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Old 10-22-2019, 02:58 PM   #1
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Rudder Packing

I had my Propeller Shaft packing leaking on the starboard engine. I tightened it but it still was leaking about 10 gallons a day. I was leaving on a trip so hired the marina where my slip is to change the packing. I was on my way out of town and received a text of the cost, it was 285.00 per shaft and 70.00 in materials. So I said ok even though the port side appeared to be fine.

When I got my final bill it also reflected they had done the rudder shafts. So I was billed 285 x4 plus the 70 x 4...

I don't deny that probably the port side should have been changed even though it wasn't leaking but does it make since to do the rudder shafts if they aren't leaking? they hardly turn and I would think that packing would last for years?

My boat had been kept up up until about 4-5 years ago so I am playing catch up and realize this will be one less thing to worry about but also question if it was necessary.
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Old 10-22-2019, 03:20 PM   #2
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The rudder shafts donít usually leak much if any. Was it necessary? Depends on if they were leaking and did you tell them to do the work. $285 per shaft seems like a bit much but they may be difficult to access.
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:17 PM   #3
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No they weren't leaking and weren't a concern. When I told him I had a leak he suspected maybe that's where it was coming from and pulled the hatch. The next day I found it was coming from the starboard side propeller shaft. It told him that was my concern to "put a band aide on it to stop the leak" He did text me the price but it said "shaft and rudder packing" 285.00 each. I suspected it was a typo or language thing and thought he would be doing the one propeller shaft maybe two if needed since that's what we had discussed.

He did say rudder, but I thought it was a typo or something, I had too much going on. Anyway I guess now I know to get a written proposal and review it thoroughly.

The rudders are both easily accessible the propeller shafts are a little harder to get to.

i am guessing I will never have to do the rudder shafts again?
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:10 PM   #4
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It took me about 30 minutes to change the stuffing on each prop with GFO while on the hard. It could take longer depending on the access. A special inexpensive tool is needed - kind of like a small cork screw. When changing the packing while in the water there is an added sense of urgency and experience needed which is something I have not done yet. The GFO isn't that expensive, probably about half of what they charged you, but not sure.. I have not replaced the packing on my rudders yet.

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Old 10-22-2019, 11:12 PM   #5
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One thing I learned early on in dealing with marinas and mechanics was to be very specific as to what the scope of the job was to be and they had to contact me if the problem grew larger.

No you should never have to repack the rudders again if done correctly.
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Old 10-23-2019, 01:49 AM   #6
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I had a yard that mostly did commercial boats, and always gave an expanded estimate unless I knew the owner very well. But I also verbally explained exactly what we were going to do and not do. If someone wanted 2 shafts or a rudder and shaft repacked it was cheaper than 2x one shaft. The hull mechanic was already there, had the packing, etc...
Packing lasts a very long time if properly done and adjusted. Packing in greaseable shaft housings lasts almost forever, seals better with less pressure, too.
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Old 10-23-2019, 09:29 AM   #7
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I can do packing typically in 30 minutes start to finish. Now twice Iíve had a boat that took over 2 hours. The packing nuts were badly corroded and I had to vinegar soak and wire wheel the nut and threads to get them back to threading nicely. When the packing has been dried out then tightened (stop giving advice to tighten old leaking packing), it gets rock hard, scores the shaft and helps nobody. Corkscrews get broken getting it out in small pieces and really the whole thing is just a pain. That only happens with badly neglected packing, most of the time itís an easy job. 5 year old packing comes out easily.

So, itís possible that they really did spend this much time and if so, Iíd do the rudders too. You have the red flags of old hard packing too, and if thatís what I discovered, Iíd do the job properly.

Some red flags worries on the bill, but tread carefully as itís possible you were ďthat guyĒ this time.
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Old 10-23-2019, 09:43 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies, I didn't complain since I am in their Marina (my slip) and wasn't there to see what difficulties they had or lack of. I did ask them to split the bill and allow me to pay half this month and half next since it was double my "boat budget" for the month.
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Old 10-23-2019, 09:44 AM   #9
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Here is a story which I will try to keep short but it really "Hits the nail on the head".

The owner of my previous marina (Northern Wisconsin) was preparing to retire to Florida and bought a 45 foot boat a few hundred miles up the ICW from where he was to berth it as a retirement home.

I spoke with his wife just before they were leaving to bring the boat down the ICW. These are her words " The boat is in very good condition but..if we have any problems we will be at the mercy of the marina owners along the ICW" Welcome to my world!!

Simple repairs like gland packing and fuel and oil filter changes and most winterizing tasks are best done by owner. I totally winterized my boat including oil and fuel filter changes, water, engine and air conditioning winterization, removing batteries for storage and finally tarping in 2 long afternoons. With some assistance from the Admiral a total of about 25 hours labor, around $2,000 if the marina had done it.

If you can afford it, go for it. If budget it a concern, do it yourself.

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Old 10-23-2019, 06:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derik View Post
He did say rudder, but I thought it was a typo or something, I had too much going on. Anyway I guess now I know to get a written proposal and review it thoroughly.

The rudders are both easily accessible the propeller shafts are a little harder to get to.

i am guessing I will never have to do the rudder shafts again?
Yup... yes, likely so on the rudders. Price was high for sure, hopefully it was a thorough job that will last. There is more to that than just changing the packing usually, but something like 12 hours on that job seems over the top.
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