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Old 26-01-2013, 08:53   #1
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Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

Is there a quick and easy way to get a stuck ball valve moving? The boat is in the water and I plan to change all the through hulls soon but for now I would like to be able to close the head seacock. I don't want to try using just raw power or the hammer...
Any good tricks..?!?
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Old 26-01-2013, 09:09   #2
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

Raw power usually works on metal ball valve type seacocks (not plastic). I have a piece of SS tubing that I can drop over the handle of a stuck ball valve and the extra leverage makes it easy to break free. I've never damaged the valve.
I sell a thing called a seacock helper that is a little more elegant than my tube.
It has a slot cut in it that allows you to push on the valve handle as it approaches horizontal.


Link: Seacock Helper

If you get in the habit of exercising the seacock a couple of times a year, they won't seize.
The above picture was supplied by Seacock Helper. That is not a real seacock and I would never use that setup on a thru-hull connection.
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Old 26-01-2013, 09:27   #3
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
Raw power usually works on metal ball valve type seacocks (not plastic). I have a piece of SS tubing that I can drop over the handle of a stuck ball valve and the extra leverage makes it easy to break free. I've never damaged the valve.
I sell a thing called a seacock helper that is a little more elegant than my tube.
It has a slot cut in it that allows you to push on the valve handle as it approaches horizontal.


Link: Seacock Helper

If you get in the habit of exercising the seacock a couple of times a year, they won't seize.
The above picture was supplied by Seacock Helper. That is not a real seacock and I would never use that setup on a thru-hull connection.

With a stuck valve, that would just bend a sheet metal handle. I believe the helper is only for hard-to-get-to handles.

As for the stuck valve, you can lightly tap on the sides with a hammer while trying to move the handle. Or you could try a heat gun and tapping while trying to move the handle.
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Old 26-01-2013, 16:18   #4
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

Delmarrey, I don't practice what I preach and often have stuck Apollo seacocks on my boat. It just takes a little more pressure to break them free than I can apply with my bare hand. The valve handles are fairly thick stainless and I've never broken one.
These modern ball valve seacocks are not like the old tapered cone type. When they froze it was over lots of square inches of contact area. The ball valves ride on two small teflon rings with very little contact area. It doesn't take much to break them free.
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Old 26-01-2013, 16:30   #5
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

As per Delmarrey, tapping with a hammer will help. I also remove the handle and use an adjustable wrench on the square to get them moving. Small movements each direction until full travel is acheived.
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Old 26-01-2013, 17:15   #6
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

I remove the handle and use a wrench of exact size (to match the flat faces of the shaft). Sometimes this helps - a wrench adds extra length to the arm of the applied force. A length of pipe over the handle can help too but sometimes the handles are too flimsy to take the load.

If it is stuck in closed position, detach the hose and spray liberally with penetrating oil. Reattach the hose then try again.

In any case, do not hammer/tap on handles - if they are alloy - these can snap.

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Old 27-01-2013, 04:35   #7
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

Thanks for the kind advice everyone! I managed to get the valve moving by putting a spark plug socket over the handle and gently tapping on the seacock with a rubber mallet while twisting the handle gently. Not sure if the tapping actually had any effect, but was too afraid to use a metal hammer as the I'm not sure about the condition of the seacock. The seacock is still very stiff, but at least I can now operate it.
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:25   #8
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

Ata boy!

You should try getting one of these freed up.............



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Old 27-01-2013, 10:13   #9
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

I have had great success with a heat gun.
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Old 27-01-2013, 16:27   #10
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

I would try to stay away from using an extension lever to the existing handle. Seacock handles are not really designed for that much torque on the handle. Especially the SS version, they're thin and if you torque too hard and are at all off center, you can bend the handle to the left or right, once that happens the handle looses considerable strength. If you have a seacocks with a bronze handle you can deform the handle or the components. Spartan actually makes their handles to break before there's too much torque to do harm.

I would definitely not use an extension lever if you have a through-hull or Groco flange/ball valve combination. Although I like the Groco flange concept, the weakest link on either of these two options is the exposed threads, I have know idea how much stress they can take.

You might try a little heat on the seacock and a tap or two with a mallet before putting too much pressure on the seacock. If you're really desperate you can try a box wrench.

I would use barnakiel's method of using a crescent wrench (maybe a bit longer than the handle), the wrench is thicker and will allow a bit better purchase. Again be careful, you're working with bronze or SS, both are malleable.

I would not try any of this with a Forespar seacock, the design and material cannot handle the stress, and below the waterline, it will be even easier to destroy. If you have a Forespar 93 seacock you're completely out of luck. The 93 is designed so that if the handle is torqued in the open position and breaks you will have a full flow of water running in your boat.

I have yet to figure out how Forespar ever got its 93 through the UL 1121 tests.
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Old 11-01-2015, 09:59   #11
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Re: Seized ballvalve seacocks - a quick and easy fix?

If the ball valve is made with two parts screwed together, you can free the ball by loosening the two parts, using two wrenches as if to disassemble the valve.
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