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Old 11-05-2020, 11:14   #1
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Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

OK, this is my first time ever doing this, so please be gentle. I'm asking in this forum before I call in a professional.

When I bought my first boat last year, one item identified on the survey was not crucial, but that there was a slow drip from my stuffing box while the engine was off. Now the drip is a little faster, about one drop every 2 seconds.

So I tried to fix it. Here are a couple pictures, the stuffing box and the tools I'm using. I went to a lot of sites and looked at videos - most people recommended a pipe wrench but honestly i think its useless because a pipe wrench has a little give to it, and easily slips off the nut and just tears it up a little.

I tried to tighten it and it won't move. At all. I tried to loosen it by turning the other way, and it won't move at all. I used WD40, used Breakfree, let it sit for awhile, tried again, nothing. If I use any more force I'm worried about breaking the prop shaft tube/hose or whatever you call it.

And here is the crux of my question - is tightening going to do any good? Because it sure looks to me like the lock nut is already flush against the packing nut, so there is no way to tighten it as it is. Should I loosen the lock nut a little first, then tighten the packing nut? That makes more sense to me, but all the places I checked never mentioned that.

And it's also possible the packing is old - the boat is from 2006, has low engine hours, but I have no idea when was the last time any maintenance was done here.

Next question - maybe I don't need to fix it, and the cure will be worse than the disease? The bilge pump can easily handle the drip, but the problem is, it goes down into the bilge in a roundabout way and frankly, I'm tired of there always being a little water sloshing under my floorboards.
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Old 11-05-2020, 11:21   #2
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

You need two wrenches. One on the nut and one on the lock nut. You are trying to turn the lock but first. Then remove the large nut. Be prepared for a bit of water. Most people think itís too much but it can be done in water. You will likely want to stuff a rag in the open tube. Use a dental pick tool and remove all packing from nut. Watch a video on getting the correct size packing and how to cut and install. Good luck.

Be very careful not to put any torque on the tube. That is a disaster.
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Old 11-05-2020, 11:22   #3
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Quote:
Should I loosen the lock nut a little first, then tighten the packing nut? That makes more sense to me, but all the places I checked never mentioned that.
Yes, loosen lock nut, tighten big nut SLIGHTLY, tighten lock nut against big nut.
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Old 11-05-2020, 11:39   #4
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Thats an easy job. Used to do them all the time.
No need to haul. an adjustable spanner would be perfect if you have one that will fit, which is unlikely.
Pipe wrench on the lock nut and main nut. Wire brush the threads clean so the lock nut can run back. Plenty of wd40 or similar on thread.
Take the time to set the wrenches properly, thats the key.
Break the lock between the the lock nut and the main nut. Run the back nut back.
Put the pipe wrenck on the body of the stuffing box and undo the main nut.
The important thing is not to turn the main body of the stuffing box in the tube connecting to the fibreglass.
Remove the main nut, slide it up towards the engine. Yea water coming in the boat. relax, it's not going to sink your boat if you have a working bilge pump, and even if you did'nt it would take hours and hours.
Take your newly purchased pig tail and screw it aft between the shaft and the main body, Idea is to snag the old packing. Pull the packing out. Do this till all packing out. Clean inside as best as possible with whatever tool works best, likely a screwdriver.
Take pre prepared new packing liberaly lubed with your newly purchased packing lube. Instal in with cuts staggered.
Pre preppare packing by wrapping it around your shaft and marking then cutting. Will likely need 4.
Push new packing aft. lube plenty. push next packing aft. Etc.
Water flow will reduce at this point.
Screw on main nut. run back nut up to it.
It will need adjustment after running in all likeyhood. Perfect is a drip when engine running but zero or almost zero when not running.
Grease the entire thread area, locknut and main nut so that next time this is an easy job.
If someone tells you you have to haul to do this job .....well I will hold my honest opinion and just say they not of what they speak.
Remember, water running into the boat is not a cause to panic, big breath and realize that it really isnt as much as it seems.

I have posted this for the OP only, dont care to argue with the experts, I have only done this at least 50 times ranging from 3/4 shafts to 2 inch.
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Old 11-05-2020, 11:52   #5
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Well said Allied39. When I tighten packing I now judge the proper tightness when the gland nut is cool to the touch while operating and not gushing water.
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Old 11-05-2020, 12:21   #6
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

The previous posts provide great advice for repacking the stuffing box. However, you appear to have plenty of thread left for adjustment. Before you repack, back off the thin lock nut and tighten the bigger nut (the gland) until the drip barely stops. This should be maybe an eighth or quarter of a turn. Then tighten up the thin lock nut against the gland. Ideally you should use two special stuffing box wrenches to tighten the two nots together. If you only have one wrench tighten one nut then the other a couple of times to get them to lock.
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Old 11-05-2020, 12:23   #7
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

To free up the nuts I suggest cleaning the threads with wire brush, soaking with penetrating oil applied several times daily for a week, tapping lightly wih hammer on the flats in the direction of loosening the nut. A little heat might help - try to heat only the nut quickly. Sometimes, if space permits, a steady force on the wrench accompanied by tapping on the flats can jar it loose. When the nuts are free, run them up and down a few times to further clean the threads.
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Old 11-05-2020, 12:52   #8
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Point i did fail to mention, yes, you may be able to just tighten the main nut, That would pull you out of well maintained vessel to "should be ok" vessel. My personal standards are such that anything that looks like it needs an overhaul to bring it back to well maintained, gets said overhaul. That stuffing box absolutely falls into the "looks like it needs an overhaul" category.
But that just me.
You do you.
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Old 11-05-2020, 13:13   #9
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allied39 View Post
Pipe wrench on the lock nut and main nut.
How to get pipe wrenches to hold? Like I said, even when you firmly tighten it, there's a slight flexible give that slips it right off the nut. I thought maybe my wrench was defective, but went to the hardware store and they were all like that.
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Old 11-05-2020, 13:48   #10
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Yeah, thats the way they are designed. They take up as two parallel surfaces as you apply pressure.
I started out many moons ago as a plumber, drainer , gasfitter so perhaps I take the use of pipe wrenches as natural.
These are definitely the tool for the job and they can definitely do the job without destroying anything.
Maybe practice on something you can find laying about ? I cant really offer much more to help out than that,
You can do it.
Remember, the two wrenches are used to oppose each others forces. One wrench handle in each hand. Or foot, one in one hand, foot against the other, done that enough times.
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Old 11-05-2020, 13:56   #11
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Teeth on the jaws of a pipe wrench are directional, could slip if you got it backwards, look closely, like a hacksaw blade they only work in one direction.
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Old 11-05-2020, 14:22   #12
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Open part of the pipe wrench jaws on thin lock nut need to be to port. Soak everything with PB Blaster overnight. Threads look OK, should come loose.
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Old 11-05-2020, 14:38   #13
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

Our boat came with a giant Ford wrench (auto wrench)
You can also get special stuffing box wrenches for about 50 bucks each -takes two sizes
The rule of thumb is "no drips when not turning, 5 seconds per drip when running."
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Old 11-05-2020, 15:05   #14
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

I just did this 2 weeks ago and it is really not that difficult. Like you, the stuffing box in my boat hadn't been serviced for years and I was afraid the 2 nuts are stuck together.

I put the pipe wrench on the nut close to coupling and plier wrench on the other one which is clamped to the hose (sorry, don't know which one is lock nut). Make sure the orientation of the 2 wrenches is opposite to each other, it will help if you orient the pipe wrench under the nut with the open end facing the sky. Keeping the plier wrench steady apply clockwise force on the pipe wrench and it should give.

Good luck.
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Old 11-05-2020, 15:10   #15
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Re: Help - first time fixing a stuffing box

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-7-8-2-Sha...-/254196475197
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