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Stuffing Box
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Scott Carle
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December 5, 2009 - 8:47 pm
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In reading Eric VanMalsen's blog and his issues with his stuffing box someone had put up a link to another website with a really nice photo journal of changing the packing on a stuffing box. I thought I would post it here.
Stuffing box How To

This is on my todo list also so I feel Eric's pain. I have the feeling mine is going to be a pain to get loose also.

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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CAE
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October 7, 2014 - 2:58 pm
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I'm not sure what the stuffing box is, but I think it's where the drive shaft goes into a bigger diameter tube that goes into the hull?
I'm asking because I have a very slow leak at this juncture. Maybe a drop every couple minutes. Is this ok? Or how should I remedy it? This is while the drive shaft is not turning. But I ran the engine at about 2 knots yesterday for about an hour and there appears to have been a small trickle from this juncture during this time.

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Scott Carle
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October 7, 2014 - 4:22 pm
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Yes that is the stuffing box.

Ok ... that sounds about right or even a little slow. In the best of all worlds with a standard old school stuffing box, it should not leak when the prop shaft is not turning but should leak a few drops a minute when under power. The water coming through helps lubricate/cool the shaft where it passes through the stuffing box.

 

If you get a newer drip-less unit it shouldn't leak at all. Drip-less units are several hundred dollars.

 

here is the corrected link from above to see how to service a traditional stuffing box

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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October 7, 2014 - 5:04 pm
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Thanks Scott. I'm headed to Baja on a friends boat in a few days , so I guess I'll let that sleeping dog lie until I return in November.

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Scott Carle
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October 7, 2014 - 5:27 pm
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lol.. sounds like a plan...

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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Helmuth
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October 10, 2014 - 9:38 am
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I am doing this right now. What a pain in the neck....[Image Can Not Be Found]

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       MAINSAILS FOR MEN      ANCHORS FOR WOMEN  DE-38 Cutter S/Y CARINTHIA
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Scott Carle
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October 11, 2014 - 11:18 pm
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I know I have told this story before but I had a most exciting run in with our stuffing box a few years ago. The boat had been sitting about a year without going out after we purchase it. We were busy with her being pregnant with our first child, doing massive projects on the boat with upgrades, delayed maintenance etc. We there is a local pirate race we always entered in and we took the boat out that day and raced. Nothing special about the race that day other than there was about zero wind and we sat and bobbed around or sailed about about 1 knot for a good portion of the day. We finally quit early and motored back to the dock and on arriving as we were shutting the boat down and getting ready to leave I heard a water noise in the engine compartment.  On opening it up and looking water was pouring in around the prop shaft through the stuffing box. Heart beat went to "Max" and turn the bilge pump on. Grab the silicone rescue tape and flop down over the still hot engine [Image Can Not Be Found] and stretch to reach the stuffing box and prop shaft. I wrapped it with a whole roll of rescue tape and managed stop the leak.. But now the boat was stuck at the dock till I could fix it. The stuffing box was seized and we ended up hauling the boat and doing a bottom job, replacing the water speedo sensor/paddle wheel, repairing the rudder, fixing the glass under the bronze rudder support on the bottom of the keel and a handful of other jobs including pulling the stuffing box apart, cleaning it and stuffing it with new packing. I wouldn't have an issue doing it in the water the next time unless it had seized again.

 

It was an exciting time when we went from the dock to the marina we hauled out at, water pouring in while we motored about 10 miles. Luckily the bilge pump kept up handily and we were able to get there and haul out like we practised it daily. It's late so I won't tell the story of how we had to haul out 3 days after we put back in the water from that haul out right now [Image Can Not Be Found]

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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Patrick Twohig
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October 28, 2014 - 2:40 am
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The prop shaft seal seems like one of those things you need to exercise every so often so it doesn't blow out like that...especially if water cools/lubricates it.  I bet it sat for so long some salt dried up in side there then when you ran the engine it just ripped the packing to shreds.

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Scott Carle
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October 28, 2014 - 8:59 am
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could be...not sure I would like to tell it to take a walk in case it took me literally 🙂

 

It was a pretty exciting moment..

 

I always look at the stuffing box once before, during and after operation nowadays 🙂 Just in case.... 🙂 you know what I mean?

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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Patrick Twohig
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October 28, 2014 - 11:53 am
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I'm told you can replace the stuffing in the water by swimming under the boat and sealing the shaft with plumber's putty.  You still get water coming in the boat, but it's not enough that it's going to keep you from doing it.  I'm told this is also more for emergency repairs, and it's still better to do it in the yard.

The mechanic working on my boat right now had a customer's boat sink because he never did anything to maintain the dripless seal he had installed.  I'm guessing this guy confused "dripless" with "requiring no maintenance" because in both cases you still need to tune them up every so often.

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CAE
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October 28, 2014 - 12:18 pm
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Drip less does not mean " no maintainence" . They need to be "burped" on a regular basis to make sure water gets into them for cooling purposes. Otherwise they'll overheat . Got this straight from the marine mechanic at my boat yard last week.

My stuffing box is not drip less, but it tends to drip an ounce or two for a couple of days after motoring for a while, but then stops completely. Should probably fix it, but not tragic.

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popeyeloza
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November 1, 2014 - 2:27 pm
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I'm guilty of having a dripless stuffing box that was installed by PO.  For the unseamanlike quality of not dripping water and having a dry bilge, providing there are no other leaks... anywhere, my surveyor informed me that these systems also have a tendency to cut a nice groove in the prop shaft so that replacement of shaft, of course, will be written in the stars.

Being able to see a good drip is a good thing.  It tells you, really, what is going on.  I can just sit and watch that dripless and can only hope it is working right.  Even after doing the maintenance and offering countless offerings to the Great Neptune to watch over this somewhat important part, I don't sleep any better.

Given a choice, I would go with the simple old system that has lasted years and designed during those times when not everything was replaceable.  Replacing the packing is about the only day my vocabulary hits the skids... well not the only day.  You haven't curse like a great seaman until you do that little job.  The only clues are the strange little tools, looking a little like miniature corkscrews, found in the special toolbox.  I seem to remember muttering the words; "Now exactly where is this packing?", for at least a week before tackling that job.  That was an old, small boat that I did love.  Once done and kept in good shape they are easier to service.

Oh... I did get some wrenches made to fit those huge sizes needed, as of course, all the ones I have, are too thick.  I busted a few knuckles using the one sold at the chandleries as they never stayed in position until you glue and weld them to the size needed.

ahh... the good times

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Scott Carle
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November 1, 2014 - 8:10 pm
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I thought about going with a dripless really hard at the last haul out.. Cost, time and that comfort feeling were what caused me to go with just using the old style stuffing box. It's got so many years of working well under its belt that I trust it more. also its low enough tech that if I had to I could create some packing with some fabric and grease or twine etc to get by till I got somewhere. If the dripless failed it would be a really shitty day.

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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Jonathan Oasis
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November 5, 2014 - 1:42 am
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If someone posts a video of adjusting the stuffing box on a DE32, then I am buying that person lunch.  It would mean being back there, perhaps upside down, perhaps laying over top of the running engine, while the engine is running, to time the drips, is that right.  To me, that sounds a bit nuts to do. Especially if the DE32 still has the batteries in the original location, behind the engine & underneath the cockpit well, which blocks access to this area even more.

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Scott Carle
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November 5, 2014 - 9:10 am
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ha.. lol.. the de38 really sucks also.... i am 6'2" with a 6' arm span and I can just barely reach the stuffing box to work on it by laying on top of the engine and hanging over the back of it to reach the stuffing box.. It is why I hauled to boat to fix a leak there rather than trying to do it in the water. I could have but access is so hard that if it turned into a flood I was worried about my ability to fix it before the boat sank if stuff went wrong on a job I had never done before.. Now however I would probably be ok doing it in the water as long as the stuffing box itself wasn't seized or that there wasn't any other identifiable complication

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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Jonathan Oasis
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November 9, 2014 - 11:58 pm
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You have a tiller right?  If you have a wheel.. the quadrant is right there too, just in the right spot to hit your head on the way, or get cut on something metal.  I suppose greasing the cables would be right on the list of things to do when back there, that the books say to do every year or so, and probably hasn't been done on my boat for 6 or 7 years now.

All this reminds me that I need to build a platform over the engine to allow me to crawl over it.

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Jonathan Oasis
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November 10, 2014 - 12:02 am
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svm_invictvs said:

 

The mechanic working on my boat right now had a customer's boat sink because he  …

Wait a minute.  There's a mechanic who is working on your boat.  Ok.   This mechanic had another customer.  Ok.  That customer's boat sank.  Ummm..  hold on, tell me again why this mechanic is working on your boat ?  Hah

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Scott Carle
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November 10, 2014 - 8:05 am
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rofl 🙂

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