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Old 09-08-2015, 11:37 PM   #1
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My VelvetDrive/Perkins decided it was time to die

My port side Velvet drive behind a 200hp Perkins 354 TA decided to give up the ghost. It's locked in forward gear and will stall the engine instantly if I shift it to reverse. My plan is to have the marina pull it, drop into the back of my truck and haul it to Chicago to be fixed. I'm guessing the forward clutch plates have welded themselves together for a reason that is not obvious yet. Then have the marina reinstall it. My tentative plan is to take it to Mid States Transmission in Addison (W Chicago burb). They did what I thought was excellent job on a VD out of my old Trojan about 20 years ago. First Question: Does anybody have a recommended tranny shop in Chicago? There isn't anybody locally on the Mississippi I have confidence in based on their not much experience. Second question: would I be wise to pull and rebuild/replace the flex plate. The engine has about 1800 hours, It may have been done before, I believe the tranny was out about 500 hours ago, but have no records. It hasn't given any complaints in the form of symptoms but pulling and replacing the tranny isn't going to be cheap, so maybe the time is now? What do people think?

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Old 09-09-2015, 05:59 AM   #2
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Might try contacting Trans Atlantic Diesel for a recommended transmission shop closer than Chicago. Also, if I had the problem and was pulling the tranny, I would opt for a complete rebuild.

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Old 09-09-2015, 06:21 AM   #3
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At the very least, I would pull and inspect the flexplate. On my repower I could have used the same plate over again for my ZF gear. The plate uses rubber blocks as cushions and is not rebuildable. Decided that the cost in labor to replace it at a later date justified doing it now.

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Old 09-09-2015, 07:07 AM   #4
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Are you taking the transmission to a marine shop? I am sure people are getting tired of reading this but when my Velvet Drive gave out I found a local auto transmission shop that had experience with marine units.

I took it out and dropped it off. Total rebuild was $750.00 with a one year warrenty. Marine prices started at over $1,400.00 if I brought the trans. in. That was 4 years ago. Boat has since been sold and went to Portland Maine from Mystic, CT. We speak to the new owners from time to time and they report no problems.

Just another option.

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Old 09-09-2015, 07:36 AM   #5
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And if you are halfway mechanical you can rebuild it yourself. I did one and it was not too difficult.
Manuals are available online, and I talked with and bought parts thru my local Velvet Drive distributor (Atlantis Gear in Ma).
My cost including a manual and all the parts was a little less than $500 and that includes a bench test by a local shop (Whitford Marine) after I completed the work.
Good luck.
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:37 AM   #6
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Mr. CC. Given that the flex plate is a wear item, replace it as part of your transmission rebuild. The piece of mind will be worth the minimal (in the greater scheme of things) additional cost. My $.02.
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:47 AM   #7
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a different tact .....

Anthony Keats Marine are a highly regarded transmission rebuilder in Canada just across the border at Detroit. I have had many dealings with them over the years and never been disappointed. They sometimes have rebuilt units on the shelf and will do an exchange. You also get about a 30% discount against the Canadian dollarette.
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:51 AM   #8
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Is it locked in gear with engine off, or does it go in fwd right after start with a pause for hyd pressure to build?

And yes, put a new drive plate on the flywheel.
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Old 09-09-2015, 08:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
a different tact .....

Anthony Keats Marine are a highly regarded transmission rebuilder in Canada just across the border at Detroit. I have had many dealings with them over the years and never been disappointed. They sometimes have rebuilt units on the shelf and will do an exchange. You also get about a 30% discount against the Canadian dollarette.
Canadian dollareete, I like that!
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Old 09-09-2015, 09:31 PM   #10
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Capn Craig, where are you located?

I wish I had jleonard's skills.
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Old 09-10-2015, 12:54 AM   #11
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Thank's to all for the replies. As to the flex plate you have confirmed for me to follow what is my first reaction. Replace it. Even it it looks OK, the cost isn't worth the risk and Cost of having to it later. And if replaced, I can be fairly certain I will never have to do it (port side ) during the time I own the boat. I suspect it is original to the boat. If a new one lasts half as long, I'm good to go.

I had a Velvet Drive fail fairly soon after the warranty run out on a new engine/tranny I put in my old Trojan cruiser. I was clueless about the tranny but I pulled it out of the boat myself. 351 c.i. Ford V8's are infinitely lighter than the 354 Perkins. The tranny was smaller too, and didn't have reduction gears. Younger, stronger, and poorer, made it an easy decision to pull it myself. I hauled it to Chicago to the shop, Midstates, reccomended by the engine marinizer Perkins Great Lakes, Now, Power Great lakes. The Transmission shop does commercial, industrial, construction and marine transmissions. A walk thru their shop left me no doubt they knew their stuff. My Dad went along on the road trip into the city on a Saturday morning. Twenty minutes after I brought my transmission in they invited to the shop to watch them disassemble it. in a matter of minutes it was in pieces, they looked it over, found it had spun a bronze bushing. The spun bushing scored the bore of the housing, this allowed oil to flow past and energize the reverse clutches. That was why I couldn't get it out of reverse. They said they would replace the bushing, knurl the bore and 'glue the bushing back in and I would never have trouble with it again. They couldn't fix it that Saturday but would have it ready on Tuesday afternoon. The cost: a few hundred dollars. It worked well for the next 15 years I used it. On our way back from the shop to the service desk, my Dad pointed out a Allison automatic like the one he had rebuilt and retrofitted to his GMC 4106 motorhome bus conversion. The guy said Yea that's a Allison V730 we rebuild many of them. They are a unique version of a common Allison Trans, with a diagonal drive shaft on a GMC Pusher Bus chassis. My Dad had his rebuilt by the authorized DDA Distributer in Iowa, but asked them a few questions about the transmission. On the way home he told me they know what they are talkng about. I have good confidence in the transmission shop. I have also heard good things about a shop named Federal Marine Transmission, also in the Chicago area.

I live in Iowa, a few miles from where I-80 crosses the Mississippi. I keep my boat about 50 miles north. Chicago is only about 3 hours away, so the trip is no big deal. There are really very few inboard boats that are not I/O's
anywhere near. I doubt a marine transmission shop could keep the heat and lights on during the 6 months of winter with such a small market. Chicago is a bigger market.

After watching my old transmission get taken apart, I would be tempted to do it myself. But again at the end of the day I'm afraid that I would risk having to do it over, as a result of not knowing what I don't know. The cost of that would erase my savings and then some, and I wouldn't have it fixed before the cold hits, and the boat hits the hard.

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