Sail Drives and their Fluids
By J.D. Neeson, President, Marine Parts Express
Volvo Penta recently issued a bulletin (see below) that recommends all people who have sail drives (130 and 150s) should switch from using ATF fluid in their sail drives to SAE 15W40.
This is a big change when you think that the ATF fluid has a viscosity of 6.1 at 100C and 30.1 at 40C while the 15W40 has a viscosity of 15 at 100C and 101 (!) at 40C.
My theory is that the lighter ATF fluid doesn’t protect the clutch plates as well when the plates are not engaged and are just spinning. Volvo Penta seems to be confirming this when they state that “problems concerning sliding/delayed engagement” may require a change of the disk package and using the new oil.
What adds to this confusion is that Yanmar Sail drives have the exact opposite requirement. Yanmar sail drives specifications are much more dependent on what engine they are connected to (RPM and thrust issues) and everyone should check their Owner’s Manual, but basically the smaller drives (such as the SD20 and SD31 with their dog clutches) use SAE 80W90 gear oil, while the larger drives (like the SD40 and SD50s with their cone clutches) use Quicksilver High Performance Gear Lube.
Volvo Penta Service Bulletin
Group 44-1 Number 85 Version 2 Dated 10-2010, Page 1
Changed oil quality recommendation for S-drives
130S-A, 130S-B, 130SR-A, 130SR-B, 150S-A, 150S-B, 150SR-A, 150SR-B
Volvo Penta has changed the recommendation for oil quality in S-drives.
S-drives manufactured September 2010 onwards will have a sticker with the information “SAE 15 W-40 ONLY” attached in connection to the oil filter. Older drives have a sticker with the text “ATF OIL ONLY.”
Volvo Penta recommends that all S-drives change from ATF oil to engine oil SAE 15W-40 at next oil change.
It is possible to replace oil without laying up the boat, please refer to the Operator’s Manual. However, with this method some ATF oil will remain in the stern drive.
For problems concerning sliding/delayed engagement Volvo Penta recommend change of disk package and replacing the oil with engine oil SAE 15W-40.
Gear when sailing
When sailing, set the control lever to reverse if a folding propeller is fitted.
If a fixed propeller is fitted the control lever should be set in neutral or reverse. When using a fixed propeller and sailing with the control lever set to reverse the speed is slowed down though less noise is being made.
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Marine Parts Express is a division of Water Resources, Inc., a privately held Maine Corporation.
For all your marine engine parts needs, call us toll free at 877.621.2628, or outside the U.S. at 207.882.6165.
April 20, 2011 / JD Neeson / 1
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Margaret Graham Neeeson
Margaret Graham Neeson
Marine Parts Express