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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stern Drive Gear Lube

Stern Drive Gear Lube
Quicksilver High Performance Stern Drive Gear Lube at West Marine
You know what the best part about 'learning the hard way' is?  You're still learning!

Thanks to Captain Steve at BoatTest.com, I've adopted a pre-departure routine that involves checking the various dipsticks and fluid levels in those important-looking but nonetheless cheap plastic bottles scattered around the engine space.  Well after a raucous day at Claudio's in Greenport, what do my wondering eyes come to know, but a half-empty reservoir that shouldn't be so.

Fantastic!  it's 5:30PM, and at my immediate disposal is but a small chandlery, Preston's.  So, I raced over to find it open (first crisis averted), but they were out of gear lube.  OUT OF GEAR LUBE.  Really?

Unfortunately the first young employee I encountered was less than helpful, and I ended up purchasing power steering fluid thinking 'what the heck, it must be similar...'  So, I raced back to the boat, looked it up online before pouring it in (smart), and found that in fact it is NOT the same thing.  (Looking that up before I left the store would have been smarter).

So, I ran back to the store to check for gear lube.  You know when you look in the fridge to snack on something, and find nothing, and close the door and leave, and then return to the fridge minutes later just in case a new yummy snack has suddenly and inexplicably been placed there in the interim?  My desperate return to Preston's was exactly of the same ilk.

However, lest you think magical elves never place new snacks in the fridge from time to time, you better believe that the second time around gear lube was FOUND!  Upon consulting a clearly knowledgeable, middle-aged (owner, manager?) gentleman, he looked in the back to no avail.  Then, in what can only be described as a Houdini-esque feat of magical illusion, he pulled out a half-full bottle of gear lube from behind the check-out counter.  My hero!

I didn't ask why it was there, why it was half-full, or how he did that magic trick.  I paid him the requested $3 (this must be the cheapest miracle performed since Biblical times!), attempted to hug the man (alas, thwarted), and skipped gleefully like a Catholic school girl back to my boat.  After giving the reservoir its needed drink, we departed without further delay and arrived back at the dock just as the sun was going down.  Hallelujah!

Mercruiser Gear Lube Reservoir
My crappy plastic gear lube reservoir.  At least it has indicator markings to tell me when I'm screwed.

Now, the lessons:

  1. Always check your fluids before heading out.  I was about a half-inch below the 'ADD' line, and although I doubt I would have cooked the drive by proceeding with it so, you never know.  Hot moving parts need lubrication, and a new drive is expensive.
  2. If at first you don't succeed, try try again.  Although I was told that the chandlery's last bottle of gear lube had gotten sold earlier in the day, I just refused to believe it.  I willed it to be there.  Or, I just got really freakin' lucky.  You decide.
  3. That blessed soul at Preston's is a verifiable hero.  If you ever go there, pass that message along for me. 
So, in case you're wondering, I still have a leaking gear lube problem.  However, I have reason to believe that the nut at the bottom of the reservoir has a bad seal and is leaking, or there is hairline cracking around the base of the reservoir.  The bottom is greasy to the touch, at least; so, I'll be checking it carefully and reporting back to be sure.

In the meantime, check your fluids.  It's OK for humans to 'stay thirsty my friends;' but your boat should never be!
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