A sticky gearchange on his Vire 7 was bad enough, but when the whole thing locked up in ahead, William Wood was naturally upset. After all, it was the start of a seven day cruise. On the other hand, as our philisophical friend decided at the time, things might have been worse; it could have stuck in astern. He tried jiggling, then tapping and even banging the gear lever but still nothing happened. It remained stuck for the rest of the week.
Back home, the gearbox was removed and taken apart. Everything looked OK apart from the fact that the cone clutch, which runs on helical splines, needed a firm blow to separate it. At this point, and a little late in the day perhaps, Mr Wood consulted the handbook. Two passages seemed relevant. The first advised owners to "change the gear oil every 50 hours" the second to "compensate the gear oil level for engine inclination". Mr Wood hadn't changed the oil for six years. Why? Well, partly because this was the first time he'd ever heard about it and partly because it seemed unnecessary: since nobody changes the oil in the gearbox of their cars any more, why should boat engines be any different? On the other hand, he'd regularly checked the dip stick, but never thought about the inclination of the engine which was indeed mounted at an angle.
That's why Mr Wood thinks the cone clutch started to bind on the helical splines. Any lubrication at this point would be working enormously hard so, after a time, what little oil there was would break down. Anyhow, with the gearbox reassembled and refilled everything's worked perfectly, so the story has a happy ending.
But if other Vire owners have had similar problems Mr Wood would like to know...