That's pretty common with out hydraulic steering. The only thing I'm not sure about is how tight the drives are when they are new...
How much side to side movement should I have on my drives with non hydraulic steering,, they move about on inch by hand now.
Is there anyway to tighten the steering slack?
There are two bolts on the top of the outdrive which face directly rear, that tightens one part of the upper hinge pin. The other two are just above it for the female section of the assembly and can only be gotten at from either inside the boat through the transom which is very difficult or by cutting two holes on either side of the upper outside assembly to get at the bolts. Then you simply plug them up when done. Believe it's a 5/8" nut in there and you'll want to check torque specs for each.
I'm not sure of the specs as to how much is too much play, but an inch I'm thinking might be a bit much... hopefully someone else can give us specifics......
After further investigation, when I move the drives nothing inside moves so I'm beginning to believe it is a Gimbel problem. Could it break and if so with what results?
Yes you have a problem and I would bet it is a worn swivel shaft. There are two nuts at the top of the gimbal ring Torque these to spec if that does not help your gimbal ring itself is probably worn. The longer you wait to repair this the more it's going to cost. There is also a pinch bolt that will cause this that tightens the tiller arm. You must modify the transom plate to get to this. I went through this all on my Formula, it's not that hard to repair.
The man for the job and advise is Ron Bender at J-R Marine call him he will set you streight with no BS. His web site is very informative about this problem.
Best of luck
It could come loose and you would loose steering.
Looking at the merc manual, the two outside bolts on the outside top rear of outdrive torque specs are 35-40lbs and the two that are on the inside, both port and starboard of your drive, which you need to cut holes for are 55lbs. The 6 mounting nuts for the outdrive are 50lbs.... that's if you take drive off.
I would try to tighten up these bolts and see where your drive movement is at that time. If it's still loose, then you have to go the next step and look at the wear on the ring and either replace or send out as described above for corrective fix.
Thanks Guy"s You Have Been A Great Source Of Help!
Definitely get this corrected. When I first got my SSMIII, the trim pins were shot, allowing the drive to flop side to side. I reworked them, and as old as it is, everything is rock solid. I can pull back and forth as hard as I can, and all I get is the trailer moving back and forth. Your steering rams shouldn't be sloppy either; if they are, there is air in the system. I like being able to take my hands off the wheel at 75 mph, and couldn't imagine trying to run the boat safely with anything less.
For future reference, not sure if you trailer or keep boat in the water....
When trailering, get some straps to secure the drives so they don't swing back and forth causing wear on these ring points.
Also, same goes if you keep boat in a slip where boat gets moved around a lot by wave motion. You'll notice the drives will swing back and forth again causing wear.
And finally, over a long period of driving, these points will wear if the tightening tolerences are not monitored.
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