Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Morse MT-3 Engine Controls: Maintenance tips

Have you ever been leery of disassembling something for maintenance because you don't know how it is put together? Will you accidentally remove the Master Bolt, and the thing will fall apart in your hands? Or worse, come apart with force as spring-loaded internals fly far and wide?  Morse engine controls could be in this category for you.  If so, Drew at Sail Delmarva gives a quick tutorial on how to disassemble them for maintenance:
These have always been a bit of a mystery to me. The manual suggests annual lubrication--probably not needed on a PDQ 32, since they are under cover--which I never did. There are no visible fasteners and the direction always made it sound like major surgery, which I have been avoiding with some guilt until...

... I prepared to leave my anchorage this morning and the starboard handle fell limp. Oh, it would shift gears and felt normal when doing so, but the engine wouldn't rev. If the handle was pulled out as you do to adjust the throttle with the engine in neutral, the handle was limp. When I removed the engine cover and moved the throttle from there, everything felt normal and the engine was fine. I could only assume I had torn the head off the cable or that some crucial and unobtainable small part had disintegrate. Visions of boat bucks melting away filled my eyes.

Opening the control for a better look turned out to be easy:
  • Leave the handles on. They aren't in the way and will help with trouble shooting.
  • Remove the 4 screws that hold the control head to the bulkhead. Lift about 2 inches.
  •  Remove 2 screws about 3/4-inch below the mounting flange, one fore and one aft. Both are in recesses and hold the cover haves together. No other fasteners need be removed and no spring-loaded parts will fly out.
  • Pull the 2 halves apart. While you're in there, grease everything, including the exposed cable. In my case, after 14 years, the factory grease was just running thin but not gone; however, in more exposed locations, lubrication every year or 2 would be smart. Check for loose bolts--I found a few. 

The problem was delightfully simple. An E-clip (a type of external retaining ring) had fallen off of the throttle control lever and allowed the cable to come free from the control. Why? In part, because a pair of screws retaining the cable end had loosened and allowed the cable angle to change. In part, because the clip was stainless and not all that strong. I replaced it with a spring steel clip, buried in grease.

Carrying a few spare clips might be smart (5/16-inch E-clip--be aware these come in 2 thicknesses and that the thicker ones will not fit the shaft grove). The motor end controls are also 5/16-inch clips (a different design, and I have had failures there as well--the same E-clips will fit).

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