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Old 08-12-2010
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Originally Posted by DrB View Post
SD and/or others,

Curious to as to what everyone believes is "heats up noticeably" when referring to a SB.
I think I'm well-positioned to take this one

When I first installed Gore GTU (or GFO, don't recall which) season before last, I was interested in getting the drip rate to as close to the once-every-20-seconds recommendation as humanly possible. It was at 1/10-secs. To make a long story short: Couldn't do it. It was either 1/10-secs. or so, or (nearly) none at all, and I'm talkin' just a slight >< change in packing gland nut tightness. In my experiments I once had a synapse lapse and, after having tightened the nut just one RCH, forgot to subsequently check the drip rate until after we'd been under way on the iron genny for quite some time. Remembered. Went down and checked. No drip at all! Felt the stuffing box. Not just warm, but HOT! Luckily there was a public seawall marina right there, so we quickly pulled her over, tied up and I addressed the situation.

When the packing gland was dripping again, it dripped gray.

Another time, when the drip rate was really slow, after one of these adjustments, like one every minute, the stuffing box was noticeably warm to the touch, but not hot.

When it's dripping at about one every 10 sec. or so, it's not even noticeably warm to the touch.

Fast-forward to this spring, when the stuffing box coupling hose was replaced by our yard. He made it slightly longer than the old one, so the packing material would be on a different part of the shaft, but he said it hadn't been necessary as the shaft was un-scored, and, he said, the packing material looked essentially brand new, so he re-used it.

That Gore stuff is remarkable.

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Old 08-12-2010
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From Maine Sail's excellent article on re-packing a stuffing box:

Aim for 15-20 degrees warmer than the ocean or lake temp but a little higher, with GFO, will not "kill the deal". Some boxes will even drip when the shaft is not spinning and this can be entirely normal depending on the condition of your shaft. Do not get in the habit of tightening the stuffing box when "leaving the boat"! The flax packings are not elastic and do have a memory, in a sense, and they will not necessarily return to their uncompressed state. Doing this will severely shorten the life of your packing and it will start leaking continuously in short order. I don't like "rules of thumb" for drip rates and really hesitated to even put one on here. My reason for this is that every shaft has differing levels of wear and thus the drip rates are usually different in every installation. The best rule of thumb I've found over the years is the least amount of drips when the shaft is spinning but before the box develops any heat. Again, it's drip to heat and little to NO heat is the most desirable. Traditional flax packing can drip as little as about 5-10 drops a minute if adjusted correctly, while running, and this drip rate allows lubrication of the shaft. Do not make adjustments to packing nut, with traditional flax, for at least 24 hours as the packing will swell and can overheat the stuffing box. Pre-mature tightening of traditional flax can result in potential damage. A good and safe practice is to adjust the packing by "half a flat" turns after two hours of use or until you have your drip to heat ration correct. I actually use an infrared thermometer to make this adjustment process easier.
BTW, I generally aim for having the stuffing box basically at the temperature of the shaft... or basically almost no heat, and rely on the bilge pumps to deal with any dripping that occurs either in use or at rest. I'd point out that I don't have a stuffing box on my boat, and have only had to do this on boats that friends of mine have owned.

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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-12-2010 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 08-12-2010
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It should not be even warm to the touch. It should be the same temperature as the seawater. Up here on Lake Ontario my stuffing box is always cold to the touch.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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Old 08-12-2010
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As Vasco implies, the temperature of the water can be a factor; however, I am quite satisfied running my engine for a long term and feeling the stuffing box to be warm. I don't tighten it to the degree that would couse it to be uncomfortable when keeping my hand tight against it, but warm is acceptable and not an indicator of damage. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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