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Old 30-06-2011, 17:23   #1
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What does your ATF oil look like when you change it ?

Hi,
I'm on my third ZF10m in around 500 hours. The new gear is 2 months old and has 25 hours on it. I just changed the oil, per manufacturers recommendation, and I'm a little concerned about the color of the oil. I want to see if what I am getting out is normal.
The oil that came out is purple and (at least when I look at it through the clear plastic bottle I put it in ) completely opaque. If you dribble a bit out it looks clear, but it is totally opaque in the bottle.
Someone told me that the oil should come out clear and red just like it went in. Please tell me that isn't the case

Thanks!
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Old 30-06-2011, 17:36   #2
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

A better question might be what should it smell or taste like.
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Old 30-06-2011, 18:32   #3
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

Hard to describe, it smells 'chemical-ly'.
I didn't fancy tasting it.
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Old 30-06-2011, 18:42   #4
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

G'DAy Pluck,

Don't know what it is SUPPOSED to smell/look like... As I said before, I change mine at or before 200 hours, and it comes out a reddish brown and fairly clear. Smells pretty much like the new stuff, but my smeller isn't very selective. A burnt odor is what isn't good.

Dunno about purple... that's pretty weird!

Good luck and cheers,

Jim
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Old 30-06-2011, 18:42   #5
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

a burnt taste or smell is not a good thing, but is easily compared to new oil.
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Old 30-06-2011, 18:44   #6
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

ATF should not change unless there is overheating which will darken it. It should be a clear red oil. All it does is lubricate. There is no combustion therefore it shouldn't change. However if you have water or antifreeze getting into it via the transmission cooler it will get either milky pink or purple depending on what your coolant is. A burning bearing will darken it but not turn it milky.
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Old 30-06-2011, 19:02   #7
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

If you are really concerned you could get the oil analized.
I had both my engine oils tested before purchase for 50 euro each.
I didn’t bother with the saildrives.
You may find the colour change is due to suspended particles in your oil, wheather it’s an issue or not may depend on what the origin of the particles are.
I asume these transmissions have a clutch in them?
If so it may just be normal wear or running in if it is a new transmision.
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Old 30-06-2011, 19:38   #8
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

Purple? Hmm. Should come out just like it went in.
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Old 30-06-2011, 20:57   #9
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

It went in cherry red and clear, it came out deep velvety purple and opaque.
I was sure hoping that it is just the break-in, and tiny filings are causing the milkiness. But as I said, this is my third transmission in 500 hours, and I'm very worried about it.

I'm pretty positive water is not the issue. It's a brand new gear, and I've had the oil out and standing in a plastic bottle for hours now, there's no water settling at the bottom.
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Old 30-06-2011, 21:00   #10
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

What is causing your transmissions to die so quickly? They should last thousands of hours--generally the life of the engine. In any case, as others have said, the ATF should look very similar to the way it looked when you put it in.
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Old 30-06-2011, 21:12   #11
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

Do you have a transmission cooler? If you do, antifreeze from the freshwater cooling system is getting into your transmission oil. Pressure check the cooler.
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Old 30-06-2011, 21:32   #12
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

I don't have a cooler. It's a brand new gear, pretty sure nothing is getting in to the oil.

Kettlewell, the question as to why they keep failing is a whole other kettle of fish. I've checked and re-checked everything without finding conclusive answers. I just re-pitched my prop (I was around 100rpm off max engine rpm) most people didn't seem to think that amount of rpm should be an issue, but I am deliberately under-propping now in the hope that it might help.

I communicated with another user on here who went through 5 ZF gears before giving up and switching to another make. His conclusion after trying everything under the sun was that they rate the gears a little too closely, i.e. if the specs say you need a ZF10 then you should probably go with a ZF12 or ZF15.

Frustratingly, I haven't gotten a conclusive answer to my problems after coming back to Ft Lauderdale from the Bahamas to get it sorted out. I brought my last failed gear to ZF to look at, they said that the detent had been modified (last gear was a reconditioned Hurth HBW100) such that the gear wasn't being fully/properly engaged even if the shifter was adjusted properly. That may be so, but it doesn't explain why my first one (a brand new ZF10) failed, or if I'm having trouble with this new one already it definitely is not the shifting adjustment that's the problem.

If I lose another one I think I might join the Pardey's and throw the stupid engine overboard

I don't want to jump to conclusions, I'm really hoping that the condition of this oil isn't a problem. I may bring the oil out to ZF and see what they say.
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Old 30-06-2011, 22:50   #13
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

Analysis sounds prudent, have never heard of doing it on ATF though. Should be red and like others, Im concerned about you going through transmissions. Let's hope it was a string of bad luck and what your seeing is part of a break-in process. At the very least I'd flush it and add fresh to spec.

Good luck, is yours an Alberg boat?

csh
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:11   #14
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

I really hope it's part of break in. Because if another one fails I'm going to switch to a PRM gear, which will require some re-working.

Yes, it's an Alberg design. I think all the Cape Dory sailboats are. I love it, I'm just growing to hate that it has an engine.
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:36   #15
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Re: What does your ATF oil look like when you change it??

You only have to overheat the transmission once to cook the oil and continuing to run it afterwards will only make it worse. Without a temp. guage you would likely never know.
I am not a big fan of the zf10/100 as I think that are too lightly built for anything but light to moderate use in most applications.
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