How to Adjust a Shift Cable on an OMC Cobra

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The OMC Cobra drive has been known to eat its gear sets because of improperly aligned shift cables. Once your gear set is destroyed, your boat will be immobile until you can replace the entire gear set. OMC first introduced the Cobra drive in 1985. OMC went bankrupt in 2000 and had its outboard business and Evinrude and Johnson brand names bought out by Bombardier. Aligning the shift cable will require a certain amount of expertise in mechanics and should not be undertaken by novices.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet set

  • Screwdrivers

  • OMC Triple-Guard grease

Aligning an Old Cable

Route your shift cable between the exhaust pipe and the flywheel housing. Route the cable above the starter and behind the steering assembly.

Clean any paint off the inside anchor pocket. Check your cable trunnion for out-of-round condition.

Grease the transom bracket shift cable trunnion with OMC Triple-Guard grease. Make sure the trunnion can freely pivot in the anchor pocket.

Attach the end of your transom bracket shift cable to the lower pin of your engine shift lever. Secure this with a flat washer and a cotter pin.

Install the transom bracket shift cable trunnion into the anchor pocket and secure it with a cotter pin.

Aligning a New Cable

Position the swivel retainer at the end of the threads. Move the shift cable guide so that it is flush with the pivot housing gasket surface.

Slide the casing guide at the engine end of the cable to set a 7 5/8-inch dimension measured from the center of the shift pin hole to the edge of the cable crimp.

Check the guide tab to make sure it is still flush with the pivot housing surface. Screw on the retainer until it contacts the shift cable guide. Do not tighten the retainer screw at this time.

Push the shift cable guide all the way forward into the pivot housing. Hold the retainer with a wrench as you tighten the screw to 10 to 12 pound-feet torque.


  • Engine repair on marine craft should not be undertaken by novice mechanics. Improper mechanical work can result in engine damage.
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