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Old 03-05-2018, 11:09 AM   #1
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Advice requested: PSS bellows loose and leaking

We came down to our fairly-new-to-us 4788, and noticed water coming out of one of the through hulls periodically.

After investigation, we found that the port engine PSS seal was leaking substantially where the stainless collar meets the bellows. We re-sat the collar, and stopped the leak, but the whole bellows is loose and can be wiggled. You can see how easy it is to move in the video. The starboard side doesn't move at all.

I'm just starting to investigate the fix, but open to suggestions and pointers.

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Old 03-05-2018, 11:22 AM   #2
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Matt, the stainless collar should be tight on the shaft , and in a position to apply pressure to the bellows. There are allen set screws in the s/s collar and they should be tight and doubled up. The bellows should have approx. 1" of compression, but check with PSS as that dimension is variable with shaft diameter.

Bill
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:36 AM   #3
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Thanks.

Per the PSS compression chart, it should be 1". But 1" from what baseline, on a previous installation?

To "fix" the leak, we just pushed the stainless collar down the shaft about 1/4" -- sounds like maybe that's not enough?
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:47 AM   #4
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The 1" is from the baseline of a fully relaxed bellow. If it still drips at 1", compress in 1/8 " increments.

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Old 03-05-2018, 11:55 AM   #5
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Thank you... that helps a lot, and that's pretty much what we did. Just compressed the collar until the leaking stopped.

Should I not be concerned with the "wiggle" in the bellows, if the leaking has stopped?
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:56 AM   #6
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As the bellows age, they loose some strength so they donít apply as much tension on the seal. As suggested tighten it up and see how it goes. The bellows have a life span so depending how old it is it may need repalcement. Congrats on your new 4788.
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuttouomo View Post
Matt, the stainless collar should be tight on the shaft , and in a position to apply pressure to the bellows. There are allen set screws in the s/s collar and they should be tight and doubled up. The bellows should have approx. 1" of compression, but check with PSS as that dimension is variable with shaft diameter.

Bill


Three things I would suggest:
  • Get new set screws for the SS collar from PSS, not knockoffs. Install them per the PSS protocol
  • Put a suitably sized shaft zinc in front of the SS collar so it can't slip again.
  • How old is the PSS system? If older than 8 years, at the next haul out replace the entire assembly, especially since it is a new to you vessel.
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunchaser View Post
Three things I would suggest:
  • Get new set screws for the SS collar from PSS, not knockoffs. Install them per the PSS protocol
  • Put a suitably sized shaft zinc in front of the SS collar so it can't slip again.
  • How old is the PSS system? If older than 8 years, at the next haul out replace the entire assembly, especially since it is a new to you vessel.
Thank you...

  1. I'll order new set screws today and have them shipped out
  2. The zinc is a good idea, I'll order that too
  3. I don't know how old the system is. Boat is a 2002, so it could be 15 years old. I'll dig through the paperwork on the boat to see if I can find something, but honestly I'd be surprised. Probably just change both out in the spring, in my scheduled haulout.
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Old 03-05-2018, 01:01 PM   #9
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The suggested replacement interval is 6 years. Our Mainship is now 15 years old and I'm sure they have never been replaced. Will take care of it at the next haulout.
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Old 03-05-2018, 02:17 PM   #10
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I believe that the set screws are "stacked" so you must remove the first set screw to reach the 'working' set screw. Once it is tightened, the second set screw gets stacked into the same threads.

No doubt the PSS instructions cover this and this is probably what Sunchaser was referring to but thought I'd add that to the conversation....just in case it's overlooked.
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:07 PM   #11
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Had to replace mine last year, same issue, mine were in their 8th year.

I tried new screws after compressing a further 1/2", didn't work.

Once you set the collar, make a line with sharpie 1/2" forward of collar on shaft. This can be used to confirm collar is not moving forward after your first few runs.
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:58 PM   #12
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I have these on both my drive shafts and rudder posts, and just had the maintenance procedure done a month ago while I was hauled out. The yard told me the bellows replacement interval was 5 years. The PSS website says every 6 years, which I looked up after the fact. So......I was had by a year.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:08 PM   #13
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And, make sure the shaft did not move/slide into the coupler. Another set of set screws to mess with.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:12 PM   #14
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I’m having a similar problem, after adjusting three time I decided to replace both assembles in their entirety. About four years of use but I don’t like taking chances on this type of keeping the boat afloat device. My previous boat went over ten years without an adjustment.

Al is correct, there are two set screws for each hole.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:19 PM   #15
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My advice: Take it to a respected boatyard that's experienced with PSS seals. A screw up could be costly.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:34 PM   #16
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Greetings,
Mr. a. " A screw up could be costly." Or in Mr. m's case, possibly, an un-screwup could be costly.

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Old 03-05-2018, 07:42 PM   #17
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I plan to replace mine at the next haul out since I don't know its age. But wouldn't it be better to replace it with the traditional (bulletproof) stuffing box? Before Gore GFO, I would not consider this switch, but I'm not so sure now. I used Gore GFO packing on my previous boat and when I repacked it after 8 years, it still looked very good and gave me no problems all those years.

I just don't get the same peace of mind with my PSS system that I did with a brass stuffing box. The one drawback I can see is cost. The old style stuffing box with nipple for cooling water cost much more than a PSS kit.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:28 PM   #18
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Greetings,
Mr. m. I am of the same opinion as yourself. "bulletproof" and "peace of mind". Personally I do NOT like PSS or similar style systems. They are "solutions" looking for a virtually non-existent problem IMO. I would much rather tolerate a bit of water in the bilge than trust a system that might cause a sinking. A "classic" stuffing box system can be readily re-packed while in the water and $$-wise, a few feet of GFO packing is far less expensive than hauling and replacing a complete "dripless" system every 5-8 years.
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Old 03-06-2018, 06:42 AM   #19
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IF the bellows seal was done after the boat was built , the stock shaft seal setup may still be intact.

If it is you can toss the dangerous bellows and return to the origional style stuffing box, just be sure to install a modern packing like Duramax or similar.

The ceramic seal folks now use a heavy hose instead of the thin bellows , perhaps they offer a retrofit set up?
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Old 03-06-2018, 07:47 AM   #20
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Since when is a dripless seal "dangerous"? Thousands of boats are using them including mine.
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