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Suzuki sticks In Reverse

gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain

I recently bought a 2008 Suzuki DF25 V-twin motor as an upgrade for my 16 ft tin skiff. This is a tiller steered, carbureted model and runs very well....uh.....sorta well, but that's a different issue.

Seller was up front about a shifting problem and was asking a very fair price, I looked at it and felt that it couldn't be too complex. I have quite a bit of experience with mechanical things and it's a simple linkage, so bought it and brought it home.

I guess that's what I get for thinking. When looking at it, he had a flushing muff on it and fired it up. Runs nice. Shifted into F, no problem. Back to N, no problem. Shift into R....fine, but it wouldn't shift back to N. Gearshift was jammed. With motor turned off and shifter cleared, it shifted back and forth, no problem. Only when it was running. (?????)

I brought it home and disconnected the shift linkage just above the gearcase and the gear shift handle and linkage all seemed free and smooth, so figgered the problem was in the gearcase mechanism.


I disassembled the gear case and found the shifting cam to be deeply gouged on the R face. Not sure what would cause that - I see no signs of it having been run without oil, but with the small diameter plunger that sits on there, I could see how it could cause a problem. Sooo....ordered a new one. $20 bucks. NBD.


He did give me a box of odds & ends with it, and much later got to digging thru it. I found the broken transfer bar and also an old shift lever that's badly gouged/scraped. No other signs of damage anywhere. Looks kinda like it was dragged along a roadway, but again, no other signs of damage. Look at the angles and depths of the scrapes. How on earth did they manage that ??

Over the past couple of days, I installed the new shift cam and reassembled the motor. Started it up, it runs fine....shifts fine....but sticks in reverse. No change. The old, broken transfer part between the shift handle and the central shift rod is in the box of goodies, so they replaced that. Nothing seems bent or sticking.

With it still on the bench and gearcase reassembled, I tried pulling on the shift rod with my fingers and shifted it in and out of F-N-R with moderate pressure - with my fingers, remember - so definitely not jamming or sticking.

I left the clutch and shift rods disconnected and went up to the shift handle. Smooth and clean, no binding or sticking anywhere - it's a new part - and white grease all over the moving components. No evidence of anything bent or broken.

Reassembled everything and fired it up and it still sticks in R.....and no fooling. I can push as hard as I dare on that shift handle and it won't move out of R. Turn the motor off and try turning the prop and it "pops" with light pressure like it's stuck in gear, then the shifter moves freely.

I'm completely baffled. I had that gearcase apart. The gears, dog clutch, plunger, spring, pinion, etc., all look very good and move freely. No evidence of wear or breakage. Looking online has been no help at all.


  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 10,534 AG
    My buddy had a little larger engine a 70 horse Evinrude he had a similar problem and it ended up being the motor was a little bit off kilter from the mounts and it caused a problem with the shift linkage. Just something else to look at. Although it may be a longshot. 

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • chaser48chaser48 San Mateo Fla.Posts: 271 Deckhand
    Several articles on Suzuki forum about shifting issues one was on the df25
  • Alex from GAAlex from GA Posts: 1,636 Captain
    Is the idle too high?
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    Thanks.  All I've found so far is talk about bent linkages and I've already found that to not be the case.  Idle is right on the money.  If I shift into reverse and it jams, I can shut the motor off and it stays jammed.  Reach down and turn the prop and there'll be a resistance, then it'll click or pop like an eggshell breaking after a few degrees of turn and it comes loose.  Then it'll shift into neutral again.....till the next time.

    I have the sick feeling I got took.  Getting it apart yesterday was an adventure.  Putting it back together today is going to be a nightmare.  There's a bunch of very small components in a very tight space.  How to get that e-clip back on the linkage way back in that mess ??  Etc. 

    That old shift lever has me going.....can't figure how it fell or was dragged or whatever to grind away that much hard plastic like that without damaging anything else - there are no other scrapes or scratches.  Noodling on it, seems to me the impact would have jammed it very hard into reverse and likely is what caused the gouge on the shift cam, which would also mean a huge impact on the clutch dog driving into the reverse gear.  They didn't show me or tell me that when looking at it and I'm surprised they included it in the box of stuff.

    Those components in the gear case are all hardened steel and doubt they'd bend - they'd snap - but "something" is changed in there.  Scheiss - I just re-assembled that and put new lube in it.  Looks like I'll hafta start over.

    Then I have the lack of high speed power to worry about.  Not a word was said about that and no way to know until you actually run it on the water.  I've already cleaned the carb jets in Berryman's, but haven't had a chance to test run it on the water yet.
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    Hokay....noodling on this some more....  I think I've narrowed it down to where the problem "has" to be.  I've had the entire top section where the shifter handle lives apart and all is like new.  Previous owner replaced the scraped shift handle and broken transfer bar.  It all moves smoothly and easily.  Shift rods are not binding and don't appear bent.  So, I'll move to the gear case.

    The shifting cam (6) is pinned to the shaft with pin (9) and has 3 steps.  The lowest is F; middle is N and upper is R.  I did read a post online where a problem similar to mine was caused by pin 9 coming part way out and being bent and hanging things up.  Not the case here - pin is straight and is a finger-push fit thru both components.

    When you shift gears, the cam pushes on the plunger (31/28) which pushes the spring (29) loaded splined clutch dog (26) back and forth on the splined shaft (25) to engage either F (19) or R (20).  Lots of pieces in there but it's really a simple, straightforward setup.

    So.  All the shift handle does is pull the shifting cam 6 up or down about 1½" in a machined groove/track in the gear housing.

    This really has me going.  There is nothing for it to hang up on ! ! !  It's all smooth and clean.  The thing sticks in reverse gear - cam all the way down - can't move the shift handle.  Turn the prop a little bit and it "pops" and comes free.  Jaysus Murphy - prop shaft doesn't touch anything.  The only thing touching that cam is the plunger 31 and that's all smooth, polished, hardened steel.

    Cam groove cracked from the impact from dropping motor and letting the cam tilt sideways ??  Doesn't seem likely.....forces are all straight line.  I dunno.  Pull it back apart, I guess, and beat my head against it for a while.  Hmmm.....that pin - 9 - is a fairly sloppy fit in its' bore....??  Hold it up and it falls right out.  "Could" hang up on something, I guess.  Ummm.....then why doesn't it fall all the way out and no shifting at all ??   Aaaarrgh.

  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,450 Captain
     Now that you’ve done what you can with the motor… have you looked closely at the shifter end to see whether it’s worn enough that you’re not getting sufficient travel down the line when you’re trying to shift out of reverse?
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    edited September 4 #8
     Now that you’ve done what you can with the motor… have you looked closely at the shifter end to see whether it’s worn enough that you’re not getting sufficient travel down the line when you’re trying to shift out of reverse?
    Thanks, Bob.  As I said above - "I think I've narrowed it down to where the problem "has" to be.  I've had the entire top section where the shifter handle lives apart and all is like new."  Actually, the shifter handle and the transfer bar to the push rod Are new.  It indexes cleanly and solidly into each gear detent and moves freely.

    The thought of putting that top end back together today is puckering me a bit.  No room to work and impossible to see dropped pieces - and most are non-magnetic.  I stuff paper towels into such areas to catch parts but it's not always effective.  HoooBoy ! ! !
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    edited September 5 #9
    It took over 3 tense, sweaty hours to put that top end shift mechanism back together and found where previous owner had made a couple mistakes when he assembled it.  It was flexing and warping the transfer bar instead of a straight pull and some other stuff, too.  Much cleaner and more solid now and had high hopes.  Not to be.  Better, but still hangs in reverse.

    I did some very careful poking and prodding at the thing and it's kinda odd.  Put it in F with motor running, then shut it down.  Prop has some free play back and forth and will shift to N with a smooth click.

    Fire it back up and shift to R and shut it off.  Prop has no free play and feels "tight."  It won't shift to N.  Move the prop just a bit thru the resistance and it "clicks" and then you have free play back and forth, similar to F and it shifts cleanly to N.

    So, bit the bullet and pulled the lower unit this aft - just 4 bolts with blue loctite - and pulled the drive gears out of it.  Hmmm.....??  Looked all the way down in there and the new shift cam has a divot on it almost identical as on the old one but without the streak leading to it.

    Thinking on it as I walked the pooch, thought, "maybeee....the impact chipped the end of the thrust plunger and it's gouging the cam.  Thought all that would be hardened pieces but apparently not....just mild steel.

    Pulled it out of there and nope, not chipped but does have a fair point on it.  Reaching down in there with an awl, I could feel it hanging up in the divot as I moved the cam.  Hmmm....??  I took and did some careful polishing on fine, then very fine sandpaper to give a bit more of a radius on the tip, figuring it would slide more easily.  We'll see.

    That doesn't answer the resistance before the popping loose in R.  Maybe heavy pressure from the spring ??  Dunno.  Before I re-assemble it, I'm going to do a very careful comparison with the diagrams from Brown's Marina - they're better than what's in the Suzuki manual - make sure it's not missing a thrust washer or something.  Then we'll give 'er a go again and see what the hey.  Wish me luck ! ! !
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    I'd seriously hoped someone would've had some thoughts on this.

    I did some polishing on the end of the push rod to give a larger radius and polished the divot on the shift cam, then took the gear page in the service manual out to the shop and checked every piece carefully to make sure all were there and in the correct positions and orientations. All looks good and all bearings, etc. were solid and tight, so re-assembled it and put the lower unit back on the motor.

    When I started it, it shifted much more smoothly with the upper end sorted out, but was still sticky coming out of reverse. Previously, I couldn't move it. Now, it takes some force but can be shifted back to neutral......and sometimes all the way thru to forward. I can't find anything else wrong, so going to try it as is and see if it smooths out more.

    May try it in the water tomorrow, but more likely Tues or Wed.
  • Alex from GAAlex from GA Posts: 1,636 Captain
    If you're running on muffs/ears the idle is much higher than in the water if it's in gear.  IMO that's part of your problem.
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    Possible, I guess, but to my ear it sounds like around 5-600 rpm.  It sits there and putters real good.  The tach is working somewhat better on this motor and seems to agree with me.....hard to be sure with that thing.  Let me give it a good run in the river and we'll know more.
  • chaser48chaser48 San Mateo Fla.Posts: 271 Deckhand
    Make sure if it was dropped that the prop shaft is not bent, take prop off and rotate shaft while measuring should be same all the way thru
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    chaser48 said:
    Make sure if it was dropped that the prop shaft is not bent, take prop off and rotate shaft while measuring should be same all the way thru

    Thanks.  I had it out yesterday and it was smooth and solid.  I love the sound of the thing.  Gearshift needs adjusting - wouldn't go into R at all, (tho' it worked fine on the muff) but the carb jets seem to be opening up with the treatment.  I got a solid 3 mph more - 1 when I launched and 2 more as I traveled, so I think the fuel treatment is working.

    Gotta do some fussing with the prop.  Can't trust that induction tach, but seems like WOT is giving far too low rpms.  Low rpms seemed about right, but at 26+ mph it only showed 2800 rpm.  That's about what is sounded and felt like, too.

    Thinking on the "dropped" aspect.  Still has me baffled.  Those scrapes on the old gearshift handle are deep and quite a bit of material was carved off.  The scratches are deep, like it'd been dragged a long way on very coarse concrete.  Look at the picture and you'll see they aren't in the same plane.  Can't picture what happened there that didn't damage anything else.
  • billybob11billybob11 Posts: 865 Officer
    Sounds like it is getting better 
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 2,311 Captain
    Yah, speed's getting better, but I'm still puzzled by the locking into reverse.  Everything in there looks brand new.

    Big thing that really has me going is the prop.  Shift the thing into F and it locks solid.  Little bit of free play back and forth, but you can turn the motor over with it and it shifts easily into N.

    Shift it into R and you can turn the prop against a resistance, like it's dragging on something.  After a partial turn, it'll "click" and you get the back and forth free play as in F and it'll shift out of R just fine.  Turn some more and get resistance again - either direction - then it locks into gear and cant' be shifted till you get to free play again.

    The part that's getting to me is this:  F and R gears turn freely on bearings on propeller shaft and are both in constant mesh with the pinion gear at bottom of driveshaft.  Clutch dog is splined onto propeller shaft and the dogs lock solidly into either F or R and turn freely in N.

    It's all locked solidly together - hardened steel to hardened steel.....so how can I be turning the propeller in R when it locks solid in F ??  Only thing I can think of is a spun hub in the propeller, BUT.....

    It feels like it locks solid in F, but that's only by hand.  On the river, the boat runs 26+ mph, so the hub can't be slipping too much....??  I also can't picture a hub slipping in R but not in F.....seems to me that if it's bad, it'll be bad both ways....??
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