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Old 27-02-2015, 15:00   #1
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Saildrive - water in oil

Hey all - this is more of a 'second opinion' post but I'd like some more input before I talk to the guys I usually use. And if it sounds like I don't really know what I'm talking about, it's because I don't really know what I'm talking about.

A year ago we had the boat hauled because of water in the saildrive gear oil. The mechanics replaced some seals and/or gaskets at the base of the drive where the prop attaches. This fixed the issue, however I just checked it this morning, and once again, water in the oil. The oil was fine in the beginning of January.

I feel like that after only a year this should not have happened and I'm wondering what some likely causes might be...improper installation? bad part? could something (fishing line?) have gotten wrapped around the prop and caused this? We haven't hit anything. The zincs are inspected and replaced as necessary, nothing unusual has been reported.

Any other ideas?

Thanks, Brian
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Old 27-02-2015, 15:49   #2
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Try this:

Volvo saildrives: learned something new
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Old 27-02-2015, 15:58   #3
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Which sail drive?

One future option is to replace the shaft seals yourself to eliminate the possibility of who's to blame. It's not that difficult.

If it's a Volvo the likely causes are the shaft seals and the two o-rings on the seal package and the o-ring on the drain plug.

After replacing all of these things you can do a pressure test to check for leaks which eliminates all the seals except the o-ring on the drain plug. Ask your maintenance guys if they did this. Next time, do it yourself for a lot cheaper.

Dave
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Old 27-02-2015, 16:25   #4
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Interesting, I didn't know that the upper boot could allow water incursion in to the drive leg...that seems a likely culprit assuming the shaft seals were properly installed.
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Old 27-02-2015, 16:32   #5
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

It's a Volvo attached to an MD2020, I don't know a specific model number, but from 2002.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
After replacing all of these things you can do a pressure test to check for leaks which eliminates all the seals except the o-ring on the drain plug. Ask your maintenance guys if they did this. Next time, do it yourself for a lot cheaper.
I'll check with them on the pressure testing. This is on the list of things I'm, uh..., 'not allowed' to maintain myself but I try to be there for any maintenance so at least I can see what's going on.
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Old 27-02-2015, 18:06   #6
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

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Originally Posted by brianc View Post
This is on the list of things I'm, uh..., 'not allowed' to maintain myself but I try to be there for any maintenance so at least I can see what's going on.
Huh? Do you not own the boat?

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Old 27-02-2015, 19:14   #7
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Dog bites man....
Saildrive with water in Oil....

We cruised with a couple in mexico that literally carried a spare saildrive under their bunk for a quick haul and swap.
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Old 27-02-2015, 19:24   #8
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

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Originally Posted by SV THIRD DAY View Post
Dog bites man....
Saildrive with water in Oil....

We cruised with a couple in mexico that literally carried a spare saildrive under their bunk for a quick haul and swap.
OOhhh, be careful, Rich! With words like that you will bring out the folks who can't abide any criticism of saildrives. I've been roundly cursed for such opinions!

And for the OP, I hope that you can find the source of the water. Annual seal replacement is kinda OTT.

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Old 27-02-2015, 19:59   #9
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Most likely the prop shaft seals. A year is short (my current seals are 3-4 years old). Probably an issue with the shaft. If the shaft is scored/worn then it wont seal properly. Heavy fishing line or other object fouled around prop shaft can create this issue. As can improperly sized or seated seals.

Sometimes the seals will leak a little after the initial installation or if prop/shaft get fouled/impacted hard. Try extracting the oil/water via the fill, fill with clean oil and run again. If no water then may have just been a one time event.

If you get water in then haul and inspect the shaft for excessive wear/damage. If you are lucky then its just damaged seals.

If the shaft needs to be replaced then you or owner will get the golden shaft from Volvo...about $450 just for the shaft!

Whatever you do in the interim, don't let the sail drive sit unused for any significant length of time. The water and oil will separate and the water may cause internal corrosion...potentially big $s in damage.
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Old 28-02-2015, 05:39   #10
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

I had issues with water in the oil.

Seem to have solved them by having a header tank for the oil located a foot or so above the waterline. This ensures a slight internal pressure as opposed to internal pressure or vacuum, depending on internal vs external temperatures.

Also check the o-ring on the drain plug.
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Old 28-02-2015, 06:06   #11
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Yes, check the o-ring on the drain plug. This can fall off easily when changing the oil, and often times people just grab the plug and screw it back in without checking if the o-ring is on it. (This isn't saildrive-specific, I've done this on just about everything that has ever needed a fluid change).

The other thing is to check for TWO o-rings. The first stays stuck in the hole when removing the drain plug, and then the ever-attentive mechanic sees that the plug is missing its o-ring and dutifully puts a new one on it…

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Old 28-02-2015, 06:09   #12
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Quote:
Originally Posted by SV THIRD DAY View Post
Dog bites man....
Saildrive with water in Oil....

We cruised with a couple in mexico that literally carried a spare saildrive under their bunk for a quick haul and swap.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
OOhhh, be careful, Rich! With words like that you will bring out the folks who can't abide any criticism of saildrives. I've been roundly cursed for such opinions!

And for the OP, I hope that you can find the source of the water. Annual seal replacement is kinda OTT.

Jim
Really? The poor guy has a problem and was just looking for knowledgable advice. Why pile on to him for your fun?

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Old 28-02-2015, 06:20   #13
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

I'm assuming these things are very similar to outboards, or at least from what I'm hearing it sure sounds like it.
If so after any work the pressure test is critical, you can fail the pressure test, but not get water in the oil, for a little while, pressure test is good at pointing out small leaks that get bigger of course.
For outboards I tighten the drain plugs with a hammer impact and NEVER re-use the O-ring, they are just too cheap not to replace every time, but most mechanics will re-use the O-ring.

I assume you have to haul the boat to do anything? If so I'd go with a pressure test to determine source of leak before I took anything apart. Of course once you discover water, you must get it out soon because of corrosion.

Sorry I only have experience with outboards, so if it's not very similar, I apologize if I wasted your time


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Old 28-02-2015, 06:37   #14
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I'm assuming these things are very similar to outboards, or at least from what I'm hearing it sure sounds like it.
If so after any work the pressure test is critical, you can fail the pressure test, but not get water in the oil, for a little while, pressure test is good at pointing out small leaks that get bigger of course.
For outboards I tighten the drain plugs with a hammer impact and NEVER re-use the O-ring, they are just too cheap not to replace every time, but most mechanics will re-use the O-ring.

I assume you have to haul the boat to do anything? If so I'd go with a pressure test to determine source of leak before I took anything apart. Of course once you discover water, you must get it out soon because of corrosion.

Sorry I only have experience with outboards, so if it's not very similar, I apologize if I wasted your time


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Not sure putting pressure in the sail drive will find a leak in the opposite direction, maybe a vacuum testing??
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Old 28-02-2015, 09:04   #15
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Re: Saildrive - water in oil

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I assume you have to haul the boat to do anything? If so I'd go with a pressure test to determine source of leak before I took anything apart.
That's a good idea. My current problem like this is the opposite - losing oil - and a pressure test might have helped me narrow down where it was going. Oh well. But I'm getting ready to change out the bellows on both my sail drives and because of that have to change out all the seals/o-rings.

To DotDun's valid point, a vacuum test would seem to be better at detecting water in leakage, but vacuum rigs are probably harder to come by and in-leakage harder to isolate. Soap bubbles won't work.

Dave
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