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Should I replace my gimbal bearing? Do I need an alignment tool?

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Should I replace my gimbal bearing? Do I need an alignment tool?

Old 05-15-2015, 06:44 PM
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Default Should I replace my gimbal bearing? Do I need an alignment tool?

Hi everyone-

So I'm getting ready to do a full bellows job on my alpha gen2 drive. I pulled everything out today, and cleaned up the gimbal housing and mating surfaces. I'm unsure about how to handle the gimbal bearing. I was thinking of replacing it since I've got everything off already, but I'm concerned about needing an engine alignment tool to do it correctly.

Am I being overly cautious? Or is an engine alignment tool really needed to do this job correctly. Also, it seems from Youtube videos, that I can always replace the gimbal bearing later by just pulling the leg off, and that I don't need to pull the gimbal or mess with the bellows. Is this correct? If so, I don't mind leaving the gimbal bearing for another time as long as I don't have to redo the bellows (pulling the leg is no big deal).

Thanks as always
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:47 PM
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You can use a broom handle.I have.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:13 PM
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How many hours? Any water getting to the bearing (torn bellows)? Do you keep it greased? I used an alignment tool when I did mine. I had removed the engine as well and that would make the alignment tool more important to adjust the engine mounts. You could use a broom handle, as suggested, if it fits tight enough. It's not rocket science. If the alignment is very far off the input shaft won't go in easily so you will know it's not right. The bearing will self align as the shaft passes through and is rotated as long as the engine is in line with the lower unit. The manual states this alignment should be checked yearly, but I have only done this when I had the engine out. I would replace the bearing now because you are almost there at this point. Later will be a pita. Probably during peak season, if your luck runs like mine.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:20 PM
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Los Mentirosos- the boat is new to me, so I don't know how well it's been maintained. This is why I'm basically redoing the whole back end, just to make sure stuff is right as I take over the boat. The meter says 320 hours though

So, the broom handle thing- there's really that much room for error? What do you do with the broom- put it into the engine and slide the gimbal bearing down the broom as you install it to make sure it lines up?
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:28 PM
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If you change the gimble bearing you will need the alignment tool to muscle it into place.
Also you will need a tool to install it along with a puller to get it out.
Stick a few fingers in there and turn the brg. If it turns smoothly don't worry about it unless you have torn bellows and they leaked.
Do you have a zerk fitting on the transom housing?

By the way. if you decide to do it, don't forget to replace the shift bellows

From one of your other posts
It spines freely, but I wouldn't say it is "butter" smooth (not sure if it should be). It feels like I can feel little rollers spinning as I turn the bearing.

Exactly what it should do

Last edited by Thalasso; 05-15-2015 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:39 PM
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While the drive is out you can reach in and turn the bearing. Does it feel smooth or can you feel roughness? The old bearing will have to be driven out and the replacement bearing will need to be driven in and requires a driver tool. You could fabricate this tool if you have access to a shop. If not it's probably cheaper to just buy it.
Check this link. http://www.sterndrives.com/replace_a...2_bellows.html Lots of good info. Don't let them scare you with the warnings. You will need to be mechanically inclined to do this, but I assume you are or you would not be as far into this as you are.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:39 PM
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I suggest you watch this

https://youtu.be/EOnocSVTPUs
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:18 PM
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Ok- so it sure looked like that guy in the video needed the alignment tool. Does anyone know if the alignment tool is for making sure the bearing is rotated to the correct position? Or, is it for physically adjusting the angle the bearing is sitting at so it aligns with the engine properly? Or both.
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:29 PM
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You need to look at a bearing. It will make sense when you see it. The bearing assembly sits in a collar. The bearing sort of floats in the collar. Some times when driving the old bearing out (with a slide hammer puller) it will turn sideways in the collar and you will remove that part of it and then go on to remove the collar. The alignment tool sets the bearing in line with the bushing in the back of the engine.
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:30 PM
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All your doing is squaring the bearing up with the coupler to make installing the outdrive shaft.Your over thinking this.
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Old 05-15-2015, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mitchell master View Post
All your doing is squaring the bearing up with the coupler to make installing the outdrive shaft.Your over thinking this.
Absolutely.....a 1 x 4 or 2 x 4 shaved down to the same width as the besring will make a plenty good 'nuff installaton tool. Unless your engine mounts or stringers have issues the alignment should be fine.
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mitchell master View Post
All your doing is squaring the bearing up with the coupler to make installing the outdrive shaft.Your over thinking this.
Yes, well- I don't really know what I'm doing so I just don't want to make a mistake that damages something.

Merc says to use the alignment tool anytime you pull the leg off...
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:14 PM
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Mike once you pull it and see it first hand you will understand. Don't worry it's a breeze.
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mitchell master View Post
Mike once you pull it and see it first hand you will understand. Don't worry it's a breeze.
OK thanks guys- transom kit arrives Monday- I'll keep you posted on my progress : )
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:25 PM
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OK- I greased my gimbal bearing and it feels quite a bit better now. The UJ bellows was still in tact, and the boat was in a driveway for two years prior to my purchase- so perhaps the bearing just kind of dried out?

Anyway, I'm planning on beginning the bellows replacement tomorrow. At this moment I'm planning on leaving the bearing in place. I did go on Amazon and order an engine alignment tool, which should be here midweek. So, if I feel I need to replace the bearing I can always do that later in the week (or at the end of the season if it seems to be working well).

I've got everything off and cleaned up to the best of my ability.

One thing of note- I did my very best to get the shift cable off the bell housing with "normal" tools, but just couldn't get any good purchase on that nut (which was unbelievably tight by the way). So, after a quick call to the local marina (who wanted $38 for the special tool) I instead took my $5 deep well 9/16" socket to the body shop down the street and they welded an 11/16" nut to the end. The guy was so cool, he didn't even charge me- so now I have a custom shift cable tool! Pictures attached of my awesome tool, as well as bell housing and gimbal housing prepped for bellows installation.



Custom Shift Cable Socket
Bell Housing
Gimbal Housing
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