Friday, July 15, 2011

Glandular Fever

I'll ignore Simon's facetious comment to yesterday's post and instead congratulate Carrie and Halfie upon their accurate guess that I had attempted to repack Herbie's stern gland.

This is the point where the propellor shaft exits through the hull, and where water can get in and sink the boat.  Packing the gaps with stuff called, er, packing is what you have to do.  Here's where it all happens.

I had visions of me in a scene from a world war 2  submarine movie, gallantly battling to close a hatch against huge pressures of water gushing in.  I bought the packing two years ago, but until now never had the nerve to try, but the daily ingress of water past the old worn packing was getting messy.

After forcing as much grease as poss into the gland and wiping the area clean, I laid out my spanners and some rags.  Rick was there to give moral support, although because the space is so cramped no-one else could do anything practical once I had started.  To put off the job for a final few minutes I tested the bilge pump to make sure it was working. It was.

Nothing for it, I had to go ahead.  Here goes.  Gingerly I removed the two nuts from each side and slid the collar back along the shaft and waited for the gush.  There was none.  None! Not a drop.  Probably still sealed by the old packing I thought.  When I dig that out I'll be drowned.  Using a gimlet I dug out first one and then two more old squashed bits of packing.  Still not a drop.  Not a single drop! Just the grease was enough to keep the flood at bay.  What an anti climax.  Two years angst and procrastination and not a drop of water came in.  You have to laugh.

Inserting the new packing was much easier than I had thought too. The whole job was done in five minutes.

After a brief run next day I had to retighten the gland as the new packing settled in, and Bob's your uncle.  Job's a goodun.

Sod's law being what it is, next time I do something really simple like changing a light bulb it'll take two hours and blow all the fuses.  Boats are like that.


Anonymous said...

Ha! I've had the same worries about doing that job (still haven't done it), but when I mentioned the slight leaking that's developed recently, (thought it might have been air in the grease tube but no) an RCR guy said I just needed to adjust some bolt/nut that required a bigger wrench than I owned but which he had at the boatyard. Any idea what this bolt is and where abouts it is?

Captain Ahab said...

Anon you probably have a stern gland with a single big nut round the shaft rather than the two seen in herbie.

VallyP said...

Thanks for reminding me, Neil. I need to do that too!

Anonymous said...

Ok, thanks for that Captain. I'll take a good look in the murky depths..