ASK THE EXPERTS
BY TOM NEALE
ASK OUR EXPERT Our technical editor and DIY guru Tom Neale, creates this column from correspondence with our members.
If you have a boat problem that you can’t solve, search our website for answers.
New to boating
I recently purchased a used boat. Do you have any recommendations for a checklist
of “to-do” items prior to putting the boat in the water, e.g., change oil and so on?
Keith Hamulak, Ohio
TOM NEALE: Congratulations on your recent purchase! Yes,
there’s a checklist at BoatUS.com/Spring-Boat-Checklist. Be
sure to tailor your prep for the specific needs of your boat. One
boat may not present the same issues as others. In addition to
preparing the boat, carefully prepare yourself. Learn the local
waters, rules, and regulations as well as how to handle your
boat, if you’re not familiar with it. With any new boat there’s
a learning curve. It also may be of immense help, as it’s a used
boat, to have a well-qualified mechanic check the engine and
other components to be sure all is in good order.
Stuffing box mystery
I’m having trouble with the stuffing
box on the prop shaft of my sailboat.
Basically, the stuffing box drips fine at
rest and when the engine is in neutral.
As we put the boat in gear and bring up
the RPMs, however, the dripping stops
completely and the box gets hot. If we
loosen the nut any more, the box drips
too much when the engine is off. It’s
been my experience that stuffing boxes
drip more as the shaft spins faster, so do
you have any idea why the box is doing
the reverse? The issue started last fall, so
we had the guys at the marina repack
the stuffing box over the winter, but the
problem was not resolved.
TN: You’re right that dripping usually
increases as your shaft turns. Also, while
a little warming may be normal in some
stuffing boxes, it shouldn’t be getting very
hot as you increase RPMs.
Several things could be going on. The
first that comes to mind is a misalignment either of the engine in the boat
(and relative to the shaft) and/or of the
stuffing box relative to the shaft. You
could also have a misalignment in the
cutless bearing at the aft end of the stern
tube (if you have one there) or in the
strut. Or the cutless bearing(s) could be
worn sufficiently to cause some misalignment or shaft wobble.
The cutless bearings need to be
replaced every so often, depending on
how you use your boat. Inspect for excessive wear when the boat is hauled. Any
of these possibilities could cause friction
between the box, the packing, and the
shaft. This could cause the excessive