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Old 09-06-2018, 03:27   #1
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Stuffing box really rusted

I noticed that my stuffing box is highly rusted and at rest, I have a drop of water every 4-5s.
Is that normal, what shall I do?
Do you think it requires an urgent measure? My antifouling is due in 3months.
My sailing boat is in salt water.
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Old 09-06-2018, 04:18   #2
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Me personally, I would not consider it a looming imminent failure. You're going to haul in 3 months, it's just a drip, the boats not sinking. It looks like just surface rust, especially if you're in salt water.

Mine drips about the same, I'm waiting for a fall haulout to pull and replace the engine. I'll re-vamp the whole engine bay then, lines and all. And re-do the stuffing box on the hard with the old engine out of the way !

Just keep an eye on it of course, make sure your bilge pump and battery are good to go, I think you'll be fine.
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Old 09-06-2018, 10:43   #3
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

I'm not familiar with that type of stuffing box. It looks like someone rigged up two steel plates to compress the stuffing into the bit of steel tube that is between them? (Assuming they are all steel since the tubing and plates are all rusted.)

The rust is superficial, a wire brush and repainting should put a stop to that, or an oily spray now and then repaint while you are hauled. From the look of it, you should be able to put just a half turn or a turn on each of the two bolts, to compress it a bit more and slow the dropping. What you have now is not a problem but more like one drip per minute is probably worth aiming for. So, a half turn on each nut, and see if that brings down the drip rate. If not, repeat, just a half turn at a time, until things look better.
And when you repack, if you can get GoreTex packing instead of regular fiber materials, that usually will allow you to almost stop the dripping completely, and still have the shaft lubricated properly.
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Old 09-06-2018, 11:00   #4
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

What does a haulout have to do with a stuffing box?
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:22   #5
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

The OP mentioned "antifouling due in three months" in a way that sounds like they would prefer to wait--and that's presumably going to be a haulout for the antifouling--at which time they'd also attend to the stuffing box.

It is not uncommon for folks to wait for a haulout so they *know* they can work on the stuffing box without any concern about water ingress. Yes, that shouldn't be a problem. But then again lots of folks think that just pulling the knotmeter wheel will give them enough water water to sink the boat, too.
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Old 09-06-2018, 14:14   #6
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

The rust and the drip are not related. As mentioned above, the drip should be correctable by adjusting the stuffing box... a normal periodic maintenance issue, and one that can't be done on the hard... how do you know then when you have tightened it enough if there is no water to drip? And from what has been posted, there is nothing to indicate that the packing needs replacement.

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Old 09-06-2018, 15:06   #7
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Traditional stuffing boxes should have a slight drip when running and no drip when stopped. If you tighten the two sides equally, maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 turn at a time the drip should stop. If it doesn't stop within a few full turns, the packing maybe shot. You need to check for a drip next time you are running.

To stop the rust, after wire brushing, apply a metal etch (mild acid) to remove the rust in small pits. Then a metal primer and a hard finish top coat. Something like rustolem should work ok.
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Old 10-06-2018, 09:18   #8
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

I had a situation where I was having to pump out the bilge every 3 days or so. Local fishermen encouraged me to loosen the cap to the stuffing box and just add one more ring and retighten. It is not like water comes gushing out when you have released the cap anyway, so I simply installed one more and stopped the leak till I could replace all of the packing when I had the boat hauled for antifouling. It is true you can't adjust the drip without it being in the water but it is also true that you can't replace the stuffing with the boat in the water.
So this one appears to still have some room for adjustment so I would try that first but if that doesn't resolve the dripping, I would try adding one more ring to stop the drip. Simple fix!
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Old 10-06-2018, 10:28   #9
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Your drips sound about right but check them under power. I've never seen or heard of a stuffing box that would rust, mine is solid bronze and is nearly fifty years old. I remove it at and every haulout, clean it up, put a couple coats of epoxy barrier cote on it and a couple of coats of good one-part paint, replace the stuffing and its good for another couple or three years. I check the drips and feel the temperature, both under way or parked, frequently and replace the stuffing between haul-outs when needed.
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Old 10-06-2018, 10:48   #10
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeseb View Post
I noticed that my stuffing box is highly rusted and at rest, I have a drop of water every 4-5s.
Is that normal, what shall I do?
Do you think it requires an urgent measure? My antifouling is due in 3months.
My sailing boat is in salt water.
Here is a picture attached.
The stuffing boxes (big ones) on my tug has 3 grease fitting behind the flange. I grease the packing and tighten (adjust) the flange as needed. If your packing are ready to install (precut) I do this with the boat in the water... yes I have some water coming in... but work smart and you will learn to do this in the water also.
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Old 10-06-2018, 11:23   #11
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsubob View Post
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
1. It is not like water comes gushing out when you have released the cap anyway, so I simply installed one more and stopped the leak till I could replace all of the packing when I had the boat hauled for antifouling.



2. It is true you can't adjust the drip without it being in the water



3. but it is also true that you can't replace the stuffing with the boat in the water.

1 & 2 disagree with 3.


3. Is nonsense. Of course you can, especially if 1 & 2 are correct.


The added ring as a simple fix is not a bad idea.


I have never waited for a haulout to replace my flax. I always do it in the water. If you want to keep water out of the bilge, then put a container under the box.
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Old 10-06-2018, 17:48   #12
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

At the end, I used a Metal Brush, some sand paper and rust converter and here is the result (It was just on the surface as told).

It's apparently some iron cast material.

I tried to tighten the bolts, no problem but I had 1 drip a second so I tightened a bit more and it's 1 every 3s so I increased the frequency of it. I will leave it like that until I have a haulout and understand how it's built in. I have bought a yacht but no experience in it so thanks to all. I could sleep better after your comments.

Time to fix the manual pump of the main bilge now...
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Old 10-06-2018, 17:50   #13
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Image after removing the rust:
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Old 10-06-2018, 17:59   #14
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsubob View Post
...but it is also true that you can't replace the stuffing with the boat in the water.
It's done all the time. Did it on my boat before I installed a dripless seal. Just cut the flax to size, open up the parts and use a pick to pull out the old stuffing, insert the new, close it up. You have about 20 seconds of water flowing (flowing, not gushing) in which your bilge pump should dispatch in short order.

Key is to make sure you tighten down the locknut as you adjust it with it running, and before you shift into reverse. Ask me how i know...
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Old 22-03-2019, 10:20   #15
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Re: Stuffing box really rusted

Good thread. I am going through this with my 97' steel ketch now but I am already hauled out heh heh. The compression gland in my stuffing box is cast iron (the boat's about 60 years old Dutch barge steelie) and it's a rusted gonner so I must fabricate another one for my 3.5" dia shaft. My contractor says he will cast another cast iron one for a stoopid amount of loot, or a bronze one for even more moolah.

BUT FOR THE LIFE OF ME I can't figure out what is wrong with a mild steel one? The receptacle pipe is steel after all. Seems to me it would be best to stay with a similar metal - or am I completely nuts? I'll have a full suite of new anodes on the hull of course.

I can buy some scrap steel plate and pipe and weld up a nice gland with 1/2" walls. My thought is to do a beautiful job with 2-part epoxy paint on both halves of the gland while they are nice and dry.

Please tell me I am not bonkers!

Ray

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Image after removing the rust:
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