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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Freeing stuck valves, in water?
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Thread: Freeing stuck valves, in water? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
12-27-2009 11:34 AM
WanderingStar OK, I got them. First some WD40 (only spray oil on board), later Liquid Wrench, (what was in the car), then tapping with a 12oz hammer. The all bronze one I heated with a butane torch (on board). It moved well after that. The Groco with the rubber ball yielded to hammer taps on the handle. Thank you all.
12-19-2009 11:48 AM
WanderingStar Mike, thanks. Two of my valves are Grocos as you describe. One closed after I figured out the locking handle (there was a little tag with directions, but I had to tear it off to read it). The other is still stuck.
The other stuck valve is a tapered plug exactly like those shown above.
12-19-2009 10:42 AM
MC1 I'd try the simple solutions before hauling as well, but I'd make sure I mitigate the risks with this job somehow so as not to sink the boat in the process if things don't go quite as planned.

There are risk associated with some of the cheaper approaches mentioned above. For example, if you break the seacock mounting to the boat by unintentionally using too much manpower (or if the mounting isn't top notch to begin with - e.g., screws were used instead of thru-bolts), or if you use a heat gun, and the heat travels through the bronze and melts away whatever was used as a bedding compound and water starts coming into the boat, how are you going to stop it? Do you have a contingency plan ready to go?

Maybe nothing will go wrong at all, and then you can tell us you told us so, and recommend it for everyone else in this predicament. Only problem is, it may not go so well in every case out there. You could be lucky, but generally the prepared have a tendancy to be lucky more often, right?

If you can just wait until your next haul, that might be the cheapest and safest way forward.

If I *had* to take care of this now and didn't want to pay to lift the boat, I might ask the boatyard guys to be on standbye with the hoist just in case, and do the work in the hauling slip during yard business hours.

Whatever you choose, good luck and please keep us posted on how it goes.
12-19-2009 10:08 AM
mike dryver Wanderingstar do have the type seacock shown or does yours have a bronze small t-handle opposite the shut off. if it does your valves are made of rubber and you only need to loosen small t-handle then work main handle to loosen. ours are from1979 and had not been serviced for about 15 yrs. all i did was what i just said and with a little effort they all came loose. after when boat was hauled i took the valves apart and lubed with non-petroleum grease. have worked flawlessly since then (5yrs) just lube when hauled. note when you get them moving water will come in the boat and you will see a bunch of crud in it. you won't get a lot of water just a little flow
12-19-2009 09:03 AM
WanderingStar Well, don't sue me if I try the simple solutions before hauling.
My favorite penetrating oil is Kroil. I once disassembled a shaft coupling that was featureless by spraying it all winter with Kroil. In the spring it came apart as if new.
12-19-2009 08:32 AM
Tempest Stillraining.....yup.. I think I've seen that before!!....
12-19-2009 12:34 AM
Stillraining Well in that case here this should help you out understanding what you have..IMHO best valve ever made. I tore all mine down when I had the boat on the hard the first time and gave them a good R&R.
12-18-2009 09:49 PM
JVallely I hate to sound discouraging, but I had the same problem and tried many of the above sensible tricks without success. The PO had neglected them and 3 bronze ball-type thru-hulls were locked open.
Propane was out at the time because of the fire hazard and plastic seals. Boiling water barely got them warm--too much thermal mass plus full of the ocean. A heat gun got them warmer but didn't work for me. So I doubled up on the clamps, put wood plugs in just in case and thought pure thoughts for the next few weeks.
Once hauled out for the season, repeated dousings with a solvent worked over time. A solvent means PB Blaster or equivalent--not WD-40. The latter is a great water displacement ('WD') formula for drying your spark plug wires. It's not meant to be a solvent. It's basically kerosene--not anybody's first choice of rust-busters. (I use PB Blaster on rusted farm machinery & old cars.)
So I'd just hold my nose and have it hauled. Make sure you have a selection of big-a**ed monkey wrenches on hand, along with pipe cheaters & propane--you'll need them.
Good luck.
John V.
12-18-2009 05:36 PM
fourdegreesc Those are called quick hauls and I didn't think of that, but it's a great suggestion. Last one I had was $125, super cheap solution.

I've heard of people working on the bottom at low tide. You'd be hard pressed I would think to dry it up enough to paint the bottom though, at least according to the paint OEM specs.

As for jumping in, I hadn't looked at the OPs location. I'm from the south where we'd never give it a second thought, it's so routine here. But still, you're talking about two or three minutes in the water at most. If you have a decent wet suit you'd pull it off fine.

I thought bungs are emergency soft wood plugs. I've never heard the term applied to a valve, but I get the point. The OP didn't say it was one, but assuming that's true, they are not so bad to free up. Loosen the nut, as a previous posted suggested and tap tap tap.... You don't even need to take the nut off all the way. Of course you have to evaluate how hard to whack it. What will the support hold up to is a judgement call. Consider also backing up the valve itself with a second hammer. Place a heavy hammer against the valve housing and tap the nut (not the threads). The heavy hammer just adds weight to what would need to move before breaking the valve off.

Do the plastic ("marelon"?) valves get stuck? I wouldn't expect too much trouble from those.

But seriously, the best option is wait for the next haul or get yourself a quick haul. My last boat was plastic and the yard let me quick haul before a lunch break and I was able to drill out and replace all three thru-hull fittings all together.

Can you put a grease zerk on those valves? I don't know what the seating surface is like. Exercise is the answer though for sure.

As for gate style valves (we actually use globe valves for thru-hulls, but the same general arrangement), the benefits are clear enough to marine engineers and regulators (designers, American Bureau of Shipping, Coast Guard, etc.) to require them in certified or inspected vessels, whereas their detractor(s?) hasn't offered a single disadvantage. Completely rebuildable, packable...

Remember that it would take a long time to sink a boat while working on a valve. The main thing is you don't want it to fail while you're away or sleeping at anchor. How many folks reading have a bilge alarm? (here's a hint for you: make a cheap one by soldering a float switch into the TEST circuit on a $5 smoke detector).

Tempest's suggestion to leave well enough alone is probably the best advice, but I know I could never follow it myself. It would bug me too much to know it wasn't right. Nevertheless the smartest thing would be to lanyard a bung to the valve, make sure the hose attached to it is good, or consider installing another valve upstream from it in the hose. Messing with it could cascade into disaster.

Good luck again!
12-18-2009 05:32 PM
Tempest The little nut...(mine are screws)...are probably weep ports, or drains.

if your valve is like the one in Stillraining's picture, taking the nut out will expose the sidewall of the bung...you might be able to squirt some penetrating oil in there and let it work for awhile...

The previous owner of my boat, let all the spartan seacocks freeze in the open position too. I managed to get them all free over a few days letting the penetrating oil soak in for awhile...and then tapping...repeating the process.....

Spartan Marine Hardware Catalog

See the link for seacock maintanence
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