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Old 03-11-2007
Lake Champlain, VT
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OMC Saildrives

To: Other OMC Zephr Saildrive Owners
From: A soon to be former OMC Saildrive Owner

I've owned an O'Day 28 with a Saildrive for the past 9 years and despite constant maintainance, I was never happy with the engine's performance. The engine was used primarily to get in and out of a mooring field and running at low revs promoted carbon buildup. Add the fact that the boat has a 20 gallon tank which would last us several seasons and this is a recipe for poor performance.

While the engine hasn't been great, I was living with it by keeping a healthy supply of fresh plugs and other assorted items on the boat until this past season when calamity struck. One of my two pistons is actually bashing in spark plug anode. Inspection by the mechanic after head removal resulted in a prognosis that the engine was "Tired", had endured water leaking into the crankcase through the bottom seal, etc, etc, after which he followed up by quoting a pretty big price to restore the head. Considering that the engine is 28 years old and many of the saildrive-specific parts are hard to come by and expensive should we ever need to replace them ( our mechanic thinks the exhaust riser, outdrive, alternator, etc are still servicable but would cost a fortune above what we'd have to put into the head to repair), I've decided to move on and repower the boat with a diesel, despite the cost.

So, I now have assorted parts for the OMC saildrive in my garage and the question becomes, what to do with it. Is there any used parts interest in this type of drive out there or should I sell if for scrap?
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Old 03-11-2007
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
OMC's do have that reputation and I think your decision is a wise one. Suggest you post availability of parts for OMC here in our classifieds section and also on the other sailing boards as it seems someone is always asking about parts for them every couple of weeks. Good luck!
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Old 09-12-2008
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OMC Saildrive Repair or Replace

Post the parts somewhere. We have an OMC saildrive and after confusion which was misinterpreted as mechanical disaster, it is running well. First, most parts are still available from an OMC dealer. The lower unit parts availability is questionable but the engine is a de-tuned 28 hp. Johnson outboard. So at least offer the lower unit and the isolator ring.
The "disaster" was a damaged gasket. The service manual says to prepare for winter by turning the engine over until no water exits the exhaust -- simple enough, I did it. The owner's manual also tells one to open a small petcock at the bottom of the block to drain the last of the water -- I didn't read it or do it. A small (thankfully) amount of water froze and forced the gasket out of place. The engine started and ran nicely in the Spring until the lower cylinder aspirated enough water through the exhaust port to lock up. The mechanics diagnosed it as: a bad head gasket (no); a cracked cylinder wall (no); a bad water lift muffler (no); a piece of junk -- get rid of it , glass over the hole and hang an outboard on the stern (no). A former OMC owner at the Dunkirk (N.Y.) Yacht Club said, "That's a great engine, you didn't drain it right. That always happened to mine until I closed the petcock after I drained it. Water got back into the engine and ruined the gasket." Thirty dollars worth of gaskets (I bought two sets.) and three cases of Labatts later another member of the club and the South Roberts Road Boat Works fixed the unfixable. So much for some (not all) marine mechanics who, like many auto mechanics in this age of expensive hourly rates, throw new parts at a problem until they accidentally solve it.
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Old 09-12-2008
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There is a huge number of boats still running the OMC saildrives - however they are geographically dispersed and usually have a difficult time finding mechanics who know or still work on the engine. A Yahoo group exists with over 380 members - predominantly owners of OMC Zephyr saildrives. It is a good place to post your items for sale.

The OMC powerhead usually outlasts the lower unit so there is no shortage of boaters looking for lower units. Also if you have the folding stainless steel prop that is a very saleable item as well.

The link is
saildriveowners : Saildrive Owners Group

Good luck! That was a decent engine and for what is basically an outboard - 28 years is pretty decent service!

Nut Case
J27 #150
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Old 09-12-2008
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Does anyone ever look at post dates anymore. The first 2 post in this thread were made March 11 2007.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

1972 Pearson 36 S.V. Distant Star
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Old 03-17-2009
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Post dates are irrelevant. Yes, the original poster may have already solved his problem but someone searching the archives (as I just was) may find the answers quite useful.
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