Engine shift/control

This may seem like a minor thing. But I need some recommendations on a new engine shifter. The one I have is side mounted in the cockpit. It is made by Teleflex. the probelem is it leaks! it is not weather sealed at all. On the delivery down here to the Virgin islands we continually had heavy spray and a few growlers drench us. It was a rough 1300 mile beat to weather.

Anyway, salt water came in thru the unit and messed up my wiring in the engine room. I tried to seal it up best I could. Now it has died from corrosion. I have a new spare one, but was looking at it (its a newer version) and the design is still fairly bad as far as water intrusin goes.

I can’t find anything that looks promising. Any ideas ???

Gary, did you ever find a good solution for your controls?

My Teleflex is giving my trouble. The little button in the middle that keeps the engines from going into gear is stuck, so I can’t get the engine in gear, or throttle up in neutral. It has locked the throttle control lever in one position. I had to disconnect the shifter cable from the inside this AM and bypass the neutral only start circuit to get her fired up just to charge my batts. And I normally like to charge my batts with the engine running in reverse, but can’t do that today.

I was looking around for a manual on this unit, didn’t find one yet, still looking. I assume most SLM BCC’s in Elizabeth’s vintage came with the same engine controls. Anyone else have a similar problem?

This is a pic of a newer one that looks sorta like mine with that center button:


Yes, I have what sounds like the same kind of controls on “Gertrud” and I have exactly the same problem with the centre button. So far, I’ve been able to keep it working by beating the hell out of it with my thumb, but that’s obviously a short-term solution. I’ll take it apart soon to see what’s going on. My assumption is that lubricating it will fix it up, but we’ll see. I can’t recall the make of mine, but I may have a small manual or leaflet for it on the boat. I’ll check as soon as I can.

“Gertrud” is older than “Elizabeth” - hull no. 23, but the engine and controls were installed in 2002, so may be a similar vintage to yours. Before that, the boat was sailed engineless (by more intrepid people than me).

Derek Lundy
Salt Spring Island

I have also had the same problem with the little button. Even with lots of WD40 it still will not extend without the help of a needle nose pliers. I think the spring is just too weak. It is made by Volvo which SLM used even though the engine is Yanmar. You can order a new one at the Volvo parts website. I have not done that yet. It’s the control lever assembly PC-741. That is just for the handle. There is another part for the complete mechanism that goes with it. You can find it at the volvopentastore.com

Ahh thanks guys… Ron, looks like you nailed it with the Volvo Penta, I never have thunk to go that route.

This looks the guilty party… I’ll try and get it to work before I drop the $145 I think… and it’s out of stock here:

this Diagram helps break it down…

Hmm, my problem is that the button won’t depress without encouragement, not that it won’t extend. I’ll try lubricating and see how that works.

Derek Lundy
Salt Spring Island

Well, I’m glad to see it’s not just me… I have the same issues with that darn little shifting button.

I didn’t know about that little issue on my maiden voyage in the San Diego Harbor and ended up putting my bowsprit a foot inside the rear end of a Carver powerboat. (see my humbling photo: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/bccjunessa/?xjMsgID=26979)

Lesson learned by that experience: Don’t mess with the button in close quarters with other boats!!! Once the motor is running and warmed up, shift to neutral, pull the knob out and leave it there while using the motor. The other issue is having something large and not secured in the cockpit well… it can shift around and smack the shift button and potentially ruining your day!


The unit in question is made by Teleflex. It is really a very poor piece of equipment as it is not sealed and is made of steel and pot metel. If you get a lot of seas in the cockpit, the salt water rusts it and the button becomes corroded and the pot metal casing around it corrodes also making it stick. If you have a dodger and don’t get a lot of saltwater in the cockpit it will last for a good amount of time.
I replaced mine with the same unit, but I am saving up for either a Vetus or Kobelt. Both are made of much better materials. The Kobelt is bronze, but a little pricey. ahhh…ya get what ya pay for. Right now I am having problems with the control not going into neutral. But that may be an adjustment problem with the cables.

I ran into the back of a boat too because of the button. 8-(

I have the same unit, 26 years old. I occasionally use teflon grease on the stop buttton.

Mine was 20 when it finally gave up the ghost. But on the trip from FL to St. Thomas we got so many soakers in the cockpit, that the unit was toast by the time we arrived. plus my engine room had taken on a lot of salty water below right on a negative bus bar 8-(.

I don’t think these units were designed for being so exposed. Good preventative maintence is always a smart idea.

Gary, not so sure about the quality of the Vetus. Ours on Galatea lasted almost 6 years before the neutral throttle button stuck. I was able to get it working again, with hours of tapping gently and then forcing grease into the case. It lasted another year or so, and then stuck again, this time permanently.

As far as I can tell, this is a non-serviceable unit. The Vetus had a plastic plunger under the little red cap, and the cap did not survive the first resuscitation attempt. When I tried to repair it again, tap, tap tap, the plastic started crumbling. We’re in Trinidad now, and I was able to get a Teleflex drop-in replacement, which I hope will be better. At least the plunger for the neutral button is some alloy of brass or bronze, rather than plastic. That at least is an improvement. And the price was $100+ less than a new Vetus. Of course time will tell.

The issue is also the placement and the protection of the shifter, and I don’t have a good solution for that. Have you tried sealing the opening in some way? I did bed the plastic cover with caulk, which kept most of the water out of the engine compartment, but not the shifter itself. The button is especially vulnerable.

For now I’ve slathered the metal casing and the button with Lanacote. We’ll see.


Thanks for the info on the Vetus. They have 2 models. One has a stainless cover, the other a plastic. I wonder if the Vetus with the stainless cover is any better? I like the bronze Kobelt, but it is pricey. And of course down here in the islands I can’t just walk into a shop and inspect one.

So info like yours is priceless for me. I love this forum!

Very interesting thread. In 1981, Sam used a Morse control/shifting lever, and I guess Teleflex took over Morse sometime after that. The Morse lever assembly also has some problems, but they seem minor compared to what’s been described with the Teleflex.

As you can see from the photo, the chrome plated handle has the usual chrome plate problem. I’m guessing that both the handle and the outer case are made of pot metal. The case’s original paint didn’t last very many years. I took it back to bare metal, used etch primer, epoxy primer and enamel, and that lasted about 10 yrs. I now like the look of bare pot metal! Corrosion soon developed at the screw holes and at all the sharp edges.

We’ve had our share of overly-friendly waves in the cockpit that have bathed the controls in salt water. It did cause some corrosion but lubrication fixed the stiffness. I’ve wrapped some nylon twine around the base of the handle that helps keep water out. The cord around the neutral clutch button makes it a lot easier to pull out.

It might be possible to find an old Morse assembly at a used marine gear shop. In any case you guys have caused me to quit griping about Shaula’s corroded shifter! Thanks.
Dan Shaula BCC 59

Attached is a picture of the Kobelt unit I am interested in. Made of Bronze and stainless. For reference the plate in the photo is about 4x5 inches.

I cruised this past summer aboard a friend’s boat with the same Kobelt unit installed. It had a very nice rock-solid feel to it; smooth and precise in its movement, unlike my current shifter which doesn’t hold its position well. I’m considering changing over to the Kobelt, as well.

I have acquired a Kobelt unit but have yet to install it. It appears to be very well made. The unit is available in bronze (i.e., without a chrome finish) - that is the one I purchased, as I think it fits the character of the BCC better.

Dioscouri (#064)


Did you find a decent price? Or they all in the $400 range? Replacement for the Teleflex/Volvo Penta unit is $225 locally.

yep Ben, they are pricey. Where have you found the best price. I’m seeing around $500.

The questions that one must ask, “Is how long do I plan to keep the boat?” and “How much am I willing to pay for reliability?” If a Teleflex unit lasts 10 years, is it worth investing in a better unit that may last 10 year or 20 years." The other factor that must be entered into the equation is where we sail from and where we sail.

It’s a sticky equation reliability vs. cost. Our approach is to install the best equipment we can afford. Although we only sail on the Chesapeake, when mother nature is teaching you who’s boss, reliability is very important to us.

I just ordered the Teleflex from Go2Marine for $158. They shipped the same day. My present Volvo/Teleflex is 18 years old and still works fine except for the button. However some years ago I had to remove the whole thing and clean all the rust from it, grease it up and reinstalled with lots of silicone.

Ron Thompson
Ho’okahiko 97