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Author Topic:   2003 170 MONTAUK Steering Corrosion
Holy Cow posted 08-01-2005 09:40 PM ET (US)   Profile for Holy Cow   Send Email to Holy Cow  
Has anyone experienced any rusting and seizing up on the 2000-2004 170 Red Decal 4 stroke 90 HP Merc. Having greased the steering rod every six months and sometimes even more often; I have found the steering seizes up when the boat sits for a while. It has happened three times. The 1st time was a month after I received the boat in May of 2003. It sat in my drive and froze up. It happened in Massachusetts in 10-2004. Now it has happened again. I called Mercury and they said it is a non Stainless rod and needs to have a Stainless Rod put in place. They want $275 to $386 for it. My 2003 is still under warranty and I have done maintenance on the required intervals. Has anyone got any suggestions as to how I can have Whaler do this at their expense? Thanks HC
bobeson posted 08-02-2005 03:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for bobeson  Send Email to bobeson     

My steering arm froze up on my 2003 Merc 90hp 4-stroke, red-label (non-stainless rod). Since the motor needs to be pulled to replace the rod, and I didn't have a surplus of beefy guys at the ready to help me with that task (or a davit/crane/engine hoist mechanism of some sort) I let the dealer remove the old tube and put in a stainless one. It cost me, and I think it shouldn't have, but I didn't feel like arguing it. I asked them to install a steersman nut (grease fitting) but they put in a davis products nut (I forget the product name) which uses oil instead, but I didn't feel like arguing that one either, so I have an oil lubricating system for the steering arm now. Some people seem to think the oil lubricant is better than grease for this application, but I don't personally have any real data one way or the other.

I can't offer you any advice on making a warranty coverage argument, sorry. Mercury really should cover the steering arm failures during the warranty period, because then they would be more inclined to improve the design by adding a grease or oil lubricant fitting instead of relying on a single o-ring seal that is destined to fail and leave you with a seized steering rod.

Holy Cow posted 08-08-2005 03:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
Dan Dugan,

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.
I understand that you discussed your Montauk 170 with Debbie of our
customer service department this afternoon.

We reviewed the data Boston Whaler has regarding warranty issues concerning
the Teleflex SSC6214 steering cable and the tilt tube on the MERC 90 ELPT
4-STROKE Model 1F90412AC outboard engine that you have on your boat.

Our records indicate that we have installed more than 3,800 of these
Teleflex steering cables and have recorded only four warranty claims, of
which none were related to rusting issues. Additionally, our warranty
system has no claims for the Mercury 90ELPT 4/Stroke.

Your boat is well beyond the normal warranty period ( I still have a Mercury 3 year warranty good to 2006./ HC) for accessories and we
do not show a history of rust issues with this set-up. I'm sorry to say
it is our opinion that the issue of rust on the steering cable end and the
tilt tube of your Mercury outbord engine do not meet the warranty criteria
set forth in the Boston Whaler Limited Warranty statement.

Please contact me, or one of the other customer service representatives in
my absence, if you have additional questions or concerns regarding your

Jim Rohrbach
Boston Whaler
Customer Service
1-877-294-5645 (toll free)

Holy Cow posted 08-08-2005 04:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
I just had to pay Taylor Marine to repair with a new SS Teleflex . Too bad Whaler didn't say in the Manual

"It is recommended to install a grease fitting into the metal steering tube and grease internally to keep the Telflex steering free?"

The liberal external greasing at steering rod shaft didn't keep the steering free. Sorry I did that! It seized up repeatedly (3 Times) at the most inopportune times. I posted your reply on the Continuous Wave. Ohhh your last said this is a 17MTK.

It is a 170 2003 Montauk HC wrote:

>Dan Dugan,
>I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.
>I understand that you discussed your Montauk 170 with Debbie of our
>customer service department this afternoon.
>We reviewed the data Boston Whaler has regarding warranty issues concerning
>the Teleflex SSC6214 steering cable and the tilt tube on the MERC 90 ELPT
>4-STROKE Model 1F90412AC outboard engine that you have on your boat.
>Our records indicate that we have installed more than 3,800 of these
>Teleflex steering cables and have recorded only four warranty claims, of
>which none were related to rusting issues. (I question this?) Additionally, our warranty
>system has no claims for the Mercury 90ELPT 4/Stroke. (Then what about the Continous Wave reply posted on the web site.)
>Your boat is well beyond the normal warranty period for accessories and we
>do not show a history of rust issues with this set-up. I'm sorry to say
>it is our opinion that the issue of rust on the steering cable end and the
>tilt tube of your Mercury outbord engine do not meet the warranty criteria
>set forth in the Boston Whaler Limited Warranty statement. (I still have a 3 year warranty with Mercury?)
>Please contact me, or one of the other customer service representatives in
>my absence, if you have additional questions or concerns regarding your
>Jim Rohrbach
>Boston Whaler
>Customer Service
>1-877-294-5645 (toll free)

bigjohn1 posted 08-08-2005 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1    
Holy Cow, very sorry to hear of your troubles. In the hopes of avoiding a similar fate, I would like to install an additional grease fitting in the tube. By coincidence, 5 minutes ago I was talking with the head mechanic at my dealership about an unrelated repair they are completing on my boat now. Since I read your original above post yesterday, I decided to ask if they could go ahead and install a fitting for me so I can keep things lubed.
Amazing! he states there is no way to install a fitting.
I take 100% of what this guy says with a grain of salt though. To make sure I am clear on what teleflex is recommending, where exactly is this fitting supposed to go?
Holy Cow posted 08-08-2005 08:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
John! I spoke to Teleflex today. He said he doesn't recommend a fitting, but my friend whom worked at Whaler said he put a fitting on the steering tube to lube the steering rod while sliding left and right. Although I spoke to Teleflex again today. Teleflex's phone is 610-495-7011. I had to leave a mesaage with Dave and he called back. I spoke to him twice ~ once this week and today. He said pull the Mercury steering mount screw caps off the horizontal steering assembly and clean the steering rod and grease it and re assmble. He said don't add a fitting. So I am up in thge air now as well??? Give Teleflex a call. I was thinking of calling Mercury, because I think it is a poor steering system. HC
bigjohn1 posted 08-09-2005 07:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1    
Thanks again, and for what its worth, I got some additional clarification on how my dealership recommends lubricating the tilt tube and cable for maximum service life. The factory manual states to simply turn the steering wheel till the cable is extended fully then lube both zerk fittings adjacent to the tilt tube. My dealer puts a little different "spin" on this process and does it as a 2-man job as follows:

Mechanic #1 stays at the helm and turns the wheel to fully extend the cable. Mechanic #2 operates the grease gun and pumps one pump in each zerk. Mech #1 turns the steering wheel completely in the opposite direction to retract the cable then reverses the wheel all the way in the opposite direction. This process of one pump in each zerk and turning the wheel in both directions all the way is repeated 6-8 times until it is obvious the cable/tilt tube will not accept any additional grease and its oozing out the cracks. They emphasized one pump of the grease gun per cycle to ensure you do not blow out the cable.

I'm not vouching for this technique, just passing on what was told to me by them so don't shoot the messenger if this sounds hoaky. They swear by it though and say it ensures even the non-saltwater Merc's without the ss tilt tube never suffer corrosion when run 100% in saltwater. They also state it ensures longer cable life.

Holy Cow posted 08-09-2005 08:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
John my dealer Taylor Marine said that they couldn't even budge the steering and had to replace the rod housing with a SS one? I am scratching my head? HC
bigjohn1 posted 08-09-2005 05:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1    
HC, ask them what they think about the technique above. That and the new ss tilt tube should prevent you from having more problems for some years to come - I hope. Learning of your situation, I'd be inclined to go out there and exercise the steering every so often during periods of storage - especially in those cold Massachusetts winters.
Holy Cow posted 08-09-2005 06:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
Mercury wants me to fax over the receipts from 2003 and 2005 for the Steering work. It happened once in 2004 while at the New Bedford Ramp. I had to free up the steering with CRC and a wood Block and Hammer. Teleflex recommends to clean and grease(Lithium) the rod inside the Steering case housing every 6 months. They do not recommend Grease fittings? Who knows? I know a fella whom worked and designed the 18 Outrage. He said to put a grease fitting at either end of the Steering tube. HC
Holy Cow posted 08-13-2005 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
Sent/Faxed my receipts to Mercury for them to see that the Steering was bad from the get go. I recieved the 170 in April of 2003 and in May I had to loosen up the siezed Teleflex Steering. That was the first time. It siezed up two more times. I always maintained it with greased as to Teleflex. Just because the 170 sat for a while the Teleflex siezed up. The last time (3rd reciept August 2005) I had to have the Marine Mercury dealer put in a new SS Steering Tube. It cost me almost $300.00. I don't appreciate the the hardship and inconvience. No Thanks to be given. Teleflex, Mercury, and Whaler gave me a big run around. I will call Mercury again to see if they are going to reinburse me for this inconvience. HC
Holy Cow posted 08-22-2005 03:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Holy Cow  Send Email to Holy Cow     
Everyone pointed to Teleflex. Yhey were unwilling to help. I believe it is a poor design and should have atleast one or two Zek Grease fitting(s) installed asap. If anyone recieves one of the RED 90 HP Merc four stroke 170 Montauks w/ the Teleflex steering, you best do this improvement/upgrade or clean the steering regulary like more than every 6 months as they insisted. This may save the rusting up and seizing steering problem. Again remember this is a non-stainless steering rod and is prone to rusting in saltwater. Unless of course you want to upgrade to the Stainless Steering rod and Grease fitting(s). HC
beauforthoo posted 04-22-2007 04:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for beauforthoo  Send Email to beauforthoo     
deja vu in Beaufort, 2003 Montauk with frozen steering. Spent three hours yesterday cleaning my boat and had already backed it into the water to go out today. Had not thought to check the steering until then. Glad I did, locked up solid. I been in my garage working on it for the kast 2 1/2 hours before I found this on the internet. Sounds like I need to get the checkbook out.
contender posted 04-24-2007 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Holy Cow: The person you need to go after is MERCURY. The steering is a stainless rod, whaler has nothing to do with the components. It is obvious that MERCURY was aware of the problem and had made another part to solve the problem. If you are not going to replace the tube use a shotgun cleaning brush on a drill motor to clean out the old grease and rust. Then use a 120 sand paper to clean up the steering rod. Then find and go to a light water proof grease and try that...good luck
jimh posted 05-03-2007 09:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Install a STEERSMAN patented seal and lubricating fitting on your steering.
WhalerAce posted 05-03-2007 09:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for WhalerAce  Send Email to WhalerAce     
Contender says that you need to go after Mercury.

WWHAAAAT? I thought that the big advantage of the so-called Brunswick bundled package was there was just one stop for everything boat/engine/electronics-accessories/trailer-related. It is the Dealer who sold you the boat that should handle this.

Just kidding. I still say it is better to be able to get all of the components that YOU want, not what a corporate lackey says you want.

Through belly-aching.

-- WhalerAce

Reel Time posted 05-07-2007 02:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Reel Time  Send Email to Reel Time     
Don't know if this will help, had the same problem on a new 115 Mercury in 1978/1979, the dealer had to pound the steering arm out of the tube 5-6 times. Finally found a mechanic that said stop all the grease, lube once per year, however, everytime after you use the boat, run the steering arm all the way out, spray a rag and the steering arm with WD40 (today there are additional products that could be used), wipe the arm down and run it in and out of the tube a few times, then wipe down the arm one more time and store with the arm in the tube. It worked and I never had the problem again.
Knot at Work posted 05-16-2007 03:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Knot at Work  Send Email to Knot at Work     
You are not alone. My Boat was serviced at Marine Max in Pensacola for the same exact issue. NOT covered by my warranty and cost 400 dollars to repair. Additionally, I pointed the articles on this great site as reference and they still said no warranty. Point is they will not get warranty claims for this issue when they cite the lack of claims as evidence as their refusal to honor the issue under the warranty.

A self licking Ice Cream cone...

I was recently back in Pensacola to run my boat from 19 months of layup. Only real issue besides the frozen steering ( my dad took the boat in while I was in Europe) was I ran my boat and noticed no PSI for water pressure on the gage despite good pressure. After trouble shooting, it was determined to be a bad line blockage... after 140.00 dollars and a new hose line it works again.

good luck with the frozen steering. I would be curious to know how many of us had this same issue and maybe we could send our repair invoiced to Whaler as the "trend analysis" they appear to be lacking regarding this issue.


Mobjack posted 05-16-2007 12:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mobjack  Send Email to Mobjack     
Not exactly a post-classic, but I just went through the same thing on my 83 montauk. As far as I know, most or all of the boats equipped with the teleflex are prone to the same problem, I dont think it has jack to do with it being a Boston Whaler.
I spent all last season religiously greasing the fittings in front, thinking I was doing a great thing by being diligent, turns out they do not grease the arm. So I spent two hours pounding on the rod and ended up replacing everything. That will teach me not to grease it. As far as I am concerned, for a boat that stays in the salt in a slip for about seven months a year, I got exactly what I deserved. I don't exactly think its the best design in the world, but it is a design that will perform well with proper maintenance. I myself am trying to figure out what will be the best procedure from here on out. I may just pull the rod every year and apply grease and anti-sieze before putting in the barn. I am definitely going to keep a spray can of wd40 or rem oil on the boat this summer so I can spray the rod down after use. The other thing that I have heard helps is not to leave the rod in the out position. If the rod is out, it is easier for corrosion to form in the tube.
I apologize in advance if this offends any of you, but I am not "going after" anyone for this. If I had done my job as the sole provider of maintenance on my rig, it would not have happened. If it happens again, shame on me, because now I know what to look for.

I tell you what though, it was enough to make me consider the Baystar hydraulic system that a few people have been talking about on here, for motors under 150hp.

bigjohn1 posted 05-18-2007 09:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1    
I'll append my two year old comments on this thread. Do as Jim says and install the STEERSMAN nut. I am confident that after you install one, your steering corrosion problems will be over for good.
bpollock42 posted 06-03-2007 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for bpollock42  Send Email to bpollock42     
When you winterize your boat do you make sure you turn the steering wheel so the rod is completely retracted? This keeps the weather from affecting the rod. This solve the problem for me. The steering froze only once on one boat and I learned my lesson.
Newtauk1 posted 06-04-2007 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Newtauk1  Send Email to Newtauk1     
The motor is a FRESH WATER series being used in salt water. The salt water series has several components that are stainless compared to the freshwater series. That is why Mercury had a salt water series. I use a fresh water series in the salt water and an extemely diligent when cleaning parts like the steering arm because I know the motor was not designed for salt water. The tilt tube on the fresh water was not stainless on many(all) of these "red labled" motors. The blue salt water series had stainless used for components such as the tilt tube. I a do not see any liability with eiher Mercury or Teleflex. You need to buy the correct motor or upgrade to stainless parts. usually the salt water series motors cost a few hundred bucks more then the fresh water series. You can pay now or later. Looks like the poster paid later.
Floodtide posted 06-19-2007 10:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Floodtide  Send Email to Floodtide     
Thanks Bigjohn1 the SteersmanNut is a great little item. Cleaned and lubed and now it is perfect.

This site is a great source for answers

jack mcgriff posted 03-28-2008 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jack mcgriff  Send Email to jack mcgriff     
the boat is a 1990 with no registration
Chuck Tribolet posted 03-28-2008 09:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Jack: HUH? You jump in here on a thread that's been dead
for six months, and make a statement "the boat is a 1990 with
no registration" What boat are you talking about?


Nauti Tauk posted 03-30-2008 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Nauti Tauk  Send Email to Nauti Tauk     
Jim hit it on the head. Keep it simple. After cleaning things up install a Steerman lube nut and your done. That's it folks you're done. Be sure you get the nut for Mercury because the threads are different.
sapple posted 04-08-2008 07:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for sapple  Send Email to sapple     
Does anyone know if this could be a problem in later model (i.e. 2007) 170 Montauks or if BW changed/improved the design of its steering components ?
BlueMax posted 04-09-2008 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax  Send Email to BlueMax     
Sapple - thanks for jumping in with the question - I'm reading this thread this morning wondering the exact same thing.

Additionslly, I looked up the Steersman Nut mentioned above and it looks like a pretty simple, straight forward device. It can be found here:

For Merc, the Anodized Aluminum nut (fresh water) runs $20 / Stainless Steel (SS) for salt water runs $30. Seems like a fair price to save several hundreds of dollars and major pains if this issue (sorry jimh - 170 MONTAUK Steering Corrosion issue) has not been resolved for the '07 and later models.

I would be interested to know if Merc has addressed the 170 MONTAUK Steering Corrosion issue.


boogie83 posted 07-28-2008 02:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for boogie83  Send Email to boogie83     
Sorry to be simple minded, but I'm a bit confused.

My 2002 whaler seems to have the same issue (seized steering), and as a result, upon trying to turn the wheel, the cable housing popped under the wheel (where the rubber meets the fitting).

So my plan was to replace the cable, and lube up the engine area.

Are you saying I have to remove the engine to replace this cable?

Sounds like this is a design weakness, not an issue of poor maintenance. I have brought my whaler in for regular service, no one told me about this issue, and now I am quoted $500+ to fix this steering issue.

bigjohn1 posted 07-30-2008 08:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1    
There is nothing about this problem which is inherent to the Boston Whaler 170 Montauk. It is not a Boston Whaler specific problem and steering corrosion can and does happen in all boats, especially when used in saltwater.

The one design weakness that can be attributed to the 170 Montauk is the relationship of the rigging tunnel entrance to the outboard steering arm. The tunnel entrance is too close to the starboard side of the outboard. This orientation requires the Mercury outboard to be removed for steering cable replacement. Some will say the steering cable for their classic pre-2002 Montauk can be changed without removing the outboard. I'm sure that is the case but it is not so for the post-classic 170 Montauk.

Boogie, the Teleflex steering helm on your boat is a quality part but it won't last forever as it is subject to wear. I just replaced the helm unit 3 months ago on my 2005 170 Montauk and it wasn't that hard. The replacement helm cost less than $150 and it took me about 2 hours to replace once I figured out how everything went together. If you want to save a little money on that repair bill, order the helm unit online and replace it yourself. Then take the boat to the dealer and have them install a new steering cable. Let the dealer hassle with that as that 400lb engine must be removed and they have the overhead hoist to do it safely. They will replace your steering tilt tube back at the engine where it is now corroded. Purchase the Steersman Nut and have the dealer install it when they re-install the outboard. Your problems will then be over - for good if you periodically grease the zerk fitting on the Steersman nut.

About once per year, you will need to replace the o-ring on that nut as it will eventually wear out. When it goes bad, it will cease to function as designed and allow grease to leak out from it instead of forcing grease into the tilt tube. About 90 minutes and a couple of large open end wrenches (I forgot the exact sizes) is all that will be required to replace the o-ring.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you tell your dealer to REMOVE the o-ring from the new replacement tilt tube they will install. This is necesary to ensure grease will get into the tilt tube and steering cable when it is applied to the zerk fitting on the Steersman nut.

Credit goes to LHG for explaining all of this to me a couple of years ago.

boogie83 posted 08-07-2008 05:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for boogie83  Send Email to boogie83     
bigjohn1 - thank you - that was very informative.

Although its not fun to have to take that engine off, and I would agree - a manufacturer with the reputation of Boston Whaler should have designed the aft of the boat with this replacement issue in mind.

SC Joe posted 08-08-2008 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
What is the thread size on the steersman nut? I just purchased an '08 170 Montauk/Merc 90 and want to put this nut on now. Steersman web page shows 7/8" and 1" threads as choices.
wbullwin posted 08-08-2008 11:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for wbullwin  Send Email to wbullwin     
Touch wood, as they say, I haven't had a problem yet but I just read a few of these postings and saw where someone mentioned the "Saltwater" series 90 HP having some stainless steel parts. Are the components for the steering that seems to be the problem here Stainless?
wbullwin posted 08-08-2008 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for wbullwin  Send Email to wbullwin     
A question for those who have done the work themselves to change the shaft and/or add the new nut. Is it possible to loosen the existing Mercury nut, disconnect the steering, slide the whole thing out as much as possible to expose the section of the shaft that is hidden in the tilt tube and then clean/lube?
wa5ngp posted 09-20-2008 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for wa5ngp  Send Email to wa5ngp     
I've got a 90 hp red 2cy '99 merc. I use it mostly salt and some fresh but I trailer and wash all the time. For the last few years I've had to manually free up that steering arm/tube every time I go. Today just before my first bass trip after the summer I tried lossening but no go.

Finally I pounded out the steering cable end and the steering tube. Pretty corroded on the inside. Surprisingly, the steering cable itself is in pretty good shape. From what I see in these posts I'm lucky I haven't had more trouble with it sooner.

I may have a mini disaster in that I drove out the steering tube and the motor is holding up only by a long 1 inch dia socket. I'm thinking of grinding down a taper on lenght of 1" pipe to use as a leading tube so I can drive the steering tube back in there. I suppose I was lucky that the whole motor didn't fall out on me. I hope I can do it this way.

Fortunately with this motor on a Kenner its pretty easy to get to these parts.

Has anyone found out what a stainless steering tube costs?

I am a hopeless/hapless DIYer. I'll let you know how it goes.

tight lines


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