to have to dig right back in and decided to run it for a while before going for round 2. And, in that time, running it low did some damage. Of course, it could have also been leaking longer than that an no one noticed, remembers now, or will fess up :-)

A former dock neighbor also lost his forward gear en route from LA to Catalina. Fortunately, it was still in the LA harbor. He brought it back, found the fluid gone, and refilled it. He reported that it worked fine after that, put the boat up for sale shortly thereafter, and disclosed the issue to the buyer. The buyer removed the transmission himself, took it to a rebuilder in LA and had it rebuilt for $800, and put it back in himself. I suspect the seller and buyer had a different definition of "worked fine", but maybe the buyer just did it as a precaution.

Regardless, I hope your transmission is okay. But, I'm concerned. And, even if it does seem to work, I'd give it a good sea trial and see how it sounds and feels shifting and under load to make sure it doesn't vibrate, make noise, or slip. I'd hate for you to be coming in hot one windy day, shift it into reverse, and suddenly have none. Or, the opposite if you back in (and given the problem you are reporting).

If you've got the time and access, pulling them isn't too bad. And, those are usually not super expensive to rebuild -- yours should be in the $800-$1200 range, I'd guess, rather than something crazy like mine.

Fingers crossed for you!
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:17 AM   #15
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Yeah, if it isn't in the bilge, the cooler is about the only place it can go.
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:31 AM   #16
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I just bought 2 new transmission oil coolers to replace mine. No sign of leaks but I donít know how old the ones in the boat are so I am going to replace them.
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Old 09-08-2019, 04:24 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by gkesden View Post
I was quite surprised that the rebuild, itself was $2564.43. I'm used to seeing rebuilds in the $800-$1200 ball park
The rebuilder noted that the front and rear seals on the unit were both leaking badly and that the clutches and bearings were very worn leading to the vibration and noise.
That is a high number. CR2 is just a standard 72C with a special reduction gear. Simple clutch plates, seals, and gaskets should go for 750-800. All new bearings should double that. It is possible you had a scored input or output shaft and that may have kicked up the price. I would have asked for an itemized invoice.

I think the only part no longer available is the control valve, but they can be rebuilt for 250-300.

Nothing like the feeling of coming into the fairway, putting it into reverse to slow down, and nothing happens.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:45 AM   #18
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I did the same for the same reason before we left to do thecGreat Loop last year. Also replaced the damper plates cuz service records noted no replacement ever with 5,500 hours on the clock.
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I just bought 2 new transmission oil coolers to replace mine. No sign of leaks but I donít know how old the ones in the boat are so I am going to replace them.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:59 AM   #19
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Hey SoWhat,

Everything you are saying sounds right to me. I did look at the rebuild manual and then parts kits online and couldn't see the difference. But, when the scuttlebutt and price tage matched, I didnt want to discount it, either.

They did all new bearings. I think they did the valve, but not the shafts. That puts me at just under $2k with your math, so I guess only $500 is a mystery.

I'd have asked more questions but he got it done for me in time for labor day, when I checked inside the boat, everything was squared away and clean, and it ran well and cool with no leaks, or unusual noises, vibrations, etc..

Within reason, I think of these things in terms of quality, time, and price. The 1st isnt negotiable, and if they nail the second, I don't look too hard at the third.

I sent him a check. Once I see it cashed, so he knows I'm not trying to chipset the price tag after the fact, I'll ask him some more questions about that big line item.

Thanks for the input.

Cheers!
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:51 AM   #20
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That is a high number. CR2 is just a standard 72C with a special reduction gear. Simple clutch plates, seals, and gaskets should go for 750-800. All new bearings should double that. It is possible you had a scored input or output shaft and that may have kicked up the price. I would have asked for an itemized invoice.

I think the only part no longer available is the control valve, but they can be rebuilt for 250-300.

Nothing like the feeling of coming into the fairway, putting it into reverse to slow down, and nothing happens.

Gkesden paid less for his CR2 rebuild than I did. (I did a swap for a rebuilt unit) So I think he got a reasonable deal. There are a fair number of 80's vintage twin engine trawlers with CR2's simply because they totally solved the reverse rotation and were adequately rated for the lower hp engines used. I believe ALL of the parts that are *particular* to a CR2 are no longer available. This includes the planetary assembly and the reduction gear that mounts to the output side of that. Due to a kind of design issue, those 2 parts often need replacing in the 4-5000 hr timeframe. (Mine definitely did) Rebuilders hoard old/used CR2s as much as possible because of the lack of new CR2 specific parts. Clutches/seals and bearings are the same as standard 71's and 72's so no problem getting those.


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