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Old 07-01-2016, 19:45   #1
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Location: Slidell, LA. USA
Boat: William Atkin Cutter
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NO Cutless Bearing

We have developed a leak around the interior shaft log where it meets the hull.
Our boat is a William Atkin Cutter, built in 1977. We have owned her since ' 05. Have recently noticed the leak and have contacted the original owner/builder, with whom we are friends, in order to determine the exact configuration of the shaft log, cutless bearing, stuffing boxes, and the information needed before we haul for a repair. We assumed that the shaft log, stern tubes integrity had been breached on the interior and was allowing water to leak through the tube interior and exit into the bilge.

Not a very good photo, but it shows the exterior stuffing box just forward of the prop, bolted to the hull, if blown up just a little.

After speaking to the original builder/owner, we learned that the boat has no cutless bearing and never has had one. There are two stuffing boxes, one normal one attached to the shaft log on the interior via the rubber hose, and the other one on the exterior attached to the deadwood area just forward of the prop where the shaft exits the hull. We have been aware of this arrangement since the purchase date. We assumed that a cutless bearing was also inside of the shaft log stern tube. Now we know. The builder/owner advises that back in those days it was not uncommon to do an installation in this fashion, and the shipwrights who supervised the building suggested that it was just another option. Anyway it has been functioning in this fashion since construction without problems or leaks until recently. Many miles have passed under power. The leak does not increase when under power, and is currently averaging about 12 drops per minute just sitting in the slip.

I am not sure exactly what I will find when we haul but the original owner advised that he will assist in the repair. He does not remember every detail of the installation due to the time passing but remembers that the stern tube is bronze.

I have searched the Internet, spoken to many yards, and individuals but have been unable to find anyone who has ever seen a setup such as this. If anyone out there is familiar with such an arrangement it would be interesting to know.
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Old 07-01-2016, 21:01   #2
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Re: NO Cutless Bearing

There are many "variations on a theme" in the world of wooden boats (that's our world ) and nothing is really too "out there."

Ours was a stuffing box with babbit bearing inside, stern bearing (cutlass) outside with a 30-some inch red brass pipe through the deadwood connecting the two.

I would suspect that you have babbit bearing (inside?) and out if you don't have a normal cutlass bearing outside (with vents for water flow and such). That would mean you have a small tube feeding grease to the outer one as well as the inner one and it is that grease which keeps the water out.

Do you have a grease cup that you have to turn to keep it lubricated or anything like that?

We had our inner babbit bearing machined away and fitted a seawater fitting to flush water though from the inside stuffing box out through the shaft log and we replaced the red brass tube and the outter stern tube/cutlass housing with a new one that we had to modify for it all to fit. You can do similar.

Best to post some pics, close up, of all the parts. Then you might have someone come along with exactly the same set-up Feel free to PM for further discussion or assistance if nothing more useful comes along from the larger community here.

Fair winds,

You can usually replace either the inner or the outer one depending on what you need and want--no biggy once you get a handle on what you already have.

"The only noble thing a man can do with money is to build a schooner." Robert Louis Stevenson
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Old 07-01-2016, 23:06   #3
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Re: NO Cutless Bearing

Aside from the leak where the stung box meets the hull, sounds to me like your stuffing box is adjusted too loosely. When at rest it should not drip at all, and have that drip rate only when the shaft is turning!
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Old 08-01-2016, 05:47   #4
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Re: NO Cutless Bearing

Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
Aside from the leak where the stuffing box meets the hull, sounds to me like your stuffing box is adjusted too loosely. When at rest it should not drip at all, and have that drip rate only when the shaft is turning!
Sorry, I was probably not very clear on advising about the drip. What I meant to say is that the drip, which I have at rest, is not from the stuffing box where the shaft enters the stuffing box from the transmission, which would be the normal drip area. With the engine in gear the drip there is normal, about a drop every 10 - 12 seconds. The drip which I have at rest is is not from there but from where the tube which houses the shaft meets the hull, around the outside edge of the tube. That tube normally houses the cutless bearing, and water should not have access to that area at all. Thinking that there is a breach inside of the tube or where the outside stuffing box is bolted to the hull, or maybe the bonding of the tube to the hull has let go, allowing water to enter around the outside of the tube.

Must be a very small hole though as we have just moved the boat from clear fresh water to salty water which contains sediment from runoff. Since the move the leak volume has been cut in half. Must be some damming effect going on where the water enters.

I too am quite confused and need to post photos, and will do so as soon as we haul and began to remove shaft, prop and both boxes. I have been trying to determine exactly what is back there, and what I discovered yesterday, from the original owner about, no cutless, only enhanced my confusion. I was hoping to learn more from him about what I would encounter, but time usually hides the details.

Thanks Schooner, it is nice to hear that there is more than one way this has been done. Hoping to find some variation of your description when we get there.
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