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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 02-17-2011
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packing leak

i have a 31 niagara with the westerbeke 21 built in 84. Is there a way to find out what size packin i need, dont wont to remove old if i dont have replacement in hand, I was told i could do in while still in the water, Bilge pump is kicking on about every 20 minutes.
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Old 02-17-2011
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I have a Perkins 4-108 and the shaft diameter is 1 1/4 inches. Per some packing guidelines it says that normally I would be using 1/4 flax, however I was never able to get that size into the stuffing box and went with 3/16. When I first did the packing I had several sizes available and also all pre cut.
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Old 02-17-2011
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stuff non-hardening plumbers putty in the stern tube and measure the distance between the shaft and the stuffing box
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Old 02-17-2011
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Do you have a good set of calipers? If so, you can measure the shaft and then remove the nut, measure the inner diameter of the stuffing box, and then put the nut back, and go get the packing you need. Get the Gore-tex GFO packing material, rather than the flax stuff. It can usually be adjusted so the gland doesn't drip at rest.
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Old 02-17-2011
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All good advice but I wouldn,t try it in the water.
Been packing pumps and seals for years and now and then things can go badly wrong.
Play safe, take her out or at least find a dry mooring or scrubing posts.
Safe sailing
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Old 02-17-2011
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I replaced mine with the boat in the water, it actually let in far less water then I would have thought (of course each gland could be different, YMMC, UAYOR, etc.) As mentioned before there is more risk of additional complications causing major problems (torque the back half of the packing gland out of its fitting perhaps?) But as long as you are careful, it is doable in the water.

As for the size, I tried measuring with calipers as suggested, but either do to my poor access to the area or bad math skills, it did not help much. I ended up buying three packages of packing before I got the right size.

BTW, when my packing was leaking a lot while out on a long trip and away from marine stores, I learned a great tip from an old slat I meet along the way....

To temporarily fix a leaking packing gland, get some all cotton underwear (any similar thin all cotton cloth will do, but that is what was likely to be handy on the boat) and cut some thin strips, loosen the nut, wrap the strips around the prop shaft and push them up into the nut and then tighten it back down. We did that and it worked great! (After an incredible amount of frustration trying to get the strips to stay in place with water coming in and trying to wash it away...) Of course this is a temp fix, but I left it in over the winter, used the boat a few more times (keeping a close eye on the packing) and replaced the packing in the spring. Sad thing was it seems much harder to get the packing tension right with the real packing vs. the cotton cloth! I am sure it would wear out fast if used a whole lot, but if you just want to stop the leak while the boat is sitting around waiting you for you replace the packing, I think this would work well for you and you can still use the boat with it a little if needed.
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Old 02-17-2011
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Any time you're working on something below the waterline, be it the stuffing box, a transducer, or a thru-hull/seacock, once water starts coming into the boat it ALWAYS seems like a deluge. In reality, unless you open things up and let the ocean pour in for an extended period (more than a several minutes at a time) you're not gonna sink the boat. In fact, most jobs can be finished long before more than 5 or 10 gallons get on the wrong side of the hull. Just stuff a rag, a bit of foam rubber, or even some tightly wadded up paper towels into the offending void and fix whatever you have to. If need be, recruit a friend or spouse to apply a not-so-sterile dressing and some direct pressure on the open wound while you run to the chandlery or hardware store to get the necessary bits.
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Old 02-17-2011
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after buying two of the adjustable packing nut wrenches, and about 4 hours of aggrivation i have come to the conclusion that i cant even losen the packing nuts. I know that there are two nuts locked against one another, and the first must be losend to tighten the other, but i cannot even get a wrench on either to do. I have a vee drive so it is under the block. the locking nuts location will not allow the wrench to go on with out hitting the block or either the hull, i looked at several different types, but cant find what i am looking for. Do they make a Crows foot type wrench that size, that is the only whay i can see to get a wrench on it.....
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Old 02-17-2011
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I am not familiar with your V drive set up so I can't help you with selecting a tool that will work with your boat's packing gland.
I can say that giving the stuffing box nuts a nice spray of something like PB Blaster, or equivalent penetrating oil product, will make the job much easier except that you have to wait for it to work which can take a few days.
Good luck.
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Old 02-17-2011
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This is why, at the next opportunity, you might consider a PYI dripless seal or equivalent. The poor access to the gland under the engine makes these seals even more attractive.

Doesn't help your present dilemma, but something to think about (and budget for) next haulout.
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