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Old 27-11-2016, 12:03   #31
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Hi Karl,

I reread the whole thread. If you did too you will see that I think I know what the problem is but I found a way around it and did not go to the trouble and cost of further dissassembly to fix it right.

Toward the end of the tread I mentioned that the problem most likely is that the upper drive shaft seal was not fully seated all the way up in its seat in the water pump base (housing). Thus it blocked the vent hole that allows air to escape as you fill the lower unit from lower fill hole. 150 psi compressed air could not blow thru this vent because the misaligned seal blocked it.

I did not want to go thru the hassel and cost of dissassembling the bearing and seal (there was no indication that they were failing anyway). So I just buttoned it all back up, layed it down and filled the oil from the opened gear case. (I had to get in there anyway to reinstall the pinion gear on the drive shaft). I did carefully measure the 2.5 oz of oil that the repair manual prescribed, wife had an empty 2.5 oz squeeze bottle with a nozzle that I calibrated from a measuring cup. I spend a good 1/2 hour to allow the chamber to burp any air out by; spinning the shaft, shaking the whole unit, lifting it up and down 10 or 20 degrees as I allowed time to for the oil to find its way into the neather regions of the chamber. As I recall the chamber (gear case) was completely topped off with the 2.5 oz so I feel good about it being filled to the proper level. I put the cover on and have run it only 1or 2 hours but it seems fine.

If your situation is similar that is what I would recommend. I imagine that if you were to have a shop do the fix properly the cost would exceed the cost of a new used motor.
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Old 28-11-2016, 02:09   #32
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Hi Ejindahl,
Thanks for coming back.
It seems like a fair coincidence that 2 motors have identical problems.
Yes the vent on my 3.3 is also totally blocked, can't pump air in, with motor on it's side I poured methylated spirits into the vent hole and let it sit, eventually over a few hours the metho did disappear but I suspect that was mostly evaporation.
I guess I will just do as you have and fill via gravity with the motor inverted and hope for the best.

Cheers.
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Old 29-11-2016, 10:53   #33
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Be advised I did not fill it from the bottom "fill" hole. I took off the prop & housing cap the holds the prop shart into the hub and filled it from there. It seemed faster than waiting for air to burb out of the small fill hole while slowly dribbling in the oil thru the fill hole. I did not replace the oring seal, I just put it back on.

As I mentioned, when I took my problem to the mechanic he suggested that the rubber seal had slipped down the drive shaft and that is what is blocking the vent hole. Maybe he'd seen that before. I do think that is the problem as I can see the black rubber seal, as well as feel it with a probe. Unfortunately it is quite involved to get at and replace. And maybe it will just do it again..... Maybe its a problem with that year.... a lemon. Mine is a 1996, is that what you have?

Good luck
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Old 02-12-2016, 01:55   #34
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Hi Ejlindahl'
Yes I am on top of all that.
I have already refilled once through bottom hole, using a syringe, worked fine.
I am emptying and starting again as I have decided to replace the prop shaft oil seal and bearing[ the seal required a second mortgage to pay for it]
My motor is a 2003 model, so the problem does not seem to be manufacturing year related.
Will try to keep you posted on results [interest only, I guess]
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Old 30-05-2017, 15:09   #35
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

I have only just come across this thread after experiencing exactly the same problem with my 8 year old Tohatsu 3.5 (the same assembly). I also had a few bits of gunge in the top 'overflow' filler but soft and seemingly insufficient to cause the complete pressure seal that prevented me from filling through the lower filler hole (using a pump).
I came to the same conclusion that the pragmatic solution was to remove the end of the gearcase behind the prop and fill the whole thing that way. I had just removed and refitted this to replace the prop shaft oil seal. The engine has been running smoothly for a while now.
With a few of us experiencing the same problem, this does seem to point to a design/assembly weakness. I would be interested if anyone does find a simple way of clearing the apparent blockage.
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Old 03-06-2017, 10:47   #36
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

I have the same problem.......Nissan 3.5 Hp Long Shaft. This seems to be an on-going issue with these engines. Like you other guys, I'm just going to fill the gear lube as much as possible, and use the engine. By the way, I have another Nissan 3.5 short shaft that fills as it should, so the problem isn't universal on these engines. Good Luck !

Rey
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Old 22-10-2018, 14:45   #37
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

I have had the same problem, unscrew the pump from the container of oil you are trying to pump into your lower unit. It may be full of oil already when on the up stroke. Drain the oil out of the pump unit and try again it will not pump oil into the lower unit if the pump can't suck the oil into the tube because it is already filled with oil then on the down stroke it locks up and will not pump the oil into your lower unit. It is not the lower unit that has the problem, it is the pump.
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Old 22-10-2018, 17:09   #38
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Well, I tried filling my Merc 3.3 with a squeeze bottle, and no go.

I think it's an issue in the lower unit.

I "filled" mine slowly, with the motor inverted.
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Old 25-10-2018, 08:06   #39
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Pontoon Joe,

It sounds like the problem you have is with the oil container pump. This thread is about the vent hole on the top of the lower unit (drive leg) being plugged by the top drive shaft seal and bearing of the lower unit. This may only be a problem for the long shaft version of the motor. The work around is described upthread.
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Old 25-10-2018, 09:37   #40
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Mine is a short shaft, and has this problem.
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Old 04-03-2019, 15:48   #41
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

This is a painful post. Very frustrating. ejlindahl you have documented this situation very carefully and completely. I have changed the oil before on this lower unit. I can't imagine what caused it to plug up or else. I too have the problem with a 2004 Mercury short shaft. I tried putting carb cleaner in the top and then bottom holes and leaving it over night, neither worked. I also used compressed air all to no avail. I gave in and filled from the bottom hole.

By the way, I was using the pump that Mercury sells with its lube oil and it fell apart and made quite a mess. Amazon reviews mention this is a problem; and I was not impressed.

If someone does come up with a workable solution, I am all ears.
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Old 04-03-2019, 20:27   #42
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Beltoy, Boy this thread keeps on giving. I'm glad you found it so that you can attack the problem as you see fit. You mention you can't imagine what caused the fill hole to be plugged. Somewhere in the thread I mentioned that I firmly believe that the bearing and its seal were not put in correctly or slipped down the drive shaft and now the stainless steel bearing carrier is blocking the fill hole. Look inside the hole and see if you see shiny metal, that is the bearing or carrier for the seal that is blocking the fill hole. You could probe in there with a dental pick to see if you "feel" any rubber material, that would be part of the seal. Don't mess with that too much, you do want that seal to do its job. You could disassemble the whole thing but that is a big job and may require special tools and or a bearing press. Not worth it in my opinion. Just fill/drain the oli by removing the prop shaft bearing cover and put in the correct amount of oil, but be careful not to pull the shaft out with the bevel gears and shifting dog and all, as I've pointed out above somewhere.
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Old 05-03-2019, 07:46   #43
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

ejlindahl , thanks for your reply. I did read all the comments and suggestions in this thread. I did feel the rubber gasket through the upper hole. What I don't get is why this would happen after 15 years of service. Why do you feel it is necessary to remove the prop shaft cover to put in the oil? I laid the unit on its side and filled the lower unit with 4.5 ounces of oil as per my manual. I put some in the top hole but it took virtually nothing.
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Old 11-03-2019, 17:27   #44
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

Beltoy, I can't imagine why it happened after 15 years either. Maybe a rapid a change in temperature and/or concurrent use. The way you filled it would be just fine. I don't recall why I did it thru the prop shaft cover but maybe it was faster than dribbling the oil thru the small fill hole.
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Old 29-08-2020, 11:25   #45
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Re: Unable to fill the lower unit with gear lube on my 3.3 Mercury Tohatsu, Evinrude

I am glad that I stumbled across this thread in my search for a solution. I have the same problem with my 2002 Mercury 3.3 short shaft.

I have had the motor for the past ten years. While in the past I could get gear oil in the fill hole, the vent never worked well, and pressure would build up in the gearcase, causing a mess when I removed the pump. If I recall, I did get oil out of the vent hole when I first filed it after I bought the motor in 2011, but it has been difficult since then.

Yesterday I tried to solve the problem by cleaning out the vent hole with: first - a pick, then a punch, finally a drill. I did not get any chips of either metal or rubber out of the hole, but I was able to get a little air through when I applied 100 PSI of air pressure. 100 PSI also shifted the transmission into gear! I decided to quit before I did any real damage, and buttoned it up shortly after I started.

Like others, I finally gave up, and inverted the lower unit and filled it through the oil fill hole. I did not use a pump, but I snipped the very tip of a gear oil bottle and squeezed a little at a time into the fill hole.

I didn't measure the oil, I just stopped when the case was full. If the case were positioned upright, I do not believe that there are any spaces that would not be filled with oil, as I believe that the vent hole is at the highest point of the transmission.
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