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Transmission trouble

LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
Hello Ballers (and boat experts).

I think I have a bit of an unusual situation with my 2015 OB Nautique 200 with the PCM ZR 409 engine. We have 700 trouble free hours. However, recently we noticed that when in neutral, the prop keeps spinning in reverse. Sometimes, it’s quite weak but other times, it’s almost as strong as full idle reverse.

We had our local boat guy look at it. He check the transmission fluid which is normal and isn’t burnt (or whatever he was smelling). The boat otherwise drive normal and shifts very smoothly into forward and reverse. I can also rev the engine normally by pressing little button.

The thought was that this is not a transmission issue, but possibly the solenoid shifter thing attached to the transmission, or maybe something connected to the throttle. It’s a drive by wire and as you can probably tell, I don’t know much about transmissions.

I already had one offer to replace the transmission for $5000. Nice.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Any suggestions?



  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 1,244 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    When it happens to a Borg Warner 71c BW 72, PCM 40a and PCM 80a or any other drive I’m aware of it means transmission is kaputt.
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,583 Mega Baller
    Maybe a solenoid or valve sticking. @Jody_Seal. I'd get it check out before it does damage to the transmission. Could just need some adjustments. Maybe the shifter?
  • wannabeballerwannabeballer Posts: 18 Baller
    if I had that issue the first thing that i would try is to disconect the shift cable at the transmission and try shift it manually and see what happens
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,243 Mega Baller
    Does it operate normally in fwd?
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,913 Mega Baller
    I talked to jeff today about this boat. Could be just a sticky electronic selector valve or one not going full rotation.. swap the connectors on the transmission
    see if it still creeps..
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
    Hi @Jody_Seal. Thanks for taking Jeff’s call today. I think you are correct. The boat goes into forward and reverse very smoothly, so I hope this means that the transmission is still good.

    I know nothing about boat repair, so anything is helpful. There are two wires on the solenoid thingy, attached to transmission. (Now I know where the transmission is). I will unplug then, swap them around and plug them in again. Is that what you mean? Is this just a test? Will the boat work like this? My apologies for the dumb questions.

    @wannabeballer It’s a drive by wire system. I think that means that there is no shift cable.

    @BraceMaker Yes, it works normally when in gear, both forward and reverse.



    P.S. @Jody_Seal,I met you briefly at a tournament at the Pickos lake last year.
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,913 Mega Baller
    Yes that is only a test.. as you will go forward when in reverse.
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
    @Jody_Seal So I switched the the wires and the boat still creeps in reverse. The throttle was backwards, so I know I did it correctly.

    Now I’m worried this is a transmission issue. Would you agree? Could it be anything else (less expensive)?
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,243 Mega Baller
    That indicates warped pressure plates in the reverse transmission clutches.

  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
    ;Hmm. That sounds expensive. Thanks for all your help.
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 1,244 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Like bracemaker said, plates slipped too much in the past. Rebuild.
  • blakeyatesblakeyates Posts: 166 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    This is a long shot, but change the transmission fluid. What have you got to lose other than a quart+ of fluid? What do you gain if it works? :)
    Blake Yates
    Nautique Promo Rep, GA
  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
    @blakeyates first thing I tried. Now the next challenge is finding a reputable mechanic.
  • AndreAndre Posts: 1,390 Mega Baller
    If it's really the reverse plates that are warp,i did the job on my Borg -Warner 71c and it was quite an easy job.Don't know how the PCM transmission are made but it was DIY job on mine...One plate was completely broke and i had no more reverse.
    Still skied a week before the parts got here with no reverse...
  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
    @andre I think you might be right. I spoke to Miami Nautique and they have a replacement kit. I’m working with my local mechanic to see if can be installed easily. Thanks for all the help.

    And, @Horton, thanks for hosting this site. Helpful as always.
  • AndreAndre Posts: 1,390 Mega Baller
    @Laz You can also check CCFan and the other Nautique(forgot the name) site as often ,there is a tutorial made by someone with same problem...
    On the MC TeamTalk there's really good one for the Borg Warner 71C...
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,243 Mega Baller
    @Laz please post your actual transmission model - the 71/2C velvet drives are much more basic than some of the PCM trans in terms of special tools etc.

  • ISP6ballISP6ball Posts: 183 Baller
    Planet Nautique is the other site
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,913 Mega Baller
    2015 series 80 transmission ?? Throw away unit replace when used up. To date PCM has no service information nor replacement parts. You can get a new transmission kit for $2200, includes new series 80 transmission new drive plate, cooler and other hardware and a warranty!!
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • AndreAndre Posts: 1,390 Mega Baller
    No repair kit or replcement parts?
    A throw way transmission ?
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,243 Mega Baller
    @Andre - I think its pretty close to that - there is a guy Eric Lavine? Who I think used to be rebuilding PCM 80's
    But it was pretty close to a grand and I think he just has a bunch of different ones that he cobbles parts out of.

    Essentially what you get in these transmissions is that even a little slippage will very quickly heat up the plates and toast them. Make sure people are pausing in gear to let the transmission engage - probably happened that someone threw it in reverse and revved to avoid a dock/trailer/rope. Make those plates nice and toasty.
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 1,244 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Eric has since sold the business. New business, FFI had some up and down issues, maybe due to making transition. New guy seems willing to help out. I believe they’re in Dayton? If it were me I’d call Vince at Skidim and order a new PCM 80..... I mean really guys, it costs less than a new ski with new bindings which we typically replace every year vs. transmission which most never will replace.
  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller

    This is a picture of the transmission label. I’m not sure if this means its an 80 or 40.

    Excuse my ignorance, but if it goes into forward and reverse very smoothly and quietly, without slipping, could this just be a clutch issue?
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,365 Crazy Baller
    I wouldn't recommend spending a grand on a repair job out of used parts.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,243 Mega Baller
    @LeonL me neither - just saying its out there.

    @Laz - so it is likely a clutch issue - but boat transmissions aren't like car transmissions.

    In a car there is a box with gears that you shift into different meshes and then the clutch disconnects the engine from the transmission input shaft to let you shift those gear meshes.

    The boat transmission is different,

    On the input side of the transmission is a hydraulic pump - when the engine is running it pushes fluid through a valve body. When that valve is turned to forwards (either mechanically or through an electric shift solenoid) the pressure flows into the forwards clutch body which squeezes a stack of steel plates and fiber pressure plates together. When you shift to neutral that pressure is released and the transmission slips. When you engage reverse it flows through different passages and engages the reverse pressure plates which are on a planetary drive gear (all that whirring noise)

    So in neutral the plates are supposed to slip - lack of slipping where the prop spins in neutral or a "dirty neutral" as some say can be caused essentially by 2 things either there is pressure getting into the reverse pressure plates such as the solenoid valve failing or the shift body failing or from the plates physically warping such that they rub together and that drag causes the prop to spin.

    I'm not sure if there is a way to install a test gauge onto your transmission to inspect for issues with the valving - on some like velvet drives you could undo a plug and install a test gauge and it would show if you had the correct pressures. I guess one way to inspect would be to shut it off and try to turn the prop by hand and see if it drags?

    If you want a long shot - I've also had success sucking off fluid from the transmission and replacing about .5 quart of it with seafoam transmission tuner and then idle around the lake for awhile going into and out of gear - sometimes hung up stuff can be cleaned if it isn't warped (replace with known good stuff later)
  • LazLaz Posts: 335 Solid Baller
    follow up:

    Ended up finding a PCM dealer sort of near me. There were a few in Muskoka, but Walker's Point Marina called me back right away. Their service was quite impressive.

    They ordered the transmission from PCM on Tuesday. PCM took it off the line and prepared it for shipping (paint and cured it). Sent to Canada via Fedex for surprisingly cheap (about $180 Can, overnight), arrived Friday morning and boat ready to pickup Friday afternoon.

    Shoutout to Kevin at Walker's Point Marina!!

    The boat is running perfectly now. I think the previous transmission was dragging in reverse and not allowing for full power.

    @Jody_Seal was correct. There was no option to rebuild or repair. Had to get a new one.

    Thanks for everyone's help and nice to meet you in person @MISkier
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