stuffing box blues - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 01-02-2009
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stuffing box blues

When I re-packed the stuffing box on my former boat I did it while I was in the water. Everything was easily accesible and the bilgepump could handle the water that came in without a problem. On my boat right now it's a different story: Bad access and only ~5° of wiggle room. The typical tool to move the packing nut will not work. Manufacturer recomends pair of big plyers...
All this will take time and my bilgepump is now coming on too often.The usual drop has changed into a small stream of water coming thru and I can't tighten more. And tes the stuffing box is the sole source of the water in the bilge.
Has someone tried to somehow kind of seal from the outside between the cutless bearing and the prop (I have a diver in my marina who cleans bottoms and replaces zincs ...) I try to avoid a costly haulout (bottom still okay for most of the year).
I was thinking putting the engine in gear (engine off of course) and have the diver putting some material (rubber/piece of innertube,rubberglove) around the prop shaft to keep most of the water out while I would spend an hour or so repacking. Is this a stupid idea?
Any recommendations in regard dealing with stuffing nuts in very tight places are also appreciated.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-02-2009
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Volkhard...no guarantees but I have heard of people packing plumbers putty around the shaft/bearing point before repacking in the water.
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  #3  
Old 01-02-2009
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I have heard a wax ring for a toilet works as well.
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Old 01-03-2009
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Don't know how tight an area you mean, but The Admiral found a Channel Lock adjustable open-end wrench that opens-up just far enough to fit the packing gland on our Pearson 30. (I have to go from memory, here, because they're on the boat, which is an hour away in the freezing cold.) It was labeled on the card as something like 1-1/2" Plus, or something. IIRC, our packing gland needed 1-5/8, and the "Plus" was that extra 1/8". These wrenches are both thinner and much shorter than any other adjustable open-end wrench with that capacity. I think this is the one: 8WCB - 8" Extra Wide Capacity Code Blue® Adjustable Wrench @ Channellock

I bought a pair of them. They were a God-send.

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Old 01-03-2009
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A picture of the box might help.

Mine is tough to get to also. but the nut is a big honking piece of bronze with tabs on it. wacking the tabs with a screw driver/hammer works to spin it till it loosens, then use the big slip joint pliers to unscrew
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Old 01-03-2009
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Bicycle Inner Tube

Volkhard,

The molding wax (toilet washer) or molding clay on the underside of the boat should work. Caveat: I have never tried it myself.

Alternatively you can use a bicycle inner tube to avoid a diver or pulling the boat. However, you said you have limited (easy) access, so this idea may be difficult. Get a section of tube about 18 inches long and carefully slit it length-wise to open (Scissors) it up into a flat piece of rubber 18 inches. Remove the packing and locking nut and slide the away from the stuffing box tube. Water will be start flowing in. Grab a handful if the tube in your hand and stretch and wrap the other end around the the Stuffing box anchor tube while stretching it. Keep wrapping/stretching the tube up the prop shaft (Baseball bat wrap), sealing off the opening and the water ingress. When you have about 4 inches of the rubber left, stretch it and tie it tight with the beginning free end with a square knot.

The rubber wrap should stop the water ingress either completely or just a few drops a minute. Now you can replace the packing in the stuffing nut at a more relaxed rate.

Once the packing is replaced, remove the rubber tube and quickly slide the lock and packing nuts back and seal the shaft. Adjust the nuts to just stop the drips. After you motor around for twenty minutes or so, readjust to the drip rate of your liking.

If your are concerned that the rubber tube method will take to long or you don't have enough room to do, try it first with the current stuffing box before you disassemble it.

Good Luck.

--------------------------------------------------
Another thing to help with difficult Stuffing Box Nuts: Pretreat the lock nut and packing nut threads with PB Blaster to help loosen them. This stuff works great. You need to be careful applying though as it is very effective and aggressive. What I do is spray a a little in a cup and then use a plastic disposable pipette and directly apply the sprayed liquid to the threads. This avoids overspray, waste, and unnecessary clean-up

DrB

Last edited by DrB; 01-03-2009 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 01-03-2009
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I have seen the prop end packed with plastersene (spelling) the stuff little kids use like modeling clay.
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Stuffing Box solution

Sometimes it's just best to get rid of the stuffing box. Our CAL 34's was also virtually inaccesable...the engine was put in 'backward, then a vee-drive, leaving the stuffing box under the engine.
We replaced the stuffing box with a PSS shaftseal about 15 years ago...no leaks, no maintenance and no worries.
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Old 01-03-2009
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I second johnrock. I replaced my stuffing box with a PSS seal on both our Sabres. No leak and reduced cutlass bearing wear. That's what you asked about, but thought I'd add my $0.02 anyway.

Instead of Channel locks, try an adjustable plumber's drain wrench for the nut. I also keep a pipe wrench with smooth jaws on the boat for large nuts. It's hard to squeeze the channelocks hard enough while providing enough torque to break the nut. The drain wrench is made for just this situation, but in a different setting!
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Old 01-03-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Volkhard View Post
Any recommendations in regard dealing with stuffing nuts in very tight places are also appreciated.

Thanks for your help.
Replace it with a PSS Shaft Seal. I have a v-drive on my boat and as such the packing box is under the engine making it virtually impossible to re-pack, in or out of the water..

If you do get it re-packed use GFO as it will last longer. You might need to have some custom wrenches made at a machine shop..

This is my access to my stuffing box with the transmission removed, hence the PSS! It's a LOT worse with the tranny in place..
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