Bravo III alignment and bellows replacement?

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Bravo III alignment and bellows replacement?

Postby rickg » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:21 pm

I have a 2008 Caravelle LS237 with Mercruiser 5.7 and Bravo III. i have about 440 easy hours on it. I bought the boat new and put into service in July of 2007. I have never had the outdrive aligned, nor ever replaced the bellows/boots. I have always greased the gimbal and spline/coupler bearings myself with Mercury grease. I am thinking of having a boat dealership go thru it with alignment, bearing inspections, prop shaft lube/inspection, and possibly replacing the bellows/boots. From everything I have read, I am probably overdue on alignment and boots. Also, wanting to have exhaust/riser system checked out, and Corsa exhuast adjusted. Price for this is around $650 I think by a large dealership here in Fort Worth. I also contacted a guy on my lake who does work such as this, but not sure if he is a licensed mechanic but heard he is good. Price is $100 per hour. Says he can even pull his pontoon up under my boat on my boathouse cradle and remove outdrive if i think I want it. He asks why I think I need it, and I told him I thought it was part of scheduled maintenance, even if I am overdue. Says he can tilt drive up and get an idea if boots need replacing. I am a little leery if he says they should and he tries to do it here, or even if i take it to his shop and lifts the boat out of the water. His shop is on the lake.

Anyway, what are your thoughts about having the outdrive aligned, how often, and if the bellows boots need replacing. Boat is in fresh water only, and i leave the drive down always on the boat lift. However, stern of boat faces east, so has had 2800 days of sunrises or more slightly hitting it.

Any comments or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Rick
2008 Caravelle 237 LS "Lil Bit Mo"
350 MPI, Bravo III, switchable exhaust, sub-woofer, amp, dual batteries, docking lights
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Re: Bravo III alignment and bellows replacement?

Postby m_snow » Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:37 pm

Typical bellows/boots replacement on Merc drives is 6 years. Volvo I think recommends every 2. Mine is over 10 years and replacing them now. Salt water is not a factor unless you keep it in the water and barnacles build up. Sun is!

It's not a simple operation to replace bellows but has to be done. And if you do it I'd go ahead and do it all. Exhaust bellows, drive bellows, cable shift bellows, water tube, GIMBLE BEARING!, and while you're at it maybe even the trim and trim limit senders. There are some special tools needed but not crazy expensive and you'll end up wanting to change the drive oil too. Besides disassembling the outdrive from transom, to change cable shift bellows you'll need to disassemble the shifter to pull the cable out of the back of the transom.

They sell full bellows change kits on ebay that has everything parts wize.

Special tools needed:
bellows expander
shift inner cable hold tool
shift cable measure tool
cable chaser (optional, to pull cable back through transom and engine area easily)
Bearing removal tool (dent/slide puller with reversible jaws may work)
Bearing seat tool
engine alignment rod
bellows ring expanding tool
water tube install/removal socket
hinge pins socket
Drive oil pump w/screw-in connector to refill drive

When you get the outdrive off you can use the alignment rod to check for engine alignment. If tool doesn't slide in easily, then your engine needs to be aligned.

There's some great Bravo drive instructions on YouTube! Do it yourself and save at least half, even with all the tool purchases!

GL!
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Re: Bravo III alignment and bellows replacement?

Postby rickg » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:12 pm

Quick update. I ended up having the dealer do it, and ended up replacing all the boots and the gimbal bearing, and having them align it. When I first got it back, it seemed smoother, but was making a different sound in the driveline, or so it seemed. So wondering if they had remembered to grease the gimbal, I decided to check myself. My boat is on a lift, no trailer, so i had to strap two 2x6s to the cradle and walk the planks so to speak, climbing down the ladder to sit on the planks. Then, noticed the grease zerk was gone or broken off or something. So I had to get a mirror, take a picture of what I was seeing using the mirror and send to the dealer. It looked to me like the tech had pulled the grease hose off at an angle and broken the zerk, if that is even possible. Fortunately the dealer was open on a Saturday when this occurred. He talked to the tech that did the service on my boat, and the tech said they are now using non-greasable, sealed, gimbal bearings in the outdrives. The weird thing I was seeing was a torx-head plug where the gimbal zerk used to be. Hopefully they last as long as the originals. Anyway, boat seems to be doing great and have put 40+ hours on it since then.
2008 Caravelle 237 LS "Lil Bit Mo"
350 MPI, Bravo III, switchable exhaust, sub-woofer, amp, dual batteries, docking lights
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Re: Bravo III alignment and bellows replacement?

Postby youmansjason01 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:18 pm

That's a great update "rickg". I have a 2007 LS237, but with the Bravo 1 outdrive (single prop) and about 220 hours. LIke you, the only maintenance I've done is pumping grease into the zerk fitting every so often, and then changing out outdrive lube every winter. The type of work you had done sounds like maintenance that's needed based on age more so than hours of use. Anyway, that sounds like a lot of preventative maintenance you have done on yours now....maybe it will last another 10 years.

If you don't mind me asking, how much did the dealer charge you to do all of that work? I need to do the same on mine soon, and curious how much all of that work costs.

I see your concern about the change in the zerk fitting to a non-greasable, sealed bearing, but if you've already put 40+ hours on it with no issues, that's a good sign.

Thanks!
2007 Caravelle 237 LS
350 MAG 300HP with Bravo 1, Captain's Call Exhaust, Black wide band with matching Caravelle Trailer
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Re: Bravo III alignment and bellows replacement?

Postby rickg » Mon Sep 12, 2016 8:24 pm

Parts - bellows assembly 109.00, gimbal 124.00, cable shift kit 187.00, clamp 17.00, lower unit grease 21.50, total of about $460 for parts.
Labor - total of 4 hours at $110 an hour, this included pulling the outdrive, installing all parts above, pulling two props and inspecting/greasing, aligning outdrive, and also included inspecting my captain's choice system which is noisy but they said it is normal wear and tear and didn't dig too deep into it. They also put in a new transom plug for grins. So total of about $900.00.

I will also add, this was done at a large boat dealership in Fort Worth, selling Four Winns, Glastron, Starcraft, and many other brands. So they have a large overhead, probably 15-20 boats on the floor, many more outside, and a pretty large sales and service staff. So labor and parts prices may be higher, or not, to what you may find. The good thing for me, I didn't buy my boat here, but felt I was treated as an equal to someone who had. Their final price actually came in under what they gave me for an estimate.


Sorry this is late, hope this helps.
Rick
2008 Caravelle 237 LS "Lil Bit Mo"
350 MPI, Bravo III, switchable exhaust, sub-woofer, amp, dual batteries, docking lights
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