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Old 16-03-2018, 22:24   #1
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Engine cable lubrication?

I just bought a 1978 Columbia 10.7 with a 2GM Yanmar. The various engine cables, shut off, gear shift and throttle, are all sticky and difficult to move.

Is there a recommended lube that I should use to ease the operation, or just simply replace them all.

The boat has been on the hard for several years, so the cables have not been used for a while.
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Old 16-03-2018, 22:51   #2
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Re: Engine cable lubrication?

There are two camps that seem to come out on this:
- Grease the inner core regularly to keep moving smoothly.
- Never grease as the grease attracts dust and grit which gets pulled into the cable and eventually hardens causing the very problem you are trying to solve.

Never seen a definitive answer.
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Old 17-03-2018, 00:21   #3
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Re: Engine cable lubrication?

If they were very stiff I'd replace them. I've had a cable snap at an inappropriate time. I carry spares now,although they do last a very long time.
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Old 17-03-2018, 03:08   #4
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Re: Engine cable lubrication?

I am for the replace camp......
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Old 17-03-2018, 05:46   #5
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Re: Engine cable lubrication?

Teleflex advises cleaning (& perhaps application of penetrating oil) and lubricating the external parts of the steering cable's telescopic (output) raml, using a good quality, water resistant (white lithium) grease.


Teleflex How-to: Maintenance of a Mechanical Steering System ➥
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 17-03-2018, 07:49   #6
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Re: Engine cable lubrication?

These cables are surprisingly not very expensive, which is shocking as most things "marine" tend to be ridiculously pricey. The actual replacing of these cables is not very difficult at all if there is sufficient access. That said, if they are hard to get to, or the cable was zip-tied or wired/clamped/strapped down in an inaccessible location when the boat was built the job can turn into an absolute nightmare.

These cables are very important to the safety of the boat as one breaking or jamming in a bad situation could cause the boat to lose control and crash into another boat or pier while docking, or could even contribute to the loss of the boat near a reef or land when the engine is needed most like perhaps on a lee shore in a storm.

Once these cables get old their performance is suspect and it is just not worth it trying to extend the life out of a critical control system like this where so much is at stake. It is likely that your cables might be original or at least 20+ years old. The moment they start showing signs of age they should be replaced IMHO. Nothing lasts forever on a boat. In a smaller sailboat it usually isn't that hard of a job to replace them. On our HR-35 it was a snap but access is stellar on Hallberg-Rassy boats, even ones from the old days like ours which was built in the 70's. You usually get what you pay for when going with a higher-end boat builder.
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