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Old 11-18-2021, 09:15 AM   #1
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Cardude close call on crossing

As I speak here, our prolific TF Member, Cardude is limping in after nearly completing a rather uneventful two day (east to west) crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. About an hour or so from the targeted Pensacola Inlet, he felt a disturbing vibration in the usual drone of his faithful Island Packet 41 PY Cruiser.

Reportedly, he pulled back the throttle but the vibration was still there. Weather conditions and waves we’re going downhill in the recent hours of the trip, but he had to shut it down and check out whatever could be causing the vibration.

As it turns out, all but one of the bolts holding the shaft to the transmission had sheared off or were missing, a butt puckering sight in and of itself. He spent some time searching around in the bilge for the remains of whatever bolts there were, and during the search the boat was wallowing out of control and had turned abeam into the waves, making the effort even more difficult, finally culminating in poor Bill emptying his guts into the bilge. Nothing like being sick about your boat and the situation and barfing over your project at the same time.

Thankfully he found a few usable bolts in his on-board supply, enough to get the shaft back together and the boat underway again. So much for the uneventful crossing. Last message I got, he was still limping into Pensacola Inlet.

If that last bolt would have let go, it could have been a whole different situation. How often do you check your shaft bolts?
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Old 11-18-2021, 09:20 AM   #2
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Doesn't he have a sail rig?
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Old 11-18-2021, 09:58 AM   #3
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Shearing prop shaft bolts is more common than we think. It happened to me while helping a friend move his new to him trawler up the coast. The mechanic who replaced the bolts said it is a fairly common occurrence.

So check the tightness, preferably with a torque wrench, every year.

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Old 11-18-2021, 10:09 AM   #4
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there's a lesson in there for all of us i guess. just add it to the ever growing list of things to check each season.
i carry a drogue to deploy off the bow to help keep me pointed into the wind if things go sideways. it won't work in all situations, but it's a good thing to have on hand. i'd much rather be pitching fore and aft than take it on the beam.
so glad to hear he made it across ok though.
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:14 AM   #5
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High strength bolts needed perhaps ?
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:15 AM   #6
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Doesn't he have a sail rig?



Yes, he does.
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:15 AM   #7
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Great, one more thing to be anxious about while I'm trying to enjoy my next trip, lol. Glad you made it in CD!
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:16 AM   #8
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I don't think I've ever checked my shaft bolts. Boy that's got to be stressful, glad he came through okay. One more item for the list...
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:20 AM   #9
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High strength bolts needed perhaps ?
good thought. with high strength you lose some ductility. what do the coupler manufacturers recommend?
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:28 AM   #10
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Sorry, as a noob, which prop shaft bolts are we talking about? at the packing gland?
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:29 AM   #11
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Sorry, as a noob, which prop shaft bolts are we talking about? at the packing gland?
coupler i assumed
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:43 AM   #12
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coupler i assumed
Ah- The ones where the transmission joins to the shaft?
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:46 AM   #13
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Yeah, the coupler at the transmission. I have to admit, the only time I’ve ever checked my shaft bolts is when I did a seal change or pulled the shaft. Having to lay over the engine, it’s not that easy. After this incident and from what David added above, it goes on my list.
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Ah- The ones where the transmission joins to the shaft?
exactly. there are many styles of couplers available, with differing methods of safely retaining the shaft. get to know what you have and what the manufacturer recommends for hardware and torque value.
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:53 AM   #15
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Geez! Glad the Dude’s OK.

Reminds me to get our couplers checked out. The traditional coupler bolts have never been a problem, but some PO added a bolt on each coupler that goes transversely through the collar and the shaft. I occasionally find them sheared off and laying in the bilge. I replace them but, even with Grade 8s, they shear over time.
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:56 AM   #16
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Glad he was able to make temporary repairs. Hope he gets the rest of the way in okay. The concern once he's tied up to the dock is whether the bolts that failed elongated the holes in either the transmission flange, the flange on the shaft, or both. Flange on the shaft is not a big deal if you can source the part, and there is enough room to slide the shaft (with the prop on it) aft enough to remove/replace the flange. The flange on the transmission may be another matter though. Hopefully it is removable without pulling the transmission. Once the flanges are out, if they haven't been warped out of shape, the holes can be filled in, and new holes milled/drilled, best to do both of them at the same time. Once again I'm glad he's almost in!
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Old 11-18-2021, 11:07 AM   #17
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I had that happen around 18 months into ownership of a new delivery. We were living aboard so the engine was being used almost every day. I was looking for the oil change valve when I noticed that at least one (memory is faulty it might have been one or two) bolts that were loose. No vibration and the other two were tight but when I checked were way off torque setting. I put everything back, torqued it up and added it to my checklist. It happened again but I caught it while they were still tight (but not to torque setting).

I them promptly forgot about it until reminded by this post. I will check my torques on my current boat next time I am on board.

Thanks to the OP for posting this!

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Old 11-18-2021, 11:26 AM   #18
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Seen that happen a bunch of times. Coupler bolts shearing. Most common on boats with tight access to that area where the last tech could not (or did not) get enough purchase on the bolts/nuts to get enough torque on them. Can hear the muttering "good enough". A few years later, it was not "good enough".

Gotta put the hoodoo on those grade 8 bolts/nuts. Whatever it takes, wrench-wise.
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Old 11-18-2021, 12:17 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angus99 View Post
Geez! Glad the Dude’s OK.



Reminds me to get our couplers checked out. The traditional coupler bolts have never been a problem, but some PO added a bolt on each coupler that goes transversely through the collar and the shaft. I occasionally find them sheared off and laying in the bilge. I replace them but, even with Grade 8s, they shear over time.
I would be concerned there is play between the shaft and coupler. Key way or key worn maybe? Shaft too lose a fit in the coupler?
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Old 11-18-2021, 12:26 PM   #20
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I just checked mine and as I recalled it has a centering flange on the tranny side, so given such a situation as the Dude just went through, I probably wouldn’t have felt the vibration until the coupling came off the flange. A few turns whipping off the radius of the coupling while hanging onto a single bolt would surely take out my PSS seal and maybe my shaft log too. Geesh…I never had something give me the willies and heebee-jeebies at the same time.
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