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Old 24-05-2014, 04:49   #1
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Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

We lost the fluid in our borg warner velvet drive. This wouldn't be a huge problem except we are at a remote island off the East Malaysia Coast. We noticed the fluid level down after the gearbox slipped comming to anchor 2 days ago. Topped it up and everything seemed fine. The following day the gearbox was working fine to leave the anchorage. We shut off the engine after we raised the sails so I inspected the gearbox to find the dipstick white and frothy. The cooler has developed a leak and I suspect the fluid was mixing with the water and being exhausted. Again a fixable problem however we were battered by a severe storm and had to motor into an anchorage. We had to top up the fluid to run the engine to make it safely through the reef entrance.
Today we bypassed the cooler and have flushed the gearbox with diesel to remove as much of the salt water and ATF as possible. The gearbox was run with the diesel in it for a very short time to circulate the diesel and it operated fine.
The dilemma we now face is that we only have 1.2 lt of ATF left. The box has a reduction gear so it's capacity is about 2.5lt. We have managed to get 1lt of Castrol 68 hydraulic fluid from a guy with a back hoe on the island.
The cooler is bypassed so there is no cooling and will run the box and low revs to get us the 35 miles to Pulau Tioman were we may be able to get help to replace the cooler.

After the long intro my question is 1. Is 1.2 lt of ATF enogh to get us out of trouble or 2. Is there a major problem mixing the castrol hydraulic fluid with the ATF to get us the miles we need to get help. My gut feeling is it will be ok to mix, I was hoping someone may have first hand experience.
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Old 24-05-2014, 04:56   #2
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Sorry for any typos. We have very scratchy internet coverage and are using a Samsung tablet so it is difficult to see what we are typing.
Thanks
Garry and Wendy
Spirit of Sobraon
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Old 24-05-2014, 05:17   #3
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

No personal knowledge, searched online in case you're not able to:

Transmission Fluid for Velvet Drive Borg Warner 1017004 - The Hull Truth - Boating and Fishing Forum

Some people there who seem to know what they're talking about say "yes" and that you could even use engine oil at low power.

Good luck
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Old 24-05-2014, 05:30   #4
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

I would mix a sample of your ATF with the hydraulic oil, maybe even heat it up to ~100C. If it stays mixed and clear, I would use that mixture to get to Tioman.
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Old 24-05-2014, 05:32   #5
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

From a company called Rice Marine in Florida:

Dexron III ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) is recommended for all Velvet Drive and Borg-Warner
Marine Transmissions. 30W-ND motor oil may be used in applications where the maximum engine
speed is less than 2300 RPM. At higher RPM's motor oil will foam reducing clutch pressure. Also,
motor oil does not transfer heat as well as ATF and is not recommended for use in warmer waters.

Never use any additives with the fluid or oil.

Do not use synthetic ATF as it is too slick and may cause clutch slippage.
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Old 24-05-2014, 08:06   #6
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

I don't know about Malaysia, but in the US non-detergent ("ND") motor oil is extremely hard to find. FWIW.
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Old 24-05-2014, 08:57   #7
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Been using 30wt instead of auto trans fluid in our trans for years. No ill efffect
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Old 24-05-2014, 18:42   #8
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Thankyou to all who have responded, especially Bornyesterday, for your search on the net.
We only get limited very weak coverage at the island so google searches are almost impossible.

After reading what we can I think using 10W 30 engine oil is what we will try.
We have plenty.

Mixing the ATF and the Hydraulic 68 is a bit of a gamble. If 68 is the weight of the oil then it has less than half the viscosity of the thinner 30W.

We have left the diesel sit in the gearbox overnight and will pump it out this morning. If it is clear we will fill with 10W 30 and head off tomorrow.

Currently the seas are glassy flat so there is no possibility to sail anyway. The anchorage is beautiful with white sand beaches and crystal clear water, so we may as well make the most of it.

We will post the results. Our next issue will be finding a replacement oil cooler.

Garry and Wendy
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Old 24-05-2014, 21:38   #9
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

I think that sometimes we worry about babying mechanical objects too much.
I had a friend whose transmission (on a Perkins, don't know what kind of trans) started slipping badly coming back through the Bahamas to the Florida keys. He wasn't near any mechanics, and he had to get back to work.
He was, however, a chef. He put a bunch of black pepper in the transmission and it worked just fine all the way back to the keys.
Probably not a recommended procedure lol.
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Old 25-05-2014, 04:50   #10
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Another boat has arrived in the anchorage and they have ATF. So after all of our concerns looks like we will have the ATF to make the trip, minus our oil cooler. We will drain the box of diesel tomorrow morning, fill with ATF and be good to go. Thanks to you all for you help and suggestions, although I'll keep the pepper trick for when we really have no other answers. Interestingly the gear box seems to work fine with the diesel although I wouldn't want to get it too hot.
Garry and Wendy
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Old 27-05-2014, 10:59   #11
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Well the theory of being able to motor without the oil cooler is false.
We left the anchorage this afternoon for a short hop to the next Island. Only about 12Nm. We ran the engine at 1300 rpm and the gearbox was too hot to touch after about 1 hr. We had placed a call to COR Cooling in Brisbane and luckily for us they returned the call. When I told the tech how hot the box was he said to shut it down immediately or risk melting the plates together. So we sailed the last 6 miles at about 2 kt as we only had 3 kts sometimes gusting to 4. So after more than 2 hrs, we again started the engine to come safely to anchor. We will have to source the a cooler to fit at Pulau TIOMAN.
Garry and Wendy.
SvV Spirit of Sobraon
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Old 27-05-2014, 11:18   #12
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Good luck with the fix. If there is a fishing fleet, you may be able to find an oil cooler--I found one in a Chinese store in Bali. If not, you may be able to plug the leaking tube or tubes and use the old one.
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Old 27-05-2014, 11:21   #13
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Do you have a dinghy outboard you could rig to power the boat?

Perhaps a makeshift oil cooler is just some long lines put in a bucket of water?
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Old 27-05-2014, 11:34   #14
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

A ferry runs from Pulau Tioman to Tanjung Gemok / Endau. Endau has a pretty decent shipyard / boatyard. They do boats, but seem to focus on smaller commercial ships and should be able to repiar/source an oilcooler, in 2011 this email worked: prospect_dockyard at yahoo.com.my


Another ferry runs to Mersing, with buses to JB / Singapor. This probably will require a place for a night somewhere.

Dirk
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Old 27-05-2014, 11:37   #15
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Re: Lost fluid in gearbox and stranded on an island.

Nimble motors, I like the way you think. Still another approach - is a Spray replica too big to yuloh?
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