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Question about my drive

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Old 01-24-2019, 06:14 AM   #1

NewbieTalariOwner is currently offline
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Default Question about my drive

I'm new to boating and posting on forums, so go easy on me.
A couple weeks ago I just picked up a 1997 mariah talari 21ft with cuddy Cabin. It's only got 300 original hours on it and was only used in fresh water. It has the mercruiser 5.7L. I think I got it for a good deal. At about hour 250 the previous owner did a stroker kit on it. It supposedly pushes 420hp now, according to the shop that put it in. So they didn't do anything to the drive. I've read about the alpha 1 is the ticking time bomb. Does anyone know what drive came on this boat?
Also if it is the alpha one, is there any danger of running it until it goes out, or should you convert to a bravo before it breaks?
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  • Old 01-24-2019, 04:49 PM   #2

    mikeyt is currently offline
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    Default Re: Question about my drive

    In general, the Alpha 1 is not a 'ticking time bomb' but when you push it to well over its rated hp limit of 300hp as you suggest was done to your boat, then you are asking for trouble.

    The Bravo 1 is a larger, more robust outdrive with a safe max Hp rating of 500 so that should satisfy your needs. The Bravo 1 is also interchangeable with only a few modifications needed such as additional mounting holes, the water pump on a Bravo 1 is an engine mounted belt drive unit rather than mounted in the outdrive so brackets & a new belt are needed and the engine coupler will need to be changed. It will require pulling the engine too. And if you're going to do that, you might want to check your trim / tilt switches to see if they need replacing along with any other 'wear' parts in the transom.

    Your boat likely came with an Alpha 1

    Last edited by mikeyt; 01-24-2019 at 04:56 PM.
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    Thank you mikeyt for this useful post!
    Dredd (02-07-2019)
    Old 01-24-2019, 06:57 PM   #3

    NewbieTalariOwner is currently offline
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    Default Re: Question about my drive

    Thank you for your answer mikeyt, I really appreciate it and will look into the Bravo 1.

    What can you expect when your drive goes out? Is it a bearing that breaks? Gears that shear off? Or does the whole drive just fall off the boat?
    Thanks.
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    Old 01-24-2019, 09:04 PM   #4

    mikeyt is currently offline
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    Default Re: Question about my drive

    There may be others here who have had that experience but I've never had an outdrive failure and my Alpha 1 is 23 yrs old. My understanding is that the dog clutch at the bottom of the drive usually fails first and then your outdrive simply stops working. But ... I did see an overpowered Alpha 1 where the top end gears broke and left quite a mess including the puncture of the casing. Oddly enough (or maybe not), that failure occurred during a rapid deceleration of the boat and not from giving her the beans during rapid acceleration.

    No, your outdrive wont fall off but a catastrophic top end failure could conceivably damage the outdrive bellows and lead to the sinking of your boat.

    Last edited by mikeyt; 01-24-2019 at 09:07 PM.
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    Old 02-03-2019, 04:46 PM   #5

    pole trick is currently offline
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    Default Re: Question about my drive

    If your going to run it for awhile before you change it out..Put a drive cooler on it..they just bolt on and scoop water up and spray it on your upper drive box. In your over power aplication this would be a must..and run good merc highperformance gear lube. If you don't beat on it, not racing, just cruising around, it might live along time..during cruising and less then 3/4 throttle you most likely with normal hp rating of drive anyway..
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    NewbieTalariOwner (02-03-2019)
    Old 02-03-2019, 10:28 PM   #6
     
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    Default Re: Question about my drive

    So this is where I'll say to just take it easy on the boat if you want it to last. Don't be flying at WOT with 3-4ft swells on the lake/river where you use it... That's a recipe for disaster.

    Back in the late 80's I remember Mercruiser's marketing campaign called "The Perfect Combo" of a 454 with the Alpha drive. I'm sure after the first year or two they regret calling it "perfect" as the majority of them were replaced due to breakage. There still are some floating around out there, people just know to baby them. The issue is they the alphas couldn't hold up to the torque the 454 put out long term. I don't know how much torque the stroker kit is putting out, but it's likely at, or exceeding the alpha's HP limits as well... So just take it easy!

    If you're planning to keep the boat long-term, I'd definitely invest in a drive shower now, and just enjoy the boat at moderate speeds. While the temptation may be there to open her up, just remember every time you do, you're closer to a failure. The drive is now your weak point. You could swap the drive to a Bravo with a bit of $$ and a good boat mechanic. However the alpha drives are a bit cheaper to replace parts when they have issues. So really, the choice is yours, keep your current setup and just repair parts when and if they break, or invest a few thousand into a bravo system, and be worry free. But either way, the best thing to do is just enjoy your Mariah responsibly, these boats were never built as speed demons
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    Chris
    -1999 Mariah Z280 MCC, 7.4L MPI Bravo 3 DuoProp
    -2000 Mariah Shabah Z250 Limited Edition, 7.4L MPI, Bravo 1 (Sold, but not forgotten!)
    -Formerly known as ShabahZ250
    -USCG Licensed 50 Ton Near Coastal Master Captain with Towing Certification
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