Outboard Boat Motors - DIY Outboard Shifter - Sail Magazine

Outboard Boat Motors - DIY Outboard Shifter

D.I.Y. Outboard ShifterA lever for all reasons Although I could reach the tiller/throttle of the five horsepower outboard that was mounted on the transom of my 20-foot trailersailer, whenever it was time to go from forward to reverse I had to face aft and then bend over the transom and the motor to reach the side-mounted shift lever. That's not a good position to be
Author:
Publish date:
saip_0909_04_z+outboard_shifter+aluminum_shifter

D.I.Y. Outboard Shifter

A lever for all reasons Although I could reach the tiller/throttle of the five horsepower outboard that was mounted on the transom of my 20-foot trailersailer, whenever it was time to go from forward to reverse I had to face aft and then bend over the transom and the motor to reach the side-mounted shift lever. That's not a good position to be in when you're approaching a dock or mooring buoy; that's when shifting into neutral and then reverse at just the right moment can make or break the exercise.

Commercially made shift levers are expensive and require additional engine bits for modification, so I designed my own. First, I bought a length of 1/4-inch stainless rod from Online Metals (onlinemetals.com). Next, I went to a bearing shop and got a rod end bearing so I could connect the rod to the outboard's shift lever. The threads for the female housing on the rod end bearing were 1/4-28 fine, so I bought a die to thread the stainless rod into the end bearing. I also got stainless steel nuts to hold the rod in place. All these items came from Small Parts, Inc. (smallparts.com).

CONSTRUCTION

After I had determined the length of the rod, I cut it using a reinforced cut-off blade in my Dremel tool; a common hacksaw won't dent stainless. I made the first cut at an angle to the rod and about 1/2 inch longer than I needed. The second cut was at right angles to the rod and at the proper length.

Next, I threaded both ends of the rod. Although you can thread stainless rod with a regular die, the process is harder than threading a mild steel rod and it takes lots of cutting oil and patience. Chamfer the rod ends first so the threading die seats easily. I found I could turn the die just a quarter turn or so before I had to back off and clear the chips; it also took a lot of strength to turn the die. Because I didn't have a machinist's vice I clamped the rod with a pair of vice grips, and then clamped the vice grip in a vice. When I kept the rod and die well flooded with cutting oil, I made slow but steady progress.

I used a replacement rubber lawnmower starter handle for the outer end of the rod. It's held onto the rod with stainless steel washers and lock nuts. Although the handle's center hole is slightly bigger than the rod, the jam nuts and washers compress the handle enough so it fits tightly (Photo 2).

For the rod holding bracket, I used 1/4in x 1in aluminum bar stock and bent it to the correct shape using a wood block and a mallet. To twist the short leg I clamped the long leg in a vise and then used a crescent wrench to twist the bar into the 90-degree bend.

saip_0909_01_z+outboard_shifter+paul

INSTALLATION

I began by bolting the bracket to the outboard handle using two existing holes; stainless bolts and Nyloc nuts ensure that the bracket won't vibrate loose. Next, I passed the rod through the bracket, threaded on a jam nut and screwed the? rod end bearing onto the shift rod; the jam nut locked it in position. Finally, I attached the rod end bearing to the outboard's shift lever with a stainless bolt and secured it with a Nyloc nut (Photo 3).

This modification lets me shift gears safely and easily. Because the specific dimensions will vary depending on the outboard and the particular configuration of the boat, I've left out any specific dimensions.

saip_0909_03_z+outboard_shifter+lawnmover
saip_0909_02_z+outboard_shifter+rod_end

Related

Sun-Odyssey-490-Bertrand_DUQUENNE-aft

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems ...read more

X3M-family

Gear: X3M Flight blocks

Block PartyThe elegance of these new X3M Flight blocks from Ubi Maior conceals the fact that they can handle loads of up to 15 tons. Designed to be used with a variety of textile loops, as fixed or snatch blocks, the X3M blocks have resin frames to carry the loops and anodized ...read more

03-BAVARIA-C34_Interior-2k_2

Ask Sail: The Right Cabin Sole Finish

Q: I am working on refinishing my cabin floorboards. I have brought them home and sanded the old finish off and would appreciate comments on using varnish or polyurethane for the sole.— Danny Love, Grand Rivers, KYDON CASEY REPLIES Polyurethane is the better choice for a cabin ...read more

shutterstock_peterisland

The Caribbean Charter Trade Rides Again

“The BVI is now a bit like it was 20 years ago,” Josie Tucci, vice president of sales and marketing for sister companies Sunsail and The Moorings, told me last December. “Instead of full bars, it may be a guy on the beach with a cooler and a barbeque, but the spirit of the place ...read more

Dragging01

Waterlines: Fear of Dragging

If you have a paranoid personality, anchoring out can be a validating experience. On the one hand, it seems rather simple. You amble up to the bow of your boat, drop a lump of metal overboard, let out some rode and secure it somehow. Then you stroll back to your cockpit and ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comTake it easy  Looks untidy, huh? Maybe it does, but I’ve hoisted a lot of mainsails over the years. A few go up easily. Many are a struggle. Sometimes it’s about turning blocks and nasty mast-tracks, but ...read more

boot2019

50th Boot Düsseldorf 2019

Do you love water sports? Then come to Germany from January 19 - 27, 2019 and visit boot Düsseldorf, the world's largest water sports trade fair! For the 50th time, more than 250,000 visitors will experience why sailing, diving or surfing is more than just a hobby.©October 2018 ...read more