All Stuffed Up

Pete Ward of Wilmington, North Carolina, asks:"The packing in my stuffing box has become so tightly compressed on the shaft that when I put the transmission in gear, the whole thing turns in the rubber hose that’s connected to the pipe going through the hull. I’ve tried to get all the old packing out with a hook, but it’s still there. I don’t want to use a hammer. Can I
Author:
Updated:
Original:
StuffedPhoto1

Pete Ward of Wilmington, North Carolina, asks:

"The packing in my stuffing box has become so tightly compressed on the shaft that when I put the transmission in gear, the whole thing turns in the rubber hose that’s connected to the pipe going through the hull. I’ve tried to get all the old packing out with a hook, but it’s still there. I don’t want to use a hammer. Can I use something like muriatic acid or heat to get it out?"

Don Casey replies:

This is a classic case of what can happen when the nut on the stuffing box is over-tightened. Not only does the compression exclude the necessary lubricating water, over time it also compresses the packing into a hard mass that is capable of scoring the shaft. This is why stuffing boxes should always drip slightly when the shaft is turning.

Your situation is serious, because the hose might tear or the stern tube could be damaged, in which case you could have a catastrophic leak. The only remedy is to remove every bit of the old packing from the box. A corkscrew-like tool called a flax packing extractor (#137620 westmarine.com) is inexpensive and a good place to start. However, if the packing is especially recalcitrant—which it sounds like yours might be—I’ve had good luck clamping a shark hook in a pair of locking pliers to make an extraction tool.

If you have room to do so, threading a long, thin screw into the packing and then pulling it out can also work wonders. Don’t use acid or heat, because of the potential risk to the shaft, hose and hull. Stick with poking, prying and doing whatever else is necessary to break up and dig out all the old packing.

If the boat is out of the water you might unclamp the box from the hose and try twisting it against the locked shaft. You may even be able to slide it to a more accessible position. When the box is completely empty, put in new packing and install it in rings, not in a continuous spiral. Most boxes will accept three rings with the end seams staggered at 120-degree intervals. Tighten the packing nut until you stem the flow of water. Then run the engine and adjust the nut until you get about three drops of water per minute.

Related

DSC_5337-2

Boat Review: X-Yachts X4⁶

The Danish builder X-Yachts does not simply stick taller or shorter rigs and keels on the same hulls to create boats for both cruisers and racers, as some mass-production builders do. Nor is it content to build two distinct lines of cruisers and racers. Instead, the company has ...read more

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 1.18.36 PM

Harken Changes Hands, Stays in the Family

. In a video posted yesterday, Peter Harken cheerfully announced that his company, Harken Inc., the trusted hardware brand bearing his last name, which was formerly owned by founders and their families has changed hands. The owners have sold their shares to employees—"passing ...read more

OceanRace

Newport Hosts The Ocean Race Summit on Ocean Health

Hundreds of participants from around the world tuned in yesterday for the latest installment of The Ocean Race's (formerly the Volvo Ocean Race) Summit Series, which aims to bring the best of ocean racing—leadership, resilience, tenacity, collaboration—to solving the ocean’s ...read more

sp360_fs5-024crop (1)

Highfield SPORT 360

The new 2021 SPORT 360 is the next generation of Highfield boats. Highfield is celebrating its 10th year in the market this year and in this relatively short period of time has now delivered over 30,000 boats to happy customers in 38 countries. Highfield is already the ...read more

sp560_drone-028crop

Highfield SPORT 560

The new 2021 SPORT 560 is the next generation of Highfield boats. Highfield is celebrating its 10th year in the market this year and in this relatively short period of time has now delivered over 30,000 boats to happy customers in 38 countries. Highfield is already the ...read more

Three Props 1772x1181

EWOL Propellers

Ewol propellers make maneuvering easier, increase sailing speed and increase cruising speed under power. EWOL adjustable pitch propellers are made of stainless steel alloys that represent the highest technology in terms of marine corrosion and galvanic corrosion resistance, ...read more

leadership-forum-LGBTQ-email-graphic

Tonight: US Sailing’s LGBTQ+ Panel

Tune in to the latest installment in US Sailing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Series tonight at 7pm EDT. This week Kimball Livingston will moderate a panel of LGBTQ+ sailors who will share their personal and professional experiences as well as strategies for improving ...read more