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Old 14-05-2013, 22:03   #1
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Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

I have a dripless shaft seal on my boat. It is the type which has a raw water feed from the main engine. I have never had one of these before -- always had normal dripping seals with packing which needed regular fussing.

It has never given me a moment's trouble, which worries me (seems not normal for anything on a boat not to cause some problem sooner or later). It will soon be 12 years old (my boat was commissioned in 2001); about 1500 engine hours.

My boat was out of the water over the winter, and I had a reputable marine engineer inspect it, plus the steering gear, rudder bearings, and rudder seals.

He lubricated and adjusted the steering cables, but pronounced everything else to be fit for service.

What to watch out for with these? Can they really last this long? Do you guys inspect your seals? What to look for?
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Old 14-05-2013, 22:40   #2
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

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What to watch out for with these?
Watch for when they start to drip.
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Old 14-05-2013, 22:43   #3
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

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Watch for when they start to drip.
Is that all? Sounds far too simple. ..
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Old 14-05-2013, 22:48   #4
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

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Is that all? Sounds far too simple. ..
I suppose it's also a bad sign when they begin to glow in the dark.
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Old 14-05-2013, 22:53   #5
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

PYI's (PSS) recommends replacing the bellows every 6 years, but 10 years is not unheard of. If yours is a PSS I'd be looking into a bellows change.

PSS Shaft Seal
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Old 14-05-2013, 23:27   #6
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

I had a boatyard friend who, if the normal adjustment wouldn't stop the leaking, would slide 1200 grit wet sandpaper between the carbon and stainless blocks, and gently sand both sides for a few minutes. He said that he had 100% success with only one exception when the carbon was cracked on one.
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Old 15-05-2013, 00:42   #7
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

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PYI's (PSS) recommends replacing the bellows every 6 years, but 10 years is not unheard of. If yours is a PSS I'd be looking into a bellows change.

PSS Shaft Seal
I'm at 12 years, as far as I know. The bellows look like new, but I guess this is good advice.
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Old 15-05-2013, 01:04   #8
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I replaced mine at 9 years and they looked fine in the boat. When we pulled them out they were at end of their life and glad to replace them. Would well and truly be replaced them now and soon than later.
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Old 15-05-2013, 01:51   #9
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

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I replaced mine at 9 years and they looked fine in the boat. When we pulled them out they were at end of their life and glad to replace them. Would well and truly be replaced them now and soon than later.
The reputable marine engineer I paid to inspect mine might have told me that, eh, while I was still on the hard?

Can it be done with the boat in the water?
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Old 15-05-2013, 02:30   #10
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

I replaced my PSS when it 9 years old.
Compared with the new one the bellows had lost some of their elasticity and spring, but it looked a long way from any risk of catastrophic failure from the bellows tearing.


PSS recommend every 5 years. I think they are being very conservative, but if it is now 12 years old I would replace it at the next haul out.

Its not a job that can be done in the water.

On some boats the prop, needs to be removed to slide the propshaft back far enough.

Keep oil and grease away from rubber bellows.
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Old 15-05-2013, 03:23   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
I replaced my PSS when it 9 years old.
Compared with the new one the bellows had lost some of their elasticity and spring, but it looked a long way from any risk of catastrophic failure from the bellows tearing.

PSS recommend every 5 years. I think they are being very conservative, but if it is now 12 years old I would replace it at the next haul out.

Its not a job that can be done in the water.

On some boats the prop, needs to be removed to slide the propshaft back far enough.

Keep oil and grease away from rubber bellows.
i had mine off two days ago with the boat in the water. was able to slide the shaft back enough to take it off the front. had a pvc sock and two hose clamps to stop the water pouring in once off
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Old 15-05-2013, 03:39   #12
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Before removing the bellows jump in and plug up the inlet, whatever it may be, as best you can. A rag should work. Do this after pushing the shaft aft. No need for a haulout.
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Old 15-05-2013, 04:25   #13
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

I guess I get too nervous with water spurting into the boat
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Old 15-05-2013, 04:46   #14
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

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I guess I get too nervous with water spurting into the boat
Hah, me too!

I come out briefly every two months for a scrub off, anyway. Can it be done in 45 minutes? That's how long I get to do whatever I need to do below the waterline, according to my price plan.
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Old 15-05-2013, 04:53   #15
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Re: Dripless Shaft Seal Inspection & Maintenance?

Dockhead, I know of a case where the PSS shaft seal failed and nearly sunk the boat. The insurance company refused to pay as it was part of the "wear and tear" exclusion. On Pearl I have the entire unit replaced or rebuilt by a reputable boatyard every 5-6 years.

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