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  Shift and Throttle Controls: Dual Lever vs. Single Lever

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Author Topic:   Shift and Throttle Controls: Dual Lever vs. Single Lever
jbfla posted 02-14-2007 09:08 PM ET (US)   Profile for jbfla   Send Email to jbfla  
What are the advantages or disadvantages [of a dual lever remote shift and throttle control compared to a single lever control]? Is it just a personal preference?

When examining both a single handle Morse MT3 and a two-handle one in a local marine store, I noticed the single handle was very stiff, and took a lot of force to move back and forth. The two-handle one just glided forward and back with very little effort. It was so much smoother than the one-handle, I wondered why I haven't seen any in use.

Input would be appreciated before I spend any money. Is anyone using a two-handled Morse MT3 engine control with a single engine?



phatwhaler posted 02-15-2007 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for phatwhaler  Send Email to phatwhaler     
I used to have the twin stick Morse control on both of the Shamrocks that I owned. I liked them because they allowed me to adjust the idle speed, without having to engage the marine gear. Once in a while the old Holley carb on my 20 footer wouldn't want to idle and this feature was a big help. The down side to them is they are a little tricky to use for someone that isn't used to them. I have had a couple of friends of mine pull back on the black handle without first pulling back on the throttle. Then it scares them and they would put the boat back in gear at 2000 rpms. Velvet drives are basically bullet proof. I'm not sure how well an outboard would survive that treatment.

My advice is that if you're the only one that is ever going to drive the boat then it's no big deal. If there's going to be other people driving the boat I'd stick with a single stick model. I'd use the SL3 for an outboard.

pw out.

jimh posted 02-15-2007 09:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the early days of remote controls for outboard motors, separate shift and throttle controls were the normal set-up. Now it is just about universal that outboard motors are controlled with a combination single-lever shift and throttle control. I think that is a reaction to market demand--there is not much call for separate shift and throttle on outboards.
towboater posted 02-15-2007 11:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
I have twin engines, dual controls with each engine...yep, my hands are busy.
Like both previous posts mention, you get used to it.

The main advantages to me over a single lever;
-with my eyes focused on the task at hand, I can increase throttle for my PTO hydraulic pump.
-The cables are easy to adjust on either end.
-Dual stations are pretty easy to adjust.
-Enables different lengths of cable to different locations.
-Both stations are VERY smooth, pretty much maint free.
-I especially like being able to "feel" the gear completely lock into fwd or rev.

The big drawback is the possibility of accidentally taking it out of gear WOT instead of pulling the throttle back.
My diesels have governors, not sure about outboards.
AND, as phatwhaler mentions, Guest operators are pretty much lost. But I figure, if they cant understand the setup pretty quickly, I dont want em running my boat anyway.

If you buy a single lever setup, check the lever resistance before cables are attatched. If it is stiff, ask sales if the lever torque is adjustable. Have them losen it up to your specs BEFORE you buy.

Check it again with the cables attatched to the control and laid out on the floor straight, check again with cable taking a loop on the floor similar to your helm to engine path. Certainly remove any kinks or twists if the resistance increases any time during the install.

Ive been using motorcycle chain oil to coat my control connections and any exposed nuts n bolts capable of rusting all over the boat and engines.

This stuff is pretty sticky and will be a little stiff at first. It will loosen up. Im not using chain oil to lubricate anything as I am using it to protect the non moving the threads and the butt is a GREAT cable penetrator & lasts a LONG time. Fairly cheap, comes in a spray can with the little plastic tube to eliminate a bunch of over spray. Once it drys, dust does not stick to it. After it loosens up (sometimes I have to use a little spot of gas on a rag to remove it).
Then I use synthetic high heat grease (which is also has lots of viscosity at low temps) on the moving parts mainly because I stock cases of it, there are plenty other types of Lube to use.

Anyway, good topic. I agree, stiff levers are a pain in the as*...err, elbow & wrists that can take some of the fun outa running boats no matter how big or small they are.


jbfla posted 02-15-2007 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jbfla  Send Email to jbfla     
Thanks for the responses. I like the idea of the separate throttle and gear shift control. Plus the mechanism is much simpler, no clutch apparatus in the control... and the levers operate so smoothly.

However, my son, and most likely some of his friends, will also operate the boat (1990 Montauk w/90hp Johnson).

I will heed your advice, and go with the single handle model for less confusion to operators.

Currently there is an MT3 control on the boat that is severely pitted/corroded, so I think I will replace it with the same model.

Thanks again.


daveweight posted 02-16-2007 06:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for daveweight  Send Email to daveweight     
For absolute preference, I prefer a foot throttle. It means you always have both hands on the wheel where available.
filthypit posted 02-16-2007 12:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for filthypit  Send Email to filthypit     
we're putting the seperate controls (chrome) on our '72 Outrage restoration. having grown up w/ inboards, it's a no-brainer for me.

plus, lets face it - they just look cool.

capnrik posted 02-16-2007 08:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for capnrik  Send Email to capnrik     
I prefer the double lever controls, although my 25 Outrage has OMC single levers. I much prefer being able to put an engine in reverse by pulling the lever to a positive stop, rather than easing it to a detent.
contender posted 02-16-2007 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Two levers are the way to go, you can idle at any speed and just tap in in and out of gear when needed. Also under different currents depending on how you fish you would love the dual lever. I like the smoothness and the easy shifting of the two lever. However I have to agree with jimh on this one market demand, its like a automatic and a 4 speed transmission. But I will always have two levers...good luck
pglein posted 02-19-2007 07:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
Personally, I prefer single action, double lever controls for inboards and a double action, single lever control for outboards or inboard/outboards.

The reason is that on an inboard, when you get right up to the dock, at that point, your rudder is pretty much useless. You're using the prop-walk to maneauver the boat more than the rudder and having the double levers allows you put both hands on the controls and use them that way. It's hard to explain why that works better, but it just does. At least if you have experience with it, it does.

On an outboard, or inboard/outboard, as you approach the dock, you will use the directed thrust of the propeller to maneauver the boat. You need one hand on the wheel to do this properly, leaving only one hand for the throttle and shifter. A double action single lever works much better when you only have one hand to work it with.

The above configuration has long been the industry standard. The only reason it has changed recently is because of the proliferation of electronically controlled diesels. They've gone to double action, single lever digital contols on these engines, so the old smooth Morse style controls seem to be disappearing, which is sad, but certainly understandable. Our new big boat has digital controls that just don't feel quite right. They're very precise and easy to use (once you figure out the shift lag), but I miss the touch of cold smooth chrome every time I grab the textured plastic handle of the control. I also miss the novelty of completely removing my hands from the wheel and placing both hands on the binacle and guiding a single screw inboard carefully into the slip with the intricate dance of two hands that none of my guests seemed to comprehend.

Steve Leone posted 02-21-2007 10:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
Capnrik, never ease your motor into gear. It causes the clutch dog and or gear dogs to prematurely wear out. Just put it into either gear with one quick, positive movement. Steve
Whaler_bob posted 02-22-2007 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
In an emergency situation, single lever controls are the way to go- less chance of mistaking the shift lever for the throttle and the throttle for the shift, especially on twin screw applications.
As a youth (I was maybe 12 or 13 years old) my father often let me pilot the family 29’ Ulrichson from up in the flybridge on long trips, of course he was always sitting next to me up there. It was one of my favorite activities as a young boy, sitting next to dad up on the flybridge in command of the family boat! One day while in cruise mode, something came up- and I can’t remember what it was at this time- but it required an immediate reduction to idle speed. In that semi-panic situation I mistakenly pulled the shift lever back instead of the throttle on the old Morse dual lever controls. The old V-8 inboard raced over 4000rpm’s … had I continued to pull the shift back to reverse (thinking it was the throttle) while the boat still had a good amount of forward momentum and the engine now revving in neutral over 4000 rpm’s disaster certainly would have followed. But cooler heads and calm hands prevailed and dad reached over and put his big hand over mine and stopped me from shifting into reverse and then he brought the throttle back to idle. To his credit- he never ever mentioned the incident, I guess he saw how shaken I was. I guess that’s what a fathers love is all about…

All in all, I’d rather have a single lever control- just consider if a novice had to pilot your boat in an emergency situation ….

Martino posted 02-23-2007 08:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Martino  Send Email to Martino     
My F/C 27 has separate throttles & shifters. It also has separate trim buttons, and, of course, separate trim tab switches. I find myself reaching all over the place too much. I bought an original OMC control unit which combines the shifters, throttles, and trim all in one unit. I figure I need fewer arms this way. I can't wait to install it. Of course, I will keep all of the other hardware in case I ever sell the boat and someone wants it original.

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