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  Topic Review (Newest First)
11-13-2012 04:32 PM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
I am contemplating making a dripless seal for my propshaft. Yes I know you can buy them but they're expensive and besides it's not only about saving money, it's about the sense of satisfaction.

A Marelon tube with three double-lipped oil seals as used in vehicle wheel bearings but the type that is fully rubber encased to prevent the shell from rusting. Between each seal a collar with a groove running around to distribute grease to the bleed-through hole.

The first two seals face the incoming water, the third at the other end of the tube faces the other way to contain the grease.

Then a zerk (? - I call them grease nipples) between the seals that allow the whole assembly to be pumped full of waterproof grease. From outside it would look like this:

It will take up less space on the shaft than the stuffing box I have now which I actually consider to be pre-historic and I reckon it will work really well.

Any reason why this would not work? The total cost excluding my labor (which when invoiced to me is really inexpensive ) would be about $40.

Your drawing looks just like the rotating center column of a beverage filling machine from a bottling plant. This type of design has been in use for a very long time and it works great.

A couple of things: Because you want to eliminate water intrusion, the grease has to have some miniscule amount of flow (leeching is more appropriate than flow) past the rubber seals to lubricate them. The grease must move into the water side and not the opposite as the water will ruin the grease and bearings over time. It looks like you will accomplish this by basically packing the entire thing with grease. That will work fine, but make sure with that much grease that you allow for grease changeout. (weep holes) You will get some water in the grease. It's going to happen. I'm sure you are planning for it as evidenced by your seal arrangement.

The RPM of the shaft is probably the driving (pun intended) factor of how long your seals will last. Engine crank seals / transmission seals sound like a good place to start since that's what they effectively do.

I see you plan to add zirks for the bearings. I also suggest putting the zirk on the face of each seal. pump grease around the curcumferenace of the seal. Grease will overflow the seal and will fill the cavity between the seals. But you need a channel to contain the seal anyway, and that channel needs to be filled with grease. (wet the seal on all four sides, since you're talking square seals). My suggestion is to add small weep holes on the opposite side of your seal journals. (In other words, the zirk is at 12 o'clock on the seal journal, and the weep hole is at 6 o'clock. The grease will follow the journal around on both sides and push out at 6 o'clock.) You need to see fresh grease oozing out to know you are getting grease all the way around the seal. Also, if there are no weep holes, there is no way for the journal to excrete the soap (used grease leftovers) and accept new grease. If that happens the old soap will just dry up and the seal won't be lubricated- then the shaft will eat the seal up right away.

Every grease channel needs a weep hole. So, for each zirk, factor in a weep hole on the opposite side. With a liquid like oil or transmission fluid this isn't necessary because you always have flow. With grease you need weep holes.

Do you have a grease in mind? I would suggest Lubriplate NLGI 2 or similar.

Just my .02 I love your design.
11-12-2012 04:59 AM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Kenn, I just continued using the same grease that the previous owner had been using. Since he was the one who installed the thing (and he is a very experienced cruiser) I just followed his lead. All grease is "waterproof" in the sense it doesn't dissolve in water. I think that white "nautical" grease will eventually cake up inside the stuffing box. Wherever I've used the stuff it eventually ends up as a crusty white paste. Since the grease is really just to lubricate the shaft and stuffing (and fill any voids where water could accumulate) I don't see why it has to be waterproof nautical grease.

My sense is that if you install a grease gun like mine, it will deliver the grease under pressure, eventually pushing it through the flax rings and out the shaft (like in the photo). In this case, I can't see the use for the other grease nipple. My grease gun is really simple- it's a cylinder with a threaded cap with an 0-ringed "plunger" inside. You keep turning the "T" on top, forcing the grease down through the hose and into the stuffing box. I'm sure the grease gun is available and not uncommon. It's made of bronze which might mean it is a "marine" thingy. Start at a truck/tractor shop and see if they have a similar one. I think the grease should be delivered under pressure so it penetrates the stuffing box.
11-12-2012 04:41 AM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings


I covet your setup. I have to use a standard grease gun, standing on my head of course. It is interesting that the grease in your system exits forward of the compression ring (I am glad you didn't have a chance to clean it up before you took the pictures). Makes me think the forward (second) grease fitting on my setup is redundant and maybe not necessary. Can you give me a little more information on your rationale for using a standard grease instead of a waterproof grease? Is this consistent to what you have seen others use with similar setups? This sounds counterintuitive, but the more I think about it the more sense it makes. Very interesting.
11-12-2012 04:18 AM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Yes, it's excess grease escaping! I overtightened the grease gun! I meant to clean it up before taking the photo. It is the grease being squeezed out around the shaft. Normally there is just a hint of grease there. I wipe it up with a rag once or twice a year.

Another thing... I use regular grease, not a waterproof grease. I was also careful not to use any grease that has anything added to it that could "polish" (erode) the shaft.
11-12-2012 03:39 AM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Copa cabana,

Sorry, but I have follow up questions. In the picture of your stuffing box I noticed what appears to be an accumulation of grease (it is tan or beige in color) next to the compression ring forward of the stuffing box. Is this grease? If so, is this grease exiting from the box because of the grease being put into the box through the grease fitting (where the hose is attached)? Again, if so, do you have to keep removing excess grease from this area? If not, what is this and where did it come from? I am asking these questions because I have a second grease fitting on the compression ring, which you do not, and I am wondering now how it interacts with my other fitting.
11-12-2012 03:28 AM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Ken, maybe you can rig up a grease gun like in the first photo I posted. I give it a turn about every 20 hours of motor use. It doesn't take much grease.
11-12-2012 02:57 AM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings


Thank you. You're the man. From looking at your pictures, it looks like the setup you have functions the same as the grease fitting I have on the male part (stern) of my stuffing box. Yours is the first (and only) example I have seen of this arrangement (except for mine). Now I know I can, and should, keep this fitting greased. I am using a marine grade grease I purchased at an auto store. Hope this is adequate.

Gene T and Capt Len,

My stuffing box was getting hot to the point if I touched it I could not keep my finger on the box for more than a second or two (no smoke though). I put two shots of grease in the grease fitting discussed above and motored for about a half hour or so. The fitting barely got warm to the touch. The water drip is minimal if any. I used a remote laser temperature gauge to measure the temp of the fitting and at any point on the fitting the temp I recorded was about 40*C (105*F).

Hopefully nothing has been damaged at this point because of my inexperience. Now I need to find out how much grease to use and how often to grease the fitting. I want to thank everyone for helping me through this.
11-11-2012 04:36 PM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Yes Kenn43, the grease doesn't replace the packing, it just lubricates it and helps "seal" the gland. I took these photos today to show you how it's set up on my boat. The first photo shows the grease gun with a threaded top that pushes the grease down into the stuffing box. Photo 2 shows the stuffing box. I have to say it runs very cool and doesn't drip very often, if at all.
11-09-2012 04:40 PM
Gene T
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Originally Posted by Kenn43 View Post

I enjoy humor. No problem. I have read about stuffing boxes running cool and hot, but no one ever quantifies what hot is. My stuffing box currently gets warm (or hot) enough to where if I touch it I can not keep my fingers on it for more than a second or two. I have purchased a remote laser type thermometer but have not yet had a chance to take an actual reading of the temperature of the stuffing box. Have you or anyone taken any temperature readings of the stuffing box?
That is too hot. Figure in the neighbor hood of 60 Deg C. Cool enough to touch but not continue touching. Should be no warmer than lukewarm. I used to grease Teflon packing with Teflon grease. I could run it without dripping and it would not get warm. This tells us the grease in yours is not lubricating the packing. You need to loosen it till it drips or repack it. I would just repack it properly, easy job even with the boat in the water. Good time to do an alignment too (not such an easy job but that is another subject).

11-09-2012 03:50 PM
Re: Stuffing box & grease fittings

Capt Len,

Nothing wrong with prehistoric methods. They have been proven over time. The stuffing box I have is attached to a Yanmar 1GM10 diesel that was rebuilt and has less than 50 hours on it. From the appearance of the stuffing box I believe it has also been rebuilt. So far I have not experienced anything like a failure you described. That's good. I don't know for sure, but I don't believe the grease replaces the packing material. It's only a supplement to it, but I am guessing. I haven't yet attempted to disassemble the stuffing box.
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