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Old 08-03-2011, 10:02   #1
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Whether or Not to Replace Seacocks

It's maintenance time for me and my Pearson 26. I am thinking it might be wise to replace or repair the two old bronze seacocks at the bottom of the cockpit drain hoses. They look solid, despite moderate surface corrosion, but they are frozen open. I am not sure quite how frozen they are, as I have not started the process of gentle banging and lubrication, etc. They are not leaking or weeping water and all the connections between seacock and the hull and the hose, etc. look very solid. Even so, they are old and rather green at this point.

I am trying to decide whether it will be worth it to try to take them apart and get them working again, or whether I should just replace them outright. Obviously, if they become visibly damaged in the process of trying to get them to turn, I will need to replace them, but is it possible that they could be damaged without me knowing it? Can anyone tell me exactly what I should be doing or looking for as I go to inspect, repair or replace them?

Thanks a lot as always!

Jack
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:09   #2
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

Sometimes that green patina is the sign of good quality hardware on a older boat.
Can you post a photo so we can see what model they are.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:12   #3
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

Sounds good, I will take a photo tomorrow and post it. Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:46   #4
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

Bronze seacocks are often very easy to service. At least give it a shot before replacing them. All 5 of mine were completely frozen when I bought my boat and I had them all disassembled, cleaned, lapped, greased, and reinstalled in a single afternoon. I'd bet you can have similar success. Try to post pics or at least the builder's marks so we can give more specific advice. The biggest trick is to only disassemble and work on one at a time so you don't swap parts (or remember to label them). My seacocks are made by Sparten who sells a service kit including grease, lapping compound, and a specific wrench for the job- take a look to see if the maker of your seacocks sells something similar. I doubt matching the brand of grease and lapping compound to your seacocks is imperative, but hey- it's only money.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:39   #5
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Green is good, pink is not. I'm in the process of replacing the ones on my 1966 Pearson Alberg 35. I like the old style seacocks. If you loosen the nut on the side of the cylinder put a board over the stud and whap it with a 2lb hammer a few times the cylinder should pop loose for service. Check for any pink, it's a sure sign of electrolysis. They have been known to weaken to the point they snap off during operation. At least one of mine is so affected so I am replacing them all. They have served well for 45 years. I hope the new ones fare as well.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:06   #6
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

Procyon, I have an A35 as well and agree that electrolysis is the only good reason to replace the seacocks. I decided to leave them in place because there was really no sign of electrolysis and they are initially very good quality fittings. A little judiciously applied heat and Liquid Wrench doesn't hurt to get them to loosen up without too much heavy hammering. If you can expand the outer housing just a little with heat they will break loose. An old piece of bronze shaft makes a great drive pin for stuff like this so as to try to avoid ruining threads.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:18   #7
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Procyon View Post
Green is good, pink is not...
Indeed!
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:23   #8
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

BTW - Pink will be on the water side, green will be on the air side. So you really can not tell until the boat is out of the water. But green does mean there is water seeping in, or the bilges are wet.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:46   #9
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

You can look for pitting on the exterior flanges too. Happens in marinas/boats with bad wiring.
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Old 08-03-2011, 13:16   #10
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
BTW - Pink will be on the water side, green will be on the air side. So you really can not tell until the boat is out of the water. But green does mean there is water seeping in, or the bilges are wet.
This is true, and when you see pink after haulout, weather it is a through hull, prop, or strut, scrape away at a spot with a knife. If it immediately turns to a shiny brassy color, it is OK, and the pink is only surface corrosion.

If it remains pink inside, even after more and more scraping, (or sanding), the zinc has left the alloy, it is brittle, and should be replaced. This is from galvanic corrosion over the years.

I personally trust "Maralon" plastic seacocks most, especially the larger ones. They are more easily broken, if you jump up and down violently on the tailpiece, and on the small ones the handle can break if you don't work them twice a year, and don't know the proper way to free them, but I still trust them more.

IMO... The bronze ones seam more likely to sink your boat. I have spent many years in boatyards, and de-zinced bronze fittings is really common in OLD boats.

The Maralon ones are fine if you work them once in a while, and don't walk on them, plus they are immune to galvanic corrosion.

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Old 08-03-2011, 14:51   #11
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

The "pink" color, actually more like faded, dead bronze, is the appearance of the actual deeply corroded bronze from electrolysis caused by current flowing in the water from dissimilar metals, through ground legs, usually at docks. I would think GFI breakers have now reduced this problem. The metal has been serving as an anode or cathode in the presence of current and has given up its structure through ionization. Aluminum can almost disappear before your eyes! You can usually chip/flake away deep chunks of this stuff quite easily. If this is the condition AT ALL in a thru-hull, it would need to be replaced. The green color is nothing more than oxidation of copper-based alloys (bronze)-cupric oxide. This is only on the surface and does not usually affect the structure of the metal to any appreciable extent. A green appearance is usually not a reason to replace a fitting. Get a little bronze wool or Brasso and it will probably shine right up.
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Old 08-03-2011, 15:22   #12
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

My 2 bob's worth - if you're asking the question - replace!
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Old 08-03-2011, 16:13   #13
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Re: Whether or not to replace seacocks

person 26? how old are they? mine are 20 years and in good shape. if they are apollo you can take nut off at handle and lube there. can you get finger in outside and wipe ball with grease? keep trying.
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Old 09-03-2011, 20:46   #14
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Re: Whether or Not to Replace Seacocks

Well the boat is a 1978. It came with receipts for absolutely everything and I don't see any for these pieces, so they I'm guessing they may be original.

Sorry these pictures aren't the greatest. And I didn't get the brand name...
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Old 09-03-2011, 21:53   #15
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Re: Whether or Not to Replace Seacocks

Those look very similar to, if not identical to what is on my 1975 Pearson 28. Mine are Grocos and are fairly sturdy though I will be pulling them soon to inspect and decide on replacement or refurbishing.

Mine were all bonded/grounded with connections to the flat-head screw that appears to not be in use on yours. I'm not sure what that will mean for your as far as electronic corrosion/erosion goes, but will be interested to hear how they look once you get them out for a look.

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