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Not in Gear - Shaft Movement

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Hey y'all. Hope everyone is enjoying the summer on the water.

While working on the boat I noticed my drive shaft turns and moves a little bit when I started the engine. The boat is in the water, but not in gear. Is it normal for the drive shaft to move when the boat is not in gear?

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If the propeller is turning due to water current, that is normal.  It doesn't have a brake.

If the propeller turns for just a second when you crank the engine, the transmission fluid is just starting to move around, and I would call that normal.

If the propeller is turning without any real force due to vibration and fluid motion inside the transmission, that is probably normal.  If you open the floor panel and step on the coupler while it is spinning like you described, it should be very easy to stop.  If not, you may have something wrong in your transmission.  NOTE:  Stepping on the coupler while it is moving could be very hazardous.  Do this only if you are very experienced with performing crazy stunts that others associate with the phrase, "hold my beer and watch this!"

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I have seen this happen often.  I would recommend that you make sure the transmission fluid is clean and at the correct level.  It is common for transmissions that have dirty fluid, low fluid levels, or have seen excessive heat or wear to slowly turn the prop shaft in neutral.  If the steels and clutches get too hot they tend to slightly warp, this changes the clearance in the drum and makes them contact more than they supposed to in neutral and turn the shaft.  Excessive cutlass bearing wear in the strut can make it even easier for the shaft to turn.

Edited by csleaver
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It is hard to say without looking at it.  If the shaft only turns slowly in neutral and isn't slipping or causing a sudden and noticeable jump in RPM under load then I doubt you would need a new transmission any time soon.

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