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Old 26-08-2013, 14:37   #1
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Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

A few weeks ago my I noticed my stuffing box was leaking a bit more than it should, so I began the process of adjusting it. I say "process" because I just can't seem to get it where I want it. I am probably being too picky about the number of drips, but it seems to be nearly impossible to get it to the recommended 2-3 per minute under power and 0 when cool and not spinning. I am planning to repack it in the near future (as judging by the PO's other maintenance habits I am certain it is long overdue), but am going to wait until I haul the boat in a few months. I've never repacked one, so I am not comfortable trying it with the boat in the water.

I've noticed that I have to really crank on the lock nut to get the packing nut to stay in place. I tinkered with it yesterday and apparently didn't tighten the lock nut enough...I took the boat out and running it caused the lock nut to come free and the packing nut loosened on its own. I checked it only to find a lot of water coming in...and now check it very frequently, as seeing a geyser of lake water spiked my heart rate!

One question I have is how does the lock nut keep the packing nut from loosening? It is obvious how it prevents movement the other direction, but it seems that it could loosen up on its own. And is it normal that I have to tighten the lock nut up against it using nearly all of my strength?

I tell ya, I wish I had just accepted it rapid drip rate until I hauled the boat...it has been a source of frustration and anxiety every since I started messing with it!
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Old 26-08-2013, 14:53   #2
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

dabod, the lock nut is a 'jam nut' and as the wiki says, not 100% guaranteed:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jam_nut

but with the help of a little corrosion they usually stay put.

If the packing is shot, no amount of adjusting will get it right. You might want to replace it with GoreTex packing material. Less friction, lasts longer too.
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Old 26-08-2013, 15:10   #3
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

Thanks for that!

I don't think the packing is truly shot, as I can easily get it to stop leaking. It just seems like it is either too tight (not dripping) or too loose, say 5-6 drips per minute.

Should it leak slightly when the shaft isn't spinning? At 5-6 per minute under power it leaks once or twice when cool and not spinning.
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Old 26-08-2013, 15:14   #4
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

Leaking when runnung not leaking when idle. A little Loctite 271 and a pair of wrenches on the offending nuts should cure the wandering nut syndrome.
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Old 26-08-2013, 16:26   #5
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

Perchance is right, 2 repeat 2 wrenches and some locktite will hold it. Did the previous owner leave any packing on board? If so your are in luck. You will need to know the size of the packing before getting ready to precut 3 or 4 loops for installing. There are several vidieos on U Tube showing how to do this. It can be done in the water. You need a stand by helper, wrenches, precut packing, locktite, good batteries and bilgle pump. Oh yes, a way to get the old packing out of the cup end. Go to it my man, it is time to learn.......
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Old 26-08-2013, 16:36   #6
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

i haven't yet had to repack a stuffing box, but when i do, i hope to recall where i bookmarked this website. The fellow seems to have done an outstanding job of documenting the process:

Re-Packing A Traditional Stuffing Box Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com
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Old 26-08-2013, 16:45   #7
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

Loctite tends to work best on clean metals, shaft nuts tend to be corroded. A dab of hot wax or some silicone bridged across the two would hold also them together, while being easy enough to pop off. I've learned not to trust Loctite unless it is in fresh surfaces. And the bottle of Loctite not too old, either. It has a limited shelf life.
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Old 26-08-2013, 16:49   #8
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

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Old 26-08-2013, 17:01   #9
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Thanks to all for the advice. I've been using two wrenches and have just noticed that unless I give it all I've got with the two wrenches (in opposite directions) it seems to work itself loose. The good news is that the stuffing box is in really good shape and not corroded. I'll add some Loctite and tighten with all my might for now.

I'm not at all afraid to dig into things and learn, but it requires contortionism to work on and the consequences of somehow screwing it up seem pretty dire. I'd rather learn when the stakes are low so I can take my time and do it correctly.

Thanks again!
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Old 26-08-2013, 17:19   #10
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Re: Stuffing Box Giving Me Nightmares

I must confess that I've switched to a dripless shaft seal system that is doing me well, but here's some photos of my former stuffing box and the process that I used...

These are the tools I use: Pipe wrenches, a cutter (razor), the stuffing, a pick to pry out the old stuff, a rag. and not shown,- something to shove the new stuffing in place.


Here's the stuffing box and the first task, for me is to cut a few rings of stuffing.......

I do this by placing the stuffing aroung the shaft and cutting it at a 45 degree angle. I anticipate room for three pieces. Then I loosen the lock ring that is touched by my thumb in this photo....

With the locking ring loose, I can slide the packing nut, left hand, away.....



At this time I tie a rag around the shaft to slow the water flow into the boat.


Now I pick out the old stuffing......

When all the old stuffing is out. I jam in a ring of the new stuff....

...and shove it in with an appropriate sized tool.
[IMG]http://i305.photobucket.com/albums/nn222/CaptForce/Aythya/016-1.jpg/IMG]
After adding two or, if they fit, three rings, I close the packing nut...

...and tighten it down until there is no drip. (of course I'd removed the rag!)
When I run the engine for the next few ocassions I will need to tighten the packing nut little. It needs adjustment in the early hours just like a new guitar string.
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