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Old 07-30-2013, 06:10 PM   #1
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Shaft Seal Failure

The picture is of a 85' Hatteras that sank on July 12th. The captain said, "one of the shaft seals had exploded and water was gushing in as though from a fire hose." The were 3 adults and 3 kids who all got off safely.

Here's the story:

Latitude 38 - 'Lectronic Latitude
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:39 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Never have and never will trust the buggers. A "traditional" stuffing box gives one plenty of warning of a failure. Better idea...indeed.
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:43 PM   #3
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We repacked our traditional stuffing box while in the water and while the ocean was trying really hard to get in the boat, it was far from gushing in like from a fire hose. Maybe the whole works (prop & shaft) fell out?
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:08 PM   #4
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Greetings,
Never have and never will trust the buggers. A "traditional" stuffing box gives one plenty of warning of a failure. Better idea...indeed.

ditto ... and traditional packing is so advanced now it is all but dripless if you watch it every couple of days worth of operation.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:03 PM   #5
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I have actually replaced our PSS with the boat in the water. With it totally disassembled the water entering the boat was not even enough to make the first bilge pump run continuously, just a little intermittent. Something else had to happen.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:28 PM   #6
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Another example of "KISS" ignored.
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:53 PM   #7
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I have actually replaced our PSS with the boat in the water. With it totally disassembled the water entering the boat was not even enough to make the first bilge pump run continuously, just a little intermittent. Something else had to happen.
I would agree with this!!! I just had my shafts replaced and the yard manager took it upon himself(which was fine with me) to replace the shaft seals since the shafts were out and the parts were not expensive. What I thought was kinda cool is he put an extra seal on the shaft in between the stuffing box and the coupling that could be used if needed...just slide it on!
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:24 PM   #8
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I have to say that sounds strange. I know my pumps can stay way ahead of any water coming in around the shaft. It doesn't sound like they tried to stop the water either. It took about an hour for the rescue boat to arrive and they still had time to drop the kids off and go back for personal items. Even if the shaft broke, it's unlikely that it would have fallen out. Most likely it would have just slipped aft until it hit the rudder. Doesn't sound like an insurance scam. You don't sink your boat with your own kids aboard. Very strange.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:34 PM   #9
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I have to say that sounds strange. I know my pumps can stay way ahead of any water coming in around the shaft. It doesn't sound like they tried to stop the water either. It took about an hour for the rescue boat to arrive and they still had time to drop the kids off and go back for personal items....
Bilge pump failure + delayed investigation for boat listing + panic = this scenario?
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:59 PM   #10
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Murray I bet you're right when you mention panic. Look how high it's floating in the picture. It looks like they've already launched the rib and abandoned ship. Of course with kids aboard, getting them off into a nice big rib right away might have been smart. It also looks like they had a Boston Whaler type boat but it's out of it's supports and sitting cockeyed. Maybe they tried to launch that too but couldn't because it was on the high side of the list. I'd love to hear the Captains story of the sinking. I bet there are lessons to be learned from this.
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:02 AM   #11
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Sounds like there was probably more to the story. Maybe there was damage to the shaft log itself to get that kind of water flow. Just losing the packing gland or the dry seals shouldn't cause that kind of flooding.

One of our gillnet boats had the hose clamps fail and the gland seperated from the shaft log on the way in. The boat skipper didn't even notice until he got back to the dock and saw the pumps were running.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:37 AM   #12
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Sounds like there was probably more to the story.
I agree. I also believe that the rest of that story doesn't have anything to do with shaft seals.
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:48 AM   #13
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Ditto, conventional shaft seals for me either. Modern packing material OK but no bellows seals for me.

How could that much water come by the hull fitting even with no seal in place? No high water bilge alarm? No indicator light/buzzer on the automatic bilge pump? I don't get it.
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:23 AM   #14
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This does bring up a question though.

How many of us have functional emergency dewatering pumps aboard our boats?

How many of us have a high bilge water alarm that will sound a buzzer or light enough to wake us if we are asleep?

I'll be the first to admit that although these things have kept me up at night thinking about them, I at this time do not have adequate systems in place.

My boat is equipped with what is probably standard factory bilge pumps for its vessle size. There are three sets of pmps, 750 GPH with each set being a automatic pump, backed up by a switch operated pump.

Two sets are in the engine room one forward, one aft, and we have a watertight bulkhead seaprating the engine room from the forward areas. This bulkhead has a sealing door which we keep closed and dogged down.

The third set of pumps is in the forward areas.

If any of the pumps operate a light comes on at the helm indicating which pump is running.

We also have two high bilge water sensors that I installed above the level of the automatic bilge pump switches, one forward, one in the engine room. If either of these operate it triggers my alarm system and I get a text and e-mail indicating the condition.

My plan is simple. My alarm system has a relay output that I can program to operate on any of the alarm points. I'm going to install a light and or horn, loud enough to get noticed so that if we get high bilge water we'll know about it right away.

I also wanted to install a very high capacity dewatering pump in the engine room. This would either activate automatically along with the alarm horn, and or have a manual switch for activation. It will for sure have a manual switch, the automatic part is optional.

While catastrophic flooding does not happen often, it does happen. Case in point was last year a 5788 Bayliner sunk due to catastrophic engine room flooding in between Kodiak island and the mainland. all hands were rescued but the boat was lost.

Thinking about the sinking of the Hatteras that was the basis of this thread, would things have turned out differently if they had a dewatering pump?

Something like this would do it.

Barnes model QDX33-SS all stainless construction, 1.5" discharge, 5700GPH at 5' of head, 6.8 amps AC powered. $406 at Grainger.com

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Old 07-31-2013, 11:39 AM   #15
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I do have a seperate float switch at the top of my bilge sump which has an automobile horn which will wake me when asleep and which I may hear from ashore. I also have a Y valve on my engine raw water intake so that I can bring the raw water pump into play if needed provided the engine air intake is not underwater already.

"The best bilge pump is a scared man with a bucket"
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:53 AM   #16
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How about phot of horn arrangement ? Also have manual switch ? Think could hear horn over engine noise from fly bridge ?
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:17 PM   #17
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I have one of these horns connected to one of my bilge pumps...the one that always comes on last....second pic.

90dB Piezo Pulse : Piezo Buzzers | RadioShack.com

It's almost painful to stand next to...certainly would wake the dead anywhere on my boat and is easily heard down the dock several slips even when all shut up.

The first picture is something I am considering carrying on board...especially as I travel a tad further offshore every year. Much better than being scared with a bucket...being in the salvage business....they are impressive compared to even the largest electric bilge/sump pumps.

3" Full Trash Pump with 212cc Gas Engine
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:35 PM   #18
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The first picture is something I am considering carrying on board...especially as I travel a tad further offshore every year. Much better than being scared with a bucket...being in the salvage business....they are impressive compared to even the largest electric bilge/sump pumps.

3" Full Trash Pump with 212cc Gas Engine
I have considered the gas trash pump option, and while it certainly has much more capacity than an electric pump, and it'll work when the electrical system is underwater, its just not for us.

The reasons are simple...

That kind of unit takes storage space, space is a premium on any boat, mine included.

It also takes gasoline, which further reduces the available places I could store the unit.

It also takes time to deploy, and effort. I have a difficult time imagining in the middle of the night, taking the time to deploy that unit, with all the other things such as trying to find the source of the flooding, Calling a Mayday, preparing and or considering wether it will be necessary to abandon ship, that would be happening if a high bilge water alarm went off.

My thoughts are if you can throw a switch to activate a reasonable dewatering pump then its something you would actually do in an emergency, even prior to trying to isolate the source of the flooding.
At 95 GPM that should at the very least buy you and your family time.

The trash pump concept is a great idea, its just not for us. We'd probably never deploy it.
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Old 07-31-2013, 03:33 PM   #19
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How about phot of horn arrangement ? Also have manual switch ? Think could hear horn over engine noise from fly bridge ?
Sorry, no photo. Just a Rule switch and a horn from Autozone. No manual switch, no switch at all actually, just a fuse and wired to battery bus bar. Yes, I can hear it from the bridge (and shore) because the horn is on the bridge.
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Old 07-31-2013, 04:48 PM   #20
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I have the same set up as Brooksie, and horn is in fly bridge. good set up.

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