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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 03-18-2008
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Stuffing box maintenance

I bought a "this old boat" last year -- 1975 Capitol Yachts Newport 28 -- that the PO knew very little about. He'd only had her a year or two himself, and didn't look to be the mechanical type. Thankfully she's in pretty good shape -- I only had to rewire the entire electrical system last year, and I'll be pulling the head off the A4 engine this spring, but that's petty stuff.

The stuffing box is a big mystery to me. I know there's some packing in there where the shaft goes through the hull, and there's no water coming IN at the moment, which I'm sure is a good thing. But what I don't know is what maintenance frequency should be followed with it.

Is it an every-season thing? Every few years? Wait till it starts leaking and hope you don't sink before you get her out of the water?

All advice welcome. Thanks!
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Old 03-18-2008
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It depends on what kind of stuffing box you have. Is is a dripless stuffing box, like a PSS? Is it a standard stuffing box with a "low-drip" gore-tex packing? Is it a standard stuffing box with the regular flax packing?

Halekai has a really good article on stuffing box maintenance/replacement on his website. He also has one on the PSS Shaft Seal dripless stuffing box.

A normal stuffing box, with either type of packing—gore-tex or flax—shouldn't drip when the shaft isn't moving, but should drip a bit when the shaft is turning.

I'd check it at least twice a season. If you don't, the chances of badly scoring the prop shaft are pretty high... the chances of sinking the boat aren't that high, but definitely go up if you neglect this.
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Old 03-22-2008
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I got a chance to get a picture of my stuffing box, and it don't look too good:



Maybe I'd better put that a little higher on the triage list...
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Old 03-22-2008
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Yeah and don't..

Yeah I'd bump that up a little and what ever you do don't let the EPA see that bilge !!!!!
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Old 03-22-2008
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Give it a good scrub with a stainless wire brush; make sure that the threads that engage the nut/locknut are clean (and not corroded away). I think the green "patina" is making it look worse than it is. The piece of hose between the log and the packing gland looks good; so do the hose clamps. I would be more concerned with the thru-hull fitting to the left in that picture. All plastic gate valves as thru-hull fittings should be removed and replaced with bronze ball valves or seacocks.
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Old 03-22-2008
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Well, at least it drips like it's supposed to. Gotta stay positive.

I don't know why the engine compartment is so filthy. The engine itself is pretty clean, so where all that grease came from is a mystery. What would be a good way to clean that out in an environmentally-conscious manner?
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Old 03-22-2008
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Lots of paper towels and maybe some kitty litter and a shop vac.
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Old 03-23-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaschrumpf View Post
Well, at least it drips like it's supposed to. Gotta stay positive.

I don't know why the engine compartment is so filthy. The engine itself is pretty clean, so where all that grease came from is a mystery. What would be a good way to clean that out in an environmentally-conscious manner?
I would turn the bilge pump off; and either scrub with a cleaning solution like "purple power" or similar, or use a pressure washer. Then when you have rinsed the oil down into the main bilge you can suck it out with either a shop-vac or a suction pump into a 5 gallon bucket. Take the oil/water/cleaner mixture to your county hazmat disposal so they can dispose of it. The oil is likely from a slow leak or from when oil changes were done and oil was spilled and not cleaned up. Use some bilge pads/buoys that absorb oil to keep the bilges from getting dirty in the future and wipe up as much oil as you can get to if it spills when you change the filter. Some oil absorbent pads and/or a catch pan beneath the filter will minimize the spill volume into the bilge.
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