Need advice adjusting shifting on 1985 MerCruiser 200.


Jan 1, 2000
I'm helping a young man in the area that has bought himself a project boat, a 1985 Celebrity with a MerCruiser 200 HP (305 cid) engine.

Today we changed the oil and pulled the outdrive and installed a new impeller and housing along with new gear lube.

As we were installing the drive back onto he boat, I noticed the piece on the end of the shift cable was sitting at a 45 degree angle towards the centerline of the boat so the pivot arm that rides in that piece doesn't quite mate up like it should. I could not rotate the piece and since I assumed everything was fine before, we went ahead and installed the drive.

I then had him shift the drive into forward, neutral and reverse. It did not want to go into reverse, it either just spun like it was in neutral or if we added some throttle, it would begin to click but not lock into gear.

I figured it would be no big deal, just a little adjustment.

3 1/2 hours later (and using my Clymers manual that covered 1986 to 1994), we weren't having any luck. If I adjust enough to start to get reverse, we lose forward gear.

As part of this, I removed the black end off of the intermediate cable (short cable that goes to the outdrive) to expose the cable core. According to my manual, there should 1 3/8 inches of cable from the end of the brass shift tube to the end of the cable and it states it there's not, it can cause shift problems. The measurement I came up with was 1 1/4 inches. When I put the black end onto the cable, I tried to cheat it out about an 1/8 of an inch trying to gain that missing 1/8 inch. That did not help.

Can anyone help me help this young man out with trying to figure out how to fix this shifting issue? I want him to be safe when he uses the boat as we all do.



Sep 28, 2002
try asking over on the Merc I/O forum at
there are a bunch of Merc experts there...
I'm fluent only in OMC Cobra so I can't help....