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  • Trim Tabs

    I have what appear to be non functioning trim tabs on my 23.5 GlasPly, twin 4 cylinder stern drives. Due to wrenching on it most of the summer, I only had a couple shakedown runs at Finger Lake and one 2 day trip out of Kachemak. There were times I could really feel it listing while cruising. It gets on step quickly as is. When I winterized, I could not get any movement out of the tabs from the joystick while it was on the trailer.

    Should I remove them? Should I rebuild what is there? Should I remove and replace?

    Forgive me if this is addressed in another thread, I searched and could not find a pertinent discussion. As per one of the posts, I am looking at these trim tabs: https://www.nauticusinc.com/complete-trim-tab-kits/.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I'd check the oil level first. Then see if I have power to the hyd. unit.
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 10-29-2020, 10:08.

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    • #3
      What Dave said.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the quick replies. I will check into the system. I am completely unfamiliar with them, but it does not seem complex.

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        • #5
          Somewhere there is a small hydraulic oil tank with an fill level on it. Mine is up under the transom where you can't fill it with 6 oz. without spilling 8 oz. I also have a fuse on mine located on the master fuse panel. If the engine is off, have someone listen in the back. Hit the trim tabs and listen, JUST FOR a couple seconds. You don't want to burn the pump out. If that person hears anything whining, it is probably the pump "trying". If so, you have power to it. Then it is probably the oil level.

          Disclaimer: I am not a boat mechanic. I graduated from Been There, Done That University.

          Patriot Life Member NRA
          Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
          Life Member Disabled American Veterans


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          • #6
            What tabs do you currently have? Looking at the website, the smart tabs are just nitrogren/hydraulic actuators that you can only adjust on the actuator itself. There is an electric version. Whatever you get, I wouldn't rely just spring-loaded versions.

            Personally, I installed Bennett tabs on my boat which are hydraulic. The units work great with trim indicators at the helm. I also installed the auto-trim unit from about 4 years ago (I think they fixed it in later versions), and it has never worked to my satisfaction. I like tweaking tabs too much for the auto to be useful, perhaps on a larger boat (mine is 21 feet) or one with more of a V-hull. With only an 8 degree deadrise, I'm constantly tweaking speed, tabs, and direction for a comfortable ride. The tabs make a huge improvement in handling various sea states and really help in heavy chop or waves to force bow through waves.

            Obviously, maintaining hydraulic fluid is important. Mine doesn't leak at all, so I've only added fluid when I've had to remove it for work on other things. The one thing that has come up are the grounding contacts. With an aluminum boat I originally grounded using the aluminum stringers, which I've since learned is a no no, a return grounding wire should be used (unlike autos which ground to the frame). The contacts were corroding. Galvanized electrical contacts on aluminum usually means corrosion forms due to dissimilar metal and corrosive environment (salt water). You can get away with stainless steel on aluminum for longer, unless salt water gets in between the two which can cause crevice corrosion in aluminum.

            Anyways, I'd definitely check all the electrical contacts especially if the boat has seen salt water. It doesn't take but a film of corrosion to kill the electrical connection.

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            • #7
              Thank you both for the help. With the cooler weather the past week, I haven't touched it yet. I will snoop around and figure out what system I have and how far good power supply goes, as well as checking for fluid levels. Thank you!

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