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Thread: Who does their own sterndrive work?

  1. #1

    Default Who does their own sterndrive work?

    Hello all,

    I just bought my first sterndrive boat, I've always run outboards before so this is new to me. I'm looking over the maintenance intervals for my volvo penta 290 DP, and trying to get a sense for how complicated the annual u-joint greasing and bellows replacement really is. I'd like to be able to do it myself, but I'm a little worried about getting the removal and re-install right.

    So, I'm curious how many guys do this project themselves and what they have to say about it. Has it been worth the effort to do it yourself or is it better to take the outdrive to a pro?

    Thanks for the tips~

  2. #2
    Member NewMoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Holladay, UT


    I started doing the 290 DP bellows replacement myself. Only every two years, per my manual, and I've let it go three with no sign of deterioration of the bellows.


    Drain the lube, remove the shift mechanism cover, take the top section off the leg (very carefully), check the u-joint, replace the bellows, re-assemble (very carefully, hose clamps in exactly the right position), and refill the lube. Not too tough.

    I have the shop manual, but haven't noticed a need to grease the u-joint. Am I missing something?

    Here's a tip you might not have seen: Fill the lube only to the mid point of the marks on the dip stick, or a bit above. This is VP's approach, at least for my 290 drive and KAD44P diesel, on all dip sticks. Let the drive sit overnight before you check the lube level.
    Richard Cook
    Dream Catcher (Nordic Tug 37)
    "Cruising in a Big Way"

  3. #3

    Thumbs up

    I have been doing regular servicing of on my DP outdrive as soon as it was out of warranty, about 8 years now. If you are not real mechanically inclined like me, I recommend getting the DP shop manual. I found a portable engine hoist comes in very handy for pulling the outdrive out from the housing and for re-installing it. If you replace the bellows, be 100% confident that you have a good seal. A cracked bellows or improperly fitted replacement will soon lead to big $$$$ and an extreme hatred for outdrives. I try and pull the outdrive every other year. I find it rewarding doing this kind of maintenance on my own and save the more advanced stuff for the boat shops. Take your time and follow the shop manual. You will save a lot of money and know the job was done right (or know who to blame if it wasn't). So far I have not any outdrive problems.

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Go to and do a search on "2850 bounty". He's the Volvo Penta guru and has posted many of the procedures on the VP outdrives. It's a forum geared towards Bayliners but a lot of Bayliners come with VP drives. You can also download shop manuals for free from the forum archives.

    And yes you can do the work yourself. It's easy with a manual and saves you a ton of $$.

    Good Luck.


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