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Old 06-20-2022, 11:11 AM   #1
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water in port velvet drive

I recently put my '79 Ocean trawler in the water after a long lay up (8 years) and discovered water in the port velvet drive. The water has probably been there for years.

I replaced the oil cooler, pumped out the tranny twice, replaced the ATF, and ran for 2-3 minutes. Though it shifted smoothly from forward to neutral to reverse, I discovered the rear seal had a slow leak.

We pulled the reduction gear and found a rusty aft bearing and the tailpiece had a slightly damaged race where the bearing rides.

We definitely need to replace the aft tailpiece and bearing, but I am a bit worried the bearing on the forward end of the tranny will be in the same condition - and who knows what else, we cannot see, has been damaged by rust.

I'm wondering if a rebuild transmission might be the best answer or maybe rebuilding my transmission.

Or should I just put it back together and see what I have. If it fails or makes a bunch of noise, I could replace it then.

Your thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 06-20-2022, 11:54 AM   #2
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IF the trans has good bones, why buy another cow to get more bones?
You really wont know what's going on until you open it up and look.
I would start by removing the trans oil cooler clean, pressure test and see if that was the problem.
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Old 06-20-2022, 11:57 AM   #3
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I would just go ahead and rebuild it and be done with it.
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Old 06-20-2022, 12:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by PNM View Post

We definitely need to replace the aft tailpiece and bearing, but I am a bit worried the bearing on the forward end of the tranny will be in the same condition - and who knows what else, we cannot see, has been damaged by rust.

I'm wondering if a rebuild transmission might be the best answer or maybe rebuilding my transmission.

Or should I just put it back together and see what I have. If it fails or makes a bunch of noise, I could replace it then.

Your thoughts are appreciated.
Seems like you've answered your own question, as you've already taken it apart. My thoughts: REBUILD THE TRANSMISSION. These things don't heal themselves. If you simply stuff it all back together and "...it makes a bunch of noise", make sure and have alternate propulsion available 24/7. You'll very likely need it, and in very short order.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 06-20-2022, 04:01 PM   #5
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U might get lucky. If power plant is down angle, free water will sit towards the rear.
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Old 06-20-2022, 05:57 PM   #6
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Just rebuilt mine at 6k hours.

We pulled it in just a couple hours. Put it trunk of car and shipped it off for a rebuild.

Not that big a deal. One guy can carry it, about 125#.

Cost $4k total.

Replace dampner plate and cooler while there, all new switches.
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Old 06-20-2022, 05:58 PM   #7
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Go dig around my blog, grandbankschoices, and you can check it out.
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Old 06-20-2022, 06:08 PM   #8
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Is this one of the dreaded drop-center BWs for which parts are near unobtainium?
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Old 06-20-2022, 09:15 PM   #9
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To rebuild or not to rebuild my Velvet Drive

Thanks for your wisdom.

I replaced the ATF cooler and flushed the velvet drive twice. That's when I found the slow ATF leak out of the back of the reduction gear rear seal area.

My mechanic pulled the reduction gear to replace the rear seal. That's when he found the rusted bearing and race.

The transmission is still mounted to the engine. The bearing is on the aft end of the shaft that runs through the reduction gear. That said, the same ATF flows through the entire tranny including the reduction gear.

So, if we decide to rebuild the tranny, it has to be pulled.

The reduction gear weighs about 50#, the tranny about 100#. No simple task to get it out of the tight spot behind the port engine.

The engine does slope down to the rear, so it is likely water tended to collect around the rear seal and bearing.

My mechanic is very respected and thinks we should put it back together with the new bearing and seal, do a good job of purging any water remaining, and run it.

This is a twin engine Ocean 40+2 Trawler and I could get home on one engine, if necessary.

My bigger concern is could a hard failure of the forward bearing lead to more serious damage. Or would I likely hear some noise and detect some high temps in the transmission before that happens.
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Old 06-21-2022, 11:26 AM   #10
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When I rebuilt the VD in my Albin I was told the water and oil will not come out of reverse cylinder unless the tranny is upside down. Then it can drain out of that top port.
My reverse cyl was rusty but reparable.
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Old 06-21-2022, 12:34 PM   #11
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When I rebuilt the VD in my Albin I was told the water and oil will not come out of reverse cylinder unless the tranny is upside down. Then it can drain out of that top port.
My reverse cyl was rusty but reparable.
Probably easier to pull the transmission than to turn the boat upside down…
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Old 06-21-2022, 03:54 PM   #12
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Water in Velvet Drive

A little more information.

I have pictures of the bottom and top of the reduction gear. There appears to be a little rust with no pitting in the bottom of the gear housing. In general 99% of the gear blades appear to be perfect. A few blades show a light surface discoloration.

So, I think the down angle suggestion is correct. About 1/3 of the aft bearing was rusty, to include some dark chrystalization of rust particles. But none of that appears to invaded the reduction gear.

I sent an optical scope down the oil filler hole on the transmission and found no rust or discolorization of any kind on the metal I could see, mostly housing walls, from that limited view. I went all the way to the oil sump and saw - a little - residual ATF that was almost clear red.

The transmission nameplate is hard to read, but it appears to show a model 10-18-008 and a ratio of 2.10.

I have heard that some models of the VD have paper plates that would quickly degrade in water. Since the drive set in contaminated ATF for 8 years and has been run about 5 times in the last year for a total of 45 minutes, I suspect this model has metal plates.

I am starting to think that I do not have heavy rust damage to the intermediate and forward bearing or the metal plates, but I cannot know.

Any further comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
Attached Thumbnails
Reduction Gear Bottom View.jpg   Reduction Gear Top View.jpg   VD Name Plate.jpg  
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Old 06-21-2022, 05:45 PM   #13
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water in port velvet drive

Not sure about the paper plate theory. I recall bronze and fiber, alternating. Unless really old, there is a metal mesh filter at the lower sump hose connection. Worth a look see. Big hex bushing there “from memory”
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Old 06-21-2022, 07:27 PM   #14
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The transmission nameplate is hard to read, but it appears to show a model 10-18-008 and a ratio of 2.10.

Yes, 10-18-008 is a standard 72C model. Easy to repair and parts are readily available. Bearings are all standard

I have heard that some models of the VD have paper plates that would quickly degrade in water. Since the drive set in contaminated ATF for 8 years and has been run about 5 times in the last year for a total of 45 minutes, I suspect this model has metal plates.

Yes, Probably metallic friction disks.


I am starting to think that I do not have heavy rust damage to the intermediate and forward bearing or the metal plates, but I cannot know.

If the rear bearing is pitted and corroded, the other bearings are probably in the same condition.

I disagree with your 'respected' mechanic. Rebuilding is simple and should be less than $750. You can not remove water from the reverse pump without disassembling it.

XX
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Old 06-21-2022, 10:59 PM   #15
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rebuilding a velvet drive after water damage

A local transmission shop is estimating $2,000-$2500 to rebuild my VD, which includes replacing the coupler, because of the rough surface caused by the bad seal.

Does the seal turn on the coupler or just sit on the coupler? A reputable rebuild shop said the coupler can be repaired with a "Redi Sleeve or Speedi Sleeve"?
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Old 06-22-2022, 09:46 AM   #16
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Probably easier to pull the transmission than to turn the boat upside down…
NOW you tell me! Where were you when I needed you? LOL
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Old 06-22-2022, 09:48 AM   #17
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Not sure about the paper plate theory. I recall bronze and fiber, alternating. Unless really old, there is a metal mesh filter at the lower sump hose connection. Worth a look see. Big hex bushing there “from memory”
I had paper plates in mine that were pretty much disintegrated. Replaced with bronze.
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Old 06-22-2022, 11:15 AM   #18
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A local transmission shop is estimating $2,000-$2500 to rebuild my VD, which includes replacing the coupler, because of the rough surface caused by the bad seal.

Does the seal turn on the coupler or just sit on the coupler? A reputable rebuild shop said the coupler can be repaired with a "Redi Sleeve or Speedi Sleeve"?
The output shaft spins within the seal. If the shaft is scored or pitted it will chew up the seal. The price seems high but it depends upon what needs replacing. If all bearings are replaced, new clutch packs, new oil pump, new control valve, etc then maybe it could go that high.

I would obtain another quote but VD's are ancient and a lot of shops don't want them.
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Old 06-24-2022, 12:54 PM   #19
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My Velvet Drive transmission oil cooler failed and the unit filled with salt water. My issue soon after was a front oil seal failure (presumably corrosion tearing it apart). The rebuild was done by Transmission Marine in Fort Lauderdale (who can still get or have all necessary parts manufactured for them). They had to replace almost all internals at a cost of over $6k. I would recommend a rebuild now as any corrosion present may incur additional costs if left to rotate and wear parts or seals.
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Old 06-24-2022, 02:07 PM   #20
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Didn't have time to read all posts... maybe this was mentioned.

If I were you: I'd do what you did to clean it out as well as possible. Repair the seal and try using it. "Nothing ventured, Nothing gained". In this case; nothing ventured a possibly unneeded full-on rebuild expense gained! BTW - If the trany operates OK I'd again replace trany fluid after short period of time.

Cautionary note - So you don't misunderstand noise coming from your BW VD trany... and think its impending failure.

Borg Warner Velvet Drive trany can tend to make an unsettling "rattling" noise when in gear at too low rpm [like 500 to 600 rpm]. My port makes that rattle noise in reverse. Starboard does it a bit ness, not as loud. Soon as I raise rpm over 800 the noise disappears. Have read similar reports on BW VD's from other boaters.

I like to stay very entuned with my boat's engine and trany noises. Each time before leaving slip... after at least a relatively long stay [week or more]... I start engines from lower pilot station with wide opened salon floor hatches. Once warmed up, still remaining tied up, I run them individually through forward and reverse gears at low rpm [1,000 to 1,500]. Looking down into the engine compartment while standing at pilot station I spot check things with IR heat gun and powerful hand held spotlight. Our boat is a gasser... safety is as safety does!
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