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Old 09-12-2013, 07:51   #1
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Leaky Drive Shaft

Hi all. Bought my first big boat, 31 Hunter. Still getting familiar with the boat and noticed that there is a little bit of water coming in from the drive shaft. Not a lot, but enough to go drip, drip, drip every other second or so. Is this reasonable or is it a tale tell to a foreboding experience? It's an '84 and I'm assuming the shaft and housing are all original.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 09-12-2013, 08:03   #2
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Re: Leaky drive shaft

If it's a packing gland seal, it's normal for an occasional drip. Check it while it's running too. Packing glands need a slight drip to keep the shaft lubed and cool.
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Old 09-12-2013, 08:06   #3
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Re: Leaky drive shaft

Do you know what type of seal you have. If its the traditional stuffing box then it probably needs adjusting and a squirt of grease. Should drip about once a minute. If it's a modern dripless and there are dozens of different types then you have a problem.

Post a photo if you can.

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Old 09-12-2013, 11:02   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. Let me know what you think

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Old 09-12-2013, 12:11   #5
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

A good clean up of the shaft and nuts would be a good idea. Then get some wrenches (not pipe wrenches) that fit the nuts and make sure you can loosen the lock nut. Eventually you will need to make an adjustment. For now a slight twist to the packing nut might do some good.

But do be careful not to twist the hose. There may be a lower ring on the bronze gland/box to help hold it while turning the nut(s).

Also I'd recommend buying some spare packing of the right size and a packing extraction tool to keep on the boat.

If and when you haul the boat you should pull the old packing and start anew. At the same time inspect the shaft for wear.

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Old 09-12-2013, 12:47   #6
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Thanks. I plan to haul out in a few months, so I'll add that to the list.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:57   #7
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

The packing can be replaced while in the water if required. Do check the hose and clamps. Hose can't be replaced in the water. Check MainSails how to articles.
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Old 09-12-2013, 13:06   #8
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

Tightening the packing gland nut with all the cautions above may stop the leak. A packing gland seal should have a slow drip when the shaft is turning. The water acts as a lubricant and tightening the nut too tight will cause the packing to score the shaft requiring a shaft replacement for a good seal. The gland can be set up so that they don't leak while at rest but need to drip under way. If you decide to repack the seal, use teflon packing available from Gore, the GoreTex people, among others. It is super slippery and works way better than conventional packing both for wear and water seal. Wouldn't be a bad idea to replace the rubber hose portion. These deteriorate with age and your boat is of an age where changing it might be advisable.
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Old 09-12-2013, 13:06   #9
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

'good advive above, but it's not a job that requires a haul out.

When you slide he packing nut foreword water will enter at a rate that can easily be reduced with a tied rag.

Pry out the old packing...

...and insert two or more new rings.

Be sure to set the openings of the rings at opposing alingment and it's best to have cut the packing strips at an angle so the ring closes with an overlap.

It's common to be able to tighen the stuffing box so that it will not drip with the engine off and drip intermittantly with it running. Like a new guitar string, adjustment will be required after the first few operations of the engine after the change.
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Old 09-12-2013, 14:06   #10
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I'll have to find a way to maneuver well enough back there. It's a pretty cramped space.
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Old 09-12-2013, 14:35   #11
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

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Originally Posted by Ford Prefect View Post
I'll have to find a way to maneuver well enough back there. It's a pretty cramped space.
Cramped in the machinery space of a sailboat????

You don't say! I wonder if any other sailboats are like this????

More of the same above advice.... I personally prefer an occasional drip when sitting.... if the 2-5 drips per minute turning happens.... Way better than too tight/scoring.... If it's hotter than warm to the touch under way, it's too tight....
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Old 09-12-2013, 14:49   #12
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Glad I could tee that one up for you, happy


Thanks for all the input!! I definitely need it
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Old 09-12-2013, 15:11   #13
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

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Originally Posted by Ford Prefect View Post
Glad I could tee that one up for you, happy


Thanks for all the input!! I definitely need it

A perfect set up is always appreciated! It makes sharing our knowledge that much more enjoyable!

Welcome to CF... You are amongst friends here, and some of the most knowledgeable people on the planet.... Who are eager to share what they know... After you've massaged this matter into an acceptable resolution... You'll be right there with us to help the next guy/gal....

PS: Fun boat... You're going to love the hell out of her....
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Old 09-12-2013, 15:17   #14
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

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Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
Cramped in the machinery space of a sailboat????

You don't say! I wonder if any other sailboats are like this????

..................

Sure, they are not all alike. I have a couple more feet open forward of this photo and more space on the forward side of a carrier bearing. I'm fortunate to be able to access my shaft with a one foot reach from my aft cabin bilge ceiling. There's a huge variety in design for access to mechanics on sailboat!
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Old 09-12-2013, 15:21   #15
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Re: Leaky Drive Shaft

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There's a huge variety in design for access to mechanics on sailboat!
I'll second that!


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