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  #1  
Old 2 Weeks Ago
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Stuffing Box Mystery

Greetings,

I just opened my stuffing box to find all of the packing gone. Measured the dimensions and found that I need 1/4" packing to fit snugly between the shaft and the interior dimension of the stuffing box.

The problem is that all of the resources I've read indicate that I need to pack between 2-4 pieces of packing, but my stuffing box is only 1/2" deep, so 2 pieces won't allow the threads to be exposed for re-assembly.

Am I at risk with only one piece? I measured well so there's virtually no gap in the seam, and used the Teflon packing.

Any insight will be most appreciated. I'm launching in a week and don't want to have to re-do this in the water! Thank you!
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

Are you sure you're not measuring the wrong piece? The packing goes in the big nut.

Post a picture if you can.
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

The idea with packing is to stick it in and then squinch it down with the packing nut: you put in a whole bunch and squeeze it to fit. That's why its called a packing nut. Perhaps use three 1/4" strands of packing and squeeze them into the 1/2" space. At the outset don't clamp the nut down too tightly- just enough to make sure it doesn't leak too much. (Some people call for one drip every hour, for example.) Check it after a while and tighten (or loosen) as needed. The leakage (drip) provides lubrication for the shaft and keeps it from getting too hot (and damaging the packing). Overall it is a somewhat tricky balancing act that you have to work out on your own, based on your specific situation and what works. We repacked our rudderhead after finding a surprise leak there when all the packing had worn away. Fairly simple, but effective.
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

All the packing is gone? I doubt that. Look closer.
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

There are a lot of tricks tto doing the job correctly. The best tutorial I've found is on Mainsail's "Compass Marine, How To.." series. I've put in the home page so that you can see how many tutorials there are there. Scroll down to the "traditional packing gland" for the one you are asking about here. Thanks Mainsail!!

Compass Marine How To Articles Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

Some "stuffing" boxes don't have packing but use shaft seals instead - not easy to distinguish from each other..
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

Packing does not just disappear and if it did your rubber hose would be physically melted because the packing would have to physically melt to disappear... I suspect your packing is in there and you need to remove it to put more in. A picture of your packing box would help so we can then show you where the packing is. I suspect what you are looking at, in the large female nut, is your packing and it is hard and dry and needs to be extracted..
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Thank you all for your prompt, thoughtful replies. Armed with this information, I'm eager to 'dig in' this weekend!
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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

A cork screw (that you don't wish to keep) is a great packing removal tool.

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Re: Stuffing Box Mystery

I just did my first stuffing box re-stuff. Big thanks to MaineSail for his excellent instructions.

It probably took me an hour and a half to get the old packing out. My primary extraction tool was a finishing nail clamped into some needle nose vice grips. I bent the last 1/8" of the nail so it would dig in. Also used a drywall screw to drill into the packing and yank out. And, I used a pair of needle-nose pliers.

No single tool seemed to be the magic bullet, but eventually after a lot of scratching and digging the packing rings came out in whole pieces.
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