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  #1  
Old 09-13-2013
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Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Last weekend while we were out sailing, our jib sheet got wrapped around the prop and shaft and despite my best efforts while swimming under the boat, I couldn't free the sheet. We got towed back to the marina. I considered swimming under the boat again, but with all the talk of stray currents (see the BoatUS article from early this season), and since I'm in an area that was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Sandy, I decided it wasn't the best idea. I talked to the marina, and they wouldn't send their diver down to clear it for the same reason, so I asked them do a short haul and clear the sheet. The marina hauled us this morning to clear it and just called and said that they saw wear marks near the cutlas bearing. They asked if they should replace the cutlas bearing. They sent the attached pictures. To me, it looks like the rope may have cleaned away some of the dirt/debris/oxidation near the cutlas bearing, but it doesn't look like anything has been damaged. I'm inclined to leave it alone at least until the end of the season. I doubt we'll be out more than 4-5 more times this season, and I hope not to be motoring more than about an hour and a half total (30-45 minutes each way) when we're out.

So, what say you? Is this just the prop shaft getting polished, or is this something to worry about?



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Old 09-13-2013
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Hey,

IMHO you have nothing to worry about. The cutless is INSIDE the strut, so any marks on the shaft that you can see have no bearing (get it, bearing?) on the cutless. Usually, if you get a line wrapped around the shaft and don't know about it, and the line is attached to the boat, the strut gets damaged. But the yard didn't mention anything like that, and you found the problem pretty quickly, so the strut is probably OK too.

How come you have so much growth on the prop and strut? Didn't you just have a lot of work done on your boat? Was it in the water the entire time? I hope the bottom got cleaned before the put the boat back in.

Barry
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Old 09-13-2013
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Thanks Barry, I had the same thought about the bearing. I was surprised by the marina's question. I'm not seeing anything that suggests that the cutlas bearing was damaged, but I wanted to get other feedback.

As to the growth, the boat sat in the water for two years before we got her, and the prop and strut were both much worse than they are now. The broker's marina knocked off most of the big stuff and scraped the prop back in March. She was then dropped back in the water. She was in the water again from March to June before she was hauled. I scraped the prop again when she came out, but didn't go crazy trying to polish it or anything. I hadn't worried too much about the strut. To the best of my recollection, the strut wasn't touched by either marina (nor was the prop). She's been back in the water in the since late July or early August, and spent much of that time in the Chesapeake. From what I read here, the Chesapeake was having trouble with growth. I don't know how much of what you're seeing is from the Chesse, and how much is from my new home, but the new marina is on a river that I'm told is mostly fresh water.
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Old 09-13-2013
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Consider yourself lucky. I got a big wad of kelp wrapped around the prop/shaft/strut two or three weeks ago and wound up breaking the strut.

It doesn't look like there's much damage in your pic. If there isn't any play between the cutlass bearing and the shaft you don't need a new bearing. Just hold the strut and try moving the shaft back and forth and up and down. If you can't feel any play, you're golden. If there is any play at all, it's time for a new bearing.
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Old 10-14-2013
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Jim...
You will get noticeable performance gains if you clean up that bottom. I mean really. The hull, skeg, rudder, prop... everything, no growth, pressure washed, scraped and painted. Maybe that's in your plans. I'm an X marine mechanic and can say for certain, that prop is causing you lost power.

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Old 10-15-2013
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
.........I talked to the marina, and they wouldn't send their diver down to clear it for the same reason, so I asked them do a short haul and clear the sheet........

The marina hauled us this morning to clear it and just called and said that they saw wear marks near the cutlas bearing. They asked if they should replace the cutlas bearing. ......
Jim, what did you decide to do? I'm just seeing your post from 4 weeks ago. Honestly, your marina is putting yellow flags up for me. As mentioned in a previous thread, I find it hard to believe that no diver would go in the water to clear your prop. I understand why you wouldn't want to, but pro divers deal with this every day. It just felt like the marina was trying to get you in their slings for the fee.

Now that I see shaft pics that are supposed to display a worn cutlass bearing outside the strut, I'm more concerned about them. Did they even mention whether they attempted to move the shaft in the bearing? A little movement is acceptable, it should not clunk back and forth. It certainly can't cause wear and inch or two from the bearing itself, if that's what I'm supposed to be looking at.

I may be paranoid, or even more likely cynical from years of questionable yard practices.
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Old 10-15-2013
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Cutlass bearing is long (6" ish) bushing. No moving parts. Brass sleeve with fluted rubber insert. Rubber is in contact with shaft. Flutes let water in to work as lubricant. Yard should have checked for excessive play (movement of shaft in bearing). I would be more concerned with bent shaft or prop. There is a small device you can add to the shaft that will cut weeds and lines that might get wrapped around the shaft. Spurs: Line & Net Cutter Systems
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Minne, I had them haul her. While I'd rather not have spent the money unnecessarily, I also didn't want to fight about it. My concern was that a diver would show up and the marina would refuse to let them dive. Then I'd have to pay the diver, plus I'd have to pay a PO'd marina to haul her. So, in the end I bit the bullet and had her hauled. That's what got me to the point of them seeing the "worn cutlass bearing". They didn't say that the bearing had any play in it, all they said was that there was signs of wear. To me, the picture looked more like signs of a line having wrapped around the shaft. I could understand if the sheet had wrapped around enough to cause significan pressure on the shaft and actually "pull" the shaft out some, but given the new motor mounts and other parts, I don't think that's likely. In addition, the new arrangement, with the "drive saver" and slightly longer transmission may have exposed those marks. I would expect there to be SOME wear in that area just as a natural consequence of "stuff" getting in between the bearing and the shaft.

So, in the end I told them to just drop the boat back in the water. I decided I'd take my chances with it the way it was. We went out about a week ago, after the boat was back in the water, and everything went well. If I'm lucky, I'll have maybe another 2-3 trips before we put her away for the winter, at which point I'll inspect things again and see what's going on.


Dave_H, thanks for the feedback. When we bought her, the broker scraped the bottom and prop and put new paint on, but I didn't see it before it went into the water. I'm planning on removing the prop and cleaning/polishing it over the winter. I'll scrape down the skeg, too. Thanks!
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
...They didn't say that the bearing had any play in it, all they said was that there was signs of wear. ...
Did you grab the shaft and check for play yourself? It ain't rocket science. If the bearing is bad you can feel the shaft moving relative to the bearing, while if the bearing is good you'll feel no movement.
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Re: Is this a problem? Prop shaft/Cutlas Bearing

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
Minne, I had them haul her. While I'd rather not have spent the money unnecessarily, I also didn't want to fight about it. My concern was that a diver would show up and the marina would refuse to let them dive. Then I'd have to pay the diver, plus I'd have to pay a PO'd marina to haul her.
All too common that boaters have to make decisions so that the business doesn't get upset. It's like the business/customer relationship is turned around. And it is. Marinas often self impose a monopoly on their own customers. That said, policies are usually pretty straight forward, either in the lease or a policy itself.

At our marina, we are required to sign it annually. We can technically bring whomever we want, but they must be properly insured and, if applicable, licensed. The marina has to approve them and gets 15% of the cost for their overhead in providing the dock, power, etc. I'm actually quite fine with the upcharge, its the intimidation that I object to. If I want to bring in a contractor to replace someone they have on staff, it does cause, as you say, a fight.

Quote:
They didn't say that the bearing had any play in it, all they said was that there was signs of wear. .....
If your shaft is out of alignment, it could wear. However, the bearing is wisely designed to wear before the shaft. Makes sense, right? If your shaft was extended after the work you had done, it may have exposed a previous problem, but as long as its properly aligned now, you did the right thing. There is little that a few more hours is going to do to it.

Still, I would have a hard time trusting that yard, unless they can explain specifically how they determined bearing wear.
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