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Greetings,

I just opened my stuffing box to find all of the packing gone. Measured the dimensions and found that I need 1/4" packing to fit snugly between the shaft and the interior dimension of the stuffing box.

The problem is that all of the resources I've read indicate that I need to pack between 2-4 pieces of packing, but my stuffing box is only 1/2" deep, so 2 pieces won't allow the threads to be exposed for re-assembly.

Am I at risk with only one piece? I measured well so there's virtually no gap in the seam, and used the Teflon packing.

Any insight will be most appreciated. I'm launching in a week and don't want to have to re-do this in the water! Thank you!
 

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The idea with packing is to stick it in and then squinch it down with the packing nut: you put in a whole bunch and squeeze it to fit. That's why its called a packing nut. Perhaps use three 1/4" strands of packing and squeeze them into the 1/2" space. At the outset don't clamp the nut down too tightly- just enough to make sure it doesn't leak too much. (Some people call for one drip every hour, for example.) Check it after a while and tighten (or loosen) as needed. The leakage (drip) provides lubrication for the shaft and keeps it from getting too hot (and damaging the packing). Overall it is a somewhat tricky balancing act that you have to work out on your own, based on your specific situation and what works. We repacked our rudderhead after finding a surprise leak there when all the packing had worn away. Fairly simple, but effective.
 

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Catalina 315
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All the packing is gone? I doubt that. Look closer.
 

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Catalina 400 MKII
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Packing does not just disappear and if it did your rubber hose would be physically melted because the packing would have to physically melt to disappear... I suspect your packing is in there and you need to remove it to put more in. A picture of your packing box would help so we can then show you where the packing is. I suspect what you are looking at, in the large female nut, is your packing and it is hard and dry and needs to be extracted..
 

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Closet Powerboater
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A cork screw (that you don't wish to keep) is a great packing removal tool.

MedSailor
 

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Catalina 315
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I just did my first stuffing box re-stuff. Big thanks to MaineSail for his excellent instructions.

It probably took me an hour and a half to get the old packing out. My primary extraction tool was a finishing nail clamped into some needle nose vice grips. I bent the last 1/8" of the nail so it would dig in. Also used a drywall screw to drill into the packing and yank out. And, I used a pair of needle-nose pliers.

No single tool seemed to be the magic bullet, but eventually after a lot of scratching and digging the packing rings came out in whole pieces.
 
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