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Old 04-01-2013, 01:18   #1
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Stern Gland Fixing Bolt?

Hello folks.

First of all, I'm new here, so apologies if I inadvertently fall over a piece of etiquette or blunder into a lump of "you-don't-do-it-like-that". Just put me straight and I'll try not to do it again.

As it says on the left, I have an old Kestrel 22 with an inboard Yanmar YSE8. My problem is with the stern gland. I have read several long discussions here and elsewhere about leaking glands, gland adjustment, re-stuffing, and so on. I have posted a photo of the gland in the photos section, entitled, "Dodgy Stern Gland", but I'll try to inline it here too...if I can.

As you can see, the bilge is disgustingly filthy (but I've only just bought her so it's not my fault - it will get fixed) but my problem is twofold:

1. Something down there is leaking about a litre an hour or more; and that's with the engine off. I daren't start her up in case it gets catastrophically worse (I'm singlehanded here and only have a manual bilge pump). It _might_ be the gland; but I'm wondering whether it might be the 'stern tube'? 'shaft log'? - the actual hole in the hull where the propshaft exits the boat. If it's one of those, that brings me to my second problem:

2. At the bottom of the photo you can just see a side view of a bolt head. This goes into or through a glassfibre bulge in the hull (a bulkhead?). Obviously it should be attached to something; but when I put a socket on it, it just spins uselessly. Should it go into the back of the stern gland? If so, does that help to seal things? Or what?

The greaser is turned down tight; following other advice about leaking stern glands, I've tried that first. After tightening it as far as possible by fingers alone, I even went so far as to add a half turn with a wrench...but the leak did not reduce.

Like many others before me, I've tried slackening off the locknut in order to attempt to tighten the spud(?) part to compress the packing further; but to no avail. It seems to be welded to the spud. And like many others before me, I'm yitney about giving it too much welly in case I break something and sink her.

FWIW, the pre-purchase survey (Sep 2012, done on the hard) said,

Quote:
The stern tube and cutless bearing is serviceable although there is some play in the bearing. The ‘stuffing box’ type stern gland appears to have been leaking. Tighten the ‘stuffing box’ and check the packing. Check the play on the bearing next time the boat is lifted.
The leaking was manageable at first, only requiring a single pump of the bilge about once a week. Now it's needed about every six hours...and of course I've got other things to do!

So my questions are:

* What should that bolt be attached to?
* Could that be the source of the leak?
* Should I just go ahead and apply great force with big wrenches to the stern gland to separate off the locknut?
*Could* I break it and sink if I try too hard?
* From the photo, does it look to you experienced folks as though there would be some tightening of the stuffing box available, assuming I manage to loosen the locknut?

Many thanks everybody.
And now I'll attempt to post the photo here too...

Steve
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:28   #2
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Welcome to CF Mudder.

From what you describe with bolts that just spin, question on integrity of the fiberglas and all, I would be inclined to haul her out, do full disassembly and a proper fix. You may have some other preventive maintenance you wish to do to assure she is seaworthy at the same time. Seacocks for example.

Having said that, there me be others with more direct knowledge of your exact situation so best to get a bit more input.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:04   #3
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Re: Stern Gland Fixing Bolt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by krafthaus View Post
Welcome to CF Mudder.

From what you describe with bolts that just spin, question on integrity of the fiberglas and all, I would be inclined to haul her out, do full disassembly and a proper fix. You may have some other preventive maintenance you wish to do to assure she is seaworthy at the same time. Seacocks for example.

Having said that, there me be others with more direct knowledge of your exact situation so best to get a bit more input.

Best of luck!
I'd agree! Greasing shaft packings is old tech for small boats. I too would haul it and pull the packing glad and clean it up, then start fresh.

And in the mean time with the boat out of the water, find out what that bolt goes to, which I can't really see in the picture. What I see is a square head of a plug but not sure.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:40   #4
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Re: Stern Gland Fixing Bolt?

have you tried refilling the greaser?
it may be that the chamber is empty.
unscrew the top cover,fill with waterproof grease,then retighten.

i have the same set up as you on my macwester,and it looks like the two bolts are on the inboard end fitting,so cannot be causing a leak.

packing can be replaced or tightened by loosening,nut closest to prop shaft anti clockwise or away from you whilst holding the inner nut.
the outer lock nut then needs freeing from the packing gland threads ,so it can be adjusted.
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:42   #5
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Re: Stern Gland Fixing Bolt?

Thanks guys!

I'm hoping to haul her out next week if the yard can fit me in; once she's in the slings I'll be happier! A couple of the other jobs I mentioned need that anyway (new propshaft anode, new antifoul).

In the meantime, atoll mentioned that the greaser might be empty - that's definitely easy and risk-free to check, so I'll do it after lunch. Very good thinking, cheers.

I also thought that if it turns out to be the gland itself which is the main problem, then I might be able to get temporary relief by tightly tying some party balloons around it in layers.

I will check the seacocks at the same time. The inlet and outlet for the head look to be in very good condition from the inboard end; I'm not so sure about the engine intake though, so I'll have a look.

I'll report back re. the greaser and balloons in a bit.

Steve
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:07   #6
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Result!

Well, it's funny how things turn out sometimes. I opened up the greaser, and seeing that it was about a third full, sadly began working the plunger back in against the air bubble that I'd introduced while opening it. This was understandably a bit tricky, so holding the shaft still I instead opted to run the cap back down the threads until I could get that firmly reattached, and then work the plunger back in by turning it in the usual way.

I was quite a bit interested when I found that I could then get the plunger further in than before without anything like as much resistance. I was even more interested when it looked as though the leak had reduced by quite a lot. Crossing my fingers, I started up the stopwatch in my mobile and went in search of more grease and more disposable nappies.

Having obtained both and returned over an hour later, I was blinking well delighted that even the small depression in the bottom of the hull--which presumably provides clearance for wrenches--had not filled back up again. If it's leaking at all now, it's only a tiny bit, which I can easily live with until the yard can lift her out.

So it looks as though the real problem was lack of grease in the stuffing box caused by the reluctance of the PO (and myself, blindly following his advice as a newbie must!) to overcome the stiffness due to surface oxidation of the threads of the greaser plunger. Since neither of us turned it enough, it leaked, exactly as you would expect.

Having found the problem and fixed it thanks entirely to atoll, though perhaps not in the way he thought! and with hindsight, it's now easy to see what the correct procedure should be for anyone else in the same situation:

1. First things first: if there is hardly any plunger shaft projecting beyond the cap, then it's probably empty. Manufacturers won't make the shaft a millimetre longer than it has to be, so no spare shaft == no grease. So fill it up again.

2. If it's not that, then holding the handle of the greaser plunger still, unscrew the *cap* back up the plunger shaft. This will (a) ride over any oxidation on the shaft threads but (b) not have to work against anything like as much pressure and (c) not introduce an air bubble beneath the plunger 'O' ring seal.

3. Work the cap back down again and re-secure it.

4. Retry grease injection by turning the plunger handle in the usual way.

Having said that (you may all have dropped orf by now... ) I shall still have Mudder lifted out ASAP for the other jobs, and will have a close look at that cutless bearing too. The main reason I think it might be a bit dodgy is that up until three months ago, she had spent her entire life in a creek on the opposite (i.e. south) bank of the river, rising with every tide and then settling back down into several metres depth of mud the consistency of thick custard. Hence one reason for her name.

That mud is soft, but given that there was no real ground there for her to take on her keels, it's entirely likely that at some time in her forty years she may have ended up with some of her weight being taken by the propshaft. I think that might stress the cutless bearing quite a bit; and there is more play in it than even I like the look of. I think the constant settling into abrasive custard won't have helped either. So we'll see.

In the meantime, many thanks to all the 'first responders' who've possibly saved my dear old Mudder's life (there goes another reason for the name). I owe you each at least a pint; and as for you, atoll--do you drink strong liquor? If you've got a postal address and name your poison, I'll send you a bottle of some brand or other.

Cheers!

Steve
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Old 04-01-2013, 18:19   #7
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Good advise atoll & well done Mudder! Good luck with her and happy sailing.
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Old 04-01-2013, 18:43   #8
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Re: Result!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudder View Post
Well, it's funny how things turn out sometimes. I opened up the greaser, and seeing that it was about a third full, sadly began working the plunger back in against the air bubble that I'd introduced while opening it. This was understandably a bit tricky, so holding the shaft still I instead opted to run the cap back down the threads until I could get that firmly reattached, and then work the plunger back in by turning it in the usual way.

I was quite a bit interested when I found that I could then get the plunger further in than before without anything like as much resistance. I was even more interested when it looked as though the leak had reduced by quite a lot. Crossing my fingers, I started up the stopwatch in my mobile and went in search of more grease and more disposable nappies.

Having obtained both and returned over an hour later, I was blinking well delighted that even the small depression in the bottom of the hull--which presumably provides clearance for wrenches--had not filled back up again. If it's leaking at all now, it's only a tiny bit, which I can easily live with until the yard can lift her out.

So it looks as though the real problem was lack of grease in the stuffing box caused by the reluctance of the PO (and myself, blindly following his advice as a newbie must!) to overcome the stiffness due to surface oxidation of the threads of the greaser plunger. Since neither of us turned it enough, it leaked, exactly as you would expect.

Having found the problem and fixed it thanks entirely to atoll, though perhaps not in the way he thought! and with hindsight, it's now easy to see what the correct procedure should be for anyone else in the same situation:

1. First things first: if there is hardly any plunger shaft projecting beyond the cap, then it's probably empty. Manufacturers won't make the shaft a millimetre longer than it has to be, so no spare shaft == no grease. So fill it up again.

2. If it's not that, then holding the handle of the greaser plunger still, unscrew the *cap* back up the plunger shaft. This will (a) ride over any oxidation on the shaft threads but (b) not have to work against anything like as much pressure and (c) not introduce an air bubble beneath the plunger 'O' ring seal.

3. Work the cap back down again and re-secure it.

4. Retry grease injection by turning the plunger handle in the usual way.

Having said that (you may all have dropped orf by now... ) I shall still have Mudder lifted out ASAP for the other jobs, and will have a close look at that cutless bearing too. The main reason I think it might be a bit dodgy is that up until three months ago, she had spent her entire life in a creek on the opposite (i.e. south) bank of the river, rising with every tide and then settling back down into several metres depth of mud the consistency of thick custard. Hence one reason for her name.

That mud is soft, but given that there was no real ground there for her to take on her keels, it's entirely likely that at some time in her forty years she may have ended up with some of her weight being taken by the propshaft. I think that might stress the cutless bearing quite a bit; and there is more play in it than even I like the look of. I think the constant settling into abrasive custard won't have helped either. So we'll see.

In the meantime, many thanks to all the 'first responders' who've possibly saved my dear old Mudder's life (there goes another reason for the name). I owe you each at least a pint; and as for you, atoll--do you drink strong liquor? If you've got a postal address and name your poison, I'll send you a bottle of some brand or other.

Cheers!

Steve
no worries
i recently did a full rebuild on the sterntube for my macwester,which involved removing the tube and re-glassing outside and re-alighning for a new engine.

i also had to bore out the bronze bearings inside the tube as i changed the prop shaft from 25mm to 25.5mm imperial,so had every thing in pieces!

see my thread by clicking on the link below my signature.

cheers atoll
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