Gearshift in neutral or foward - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 23 Old 07-07-2008 Thread Starter
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Gearshift in neutral or foward

finally got my first decent sail in yesterday. for the first time i noticed when sailing, the prop is spinning and the shaft is turning. should i keep the boat in neutral when sailing or in foward gear. my first assumption is it shouldn't matter but before we left i have about an inch of water in the bilge. when the sail it was over i opened the bilge to clean it out and the water was black. i think it might be oil. could it be from the shaft spinning all that time without the motor running? the engine is an atomic a4. 1978.

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post #2 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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Personally, I throw it in reverse to stop the spinning.

The black water in your bilge is a problem. Perhaps an unrelated oil leak? Others will have more...

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post #3 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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Engine oil should not get to the transmission, and past the stuffing box (not on a working engine.
Remove the waste water and oil from the bilge.

Go sailing again (that's the fun part), leave the motor in gear - depending on your religious affliation, time of month, gender and day of the week (except tuesdays) either in forward or reverse.

Check the bilge, if empty congrats you have fixed it. If not and it's black again you have stuck oil (with a name like Chevon what did you expect) or you sail in the Chesapeake and it's normal water.
In either case you should not be getting that much water in around the gland (a bilge full on a day trip).
Did you forego repacking the stuffing box this past off-season?
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post #4 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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It should say on the instructions/maintenance guide for the transmission. Mine says to leave it in neutral for minimum drag and because the spinning keeps it lubricated.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217
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post #5 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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Yanmar recommends reverse. The transmission is cooled by water circulated when the engine is on. If the transmission is left in neutral when under sail, the spining prop/shaft will cause some transmission parts spin without benefit of this coolant. Not a good thing. And, as you may be experiencing, the spinning prop shaft will allow some water to come in through the packing gland, but this should be minimal.
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sorry for the miscommunication. the water in the bilge is from another issue i'm still trying to track down. i think it's coming down the mast during a hard rain. i'm more concerned with the black being added to the bilge water. i didn't know if the spinning prop, with no engine running, could cause oil/transmission leakage around the shaft where it enters the motor or maybe i have an oil leak and it's just a coincidence that this happened at the same time.

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post #7 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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Yes, puit the 'box astern and it should stop spinning. Don't let it spin.
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post #8 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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Please, do a search on this and several others website for guearshift R-N-F. You'll find several interesting comments and tips. Although completely counterintuitive, spinning generates more drag.

If your gearbox can handle the spinning or not, and your oil leakage, this is another thing ...

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Beneteau Oceanis 43
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post #9 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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Without knowing which..

Without knowing which tranny you have it's tough to say forward or reverse.

Many marine transmissions are to be left in reverse to stop the prop including Yanmar and Hurth/ZF as used by manufacturers such as Universal/Westerbeke. On some transmissions leaving it in forward can actually damage the unit not help it.. When in doubt leave it in neutral..

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post #10 of 23 Old 07-07-2008
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I know that on my Yanmar I asked the distributor (Mack Boring) and a factory rep and they said I should keep it in reverse. But if your manual says neutral, I would sure be inclined to go with that. One thing to check is that the choice is as much a function of the transmission as the engine, so make sure the manual you are looking at is for the right engine/transmission pair.
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