Sterndrive Engineering SE106 drive as alpha one replacement?

Discussion in 'Sterndrives' started by Jeff, May 8, 2009.

  1. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Is anyone here running a sterndrive engineering SE106 as a replacement for a mercruiser alpha one? ( http://www.sterndrive.cc/ ) The price at $1,195 for upper and lower is extremely affordable - wondering how it holds up and compares with a genuine alpha one?

    I just picked up a pair of 1990 alpha one generation one drives today that are somewhat corroded from salt water; the deal was good overall but the one is leaking gear lube from the weep hole on the front starboard side of the bullet. Hopefully it will just be a seal job, but if not, the sterndrive engineering prices look darn good, and they're covered by warranty... wondering if they're too good to be true.
     
  2. CDK
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    CDK retired engineer

    Does the SE 106 have a clutch and reverse gear?
     
  3. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Reverse gear - yes. It's the old-school engine interrupt method, a clone of the alpha one drive. Almost 20 years ago, I ran OEM mercruiser alpha drives that these are a clone of for 10 years with just one rebuild and a set of propshaft seals -- it's not the most elegant design for shifting, but the season is short here from June to October.
     
  4. CDK
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    CDK retired engineer

    This is clearly not an imitation Alpha One, but the exact same product under another brand label. I read on the SE website that they buy from the same sources and I do believe them. If you take an Alpha One apart you do not find any part that can be identified as original Mercruiser. That is because they do not manufacture anything but just make profit by buying cheap and selling expensively.
     
  5. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    I haven't seen the SE106 drive, although I'd love to get my hands on one for testing.

    Some comments:
    - Their warranty appears to be better than Mercruiser's (3 years for SE, versus 1 year for most Mercruisers)
    - They claim to use 4820 alloy steel for the gears and 8620 alloy steel / 17-4PH stainless for the shafts- seems reasonable, based on the data sheets for these alloys, and I have yet to find a straight answer from Mercury on what their own alloys are
    - They state that all their parts are directly interchangeable with those by "several companies that manufacture parts for this style drive" (ie, Mercury and the specialty aftermarket shops that cater to Merc), although they don't recommend mixing gear sets between different suppliers.

    I suspect CDK is right- it's not an Alpha clone, it's the same drive, but assembled by a different shop under a different name. I wouldn't expect any performance difference from a genuine Alpha, nor would I expect the reliability to be any different (although with the Alpha's reputation, that could go either way....)

    Now the kicker:

    - SE appears to offer only the drive leg and rebuild kits- I have been unable to find any transom/gimbal assemblies under their name. (That's not to say there aren't any, though.) So if you're doing a new build, have a corroded transom assembly, or are repowering from an old OMC or something, you would have to scrounge up the transom assembly, gimbal, etc. from another source.
     
  6. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Thanks Matt -- as you observe, I do not think they have any transom or gimbal assemblies (yet, I don't know...) Possibly on a new boat the branding would not sell vs. the known Mercruiser "genuine" brand so they've focused on the parts that can be replaced by the DIY boater and that tend to fail most commonly. I remember 10 years ago konrad was doing their version of the alpha, but now they seem to have moved to full drives of their own. From the outside (so far) it looks like sterndrive engeering has a great warranty and support system though, so I may go for it - will know this week.
     
  7. Paul aka watertaxi
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    Paul aka watertaxi Junior Member

    How do they create these non-OEM drives that exactly match the OEM drives without getting sued for copyright/trademark/patent design infringement?
     
  8. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    They said that they've considered transom assemblies a few times but it hasn't made sense for the tooling since you can get oem transom assemblies for as low as $1500 (Alpha 1 Gen II) which includes two trim cylinders.

    I just got my set of SE 106 drives. They look great so far, but I won't have a chance to get them on the boat to break them in and test for another couple weeks due to pressing work this week.
     

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  9. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Just a note - I bought two of the Alpha Generation 2 transom assemblies from the Doug Russel link I posted above. The price was excellent for someone who can't buy in great volume themselves, and generally I'm happy since the price was noticeably lower than I found elsewhere, but they were very poorly packed for shipping (no foam or bubble wrap, just paper bunched around them but free to shift in each box which also contained the interior transom plate) When they arrived via UPS there were a dozen scratches through the paint on each transom assembly, some near the mercury logo but mostly on the trim rams. So the first task was to paint them. Fine for your own boat if you have an hour to paint, but it wouldn't fly if putting on a customer's boat. So I'd recommend picking them up from that source if at all possible as the shipping is risky without proper packaging.
     

  10. powerabout
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    powerabout Senior Member

    patent expired years ago on 1 drives that when OMC and others could make the same transom bolt pattern cut out and gimbal hung drive etc.

    and some trivia...OMC invented thru prop exhaust and that patent had to run out before Mercury could use it, they also patented, but licenced, almost all forms of hydraulic cylinders for steering outboards.
    I assume that has run out by now....

    There's nothing inside a Merc outboard that say Merc so I dont think its a way of determining anything.
    The Pinion bearing on the 1 drive is machined after it is made but there are no altered numbers on it just like the bearing stack on the uni shaft.
    It would surprise me if the drive was made by an outside vendor.
    I dont know what alloy the gears are but they are near net forged so way stronger than a fully machine cut gears.
    ( or an easier way to make big volume gears stronger and cheaper ...maybe)
     
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