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Old 15-02-2022, 19:47   #1
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Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

I have experience with a Volvo sail drive that had water intrusion, and the oil was very obviously milky.

I might now have experience with a Yanmar SD50 with water in the gear oil, one test came back with a tiny amount, but the gear oil, which is the dark blue/green Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube, looks normal as far as I can tell.

I know tiny amounts of water are probably undetectable by looking at it, but if there was water in there, what would the oil look like? Would it be seafoam green? Cloudy? Darker? Would you even be able to tell?

Thanks!
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Old 16-02-2022, 06:20   #2
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

The first visual evidence is likely to be the oil looking hazy, although that could also come from fine dirt. Then cloudy, then opaque and the color of the oil, then milkshake, then castastrophic failure and your whole day is ruined.
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Old 16-02-2022, 06:31   #3
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

What is "tiny amount?" Does the manual give condemning limits? I know what they normally are in industrial gear boxes, but they run hot and generally stay pretty dry. On the other hand, the moisture in your case is seawater, and it could easily be hypersaline.
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Old 16-02-2022, 06:51   #4
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

It would only look hazy of the drive was run. The oil and water will seperate if left to sit. The water will drain to the bottom.

Oil doesn't typically circulate through a dipstick tube (Think of holding your thumb over a straw). So there is no way to detect water through the dipstick. I've seen oil that looks perfect on the dipstick and 'coffee with cream' when drained.

When I had an outdrive (same applies to my outboards) the best way to tell is to let the engine or drive sit for a few days. Then haul the boat and drain a very little out of the bottom of the outdrive/OB (Not sure if your sail drives have an external drain on the lower portion of the drive) into a glass jar.

Now let that glass jar sit for a few hours to a day. The water in the drive will seperate and go to the bottom of the drive. Draining out that bottom portion, the first thing that will come out is the water. Even if you get a little oil in the glass jar, the water will seperate and move to the bottom of the jar.

After about a day, look to see how much water was in the drive.

If there's water you'll need to replace the seals and bellows.
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Old 16-02-2022, 09:49   #5
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

Thanks all. I am not looking to make a scientific judgement by eyeballing or say N percent water is within the tolerances, but since we send the gear oil and engine oil off to be tested probably once a year, there's a lot of time in between where it would be nice to open the dipstick and be able to say, oh ****, there's definitely water in there, which is the case with the Volvo...there was no missing it unless you never checked the oil.

The last oil sample did show I think about a tenth of a percent water, and we are scheduled to haul out in a couple weeks and will flush the oil then and replace the o-ring (the dealer said that was the most likely source, though I don't think I believe that based on all my research on here and other forums).

But the dilemma is that this is a 2013 Yanmar SD50, and I'm reluctant to go down the route of replacing the bellows, replacing the prop shaft seals and potentially having the typical wear issue requiring work or replacement of the prop shaft itself, several thousand dollars worth of work (we are not doing this work ourselves), to then have issues with the cone clutches (no one around here seems to be aware of any of the aftermarket upgrade kits so that's really a no-go, again not doing the work ourselves), and end up spending multiple thousands more to replace the drive.

So I genuinely do not know what to do...my gut is just to keep it going as-is until we have to replace it, but I don't think that's a great idea either.
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Old 16-02-2022, 12:12   #6
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

When is the last time the bellows and shaft seals were done?

Avg. should be around 5-7 years. These are commonly neglected service items.

If you're getting some water, it will most assuredly increase over time.
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Old 16-02-2022, 15:23   #7
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

I have also a an SD50 saildrive and reading online posts disturbed by issues that are highlighted, one being water in the oil caused by pressurization and contraction, the other that the GL5 Quicksilver is not suitable as it attacks yellow metal, the bronze thrust washers. It seems that GL4 spec oil is more suitable for the SD50.

This video shows a comprehensive upgrade kit, I have not gone down that path yet, but it looks to have merit.



I have owned the boat for less than a year, the previous owner had just before my purchase done a complete rebuild on the leg because of water intrusion. The motor had only done 250 hours at that time.
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Old 16-02-2022, 15:48   #8
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

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When is the last time the bellows and shaft seals were done?

Avg. should be around 5-7 years. These are commonly neglected service items.

If you're getting some water, it will most assuredly increase over time.
It's beyond the recommended intervals, I can't find any evidence that the previous owner did anything since 2013 when the drive was new. I've only had the boat a little over a year.

I'm just not sure it's worth doing those things if I'm going to have to replace the drive at some point in the near future. The original oil sample was terrible (metals in high concentrations, I'm guessing because the previous owner may never have changed it since the drive was replaced in 2013), the second one was pretty good, the third had a hint of water.

Because of the first oil sample leaving a large question mark as to the condition of the interior of the drive, I'd rather keep it alive for a couple more years, and then spend the 3-5k toward replacing it rather than doing the bellows, the shaft seals, and potentially a new shaft depending on how the existing seals have worn it (my guess they have because of how long ago they were done). I know the replacement cost, it's a lot more than 3-5k, but I hate to throw money after something that's not going to last.

At least with a new drive I'd know where we're starting and I know that I keep up with all the maintenance.
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Old 16-02-2022, 15:53   #9
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

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I have also a an SD50 saildrive and reading online posts disturbed by issues that are highlighted, one being water in the oil caused by pressurization and contraction, the other that the GL5 Quicksilver is not suitable as it attacks yellow metal, the bronze thrust washers. It seems that GL4 spec oil is more suitable for the SD50.

I have owned the boat for less than a year, the previous owner had just before my purchase done a complete rebuild on the leg because of water intrusion. The motor had only done 250 hours at that time.
I have only used GL-4, but I did find a bottle of GL-5 on board when I got the boat, so I don't know what the previous owner did. However, we have not had any slipping problems, *but* we also have a left handed prop, which someone mentioned may result in less wear on the cones.

I also added a vent to the gearbox, but unlike what most people said, I did have oil come out the top of the vent, so I would need an expansion tank if I decide to keep going that route (that would be part of my keeping the drive alive by trying non-traditional methods to prevent water intrusion...not getting my hopes up).

Sounds like maybe you'll be in ok shape, hopefully you have no issues! I can't do much as far as the upgrade kit because I can't really work on it myself, and I don't think it would be worth it at the rates we pay for someone else to do it.
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Old 16-02-2022, 16:04   #10
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

I see that my unit has the modified longer dipstick, but obviously still blew the seals. I am going to add the vent with a hose going up a metre or so with breather, so should not get oil out of that. Going to slip the boat in a month or so and will change the oil, putting in GL4.
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Old 16-02-2022, 17:23   #11
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

Quick Silver high performance gear lube will absorb upto ten percent water and will smell like rotting seaweed ( long before it changes color)when mixed with seawater. Catastrophic failure of an sd50 from water intrusion is unlikely unless it is run with a lot of water in it for a long time. The propeller shaft seals and hub O rings are very easy to replace when the boat is out of the water. Both the propeller shaft and the input shaft are prone to wear where the seals make contact. Some people install speddy sleeves, I prefer to have them machined down one seal size and use aftermarket double lip seals. Replacing the shaft is usually not called for. The age and condition of the rubber bellows has nothing to do with the oil in the drive. There is no dipstick "tube" in an sd50. I have installed Mercruiser remote oil tanks with oil level sensors that are connected to the the engine warning alarms via the bellows water detection circuit. I wouldn't get too excited about a miniscule amount of water in the oil. Next haulout, inspect the prop shafts and replace the seals and O rings.
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Old 16-02-2022, 22:14   #12
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

@Library70 - thanks for the info!

If the shaft shows wear is there any point in replacing the seals or does the shaft have to be dealt with at the same time?

I think the guys I'm working with already have it in their mind that the end game is drive replacement because of the clutch and other issues, etc, so machining the prop shaft or a speedi sleeve, if the shaft was worn (is there a chance it's not?) will be received as if I'm just wasting money on it, which may be accurate.

What are the "Mercruiser remote oil tanks" for? Expansion? What are you alerting on? Is this what you're talking about?
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Old 17-02-2022, 09:10   #13
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

Brian, it is possible that the shaft is not worn or has very little wear and can be polished with a very fine sandpaper like 1000 grit. I have a couple friends who put new seals on prop shafts that were "slightly" worn and made out ok. The sd60 drives allegedly have the same shaft/seal problems as the sd50's. I have thousands of hours on my sd50's and never had a problem with the cone clutches- they have two bladed aluminum props and I always use Merc high performance gear lube. My oil reservoir tanks sense oil level and are mounted about 24" above the water so that the internal pressure is slightly higher than the surrounding water pressure. I'm trying to post pictures of the seals and the tank but I'm not having much luck. The seals are, type: ADL material: NBR manufactured by Harwal
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Old 17-02-2022, 13:23   #14
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

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I have thousands of hours on my sd50's and never had a problem with the cone clutches- they have two bladed aluminum props and I always use Merc high performance gear lube.
Curious, do you also have a left hand prop?

Thanks for the other info. I will at least have them get the seals in hand so we can see how the shaft looks when it's out of the water.

Yes, I've heard the same about the SD60, but at least with that we'd be at the start of the 5 year cycle for bellows and as well as the other regular maintenance items.

I'm going to pick up a little header tank today. I also ran the drive and pulled some oil out, it's been a day and I don't see any separation in to layers...so at least it's not full of water.
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Old 17-02-2022, 16:28   #15
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Re: Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube...water?

The best way to refill the drivewith lube is to pump it in from the bottom of the leg until it reaches the proper height in the header tank. If you don't you'll get air bubbles that take a long time to work their way out. Be sure your header tank has a vented cap.
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