I'd never done a stuffing box before, so while the bottom paint was drying I bought some 3/8 packing (because that's what was put in the last time according to the maintenance log, and there was some old 3/8 on the boat for emergencies) and got to work.
Four rings came out, so four rings went back in.
Like I said, I'd never done it before, so wasn't too concerned about how easily the 3/8 packing slipped into place...it swells a bit in the first day or two, right? I did notice however that the packing nut took a few more turns before I felt it 'take' compared to how many turns it took to take it off. Weird...
So, boat hits the water after painting, and there's a mighty aggressive trickle coming in through the stuffing box. What the?
Dug out the old packing from the garbage on the boat, and turns out it was 7/16 packing. The maintenance log faded away as the PO aged and became sick, and there was a new cutlass bearing noted in one of the last entries in the log. He must have gone to a larger sized packing nut and not noted it in the log.
So, the boats in the water and we have to re-do the stuffing box...
We cut strips from cloth and an old inner tube, held our breath, and undid the nut. It was a gusher! There is nothing more disconcerting than the sound of the ocean coming into your boat!!
Several wraps of cloth jammed into place and held there by the inner tube gave us the time to cut and put in three rings...four wouldn't fit.
It was good to do it in the water because we would have overtightened it for sure on the hard...it was surprising how little force needs to be applied to make it work. We now have a drip every 45 seconds or so at cruising speed.
Murray (from the bottom of the learning curve looking waaaaay up