Dripless shaft seal?

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jhance

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Messages
236
Location
USA
Vessel Name
Audrey Grace
Vessel Make
2003 Camano 31
Is there a recommended interval to change the shaft seal? 2003 Camano, 1600 hours. Volvo manual says "replace propeller shaft seal" at 500 hours. I don't believe ours has ever been done, but not sure it needs to be done every 500 hours (at least I don't know anyone who does that). It's not dripping and performing flawlessly so hesitant to do anything, but I will have the boat out of the water this winter so maybe replace as a preventative measure?
 
What brand is it? Some have a recommended change at 6 ot 7 years. Need to check manufacturer’s specs.
 
"Volvo manual says "replace propeller shaft seal" at 500 hours"

I believe the manual is talking about the shaft seal on the back of the transmission where the prop shaft flange bolts to the prop shaft.

Greg
 
Is there a recommended interval to change the shaft seal? 2003 Camano, 1600 hours. Volvo manual says "replace propeller shaft seal" at 500 hours. I don't believe ours has ever been done, but not sure it needs to be done every 500 hours (at least I don't know anyone who does that). It's not dripping and performing flawlessly so hesitant to do anything, but I will have the boat out of the water this winter so maybe replace as a preventative measure?

I had Tides Marine shaft seals on a previous 2006 boat. One started leaking in 2018. I replaced both of them. The recommended interval at that time for those shaft seals was six years for Tides Marine.
 
I changed out the original Tides Marine seal at 1,200 hours in favor of PSS. Reason I went with PSS is my experience with previous boats w/ PSS seals over thousands of hours of runtime.
 
I changed out the original Tides Marine seal at 1,200 hours in favor of PSS. Reason I went with PSS is my experience with previous boats w/ PSS seals over thousands of hours of runtime.



Me too. The tides seal is very small. Swapped to pss seal and prefer it.
 
Our Camano had a PSS seal. Nine years and 1800 hours and no leaks. Our current (and last) boat has Tides seals. At 17 years and 2000 hours with no leaks I replaced them just because they were old.
 
"Volvo manual says "replace propeller shaft seal" at 500 hours"

I believe the manual is talking about the shaft seal on the back of the transmission where the prop shaft flange bolts to the prop shaft.

Greg

What Greg says :socool:
 
Make sure you grease the seal.
 
PSS seals (manufacturer's recommendations) state that the seal needs replacement at 6 years (this from memory so it may be 7). This is because the rubber bellows is under constant compression and needs to hold a slight pressure between the carbon and stainless metal parts. Over time, the rubber slowly loses it's ability to maintain this compression and pressure, also depending on what it has been exposed to (diesel, oil, ozone, etc.) chemicals can cause it to degrade. There could be other issues developing over time as well such as damage to the bellows, loosening or rusty clamps, abnormal carbon disc wear, etc.

For a slightly higher cost, they now offer an upgraded bellows (as well as the standard) where the recommended replacement is 10 years instead of 6.
Many people have gone well past the OEM recommendations successfully. However, with each passing year the risk goes up. Having a failure on one of these could be a big problem, even if only emotionally.
On my purchase survey, because there was no record of when the shaft seal had been replaced (and it looked in very good condition with no leaks) he recommended replacement. My insurance company as a condition of insurance REQUIRED that I change it reasonably soon. At the time the boat was about 15 years old so I also preventatively changed the cutlass bearings, rudder seal, and serviced the prop. The shaft was good.
So for me, why risk an unexpected, possibly major failure (possibly at a remote location), possibly with denied insurance coverage, to extend past the OEM's recommendations to save a little money?? Just my thoughts.
 
All good points. I hesitate a little because "it ain't broke" and appears to be in great condition with no leaks. Sometimes you start messing with things and create new issues for yourself.

PSS seals (manufacturer's recommendations) state that the seal needs replacement at 6 years (this from memory so it may be 7). This is because the rubber bellows is under constant compression and needs to hold a slight pressure between the carbon and stainless metal parts. Over time, the rubber slowly loses it's ability to maintain this compression and pressure, also depending on what it has been exposed to (diesel, oil, ozone, etc.) chemicals can cause it to degrade. There could be other issues developing over time as well such as damage to the bellows, loosening or rusty clamps, abnormal carbon disc wear, etc.

For a slightly higher cost, they now offer an upgraded bellows (as well as the standard) where the recommended replacement is 10 years instead of 6.
Many people have gone well past the OEM recommendations successfully. However, with each passing year the risk goes up. Having a failure on one of these could be a big problem, even if only emotionally.
On my purchase survey, because there was no record of when the shaft seal had been replaced (and it looked in very good condition with no leaks) he recommended replacement. My insurance company as a condition of insurance REQUIRED that I change it reasonably soon. At the time the boat was about 15 years old so I also preventatively changed the cutlass bearings, rudder seal, and serviced the prop. The shaft was good.
So for me, why risk an unexpected, possibly major failure (possibly at a remote location), possibly with denied insurance coverage, to extend past the OEM's recommendations to save a little money?? Just my thoughts.
 
" If it ain't broke, don't fix it " doesn't apply to maintenance items. If it has a rubber bellows, or anything that wears, that's a maintenance item..
My .02 cents...
 
See pic for my seal. I have a manual for a Tides Marine seal, but not sure if that's what I have as mine looks different (are the bellows under the blue sleeve?). Not sure what exactly I have or if it's original.
 

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See pic for my seal. I have a manual for a Tides Marine seal, but not sure if that's what I have as mine looks different (are the bellows under the blue sleeve?). Not sure what exactly I have or if it's original.
Thats definitely not a volve seal.
 
It’s a tides marine with a spare seal inside black ring.
 
If it starts dripping then it time to change it :)

Our have been installed for going on 10 years and still doing fine.
 
If it starts dripping then it time to change it :)

Our have been installed for going on 10 years and still doing fine.



I wouldn’t wait that long.
 
From the manual, it says the spare seal should be in a little container just forward of the seal unit, but I don't think I have one on there unless that black thing around the shaft IS the spare seal container? Are you saying the front part opens and there is a spare seal in there? If so, I should be good just putting in the spare seal? Hauling out in winter so I have the option to do more if needed (including maybe replacing the cutlass bearing and rudder shaft packing (19 year old boat).

It’s a tides marine with a spare seal inside black ring.
 
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From the manual, it says the spare seal should be in a little container just forward of the seal unit, but I don't think I have one on there unless that black thing around the shaft IS the spare seal container? Are you saying the front part opens and there is a spare seal in there? If so, I should be good just putting in the spare seal? Hauling out in winter so I have the option to do more if needed (including maybe replacing the cutlass bearing and rudder shaft packing (19 year old boat).

I had spare seals put on the shaft when I replaced the Tides Marine seals. I am doing this from memory, but I don’t think you have a spare seal there. The black piece with the screws in it are actually part of the seal, I think. If you look at the link, you will see a Tides Marine shaft seal that looks like yours. The spare seals sat a few inches above the seal on the shaft, completely separate from it.

https://www.greatlakesskipper.com/t...5303&msclkid=fca72e4889c81ca452f54fecbd884e51
 
That is my understanding as well - thank you.

I had spare seals put on the shaft when I replaced the Tides Marine seals. I am doing this from memory, but I don’t think you have a spare seal there. The black piece with the screws in it are actually part of the seal, I think. If you look at the link, you will see a Tides Marine shaft seal that looks like yours. The spare seals sat a few inches above the seal on the shaft, completely separate from it.

https://www.greatlakesskipper.com/t...5303&msclkid=fca72e4889c81ca452f54fecbd884e51
 
My free advice is "follow manufacturer's recommendations" for replacement interval. For something this important to your boat, why try to "stretch" things, especially since your insurance may try to avoid paying (a claim) due to you not following OEM recommendations for maintenance??? With Tide's, I would definitely install the spare seal so the next change can be done easily.
 
So I started to get a little salt water in the bilge. I started looking for a leak. On my Californian 55 there is a small separate bilge under each shaft seal. On the starboard side there was some water, dry on the port. I never had dripless seals before so I started checking the designs on line so I could understand them. In my reading I was advised to look for the black line indicating the seal is worn and spitting water and carbon. Most people said the bellows go first. Humm. There is no black line and the bellows are dry but there is dampness aft. Sure enough the stern tube had a leak around it. Not sure exactly where. So I checked out the port side. The bilge was dry and the stern tube sealed but uh oh, the dreaded black line. Not knowing when these were installed on my fairly recently purchased boat I had them both replaced with PSS. On the starboard side, the yard said there was an earlier repair that was deteriorating so I had that area rebuilt. I also had all six cutlass bearings replaced. Now there is less vibration. I hope I don't have to replace them again!!
 
I just changed the Volvo shaft seal (what would otherwise be the stuffing box) at 750 hours and six years. Not leaking but I’m the second owner and had no idea if it had ever been greased. My yard is not cheap but they do good work $600 labor.
 
Shaft Seal

Mine was an original from 2000. When I got the boat (2019) it had almost 3000 hours on it and leaking.
The original "Strong Seal" was made WAY better than the new.
My opinion is I would inspect the seal, especially the bellows, keep an eye on it. If it is as old as mine, replace it. If it is 6 years or so, watch it & be prepared.
Also, install an extra seal in the carrier so that you don't have to remove the shaft from the coupling to replace.

Here is what I did:
https://pauhanacamano.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-dreaded-dripless-shaft-seal-part-ii.html
 
Thank you. What makes the original seal better than new? I am hesitant to start messing with mine at all to be honest. 1565 hours on a 2003 boat and no drips or other issues to date. In your opinion, should I even be bothering with this? Is a leaking seal more a function of age or engine hours? I do not have a spare seal on the shaft.

Mine was an original from 2000. When I got the boat (2019) it had almost 3000 hours on it and leaking.
The original "Strong Seal" was made WAY better than the new.
My opinion is I would inspect the seal, especially the bellows, keep an eye on it. If it is as old as mine, replace it. If it is 6 years or so, watch it & be prepared.
Also, install an extra seal in the carrier so that you don't have to remove the shaft from the coupling to replace.

Here is what I did:
https://pauhanacamano.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-dreaded-dripless-shaft-seal-part-ii.html
 
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Seal

Jhance,
I noticed that the old Tides Marine Seal, I believe called "Strong Seal" had a more robust design and that the seal was more like a Cutless Bearing. The Cutless Bearing type was not replaceable without replacing the entire unit including the bellows. There wasn't a spare in front of it.

The new version/type is a rubber ring seal and can be replaced. They can knick easier and melt in applications with high speed shafts where no water is being fed to them. The speed at which our shafts go for the most part really don't need a water feed (so I have been told) mine does have one (comes from the aftercooler drain fitting).

Also the new type seals do not like riding on a pitted or rough surface and can leak.

My opinion & only my opinion is, if the bellows are in good shape and your seal isn't leaking, I would leave it alone. That being said I would keep an eye on it, Marine Age is a b*$ch on boats. If the bellows splits an enormous amount of water can enter the boat through the shaft tube.

If you do replace the seal, be sure to have an extra seal installed on the shaft in a holder since the only way to put on a new seal is by disconnecting the shaft from the coupling.

When I replaced mine based o the serial number it was from 1999, original to the boat and with about 2950 hours!

The 1st picture shows the difference between the original (bottom) and the new.
2nd picture shows the inside of the original seal.
 

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Amazing to have your documentation on this process. Thank you!

I also have the original blue "tube." But that doesn't appear to be a "bellows" to me nor adjustable? Is the blue thing the bellows?, and if so, why is it not corrugated like you would see a normal bellows?

Can you tell me if the picture I posted as a comment on the first page... is that larger black piece with the five screws... is that my spare seal (inside) or is that part of the entire assembly?


Jhance,
I noticed that the old Tides Marine Seal, I believe called "Strong Seal" had a more robust design and that the seal was more like a Cutless Bearing. The Cutless Bearing type was not replaceable without replacing the entire unit including the bellows. There wasn't a spare in front of it.

The new version/type is a rubber ring seal and can be replaced. They can knick easier and melt in applications with high speed shafts where no water is being fed to them. The speed at which our shafts go for the most part really don't need a water feed (so I have been told) mine does have one (comes from the aftercooler drain fitting).

Also the new type seals do not like riding on a pitted or rough surface and can leak.

My opinion & only my opinion is, if the bellows are in good shape and your seal isn't leaking, I would leave it alone. That being said I would keep an eye on it, Marine Age is a b*$ch on boats. If the bellows splits an enormous amount of water can enter the boat through the shaft tube.

If you do replace the seal, be sure to have an extra seal installed on the shaft in a holder since the only way to put on a new seal is by disconnecting the shaft from the coupling.

When I replaced mine based o the serial number it was from 1999, original to the boat and with about 2950 hours!

The 1st picture shows the difference between the original (bottom) and the new.
2nd picture shows the inside of the original seal.
 
NO, there is no spare seal on there. It would be in a plastic carrier on the shaft.
The bellows for this type of seal is not adjustable (as far as I know).
The front of the seal (pentagon shape) has removable screws. Inside is the seal.
 

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