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Old 04-23-2019, 11:21 PM   #1
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Packing change while in water?

Hi folks, first thread Iíve started...

Iíve changed the packing in my stuffing box before, so I know the drill. Iíd like to hear from owners who have changed theirs while the boat is in the water (this is supposed to be the benefit of an old school stuffing box)

Iím just looking for experience on water volume and pressure preventing the stuffing from being placed properly.

Iíll have stuffing pre cut, rags ready and bilge pumps tested before I start.

Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2019, 03:38 AM   #2
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Nothing a decent bilge pump can't handle. have all your pieces cut, then once you pull the last of the old packing out quickly side the new one in there . That's all there is to it
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Old 04-24-2019, 05:47 AM   #3
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Sometimes a piece of plastic pipe will fit the shaft and also fit inside the stuffing box.

Cut it the long way and it will assist your pushing the first round in square to the shaft . Even a 1/2 round pusher stick will help or 3 or 4 chopsticks.

Second choice is to stack the cut rings on the shaft , before pulling that last piece of old packing..

Using the bronze ring or nut also helps getting each layer square to the shaft.

Most bilge pumps are fine at de watering when the job is over.

Just remember if joining this century , GFO or other modern packing only needs to be light hand tight , till you get running and lightly tighten till there is no dripping underway.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:26 AM   #4
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I've also done it in the water. No big deal. Have an assistant to hand you things and it will reduce your "exposure" time.
Good luck.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:03 AM   #5
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Thanks for the confirmation, I’m feeling better about it!
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:24 AM   #6
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Let us know how it goes and pics if possible.
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Old 04-24-2019, 11:02 AM   #7
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It is easy, just plan ahead.
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Old 04-24-2019, 12:15 PM   #8
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You do have the correct size T-handle removal tool? Reaally difficult without that. Expect a bit of a flood, like others said, plan ahead, have all your stuff there, and don't get panicked when the water starts streaming in, you won't sink the boat!
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:15 PM   #9
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If you have done it before, then you are almost guaranteed that the packing wonít be a solidified rock that will break multiple removal tools. In fact, it will probably pop right out with a thin screwdriver.

The change this time might well be 15-20 min.

Which brings up a more interesting question. How long has it been in? Is something other than packing going on to cause you to over tighten the gland, making the packing fail? With a good running gear condition, packing can last a long time.

Itís worth at least asking the question.
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghost View Post
If you have done it before, then you are almost guaranteed that the packing wonít be a solidified rock that will break multiple removal tools. In fact, it will probably pop right out with a thin screwdriver.

The change this time might well be 15-20 min.

Which brings up a more interesting question. How long has it been in? Is something other than packing going on to cause you to over tighten the gland, making the packing fail? With a good running gear condition, packing can last a long time.

Itís worth at least asking the question.
It was packed on the hard(dry)last time and likely over tightened to get the third ring in.(duramax). Not a drop of water ever. Ran cool for a year but itís hot now... Iím hoping a proper wet break in will make a difference.
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:35 PM   #11
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I did it -- a bunch of times. I had shaft corrosion eating packing until I replaced the shafts. That boat was previously a liveaboard for many years before I bought it, stainless steel is only stainless in the presence of oxygen (slow water drip), and the log was already too short to cut back to get to smooth shaft.

There was one that was reasonably accessible and I had no problem doing. Water would come rushing out -- and it did really come rushing out. But, once I took a breadth and ignored it and just focused on doing the job I was fine. I loosened the nut, cleaned most of the thread with it leaking a bit, pulled it all the way back, finished cleaning the threads with the rushing water, repacked it, greased the threads, put it back on, tightened it up, and readjusted it after some use. To get the packing out, I used a packing cork-screw tool, some "dental tools" from harbor freight. As for wrenches, I used a wrench sold for the purpose at West Marine (but later seen sold generically at home depot) and large pair of channel locks.

There was another one that I didn't have good access to, no matter what I did. I could barely reach it. I would have to use two plumbing wrenches to get get it apart. I would stuggle getting the threads cleaned up, but with enough patience could. I could eventually get the packing out, but the last row felt like rolling dice over and over again until getting a dozen snake eyes. I just kept poking until I got it. It was a stuggle to get it back together. And, I could never really, truly get it tight enough. I'd have to tighten it up occasionally.

The biggest thing I had to learn was just to take breadth and ignore the rushing water. With all of the water, it felt like should be rushed. But, really, the pumps could handle well more. The pumps did work while I was doing it, but no matter how long I took, the boat never ended up with a full bilge. They'd run while I was doing it, and on and off for a little bit afterward as the last of the water made its way down. No big deal.

My only fear was that I'd somehow break the nut or the threads taking it off and wouldn't be able to control the flow of water until I could get it hauled. To calm my nerves, I kept some toilet wax rings and emergency marine putty on the boat. In the event of a crisis, I felt I could pack it from the outside until I could get it hauled.

I once had a problem with a seacock on a thru-hull with an integral strainer. I needed to replace the seacock in water. Because of the strainer, I couldn't peg the thru-hull from the outside, which I'd done many times previously in other cases. So, I made a hamburger with the toilet wax, put it onto a home depot plastic bag, and pushed it onto the strainer. It worked perfectly, held for a few hours (things got complicated on the inside), and peeled right off cleanly when done. That was in Los Angeles with a water temperature of about 67 degrees. I'm not sure as to how it would have worked in warmer water -- the wax could have been too soft (in which case the denser putty from West Marine may have worked better). Regardless, I felt good that it could be controlled from the outside with toilet wax and by snorkeling from the outside in an emergency.

At the recommendation of an old timer on the dock, I also got an old bicycle inner tube, cut it to make a tube, and then dissected the tube lengthwise to make two long stretchy pieces of rubber. He told me that I could wrap this around a few times to stop the water while I worked on the stuffing box. I tried this this first time, and it worked, but was so bulky it got in my way. I ended up taking it off to work. None-the-less, I kept the two pieces of rubber. In a crisis, it would have been part of a belt-and suspenders approach to pack it with wax from the outside and to wrap it with the inner tube pieces on the inside.

...obviously neither wax on the outside nor the rubber on the inside would work while the boat was running. The wax would fall off and melt. And, the inner tube would make for a total disaster of some kind (rip, shred, melt, who knows). If something happened with the threads or nut, I'd have had to have to take the boat on one engine to the haul out or get it towed.

At any rate, I hate to advise anyone to open an uncontrolled hole in their hull. So, I don't want to tell anyone to replace packing in-water. That seems like really bad advise to give.

So, instead, I'll just say I, personally, did it a bunch of times, how hard it was depended 100% on access, that I didn't have any problems with the nut, box, or threads, it could have ended badly but didn't, I had an emergency plan that seemed decent, and in the end it worked out well for me.
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:35 PM   #12
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We used rags in strips wrapped around the shaft which were held in place by strips of bicycle inner tubing tied around them & jammed against the flow. Made it much easier to work without the sound of the ocean trying to rush into our boat
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:53 PM   #13
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Thanks to all and gkesden for the detail! My stuffing box is the collar with two bolts. In some ways it makes things easier but also a little more challenging. Access is fantastic, I’ll try to stay calm. Going to pick up an extra removal tool and a couple of other items mentioned above. I’m a couple miles from a lift so once I start failure is not an option.
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Old 04-24-2019, 03:08 PM   #14
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Screaming04,

I'm not sure about your set up. In the one that I had that was tight, there wasn't enough clearance for any but the shortest of wrench handles. I had a stringer on one side, the hull at the bottom, the cabin floor above, and a joist from that floor on the other side.

I could lay one of the wrenches almost flat against the hull and hold it there to control one piece. But, to turn the other, I needed to cut the handle on a wrench short. This is the reason I didn't have the leverage to get it really tight when putting it back together.

At any rate, you'll be able to check these things dry when you start. But, you shouldn't be afraid to "specialize" a tool for the purpose. Just keep it around for next time.

I bet the new owners of my boat are wondering what that wrench was for -- but they'll find out! (Actually, I had it in a box with the picks, corkscrew, spare packing, the official packing wrench from West Marine and the inner tube pieces, so I sort of told them).

In your set up, if you've got crusty bolts, I'd recommend soaking them in a penetrating oil in advance, for as long as you can be patient, e.g. a few hours, overnight, or a few days. Just give it a healthy spray or few drops to get it wet and start soaking in, and wait as long as you are willing to be patient. If you have time, rewet it every few hours for a day, ever y day for a few days.

My personal favorite penetrating oil is Kroil. But, that is a religious issue. Anything better than WD-40 is probably good enough -- and even WD-40 is good enough for many things.

Given time, it is amazing to me how much penetrating oils can make jobs easier and safer from skinned knuckles or breaking things.
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Old 04-24-2019, 05:49 PM   #15
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I have only changed packing on valves and pumps so if I screwed up it wasn’t a dire situation. Interesting that people do it on shafts with the boat in the water. Personally it’s more stress than I would want to take on, and would haul.
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Old 04-28-2019, 12:13 PM   #16
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I've changed mine in the water with no issues. You just need to be set up with everything cut properly and ready to go. You can feel rushed when the water starts coming in but take your time and get it right.

I left two rings in and made sure each of the packing rings would slide in the box ok before I pulled the rest out since sometimes they need to be flattened a bit. Also clean up the nut and threads (or studs and follower if that's what you have) before you start.
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Old 04-28-2019, 03:12 PM   #17
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Depending upon the packing gland position, sometimes one can move the packing gland up the shaft and add a ring, no need to take any packing out.
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:29 PM   #18
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After finishing some other work, I worked up the nerve and changed the stuffing today while at the dock. Much ado about nothing! I have a short video showing the volume of water but canít seem to attach it to my post.

Thanks for the tips. Dowels worked well, had the bike tube ready but didnít need it.
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Screaming04 View Post
After finishing some other work, I worked up the nerve and changed the stuffing today while at the dock. Much ado about nothing! I have a short video showing the volume of water but canít seem to attach it to my post.

Thanks for the tips. Dowels worked well, had the bike tube ready but didnít need it.
Awesome.

Keep those strips of bike tubing on board...theyíre handy for temporarily lashing things together, especially when working alone.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:04 PM   #20
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Screaming04,

Congrats! Good work!

Cheers!
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