Houseboat Control Cables - How to Lubricate, or Save a Throttle Shift Cable

by Old Houseboater
(Gulf Shores, Al.)

A simple houseboat throttle and shift cable oiler.

A simple houseboat throttle and shift cable oiler.

When it comes to houseboat control cables, tips on how to lubricate and save a throttle or shift cable can save you big money, and possibly all the work involved in replacing or rerouting a long length cable.


Considering the size of some houseboats, the time and effort required to change or replace a gas throttle or a shift transmission cable can be a nightmare situation.

Once in a while a request comes up for information on how to lubricate control cables. Here is a simple control cable oiler that you can easily make from common items:

Directions for a Throttle and Shift Cable Oiler


You need a foot and a half of 3/8 ID reinforced plastic hose from Lowes, a tire valve, three hose clamps, a tire pump or small 12 volt air compressor with a gauge, and some MMO (Marvel Mystery Oil).

Shave the tire valve down and clamp it in one end of the hose.

1. Remove the fittings from one end of the cable.

2. Put 3 inches of Marvel Mystery Oil in the hose for every 20 feet of cable length.

3. Double clamp oil filled hose over cable.

4. Apply and maintain 50 PSI of air to the tire chuck. DO NOT EXCEED 50 PSI.

5. It will take 10 to 30 minutes for oil to appear at the other end, then your done. Have rags to catch the oil if your in a sensitive area.

I suggest safety glasses just in case somethings blows apart, but I have never had a problem. My save rate on cables is about 75%. I did all my cables every 2 years as PM (preventative maintenance) but I was not on salt water.

Thanks, Old Houseboater





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Reply - Answer
Well Old Houseboater, you have just posted an excellent valuable tip and picture (worth a 1000 words) on how to save some major money, and a sizable amount of time in replacing old and worn out throttle and shift cables.

Personally I will be gathering together all the items needed for this, and will most definitely be incorporating this into my maintenance schedule. I already have a cable that is getting stiff and may potentially need to be changed, so your tip would be a simple easy to do solution.

If any other boaters have some handy useful preventative or scheduled houseboat maintenance tips, be sure to share them with your fellow houseboating community. Remember, a picture may be worth a thousand words. I know Old Houseboaters picture above, is worth two thousand words to me :)



Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat control cable experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.


Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats


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Comments for Houseboat Control Cables - How to Lubricate, or Save a Throttle Shift Cable

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THANK YOU
by: Craig

Our first outing to the lake and could not get the shifter to work, totally frozen...first forced Mouse Milk penetrant through than Marvel Mystery Oil and now all is good.
Great tip

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Great tip!
by: Anonymous

I didn't see any reference so I assume you did this without removing the cable from the boat? I understand it would need to be removed from the throttle contol...

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Lubricating Houseboat Cables
by: Anonymous

Old Houseboater,

I followed your directions this past weekend on my Gibson 44 Classic…worked like a charm ! Thanks so much.

My shifters are still hanging up somewhat, so I'm thinking that I need to adjust the cables as well. Anyone out there have some advice on that process ?

Thanks again.

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Lubricating Houseboat Cable - worked for me!
by: Capt. Darth

Great post, the forced air made this process go way faster then the old gravity method. I would not let anyone else drive the boat because the throttle was so stiff that I needed all my might. Now it is as smooth as butter. I used 3 in 1 as my oil.

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