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post #1 of 13 Old 07-05-2012 Thread Starter
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Stuffing box temperature

I had a diesel tech service my 1980 Universal 5411 in my Catalina 27 and do an engine alignment. As a part of that new packing was put in the stuffing box. After a "shakedown" run I was looking at the stuffing box for how much water was dripping (or had dripped) from the box. The stuffing box was very hot. I mentioned it to him and he said to give it another run as the packing is new and see what happens. A second run resulted in the same condition - very hot. My question is how hot should the stuffing box get when you are running the engine, motoring along?
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-05-2012
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Re: Stuffing box temperature

Very hot is not good. Slightly warm is OK. How fast is the dripp when running and when stopped?
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-05-2012
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Re: Stuffing box temperature

First, you need to determine exactly what "very hot" is. Use an IR thermometer. Your local HW store or Radio Shack should have them for about $25.

Mine runs with new packing at about 105F.

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post #4 of 13 Old 07-05-2012
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"Warm" to the touch, Okay.......

"Hot" to the the touch, not okay.

If you put your hand on the nut/shaft after it has been running for few minutes and it is a little warm to the touch, you should be okay. Hot to the touch, as in you can't leave your hand on it or your brain response is "That is hot", then it's too hot. IR Thermometer is a good thing to actually measure the gland, start with the hand thing first to get an idea.

Bear in mind that ocean/lake/river water is cooling the gland and if the water is warm, the nut will be warm, not matter how well the shaft it being cooled. My mom and dad lived on the Cheasapeake and I remember in August, the water could be 83degF in so of the shallower areas. I lot different where I live, where the water doesn't get more tha n 70 deg F and more times than not <65 deg F.

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Re: Stuffing box temperature

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Very hot is not good. Slightly warm is OK. How fast is the dripp when running and when stopped?
Thanks for your reply. I'm not getting any dripping. This tech says that having a periodic drip is not really necessary. He's a guy in his late 50's and is very knowledgeable but I'm getting irritated on this point. He always comes back with "I've been doing this for forty years type answer". I asked how many threads were taken up with the packing nut and he said about three. I think I'm going to back the packing nut off about a half turn and see what happens. After running for 15 to 20 minutes the packing nut is too hot to touch. I've only run the engine two times for about 30 minutes each time but as I said the packing nut became too hot to touch.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-05-2012
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Drip, drip, drip, drip

If you have a traditional Stuff Box, you NEED it to drip when the shaft is turning. You NEED it to drip a few drips a minute. If you aren't dripping, you are not cooling the shaft.

You need to adjust/back off the packing nut until you just see drips when the shaft is turning. It's a finicky process, but you should be able to get it to drip a few (3-4) drips a minute and not drip when the shaft stops or only drip or two every few minutes when at rest. Drips at rest are better than no drips when spinning.

Also, the tech does not know what he is talking about if that is the answer that he gave you.

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post #7 of 13 Old 07-05-2012
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I agree, running hot, ie not able to hang onto the lock nut is too hot. When repacking the stuffin' box it shouldn't be dry for the first couple of hours till it seats. After a run in time reset the lock nut and tighten it down a bit more. After a couple of runs there should be "dampness" while tied up, a drip or two or three while underway. It's a sure sign of insecurity when your mechanic has to reinforce his abilities for age. I've been doing this over 50 years and I'm still learning. You might want to check out the cutlass bearing and all is straight based on previous adjustments. Good luck.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-05-2012
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Stuffing box temperature

I think a stuffing box should leak quite a lot at first and then be tightened slowly over a period of time. The looser it is with just an occasional drip the longer it will last, and the longer the shaft will last too. I used to repack hot oil pumps. The extra heat from a tight packing would set the pump on fire every time! You always stood fire watch after replacing a packing.

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post #9 of 13 Old 07-06-2012
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Re: Stuffing box temperature

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Originally Posted by Ajay73 View Post
Thanks for your reply. I'm not getting any dripping. This tech says that having a periodic drip is not really necessary. He's a guy in his late 50's and is very knowledgeable but I'm getting irritated on this point. He always comes back with "I've been doing this for forty years type answer". I asked how many threads were taken up with the packing nut and he said about three. I think I'm going to back the packing nut off about a half turn and see what happens. After running for 15 to 20 minutes the packing nut is too hot to touch. I've only run the engine two times for about 30 minutes each time but as I said the packing nut became too hot to touch.
Your tech is wrong. As has been noted, it has to drip when running to provide cooling and lubrication. The suggestion to start loose and gradually snug up on the packing is good advice. If you run this way you will score and damage the shaft. Either learn how to do this yourself or find a different mechanic.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-06-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Stuffing box temperature

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Originally Posted by JimsCAL View Post
Your tech is wrong. As has been noted, it has to drip when running to provide cooling and lubrication. The suggestion to start loose and gradually snug up on the packing is good advice. If you run this way you will score and damage the shaft. Either learn how to do this yourself or find a different mechanic.
I think the guy just doesn't want to admit he is wrong. He said if it gets hot it will just melt the wax in the packing. I'm going to back off the packing nut now I just have to decided if it is safe to do it with the boat in the water. I can have it lifted in the travel lift slings for $60. If I have it lifted I can back off the nut all the way and know how many threads are left on the nut. I hesitate backing it off all the way in the water as I don't want to have whatever pressure there is prevent me from getting the nut back on.
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