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post #1 of 17 Old 10-25-2016 Thread Starter
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PSS shaft seal

Just hauled the boat and I am considering replacing the PSS shaft seal bellows as preventative maintenance. The PSS seal was put in by the previous owner, but he couldn't quite remember when. My best guess is that it is about 8-9 years old. It looks in great shape, but the manufacturer recommends replacing every six years or so.

Removing the bellows requires removal of the coupling, which is probably next to impossible without cutting it. A new coupling will require removing the shaft to make sure the coupling is true with the shaft. Removing the shaft requires dropping the rudder...

Has anyone done this with their PSC34? Any advice? Is it still necessary to remove the shaft if I use a flexible coupling like the Vetus Bullflex coupling? They're pricey, but dropping the rudder would be worse -


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post #2 of 17 Old 10-26-2016
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Re: PSS shaft seal

Definitely replace it on schedule. I don't think modern rubber gives any warning between looking fine and cracking open.

The shaft-gear coupling can be the toughest part. It should only require that you move the shaft back far enough to get it off the end of the shaft. I would be surprised if you had to pull the whole thing out.


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Re: PSS shaft seal

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Definitely replace it on schedule. I don't think modern rubber gives any warning between looking fine and cracking open.

The shaft-gear coupling can be the toughest part. It should only require that you move the shaft back far enough to get it off the end of the shaft. I would be surprised if you had to pull the whole thing out.
I'm definitely planning to replace the bellows - nothing worse than the boat sinking because I didn't replace a two hundred dollar part. I'll probably test the old bellows in the lab to see how far gone it really is.

But my main concern is properly aligning the coupling to the shaft - doesn't that require taking out the shaft? Of course, here's hoping I don't have to...


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post #4 of 17 Old 10-26-2016
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Re: PSS shaft seal

I was able to replace mine by just sliding the prop and shaft far enough back to allow the new PSS to slip in. Getting the shaft coupling off was the hard part - in the end, I had to use a grinder to cut it off.

I suspect the prop, skeg and rudder on my Morris Justine are similar to yours. I know it's similar to a PSC 37.

Good luck.
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Re: PSS shaft seal

A few years ago we had our stuffing box replaced with a PSS. We did not have to drop the rudder for this operation, so I am sure you can replace your bellows without dropping the rudder.



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Re: PSS shaft seal

This would be a good time to inspect the rudder

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Re: PSS shaft seal

Here is a current pic, taken from the starboard side, of the PSS Shaft seal on my O'day 35. When I installed it, I had to drop the rudder, and I was replacing the shaft anyway...


and this is a pic taken from the port side of the when I installed the PSS in in 2013;


The only stories that I have found of sudden failure were when the PSS seal failed shortly after installation (here is an example; PSS Shaft Seal - Cruiser Log World Cruising & Sailing Forums).

I believe that the issue over time with these seals is that the graphite bushing on the bellows wears down with use. I don't believe that the bellows are the culprit. It is difficult to see in the first picture, but you may perceive that the beveled edge is worn down. Because of the perspective, it actually looks worse than it is. You can also see the black line in the bilge from where the graphite flange was throwing off dust as it wore.

I believe that when the time comes (estimate in 2020), I will be able to remove the coupling, slide the shaft back, and replace the bellows/graphite seal without dropping the rudder. I will, however, keep an eye on, and continue to document the wear of the graphite bushing.

I hope this helps!


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Re: PSS shaft seal

Thanks for all the responses - from the examples, it's pretty clear that it is possible to replace the bellows without dropping the rudder. If not taking out the shaft, however, were there any alignment issues with shaft and coupling? I was under the impression that a new coupling requires shaft and coupling to be aligned at a machine shop.


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Re: PSS shaft seal

Aligned, maybe not. But couplings are often slightly undersized to guarantee a tight fit. A machine shop would lap the inside of the coupler to provide the proper fit. That would require taking the shaft to a shop with the new coupler
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Re: PSS shaft seal

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Originally Posted by xort View Post
Aligned, maybe not. But couplings are often slightly undersized to guarantee a tight fit. A machine shop would lap the inside of the coupler to provide the proper fit. That would require taking the shaft to a shop with the new coupler
So, in that case using a split coupling would obviate the need to remove the shaft - cool.


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