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Old 22-01-2007, 06:50   #1
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Stuffing box challenged!

Hello everyone,

I'm posting here to admit a huge weakness. I am stuffing box challenged.

I have had them for many many years, and have not yet figured them out fully. The ones I have owned have been the traditional "drip" type with the packing gland. My questions are about maintenance and actually working with those ridiculous nuts on the stuffing box.

1) What tools do you guys use? I have those flimsy stuffing box spanners from West Marine. They bend, give and slip easily. I don't want to strip my packing nut.

2) What is the proper way to maintain the stuffing box?

3) Why is the stuffing box such a scary thing??
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Old 22-01-2007, 07:12   #2
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Sean,

I've repacked the stuffing box on my CS36 many times, always in the water (that's when I find out it's leaking too much).

For wrenches I use a large monkey wrench and a Model T wrench I got at a flea market. I got two of the Model T wrenches as they are small but large enough, about 1" for the packing nuts. For picking out the old packing I use an old ground down screwdriver that I've bent a bit.

I also have marked the hull at the stuffing box with a couple of arrows to show which way to turn the nuts when tightening and loosening. For some reason I always get confused and am scared that I will go the wrong way.

Most boxes call for three rings of packing, I usually put in two as on the box I've got it's very hard to get three in and still connect the two halves. I turn down each ring as I install it. With three I have a terrible time and afraid I'll cross thread the damn thing so two works fine.

It's all trial and error. Install new packing, go motoring and adjust the drip. The main thing is that the box should not be warm to the touch when motoring. About a drip a minute and with some of the new teflon packing not much dripping at all.

It's not scary at all. When I was going up and down the waterway in this boat I knew I had to repack when the bilge filled up and I couldn't turn the box down anymore. That evening I would use my rubber strips (from old motorcycle tire tubes) and seal it and repack. About an hour's work.

My new boat has a dripless stuffing box. Now they're scary as there's no fix when they go!!
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Old 22-01-2007, 07:48   #3
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To add to sean's post, be sure first and foremost that if you do this in the water that your bilge pump is working and up to the task. By all means get all of the old packing out before redoing. We use a dental pick since it will get in the small space and actually hook onto the old packing. Worst Marine also sells a corkscrew type remover. If at all possible get at least three rings in the stuffing box. This may mean installing two, tighten down the nut, then remove and install the last. When cutting the new packing to fit, wrap it around the shaft and cut to size, cutting the material on a bias where it will meet and not just straight across. The water inflow should not be that great so you will have time to get it done. Then as sean said, run for a while and readjust. You may have to do this a few times. We have been using Goretex packing for several years now. With it you tighten the box just until the drip stops and it works well with no overheating. But do not overtighten.
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Old 22-01-2007, 08:13   #4
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Quote:
I have those flimsy stuffing box spanners from West Marine. They bend, give and slip easily. I don't want to strip my packing nut.
Pretty much. It's not like they really are that great and you don't know how to use them. They really are terrible wrenches that are a PITA to really use even when you really do it a lot.

Finding a flat enough fixed open end wrench is the ideal. You won't strip the nut then. You need two however. Some nuts are bigger than others. Some more than 2 inches. I've not found a perfect source as many stuffing boxes are quite different. Collecting a source for the various sizes might be a good forum project.
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Old 22-01-2007, 08:26   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco
That evening I would use my rubber strips (from old motorcycle tire tubes) and seal it and repack. About an hour's work.
does this mean you sealed it from the outside of the boat at the shaft? i don't even know what size of packing material to buy and would need to open the gland to measure. but I do know mine needs to be replaced also. doing it in the water seems a little scary with not much room for error.
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Old 22-01-2007, 08:28   #6
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For many years I have used a wrench that can be purchased in any hardware store that removes the retainer nut from under a sink drain. I forget what they are called. You need to buy a good quality one but it has worked well for me for a long time.
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Old 22-01-2007, 08:42   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonesail
does this mean you sealed it from the outside of the boat at the shaft?
gonesail,

No, I wrap the rubber around the shaft log (inside the boat) after I've undone the stuffing box. Very little water comes in, at the most a cupful. Once the nut has been backed off and the box is in two pieces wrap the rubber around the shaft log and the shaft and stretch it as you wrap. Put a hitch in it and it stays there, no water leaks into the boat.
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Old 22-01-2007, 09:18   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco
I wrap the rubber around the shaft log (inside the boat) after I've undone the stuffing box
makes sense to me. but when you are removing the material and putting in new .. the box has to be open and water is coming in right? what kind of incoming pressure is there when you are trying to push the new stuffing into place? i guess after you do it once it gets easier the next time.
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Old 22-01-2007, 09:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonesail
makes sense to me. but when you are removing the material and putting in new .. the box has to be open and water is coming in right? what kind of incoming pressure is there when you are trying to push the new stuffing into place? i guess after you do it once it gets easier the next time.
No, no water comes in once the shaft log is wrapped where the shaft enters the boat. Water pressure will depend on how deep your hull is. On my CS36 Merlin it's not a lot. You can stop it by wrapping a rag around it but I find the rubber a lot better. Once you turn the box off the shaft log, the clearance between the shaft and the shaft log is very small. I'm guessing but on my boat it's less than an eighth of an inch.
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Old 22-01-2007, 09:41   #10
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I'm not stuffing box challenged cause I replaced mine years ago with one from PYI. Now I don't even worry about my stuffing box. Just make sure I burp it when we launch after a haul out and forget about it. I do inspect it periodically but that's it. Works...
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Old 22-01-2007, 10:05   #11
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Jon,

Mine works on my B393 too but I worry about it. I know how to deal with a traditional stuffing box but these patented dripless ones scare me. I have been on boats where they leaked (worn, seals?)and there is no cure but to replace them. If I remember right my warranty says to replace the thing after 500 hours!
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Old 22-01-2007, 10:36   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco
Once you turn the box off the shaft log, the clearance between the shaft and the shaft log is very small. I'm guessing but on my boat it's less than an eighth of an inch.
oh so you are sliding both parts of the stuffing box forward on the shaft and then sealing the shaft to the tube?
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Old 22-01-2007, 10:40   #13
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Sean, I speak heresy here! My boat had a neglected stuffing box that sprayed the engine compartment with salt water every time the engine ran. The battery was going flat very fast because the stuffiing box was leaking. When I went to tighten it, the tube between the hull and the stuffing box began weaping at the hull. During the subsequent haul out I replaced the whole mess with a PSS Shaft Seal. There is no financial reason to do this, packing is cheap. But any boat I have will have a PSS on it from now on. If installed correctly they will not leak.
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Old 22-01-2007, 16:08   #14
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Have not paid much attention to my stuffing box and packing in about 4 years.

Had the regular Flax stuff, but replaced it "Virtually Dripless Packing", that is probably the Goretex mentioned earlier.

When I followed the instructions carefully it would either drip, or run warm.
Hmm, now what?

Then I took the stuff apart again and smeared that expensive Teflon grease on the shaft and the rings.
(Against the manufactors advice)

Right away I could tighten the nuts enough to stop any drips, yet it would not run hot, or warm.
Kept an eye on it for a couple of years, but not anymore.
It seems to go forever...Sort of makes me nervous if something is too good to be true.
Plan to redo the whole thing on next haulout, perhaps in a year or so.

Did the work in the water last time, but it got a bit messy with a continous stream coming in while I tried to measure and cut them rings.

Prior to all that I had to replace my stern tube as it was cracked where the rubber hose slides over it.
Looked like somebody had tightened the hose clamps a bit too much.
Big job that was and it cost me about $4K......

At any rate, no more problems, no mo' leaks....
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Old 22-01-2007, 16:12   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan

1) What tools do you guys use? I have those flimsy stuffing box spanners from West Marine. They bend, give and slip easily. I don't want to strip my packing nut.

2) What is the proper way to maintain the stuffing box?

3) Why is the stuffing box such a scary thing??
1) Big channel locks and or pipe wrenches.
2) no drip with a stagnant shaft, 4-6 gtts a min with a rotating shaft.
3) Because you haven't done it yet and felt the stress of ounces of water comming in uncontrolably.
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