Alignment Engine, Shaft, Cutlass, Strut - SailNet Community

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Old 07-07-2008
Beneteau First 435E
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nparadis5476 is on a distinguished road
Alignment Engine, Shaft, Cutlass, Strut

And we are in the middle of a refit on our Beneteau 1988 First 435 and a problem has come up with the alignment between the cutlass bearing strut and the engine. Everything was fine when we started, the boat powered well without any excessive vibration…but then the guys at the boatyard took out the propeller shaft to change the cutlass bearing. The shaft was out for months, and they even moved the boat around the yard with the shaft out. Now things are out of alignment. Has anyone else had this experience? Alignment problems with the strut, which appears to be made out of composite? We are wondering if we shouldn’t simply put the boat back in the lift and see if things realign… thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 07-07-2008
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You say your boat's been out of the water a while on the hard. I can't speak for your Benneteau (sp?), but I know that some power boats, notably the Oceans yachts, flex around quite a bit when they're on the hard. When this happens, the shaft, couplers, struts and everything else get out of alignment.

At the Merrill-Stevens yard and at Glastech down in Miami, they'd put the Oceans back in the water and let them just sit there with the normal wave activity moving them around for at least a day before they even fired the engines up to move the boat around.

The same may be true of your boat. You may have to put her back in, let her sit and get the hull back into the correct shape before things realign themselves.

Barring that, before you turn the yard loose to align things, ask around, because aligning the drive system on a boat is more art than science. Some people are very good at it, and some people will make things worse. If I were going to have a shaft aligned in Miami, I'd try to get the boat to Glastech. They've got a guy who is a genuine wizard at it, using nothing but a piece of string and his own eyes.

Good luck.

Cap'n Gary
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Old 07-07-2008
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Quite simply, you can't align the shaft on the hard. You get it close, and launch, finishing the job in the water. Changing a cutlass bearing should only take a day maybe two, though the alignment may change with the new bearing. Boats are ment to live in the water, when on the hard they flex and twist, if the boat is moved with the shaft out things are going to change. Any competent yard should know this, and I would hope for a good explanation as to the reason 1: it took months to replace the prop shaft, and 2: why did you move my boat with the shaft removed? Also I would hope for a little assistance (gratis would be nice, but not likely)fixing the problems that moving the boat seems to have caused,imho
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Old 03-15-2009
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Just a follow-up....we did get the boat back together. We slightly enlarged the strut hole to allow the cutlass bearing to go in. Got everything into alignment and the epoxy'd the cutlass bearing.

Learn from our mistake. Don't take out the cutlass bearing and drive shaft and then move the boat around on the hard for months...also don't use the nighmare marine contractor we did - but that's a subject for another day...
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