Stuffing Box Hell

wynkoop

Member III
Well I have not been on here much of late because I have been spending much time on Silver Maiden. I got her moved the 4.5 miles from the marina to the yard and got her hauled for paint and stuffing box replacement.....There is the trouble.

Went for replacement of stuffing box rather than just repacking the 46 year old unit because it looked like crap with the amount of corrosion and the screws on the aft two hose clamps were mostly a pile of rust. In fact the heads crumbled when I tried to loosen them.

After getting the aft hose clamps cut off at their screws I discovered they did not want to budge. Eventually pulling the forward most stern tube hose clamp with a vice grip with a wiggle action got it out. It showed tell tail signs of having been stuck in glass matt and resin. I attempted the same on the aft most hose clamp and found it would not even wiggle. Feeling around, and an inspection with cell phone camera shows that the aft portion of the stuffing box has a small mass of mashed up glass matt and resin encasing it for about the aft 2 inches on the bottom 160 degrees. All attempts to pull the stuffing box hose free have failed.

I eventually sliced the stuffing box hose along the top from end to end after I could not even remove the bronze fitting after loosening the forward 2 hose clamps. Even with it splayed out wide I can not budge the remains of the stuffing box. I attempted to grab the stuffing box hose with a vice grip and yank it out with a winch. No joy.

At this point the yard has painted her bottom and if I do not get the stuffing box and depth sounder done soon I will have to start paying for dry storage....ICK.

My thought is that this is a manufacturing defect. I can see no reason for the stuffing box to be glassed into place.

My current plan of attack is a small vibrating tool with a cutting blade running parallel to the hull and close to the stuffing box hose on each side.

Has anyone run into this with their boat? Does anyone have a better idea?

I will upload some pictures shortly.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Have not experienced this, but have occasionally heard about other boats where some glass or poly putty was accidentally laid up against the hose right at the tube. Sigh... ! What a hassle.
If you have a "multi master" type vibrating cutting tool that might indeed be best.
And if you have a picture to post, please do.
(If you have a video, please mute the sound so we are spared the cursing!)
:(
 

wynkoop

Member III
In the last photo, which is taken from the port side looking starboard, clearly shows the stuffing box tube and the destroyed hose clamp embedded in a mess of glass.

I am thinking my oscillating tool with a bimetalic blade is the right tool, but I do of course worry about damaging the stern tube or cutting through the hull.

Can anyone tell me what the stern tube is made of? I can not really see with the hose still on it, and it is hard to get more than a hand back there because I am trying to NOT remove the engine. Even with the engine removed the access holes between the ER and the stuffing box are just big enough for one arm.

I can not really access the area from the lazzerette without going in head first. If I do that there is no getting out. I am after all a Captain with no crew.
 

tenders

Innocent Bystander
FWIW the stern tube is made of several layers of fiberglass mat and resin. I can't tell if mine was made at the factory or was a pre-manufactured part that was cut to size and glassed in place. Would agree that an oscillating saw will help you carve that hose up in place. It is worth protecting - cutting it off and trying to reinstall it would be difficult.
 

tenders

Innocent Bystander
What is the rest of your setup like? Looks like a 3/4" shaft with very little room...is this an A4 with a vee drive? If so, welcome to the club. It's a good setup EXCEPT when it comes to dealing with the shaft...at which point it's abominable. I just went through a stuffing box replacement two weeks ago myself. I might have some parts suggestions for you.
 

wynkoop

Member III
Silver Maiden was built in 1974 with a Palmer P-60. Over the winter while in the water I repowered her with a Yanmar 1GM10 because the Palmer needed major work and the 1GM10 came my way cheap with only 5 hours on it.

If the Palmer was in I would have to remove the Palmer to get at the shaft, but with the 1GM10 just disconnecting all the plumbing (I set it up for fresh water cooling) has given me what I hope is enough access. If not I will have to swing the 1GM10 out to the middle of the cabin.

I already have in hand a buck-algonquin stuffing box and packing for the boat. I went with the same thing that had been in because it lasted 46 years and if I get another 46 I will be very happy since I am 61!

Yes 3/4 shaft, which I can not pull all the way out without dropping the rudder, but I can pull far enough out to have the shaft way back in the stern tube.

I am open to suggestions. Shortly I am heading back to the yard to attack the problem with my vibrating tool with a saw blade attached.
I originally asked the yard to do this job, but they shied away from it without even seeing it.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Speaking of cutting and grinding that ancient glass layup -- have a large (or smaller) shop vac present close by, and bring the end of the pickup hose close to the point of contact. Some larger crumbs will escape but the mass of dust and smaller bits will be removed. The 3" hose on the larger vac is best but the smaller one will do wonders. The difference this makes, with your head and shoulders and a trouble light jammed into this restricted area... and as many arms as will fit... will amaze you if trying this for the first time.
Further, the blades for a "multimaster" vibrator tool come in several widths and the narrower one might be better. Just advance it cautiously and take out small slices of filler as you work.
As much as possible, clean up the general area with wet rags first, also. I have done a lot of related work on our boat over the years and the cleaner you can make your "operating theater" the more accurate your work will be.

My SWAG is that these stern tubes are all laid up over forms, ahead of time. Then the length and angle are cut and it's glassed into place with cloth and dooky-schmutz. (an accurate term for resin mixed with fibers/fillers, learned from a boat yard friend many years ago...).

Sometimes it helps to have a dictionary of swear words handy. The one-word-fits-all F word gets boring and redundant at some point. :)

If possible, have a helper to hand in tools and commiserate with.

When you reach the finish or at least a plateau of accomplishment for the day, go and enjoy a glass of a decent IPA.
:egrin:
But stop at one...............
 

tenders

Innocent Bystander
My sympathies. This is a March job, not a July job. But you've been dealing with it since March (or before). You have three components: getting the old hose out, clearing/sanding the obstruction around the tube so you can confirm its integrity, and getting the new hose in and secure. I would expect you'll need as much access as possible to do this.

I recommend better (unperforated) hose clamps than what Buck Algonquin includes with their stuffing box. The outer diameter of their 3/4" stuffing box hose is 2.25" so I successfully used item 5204K571 from https://www.mcmaster.com/catalog/126/337

I slipped the stuffing box on and off the tube several times before the final installation, and trimmed the tails from the semi-tightened clamps with the oscillating saw before the final installation. Also, have several extra blades on hand for the saw, which is an extremely useful tool.
 

wynkoop

Member III
Had the handheld vac at the boat yesterday. I will take the shop vac today as well. Very good idea to have suction while cutting.

I will stop by harbor freight and pick up some smaller blades for the tool. At the moment I only have a rather large semicircle that I used to remove the old shaft coupling back in the dead of winter.

I am only getting to this in July because of the pandemic. Original plan was to do the stuffing box in March, but I ended up out of the city for 2 months and the yard was not working during that time in any case. It is amazing how many boats are still waiting launch at the yards in Mill Basin.

Good point on the hose clamps. I will see if I can lay hands on the same clamps quickly. If not if the new box holds for 46 years I will be 107 and the boat will be 96, so I think retirement at that point might be warranted.
 

Mark F

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Hi Brett,
I don't envy you, that looks like a tough job. Don't be afraid to make the access hole bigger. On my E27 the "bulkhead" in that area is just a floating liner pan. Here is what I did to that area on my boat when I realized the only way to remove the gas tank was to cut it up (gasoline fumes!!!) or pull it out through that bulk head. engine1.JPGtank1.JPG
 

Parrothead

Member II
As Tenders said, the shaft log is a fiberglass tube bonded into the hull at a precise angle. The high end logs were machine braided UniDirectional Roving (UDR) on a mandrel recognizable by the braided UDR stranding. Lower quality logs were hand laid up in the factory mold shop with mat and cloth also on a mandrel. I have to believe that your situation with the hose and clamps immersed in the structural bonding must be from a previous owner. I hope there is no way any factory would ever do that.

Now that you're dealing with it here are two pictures of what it should look like, one of the log protruding into the hull, the other of the finished project. Crediting Tenders again, T bolt clamps are preferred and readily available from McMaster-Carr Industrial Supply.
 

Attachments

tenders

Innocent Bystander
“Mainesail”’s extensive how-tos should be required reading for anyone with a sailboat. Here’s one on the stuffing box that might be marginally helpful in this situation.

 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Our '88 factory shaft alley installation is not as clean as the example in reply 14, but has allowed us to install a PSS shaft seal without problems.
 

Parrothead

Member II
Loren, the pictured installation was a repair done by an owner with zero fiberglass experience. He was coached through it by experienced members of another forum.
 

tenders

Innocent Bystander
Count me out on dripless shaft seals. They’re great until they fail, and then the failure is catastrophic. I lost two bellows in the cradle over about 12 years due to small fuel spills over the winter. The fix requires removing the coupling from the shaft, which is a real bear on my installation. Packing glands fail gradually and are easier to service.
 
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